Golden Globes Review: Solid Winners Can’t Save a Lame Party That Died a Quick Death SuperNayr

Hosting an awards show is often considered a thankless job. You’re asked to walk out alone, in front of a room full of celebrities and millions of people watching at home, and immediately entertain each and every one of them. If you do, you’re often still forgotten in favor of the night’s winners, surprises, and speeches. If you don’t, then God help you. And right now, God may be the only one ready to listen to more from Jo Koy.

Making Ricky Gervais’ faux-edgy stand-up look sharp and Jerrod Carmichael’s confessional comedy look extra extraordinary, Koy’s opening monologue at the 2024 Golden Globe Awards was nothing short of a catastrophe. Jokes that aspired to cutting satire could barely hold a butter knife — throwing shade at Old Dad Robert De Niro? — and the many others that played it safe were first-thought gags, at best. “I’ve just got one complaint,” Koy said about “Oppenheimer,” the night’s big film winner. “Needed another hour. Could’ve used some more backstory.” Really? You’re going to make that joke about “Oppenheimer”? The movie that made just shy of one-billion dollars, a clear sign of audience impatience? “Killers of the Flower Moon” was right there, a few tables over, and even though the annoying “are movies too long?” discourse is long dead, at least Martin Scorsese’s expensive Apple drama wasn’t nominated for the Globes’ inaugural Cinematic and Box Office Achievement award.

Jo Koy at the 81st Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California.
OPPENHEIMER, Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, 2023. © Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Yo, I got the gig 10 days ago, you want a perfect monologue? Shut up,” Koy said, multiple times throughout a monologue that played as badly in the room as it did at home. There was an Ozempic joke, a joke about Barry Keoghan’s penis, a joke about how billionaires should have sex? If there was a guiding theme to the set, it was “just keep talking,” which is the exact opposite of what audiences were begging for by the end.

And that was that. The tone — rushed, awkward, unfocused — was set. The gig, essentially, was over. Once you piss off Taylor Swift, even the Lord may think twice before having your back. Koy popped back out a handful of times over the next three hours — once, to joke that his velvet suit used to be a couch — but he wisely chose (or was asked) to fade from the spotlight and hope the stars could save the show. Not quite.

As usual when it comes to awards shows, there were a spattering of fun speeches, fewer winning bits, and a whole lot of forgettable talking heads. “Oppenheimer,” dominating the winners’ list with five Globes, did a respectable job keeping its respectable reputation intact. From Robert Downey Jr. shouting out his beta blockers to Christopher Nolan shouting out Robert Downey Jr., the would-be Oscar frontrunner earned the Globes voters’ full endorsement, whatever that’s worth. Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”) kicked off the night with a sweet speech written on two pieces of torn-out notebook paper, while Ayo Edebiri (“The Bear”) appeared similarly shaken onstage, but still managed an earnest thanks to “all my agents and managers’ assistants” — which should not only endear her to the town’s future executives, but also all her fans putting extra hours into their nine-to-five shifts.

Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) and Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”) helped close the night with class, and boy, were they needed because the bits were… inconsistent. Kevin Costner left America Ferrera stranded with a weird, winding monologue that only served to remind us of the “Yellowstone” star’s diva reputation. (Did he memorize the “Barbie” speech or not? I honestly don’t know what we were meant to believe, and that’s on him as an actor.) Jim Gaffigan got a lot of time to set-up the first award for stand-up comedy, but it also didn’t quite build to anything special. (I got the feeling he had a good joke locked and loaded after accepting the award on behalf of an absent Ricky Gervais, but the music cut him off.) Perhaps worst of all: The Globes trotted out best friends and awards show icons Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for a straight, boring spiel about directors. Come on! They’re funny! Even if they vetoed the jokes, at least let Jennifer Lopez whistle from the crowd or something.

Daniel Kaluuya, Hailee Steinfeld and Shameik Moore at the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards, airing live from the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California on Sunday, January 7, 2024, at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, on CBS and streaming on Paramount+. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2024 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Daniel Kaluuya, Hailee Steinfeld and Shameik Moore at the 81st Annual Golden Globe AwardsCourtesy of Sonja Flemming / CBS

A few pairings did, however, provide strong auditions to be next year’s host (though none of them would actually do it). Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig performed a silly little dance that worked precisely because they’re funny and silly people. (“The Golden Globes have not changed!” was a solid quip, and one of the few mentions of the redesigned organization — outside of Edebiri accidentally thanking the now nonexistent HFPA.) The “Across the Spider-Verse” cast of Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, and Daniel Kaluuya gave an excellent rendition of what a category intro would sound like if writers were benched in favor of studio executives. Ray Romano and Keri Russell managed to pull of the tricky patter of “spontaneous” embarrassment. (“Did you see my movie?” “Uh…”)

Stars are who the people want to see, so when they deliver even a taste of what they’ve shown us in full films or TV seasons, an awards show can spring to life. And the Golden Globes provided ample opportunity for that to happen, skirting any extraneous montages, pre-taped sketches, or time-sucking tributes. But the show failed to illustrate why this was an event any different from the dozens like it, where pretty people don fancy dresses and make earnest speeches. No one was drunk. No one was even all that celebratory. If this was supposed to be an inside look at Hollywood’s biggest party — the opening announcer literally teased stars “letting loose” and warned that “censors are standing by” — then the rich and famous need to hire better party planners. There weren’t even any big surprise victors, unless you count “Anatomy of a Fall” winning Best Screenplay — an upset that elicited zero gasps in New York, let alone Peoria.

In a prove-it year for the Golden Globes — the organization had a one-year TV deal with tonight’s broadcaster, CBS, and is now seeking a multi-year commitment from a streamer or TV network — the 2024 telecast did little to illustrate why anyone outside the industry should recommit to the “new and improved” Golden Globes. The awards are still a high-profile advertisement for the year’s fleet of Oscars and Emmys aspirants, offering a coveted platform to movies and TV shows that may not be made without the support of Hollywood’s awards engine.

For that reason alone, the show will, by all accounts, go on. But with little to distinguish the ceremony itself, the Globes will need ratings to prove its relevancy for potential buyers, just as audiences will need a whole lot more if they’re going to tune in en masse.

Grade: D

The 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards were held Sunday, January 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. They aired on CBS and streamed via Paramount+. Dick Clark Productions, which owns and produces the Golden Globes, is a Penske Media company. PMC is also IndieWire’s parent company.

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