Did Oprah Just Launch Her 2020 Presidential Campaign at the Golden Globes

Gender and ethnic gaps were at the heart of the Golden Globes awards ceremony on Sunday, but it was lifetime achievement award winner Winfrey who wowed the audience with her heartfelt and eloquent speech

Oprah Winfrey poses backstage with her Cecil B. DeMille Award
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Most Americans haven’t seen the movies nominated for prizes in the numerous year-end awards ceremonies, studies have shown. (Sometimes they haven’t even heard of them.) That’s because blockbusters like “Wonder Woman” or “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” don’t usually secure best movie nominations.

This year, though, I was in the same boat. I had heard of the 10 nominations in the Golden Globes’ two best movie categories (dramas and musicals/comedies), but only three have so far been released in Israel: “Dunkirk,” “Get Out” and “The Greatest Showman.” Therefore, I can’t judge whether it’s right and good that “Lady Bird,” written and directed by indie actor Greta Gerwig, won in the best musical/comedy category; or whether the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro deserved to win best director for his film “The Shape of Water.”

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The reason only three of the 10 candidates had been released in Israel is a function of distribution considerations, but some are on their way. Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” which won nothing, will open in Israel this weekend. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” follows the following week, as does Del Toro’s “Shape of Water.” Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name,” which also left the ceremony unrewarded, should be arriving soon, likewise James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” (for which he won best actor in a musical/comedy).

I did see a preview of “Three Billboards,” which claimed four awards, but will expand on that after it’s been released in Israel.

Since the Golden Globes are awarded for both cinema and television, there are a lot of prizes to hand out and the ceremony moves briskly from prize to prize. The Golden Globes are supposed to be livelier and freer than the fossilized Oscars, but there are so many prizes that there’s little time to have fun. Two stars, or just one, climb on stage; early on in the proceedings they can mouth some of the usual platitudes before announcing the nominees, but later they just read the list and stand aside as the winner takes the stage. You sometimes feel that if you blink, you missed it.

Almost all the winners mentioned the sex scandals in Hollywood and many touched on the status of women in the industry, as well as the gender pay gap. Barbra Streisand, who awarded the best director prize to Martin McDonagh for “Three Billboards,” noted that she is the only female director to ever win a Golden Globe – and that was 34 years ago for “Yentl.” Streisand’s call on women to direct stood out all the more given that while Gerwig’s movie won best musical/comedy, she herself was not even nominated for the best director award.

The ethnic aspect of the Hollywood film industry also came up, peaking in the acknowledgement speech by Oprah Winfrey, who won the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. Everybody there seemed to catch their breath as Winfrey eloquently spoke out, sounding sometimes like a presidential candidate. She did not mention President Donald Trump, but she did refer to what his administration is up to.

Host Seth Meyers did mention Trump explicitly, though: “And we’re all here tonight courtesy of the Hollywood Foreign Press. ... A string of three words that could not have been better designed to infuriate our president. ‘Hollywood foreign press.’ The only name that could make him angrier would be the Hillary Mexico Salad Association.”

Another high point was when Kirk Douglas, 101, took to the stage in a wheelchair, together with his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones, to hand out an award. As always in such cases, there was something both moving and embarrassing about the incident – especially when Douglas tried to say a few words that proved incomprehensible. Zeta-Jones didn’t appear to understand them either, or maybe she chose not to share them with the audience and moved onto reading the list of nominees.

Gary Oldman won best actor for his performance as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” which is currently playing in Israel. In his acceptance speech, Oldman forgot to thank his director, Joe Wright, to whom he apologized afterward. Still he may be able to right that wrong at the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4.

The winner in the best foreign film category was “In the Fade,” by the Turkish-German director Fatih Akin. Being a fan of his oeuvre, which includes “Head-On” and “The Edge of Heaven,” I hope “Fade” comes fast. And as for Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot, she presented the ceremony’s first award and, from time to time, the camera rested on her as she sat in the audience.

Gal Gadot and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson presenting the first award of the evening at the Golden Globes, January 7, 2018.
Paul Drinkwater/AP