1917 wins top Golden Globe as Netflix favourites fall short


The Golden Globes lived up to their reputation as Hollywood’s most unpredictable awards show.

1917, a World War 1 epic from director Sam Mendes and Universal Pictures, won the prize for best drama on Sunday from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, inserting itself into an awards race just days ahead of its wide release in theaters. Mendes also took home the prize for best director.

That was bad news for Netflix. 1917 beat four other pictures including three contenders from the streaming giant: The IrishmanMarriage Story and The Two Popes. Pundits had seen The Irishman as the frontrunner — not just on Sunday night but at the Academy Awards next month. But Netflix won just two prizes on the night, one for its TV show The Crown and another for the film Marriage Story.

The result is a scrambled race for the best-picture Oscar — Hollywood’s most coveted prize — as nine different movies won awards out of the 14 Golden Globe categories, and no movie won more than three.

If any film emerged as a frontrunner for the Oscars, it is Quentin Tarantino and Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which won the Golden Globe for best film comedy. Tarantino also won best screenplay for his ode to 1960s Hollywood, while Brad Pitt won best supporting actor for his performance as a stunt double to the film’s lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Thank you to the eclectic and ever raucous Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” Pitt said in accepting his award.

Big names

While the Oscars reflect the tastes of the people who work in Hollywood, the Globes are decided by a few dozen international journalists. They have always shown a preference for big names, leading to surprise winners.

1917, which opened in select theatres in December, will go into wide release on 10 January. Winners in the big Golden Globe categories, best drama and best musical or comedy, have gone on to win best-picture Oscars five times over the past decade. Double winners include Green BookMoonlight and Argo.

And while the Golden Globes have never been the best predictor of Oscar glory, the top awards can extend a movie’s life at the box office, and a growing cadre of streaming services view them as a key way to bring in subscribers and attract talent for projects.

Netflix has chased awards with particular gusto, spending tens of millions of dollars on campaigns and angering competitors. Awards voters were at first reluctant to acknowledge Netflix, which has upended Hollywood’s economics.

Major theatre chains refuse to show Netflix movies — because they become available for streaming so soon — and some major media companies have stopped selling their TV shows and films to the streaming giant.

But resistance from filmmakers melted in the face of funding for their projects. A veritable who’s who of filmmakers, including Alfonso Cuaron, Martin Scorsese, Noah Baumbach and Ava DuVernay, has now made films for the company. The imprimatur of those lions of cinema has helped Netflix charm awards voters. The company received more Globes nominations than any other studio, and Cuaron won the Oscar for best director last year.

“No one cares about cinema and no one watches network TV,” Globes host and comic actor Ricky Gervais in his opening monologue on the NBC telecast. “Everyone’s watching Netflix.”

Everyone, that is, except members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Netflix’s lavish spending and plethora of nominees didn’t result in many victories.

Parasite won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film, the first South Korean movie to win that prize in the event’s 77-year history. Directed by Bong-Joon Ho, Parasite is a parable of class, family and privilege about a poor Korean family that insinuates itself into the lives of a wealthy family.

The film debuted in October to ecstatic reviews and was named the year’s best film by the National Society of Film Critics.


The win boosts the Oscar odds of Parasite, which has the third-best shot at winning best picture according to Gold Derby. Winning the top prize is always a challenge for a foreign film, and foreign movies can’t even be nominated for the best drama or comedy at the Globes.

Unlike the Emmys and the Oscars, the Golden Globes honour both films and TV shows. HBO’s Succession was crowned best drama while Amazon’s Fleabag won best comedy.

HBO won the most awards of any network, scoring four between Succession, a drama about a family that controls a media empire, and Chernobyl, a miniseries about a disaster at a nuclear plant accident in the old Soviet Union.

Despite earning the most nominations of any network, Netflix only won one prize for TV shows. Apple, a newcomer to the awards circuit, failed to win a statue in its first year competing at the Golden Globes.

The iPhone maker earned three nominations for The Morning Show, its drama set behind the scenes of a TV news programme upended when one of the hosts is accused of sexual harassment.

Apple CEO Tim Cook attended the programme, and was almost immediately subjected to a barb from Gervais, who returned as emcee for the fifth time — and the first since 2016.

“Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing made by a company that runs sweatshops in China,” Gervais said during a caustic opening monologue that also touched on paedophilia, Jeffrey Epstein and the celebrities caught up in a college admissions scandal.

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