Phil Mansell reflects on the highlights of the evening and which films shone, and which flopped.

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

The 71st Golden Globe Awards, brilliantly presented for the second year running by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, produced few shocks and saw ‘American Hustle’ emerge as the biggest winner, with three awards. Fey and Poehler’s opening monologue set the perfect tone for the evening, with a number of jokes which, whilst borderline offensive, didn’t overstep the mark and kept the famed Globes atmosphere relaxed. Biggest laugh went to Tina Fey’s comment that ‘Gravity’ “is the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age”. Clooney was not in attendance, but his co-star Sandra Bullock clearly enjoyed the joke.

Whilst not one film dominated the awards, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and ‘American Hustle’ came away with two and three awards respectively. ‘American Hustle’ won Best Musical or Comedy, with Amy Adams winning Best Actress in that category, and Jennifer Lawrence winning Best Supporting Actress. There wasn’t a great deal of surprise at these wins, with Adams’ and Lawrence’s performances being lauded as favourites in the days leading up to the ceremony. The category for Best Musical or Comedy was a strong one, with nominations for Scorsese-directed ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, as well as ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, ‘Her’ and ‘Nebraska’, all of which have been met with critical acclaim. ‘American Hustle’ triumphing here is a big victory, particularly as it is stretching the definition to call it a comedy. There are moments of comedic melodrama in the film, but its dramatic elements are those which drive the film. As an added point, it was actually submitted to the Golden Globes for entry into the Drama category, but was instead chosen for Musical or Comedy.

The two wins for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ came in performance categories, with Matthew McConaughey winning Best Actor for his turn as Ron Woodrof, an AIDS patient who smuggled medical drugs from Mexico to the US in the 1980s. McConaughey defeated the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tom Hanks and Idris Elba (for his role as Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom), and whilst certainly deserving, he was a slightly surprising choice to win the award. Jared Leto won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Rayon, a transgender AIDS patient.

It was a slightly disappointing evening for British hopefuls at the awards. Ejiofor was nominated for his stunning turn at Solomon Northup in Steve McQueen’s slave-drama epic ‘12 Years a Slave’, but lost out to Leonardo DiCaprio for his role in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. This would have been the most likely individual British success of the evening, but was not to be. Equally disappointed would be McQueen himself, who lost out to Alfonso Cuaron for Best Director. A particularly tight contest, the direction of both films was staggeringly good, with Cuaron prevailing for his perseverance and ingenuity in making ‘Gravity’ an absolutely stunning watch in both 2D and 3D.  With three English actresses nominated for Best Actress in a Drama, there was a fair feeling that one of Kate Winslet, Judi Dench or Emma Thompson would come away victorious. However, the award went to the favourite Cate Blanchett for her performance in Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’.

In the TV awards, ‘Breaking Bad’ unsurprisingly emerged victorious as Best Drama, whilst Bryan Cranston won Best Actor in a Drama for his role as meth-dealing Walter White. Whilst there were other strong shows in the Best Drama category, such as ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘House of Cards’, there was little doubt that Breaking Bad would win the award. Presenter Amy Poehler finally won Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her hilarious performances of city councillor Leslie Knope in ‘Parks and Recreation’, smooching Bono with excitement after her name was announced. ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ won Best Musical or Comedy, and Andy Samberg was named Best Actor for his role as Jake Peralta in it. ‘Behind the Candelabra’ continued to win awards (it seems to have been doing so forever), taking both Best Miniseries or Television Film and Best Actor award for Michael Douglas’ role as Liberace.

The final award of the night was for Best Drama. ‘12 Years a Slave’ was regarded as the clear favourite going into the ceremony, but the presence of ‘Gravity’ and ‘Captain Phillips’ in the same category, as well as the fact that McQueen’s film had been unsuccessful thus far, led to a genuine sense of excitement surrounding the award. When ‘12 Years a Slave’ was announced as the winner, there was a sense of relief that such an outstanding film had not been completely overlooked. Oscar nominations suggest that ‘American Hustle’ will continue to dominate the awards season (with 10 nominations, tied with ‘Gravity’), but if the Golden Globes is anything to go by it will be difficult to predict.