The Golden Globes had a lot to prove Sunday night. It was the award show’s return to a primo broadcast time slot after a series of scandals over finances and lack of diversity upended what used to be known as the biggest party of the year in Hollywood. Now privately owned with a greatly expanded pool of voters, the Globes were making a bid for relevance. Did that bid succeed? Well, it helped that this was the first major televised ceremony since the writers’ and actors’ strike brought Hollywood to a halt, and stars and studios looking to goose their Oscar chances turned out after some skipped last year’s event. Then again, this wasn’t the liveliest show. Here are the highs and lows as we saw them.
Most Historic Win: Lily Gladstone
In a momentous triumph, Lily Gladstone became the first Indigenous person to win a Golden Globe for best actress, for her turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon” as an Osage woman whose family members are killed in a plot to take their fortune. Gladstone, whose background is Blackfeet and Nez Perce, was only the second Native actress to receive recognition from the Globes: Irene Bedard was nominated in 1995 for “Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee,” a television movie.
After receiving a standing ovation, an overcome Gladstone spoke a few lines in the Blackfeet language, “the beautiful community nation that raised me, that encouraged me to keep going, keep doing this,” she explained in English.
“I’m so grateful that I can speak even a little bit of my language,” she added later, “because in this business, Native actors used to speak their lines in English, and then the sound mixers would run them backwards to accomplish Native languages on camera.” She dedicated the award to “every little rez kid” who had a dream. — Esther Zuckerman
Least Suspenseful Rivalry: ‘Oppenheimer’ vs. ‘Barbie’
In the end, the great “Barbenheimer” face-off was a complete fizzle. “Oppenheimer,” with eight nominations, won five trophies — best drama, director, actor, supporting actor and score. After sitting on the sidelines for most of the night, “Barbie,” the ceremony’s most-nominated film, with nine nods, finally got in the game with a win in the rather meaningless category of best blockbuster (“cinematic and box office achievement”). “Barbie” got a second prize in the form of best song, which was kind of a no-brainer because the film’s tunes filled three of the category’s six slots. Time to rev up that Oscar campaign, Babs! — Brooks Barnes
Best Looks: Stars Dressing on a Theme
Just in case anyone forgot about the “Barbie” effect of last year, which turned entire crowds pink, Margot Robbie managed to out-“Barbie” her own red carpets past in a sequined slither of hot pink Armani paired with a bristling pink tulle boa, all of it inspired by the 1977 Superstar Barbie.
As it turned out, however, that was just the beginning of the on-theme dressing. Oprah Winfrey wore Louis Vuitton in the color purple, in honor of — you guessed it — “The Color Purple,” for which she served as a producer. And Taylor Swift wore glimmering Gucci in the sort of bright leafy shade that evoked nothing so much as the color of money and made it impossible to forget just how much green her Eras Tour has generated.
Together they made for a more interesting trend than the traditional strapless frocks that also proliferated. (The best of those being Elle Fanning’s vintage Balmain and Rosamund Pike’s not-quite-vintage 2019 Dior: if you’re going to go with the classics, might as all go back to the source). And the theme dressing added a new dimension to the brand-marketing machine that the red carpet has become. — Vanessa Friedman
Flattest Monologue: Jo Koy
I had high hopes for Jo Koy, the 52-year-old Filipino American comedian who is only the second Asian American to host the Golden Globes. (Sandra Oh was the first, in 2019.) But Koy’s opening monologue felt like a highlight reel of mortifying moments. From a weird joke about being attracted to a plastic Barbie to one about the “Killers of the Flower Moon” filmmakers stealing the plot, Koy’s jokes met an icy reception from the audience. To be fair, he had barely any time to prepare. “I got the gig 10 days ago!” he said from the stage. “You want a perfect monologue?” It’s a shame, but Koy’s jokes will probably end up being best remembered for the memes they inspire on social media. — Christopher Kuo
Flattest Joke: Koy Riffing on Taylor Swift
Why you gotta be so mean? The host’s jokes did not really improve as the night went on.
“We came on after a football doubleheader,” Koy said as the ceremony returned from its first commercial break. “The big difference between the Golden Globes and the N.F.L.? On the Golden Globes, we have fewer camera shots of Taylor Swift.”
Koy seemed to swallow the word “camera” as he said it. And when the actual camera, on cue, panned to Swift, she appeared deeply unamused, her lips pursed, her eyes stern as she sipped a drink.
It is true that Swift has been shown many, many times on N.F.L. telecasts since she began showing up at Kansas City Chiefs games to cheer on the team’s tight end, Travis Kelce.
But Koy’s joke, at the expense of perhaps the most famous person in a room full of famous people, fell flat again. So flat, that he muttered, “Sorry about that.” — Matt Stevens
Most Historic Double Win: Steven Yeun and Ali Wong of ‘Beef’
They may have gone head-to-head in a bitter feud that crossed 10 episodes of “Beef,” the Netflix road rage comedy that gained a huge online fandom last year, but Ali Wong and Steven Yeun both left the Globes on Sunday with statuettes in hand, as the first actors of Asian descent to win honors for a limited series or TV movie. First, Wong won best actress in the category and delivered an emotional acceptance speech, thanking her ex-husband and children for making it possible for her to be a working mother in Hollywood. A few minutes later, Steven Yeun won best actor in the same category. How do we order up a sophomore outing for Amy and Danny? — Sarah Bahr
Best Speech With a Twist: Yeun
The most entertaining speeches take us on a ride. That’s what Yeun did when he won for actor in a limited series. He started out with a serious and vulnerable tone, saying, “The story I usually tell of myself to myself is one of isolation and, like, separateness.” But then he threw in a twist, saying that once he climbed onto the stage he realized that — wait, that inner monologue “feels a lot like the plot to ‘Frozen.’” It was unexpected yet heartfelt, a joke for his daughter. — Brooks Barnes
Best Speeches With a Dose of Honesty: Kieran Culkin and Robert Downey Jr.
Awards show speeches tend to be mash-ups of gushing adjectives meant to communicate maximum gratitude — “amazings” and “incredibles” aplenty — but a couple of actors were refreshingly measured in their delight. This isn’t the Oscars, after all. Winning for his role as Roman Roy in “Succession,” Kieran Culkin told the audience, simply, “This is a nice moment for me.” And when Robert Downey Jr. stepped up to the microphone, he deflected applause for his supporting performance in “Oppenheimer” by addressing the prescription medication powering his nonchalance onstage: “Yeah, yeah, I took a beta blocker,” he said, “so this is going to be a breeze.” — Julia Jacobs
Biggest Upset: Best Screenplay for ‘Anatomy of a Fall’
The previous group of Golden Globe voters could always be counted on to give us a few unpredictable wins, and though they weren’t always welcome swerves, they at least lent the night a charge of anything-could-happen frisson. That feeling was hard to come by this year, thanks to a series of respectable, safe choices, though the unexpected triumph of “Anatomy of a Fall” in the screenplay category certainly woke up the ballroom: In years past, Globe voters almost certainly would have chosen a starrier pick like “Barbie” or “Oppenheimer,” and it was fun to get a worthy upset. — Kyle Buchanan
Worst Award: The Cinematic and Box Office Achievement Globe
The Globes added a new box-office trophy this year, with nominees required to have earned at least $150 million (or, as the guidelines put it, “commensurate digital streaming viewership”). The whole thing is a little silly, especially in a year in which two huge hits — “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” — were also popular with critics and nominated for many awards. Is it an effort to revive the academy’s widely derided attempt to add a best popular film category to the Oscars? Or just to get more A-listers in the room (including, yes, Taylor Swift)?
Entertainment plaudits are basically made up of vibes and campaigning, meant to create heated discussions. But if there’s anything in movies that’s impossible to argue with, it’s box office receipts and clicks. So what was the undisputed biggest box office achievement in 2023? “Barbie.” Who won this new Globe? “Barbie.” Who else could it have been? — Alissa Wilkinson
Best Writers’ Revenge: A Script ‘Written’ by Studio Executives
Perhaps as an ode to the recently settled Hollywood writers’ strike, the presenters Daniel Kaluuya, Hailee Steinfeld and Shameik Moore announced they would introduce the best screenplay nominees with words written by studio executives — although given the dry, stilted language, the script may well have been generated by ChatGPT.
“I am relatable,” Steinfeld intoned. “I am enjoy the Golden Globes.”
“I do agree,” Moore said.
“As do I,” Kaluuya agreed.
At least the “executives” generated a few laughs.
— Jonathan Abrams
Least Satisfying Reunion: ‘Suits’
What is a “Suits” reunion without Meghan Markle? The law-firm drama that has found unprecedented success on Netflix more than a decade after its debut deserved a moment in the sun just for the sheer number of viewers it accrued in recent months. And I’m sure actors Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams, Gina Torres and Sarah Rafferty were thrilled to present the award for best drama series. But where was Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who was a star of the show and played a key character? She doesn’t live very far from the Beverly Hilton, where the ceremony was held. “Suits” fans had to be thrilled that their beloved cast was alive and well, but without Meghan, can you really call it a reunion? — Nicole Sperling
Most Improved Angle: Shots of the Audience Behind the Presenters
Keeping things interesting visually during an awards show can be a challenging task. Talking heads. Nominees. Award. Speech. Rinse. Repeat. But on Sunday night, the producers mixed it up by pulling a simple reversal and shooting some of the presenters with the audience in the background. It changed the feel while allowing us at home to peek behind some of the presenters during the more boring banter to check out the celebrities behind them. Who’s paying attention? Who can’t be bothered? One drawback was that the lighting didn’t always favor the presenters at these varying angles. But overall, it felt fun and gave a little jolt to the proceedings. — Mekado Murphy
Most Surprising (Apparent) Spoiler: ‘Anatomy of a Fall’
“Anatomy of a Fall” took home two Globes for its taut dissection of the frictions in a marriage, exposed when a wife is put on trial and accused of pushing her husband to his death at their home in the French Alps. Under the scrutiny of a court and the couple’s preteen son, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), defends herself as viewers are left to plumb the evidence for signs of whether her husband’s death resulted from an assault, an accidental fall or his own leaping.
But as she accepted the award for best screenplay for the film, written with her husband, Arthur Harari, Justine Triet maybe revealed what her script did not. Describing their thinking when they completed the script, she said: “OK we are having a lot of fun but it’s radical and dark, nobody’s going to see this movie. It’s too long, they talk all the time, there’s no score — a couple fighting, suicide, a dog vomiting. I mean, come on.” The (accidental?) disclosure of the manner of death seemed out of step for one of the creators of a film so meticulously built to leave audiences guessing. — Elena Bergeron
Best and Worst Reinvention: The Globes Themselves
With the Globes trying to claw their way to semi-legitimacy, this was a perfectly reasonable attempt, but it all felt perfunctory.
High: Intro segments tend toward the cringey at every awards show, and there were plenty of awkward moments here, too, but there were some bright spots: Keri Russell and Ray Romano’s fun repartee, Andra Day and Jon Batiste’s giggly banter and especially Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell’s goofy dance bit. Ferrell’s signature outburst — “The Golden Globes have not changed!” — was probably the biggest laugh of the night.
Low: Kind of everything? The whole ceremony had sort of a blah energy. The speeches were all fine, but none was especially wild. The biggest shock came when the broadcast included what sounded like glasses clattering to the floor. — Margaret Lyons