The 2019 Golden Globes: The Good, The Bad, And The Confusing

Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, wearing their black tie best (Samberg in a traditional tux and Oh in a black and gold-tipped dress), pose for a promo shoot for the Golden Globes.

The Golden Globes were the epitome of a mixed bag. They were the best of times, the worst of times, and the most concerning of times. Here’s a quick rundown as to why.

THE GOOD

Glenn Close, wearing a black, long sleeved dress, accepts her award with a grateful smile.
NBC/Screencap (Twitter)

In spite of some weird moments, which we will get to later in this article, there were actually some great wins tonight!

First of all, Golden Globes co-host Sandra Oh won for her role on Killing EveRoma and writer/director Alfonso Cuarón won big! American Crime Story: The Assassination with Gianni Versace, which stars Ricky Martin, Darren Criss and Penelope Cruz, won! Regina King got her well-deserved Golden Globe for If Beale Street Could Talk!

There were also some surprise wins, such as Glenn Close for The Wife, the installation of the Carol Burnett Award and its first recipient, Carol Burnett (of course), and Jeff Bridges winning the Cecil B. DeMille Award. These moments brought tons of delight as well as Oh and Andy Samberg as the night’s hosts. I was appreciative of how light and, dare I say, nice, they made the proceedings. I’d like for all awards hosts to err on the side of decency from now on, but that’s just me.

THE BAD

The cast and crew of Green Book accept their award.
NBC

There were a lot of wins that got on my nerves. How does Green Book win Best Picture-Comedy/Musical over Crazy Rich Asians? Is Bohemian Rhapsody better than Black Panther and If Beale Street Could Talk? REALLY?

These weren’t the only weird wins of the night, but they were the most egregious to me. I’m not sure what the Golden Globes voters are on, but Crazy Rich Asians deserved some award, and not just because it was a watershed moment for Asian representation in Hollywood. Ditto for Beale Street and Black Panther. Think about it: somehow Ryan Coogler and Barry Jenkins, masterful directors with visionary outlooks on film, lost to an alleged pedophile and sexual abuser. Let’s let that sink in.

“But they’re rewarding the cast of the film, not Singer, who has been erased from the film!” Sure, Singer might have been fired from Bohemian Rhapsody (which I get into later), but Singer still gets directorial credit since he directed most of the film. (Dexter Fletcher took over directing the film after Singer’s departure.) So…what’s going on? Who won this award?

THE CONFUSING

Rami Malek in a black tux with white dress shirt and white satin bow time, accepts his award. Of course, he looks dreamy.
NBC/Screencap (Twitter)

Here’s where the night got murky. There were some questionable wins. The only reason they were questionable weren’t because of the quality of the acting, but because of the unspoken behind-the-scenes drama that puts a shadow over everything.

Three wins that made me tweak my eyes were Mahershala Ali for Green Book, Lady Gaga for A Star is Born, and Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody. 

Where Ali is concerned, the Shirley family have taken issue with his characterization of their family member, Dr. Don Shirley. You can read all about why they have issues extensively here at one of my many places of work, Shadow and Act,where Brooke Obie did an interview with the Shirley family.But for the quick-and-dirty of it all, it’s this: the Shirley family say the film has tons of errors regarding Shirley, including the in-film statement of Shirley being estranged from his family (they say he was a big part of their lives). The film is also based on the supposed friendship between Tony Lip and Shirley, but the Shirley family say Shirley only kept professional relationships with people he worked with and fired Lip in less than two years, in keeping with how he fired a lot of his drivers.

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Within the Shadow and Act article, the family do address that Ali himself has reached out them to apologize for any offense, because he was basing his performance on the information he was given, and as far as he knew, he didn’t know there were living members of Shirley’s family they could contact. Seems like the team behind the film didn’t know either.

I wondered if Ali would address anything about the apology in his acceptance speech, but unfortunately he didn’t. However, when addressed by Shadow and Act’s Brooke Obie after the Golden Globes, Ali did address the situation.

The same can’t be said for the team behind Bohemian Rhapsody, who deflected any question about Bryan Singer, the film’s director. If you don’t already know, Singer has been accused of abusing young boys. However, he was still hired to direct this Freddie Mercury biopic, I guess because Singer’s gay and Mercury was also a member of the LGBTQ community.

But one would think that just being a part of a community wouldn’t automatically guarantee you a directing job when you’re a person who probably needs to be indicted (allegedly). But here we are. And here we are trying to figure out our feelings regarding Rami Malek’s participation in this film well after Singer’s alleged misconduct was in the public ether.

This one hurts, because I love Rami Malek. Personally, I think he’s a good person, and he seems to have a moral center, at least from what his interviews reveal. I’m sure he took this role because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I also wonder if it could have been possible for him to request a different director, or hold out and say, “I won’t do this film if Singer’s a part of it.” Seeing an actor do that would have been amazing. It would have really put people on notice about putting their ethics on the backburner to success.

Alas, that didn’t happen. But I wish it did. However, what we did get were two marginally good things–the first being Malek getting Singer fired from Bohemian Rhapsody; not because of any arguments over Singer’s alleged crimes (at least none to our knowledge), but because of what Rami called “artistic differences.” However, from what I read, Singer’s (alleged) unprofessionalism and (alleged) on-set verbal abuse is what sent Rami to the edge and what ultimately cost Singer a job. The second is Malek (and everyone else involved with Bohemian Rhapsody) not talking about Singer at all in any of their acceptance speeches.

While I do love that they are treating Singer as if he’s dead to them, I would have liked it if they had answered some questions about him. That would at least signify where their ethics stand even more, coupled with their decision to not mention him in their speeches. If they had answered a question with something like, “We abhor what Singer is alleged to have done and we don’t support him,” then that would have gone far with people who are concerned about everyone’s involvement with the film.

My confusion and misgivings also bring me to Lady Gaga and A Star is Born. She also didn’t mention someone who is unfortunately tied to her forever; R. Kelly. In 2013, she and Kelly sang a duet called “Do What You Want,” a song that was co-written by Kelly along with Gaga and Paul Blair, Martin Bresso and William Grigahcine. If you’ve watched any of Surviving R. Kellyyou would have learned that Kelly imbues almost all of his songs, if not all of them, with snippets about his personal life. And now that we know what we know about Kelly’s sex cult-esque prison he traps girls in, the lyrics to “Do What You Want” are extremely gross.

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We could assume that maybe Gaga didn’t know about Kelly’s real life back in 2013, but we can’t assume she doesn’t know now, since she was asked to participate in the documentary and refused to. We don’t know what her reasoning is for not wanting to take part. But if John Legend can join the project, you’d think anyone who had worked with him would jump at the chance to take part in the documentary.

I actually love Lady Gaga’s singing voice and I was a fan of her first two albums, so much so that I bought them on CD, even though iTunes was just becoming popular at the time. However, I would have liked it if she had taken just two seconds out of her speech all about herself to mention how all women’s lives matter, particularly the women who have suffered at the hands of her one-time collaborator, R. Kelly. She is a Times Up, supporter, after all; it would have made sense (brand-wise, ethics-wise, etc.) for her to mention something about this.

With each of these three actors, there are degrees of upset within me. But overall, I just have the feeling of holding a hot potato; I don’t know what to do it except put it down for a little while until it cools off. It’s easy (and appropriate) to dismiss R. Kelly and Singer; they are people who have done some heinous things, and they should receive a reckoning. What folks (including me) are going to have problems with is whether we should cancel people who might be “okay”, but have participated in a situation that would only benefit the wrong people. Do we throw Lady Gaga and Rami Malek out with the bathwater? Do we wait to see if they prove themselves to us again regarding culpability? WHAT DO WE DO? I guess that comes down to the individual. For now, I’m going to exercise the right to side-eye until I feel repaid.

Overall, this was….a weird night with the Golden Globes. We got some wins, we got some losses, and we got some head-scratching moments that make you feel uncomfortable. But overall, it was…okay? IDK. But that’s the way it was Sunday, Jan. 6. What did you think? Write about it below in the comments section.