NEW YORK, NY – Ricky Gervais made a big deal Sunday about how this was the fifth and final time he was going to host the Golden Globes.
Maybe that's true. Maybe not.
But it's the frame he used this time for his devil-may-care act of jokes that provoke a swift intake of breath. Harvey Weinstein and Ronan Farrow references. A Felicity Huffman license plate line. A biting commentary that actors would line up for work if ISIS ran a streaming service. A bleeped, bawdy punchline about Judi Dench.
Gervais has a sterling track record; that's why he's been back five times. But it was hard to miss the weariness in some of the faces of audience members watching him Sunday.
With two awards to go Sunday and an 11 p.m. Eastern deadline already slipped past, Gervais appeared on the stage and looked at his watch.
“Kill me,” he said. “We're nearly done.”
Joke or not, and even if most audience members could surely appreciate the sentiment, it's not the sort of thing you want from a host.
Here are some highlights and lowlights of the annual show:
An awkward by-product of today's splintered entertainment world is that awards shows frequently honor work that few people know. That's been true with the streaming services' takeover of the television awards, as Ramy Youseff immediately referenced when he won best actor in a TV comedy for his self-titled Hulu series. “I know you guys haven't seen my show,” he said (although his humor and charm will guarantee some will seek it out). This time it reached into the movie category, with director Sam Mendes' World War I epic “1917” winning best drama even though it hasn't been widely released in theaters. That changes next weekend, and Mendes didn't miss a chance for some free advertising.
‘ROCKETMAN’ BESTS SWIFT, BEYONCÉ
Some young fans of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift may have wondered about the doddering Elton John, who had to be rescued from tripping as he took the stage. That was his only stumble of the night. The Globes were a showcase for the 1970s superstar and his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, after voters showed love for the “Rocket Man” biopic and their song, “I'm Gonna Love Me Again.” John noted it was the first time he'd won an award with Taupin. “It's a relationship that doesn't happen very much in this town — a 52-year marriage,” John said. Professionally speaking, of course: his real husband, David Furnish, was in the audience.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge thanked former President Barack Obama for including her Globe-winning comedy on his annual list of favorite entertainment. “As some of you know, he's always been on mine,” she said, a reference to how her character was, um, excited to see Obama in a scene during the first season.
Special awards given to Ellen DeGeneres and Tom Hanks provided emotional high points. When Kate McKinnon of “Saturday Night Live” spoke, it put into focus that it has been two decades since both DeGeneres and the ABC sitcom character she played came out as gay, and the impact that had. “I was in my mother's basement lifting weights in front of a mirror and thinking, ‘Am I gay?’” McKinnon recalled. “And I was. And I still am. That's a very scary thing to suddenly know.” She saluted DeGeneres for forging a path she could follow. DeGeneres gave an acceptance speech laced with her sly humor, from poking fun at endless acceptance speeches and joking that she “couldn't do it without my husband Mark.” Hanks, while suffering a cold, broke down at the sight of wife Rita Wilson and his five children in the audience and gave a typically open-hearted speech about fellow actors in the room. “He has made easy work of breaking our hearts and stealing our tears,” actress Charlize Theron said in tribute.
Director Martin Scorsese and actors in “The Irishman” surely gritted their teeth at jokes about the movies' three hour-plus length. “We're going to see a short clip from 'The Irishman,'” Gervais said. “It's 88 minutes long.” Hanks quipped about wanting to see the outtakes. The jokes would have gone more easily if the movie grabbed some awards, but instead came up empty. There's always the Oscars.
Gervais urged actors to leave their politics at the door, but, really, who expected that? The first political speech came from someone not even in the room: actor Russell Crowe, who left behind a speech for Jennifer Aniston to read when he won for playing media mogul Roger Ailes in “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” It was fortunate that Ailes wasn't around to watch: seeing an actor who portrayed him speak about the dangers of climate change would have driven him nuts. Actress Michelle Williams spoke about a woman's right to choose, Patricia Arquette urged people to vote and Joaquin Phoenix touted activism. Australia's bush fires caught the most attention. Gervais broke his own rule by the show's end, urging people to "please donate to Australia.”
ONCE UPON A TIME
There was a certain joylessness that accompanied Golden Globe wins for Quentin Tarantino's “Once Upon a Time .... In Hollywood.” In accepting an award for screenwriting, Tarantino made sure to note that it's usually a solitary award for people who do work without much help. But this time, he said he had a marvelous cast, “and not just a BS marvelous cast.” If he was reaching for irony, he missed. It was odd, also, that stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt stayed in the audience when the movie won best comedy. Pitt flashed some movie-star charm in winning a supporting actor award, and joked that he wanted to bring his mother to the awards “but I couldn't because any woman I stand next to they say I'm dating." It was right after NBC's cameras caught his ex-wife, Aniston, smiling broadly from the audience.
I NEVER THOUGHT I'D BE HERE
Credit actress Olivia Colman of “The Crown” for the most eloquent — and honest — take on an awards show staple: the I-never-thought-I'd-win-with-so-many-wonderful-people-in-my-category speech. “I got a little bit boozy because I thought this wasn't going to happen,” she confided to several million people.