The Wife, The Favourite, & If Beale Street Could Talk: Golden Globes Darlings With Something Surprising In Common
It started, as many great things do, with Julia Roberts. The actress’ arrival on the 2019 Golden Globes red carpet in a glamorous Stella McCartney pantsuit/dress combo was treated with a reverence akin to the second coming. Words like “stunning,” “queen,” “legend,” and “speechless,” dominated the conversation on Twitter as Roberts posed with an awestruck Rami Malek, completed a trifecta movie star dream interview with Charlize Theron and Halle Berry, and generally charmed the pants off everyone in sight.
At 51, the actress has enjoyed somewhat of a comeback this year. Nominated at the Globes for her major TV debut in Amazon’s Homecoming, there’s also been rumors of a potential Oscar nomination for her role as a mom struggling to cope with her son’s addiction in Ben is Back. She’s come a long way from the young actress who wore an oversized Armani pantsuit on the Globes red carpet back in 1990, for her first nomination (and win) as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie in Steel Magnolias.
Hollywood isn’t exactly known for being kind to women as they get older (see Amy Schumer’s “Last Fuckable Day” sketch) — and yet Roberts, and other actresses of her generation and beyond, were at the center of Golden Globes this year, in a refreshing departure from the traditionally ingenue-focused show that has dominated in the past.
That trend was reflected everywhere from Twitter reactions (Roberts hugging 51-year-old Nicole Kidman! Regina King and her cute woke son!), to the frenzy over co-host Sandra Oh (47), to the nominees and presenters, who included Jamie Lee Curtis (who, at 60, broke records for the best opening for a movie starring a woman over 50 with Halloween earlier this year), Regina King (47), Nicole Kidman (51), Halle Berry (51), Patricia Arquette (50), Olivia Colman (44), Penelope Cruz (44), Patricia Clarkson (59), and Julianne Moore (58), capped off with 71-year-old Glenn Close winning the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama over Lady Gaga in a major upset at the end of the night.
The fact that these women were not just present and celebrated, but also nominated for popular, complex, meaty roles, proves there’s been a shift in the culture. It’s one that’s been slowly taking over for a while now — take the “Laura Dern-aissance,” the nickname given to Laura Dern’s rise in popularity after the hit of HBO’s Big Little Lies, following years of doing good work with little recognition.
On the one hand, there’s something almost fetishistic about the way we now revere women who seem not to age. Part of Dern’s near-cult status these days comes down to her physique, which belies anything we’ve been told about what a woman in her 50s is supposed to look like. (It’s a look men have been able to pull off for years with monikers like “silver fox,” or “zaddy,” which is only now starting to apply to women.) And there was plenty of that attitude in the air last night, as fans raved about actresses like Roberts, Kidman, King, Berry, and Catherine Zeta-Jones for their youthful glow, and lean, toned arms.
“When I got started, there was just Lucy. That was it. But now there’s a plethora of talented women and that’s wonderful.”
But there was something else at play that feels more radical, and indicates the start of a real turn for Hollywood in light of last year’s call to arms for equality and gender parity in the business. Save for the obsession over first-time nominee KiKi Layne’s Dior gown, Emma Stone’s “I’m sorry!” interjection at the beginning of the night, and Rachel Brosnahan’s win for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, there was a glaring lack of young women in the awards spotlight. The most memorable speeches of the night were delivered by women at the peak of their acting prowess, finally claiming their power after long careers.
Accepting the Golden Globe in the new honorary category that bears her name, 85-year-old Carol Burnett sparked a flood of emotions from her fans as she spoke lovingly of her nearly seven-decade long career in television. On the red carpet earlier in the night, Burnett paid tribute to the funny women she herself admires, pointing out that the very fact that she can use the plural is an achievement in itself. “I want to talk about all the women of course, all the usual suspects: Amy [Poehler], Tina [Fey] and Kristen Wiig, and Kate [McKinnon], and Maya Rudolph,” she said on NBC. “When I got started, there was just Lucy [Ball]. That was it. But now there’s a plethora of talented women, and that’s wonderful.”
With a double nomination in both TV and film categories (for Netflix’s Seven Seconds, and Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk) Regina King received her first Golden Globe in a nearly three-decade long career — and she didn’t waste her chance. King used her time onstage (which she extended, refusing to stop when the band started to play her off) to make a rousing call for the Times Up Times 2 challenge, causing Jessica Chastain, and then everyone else, to jump to their feet clapping.
"I'm going to use my platform to say in the next two years, everything I produce — I am making a vow,” she said. “It’s going to be tough. But I am making sure that everything I produce is 50% women.”
Colman’s win for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite, a biting and utterly batshit role that required her to forfeit any kind of vanity, felt equally vindicating. At 44, the actress, who won her first Golden Globe in 2017 for The Night Manager, has been working for nearly 25 years, and steadily grown to become one of the powerhouses of the British acting set. She’s set to star as another queen, Elizabeth II this time, in Netflix’s third season of the hit drama show The Crown. Yet her speech was that of a woman who is utterly stunned to be she standing where she is.
Still, the crescendo for older actresses undeniably came when 71-year-old Glenn Close won Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama over Lady Gaga, whose earth-shattering performance in A Star Is Born was deemed near-unbeatable. Despite 14 previous nominations, a one past win, Close appeared the most shocked out of anyone. Her face of open-mouth surprise became an instant viral moment, and though many were certainly disappointed by Gaga’s loss, it was hard to begrudge Close this moment in the spotlight. Her speech was one of the highlights of the night, as she pointed out how, just like her character in The Wife, who spends her life sublimating herself for her husband’s glory, too many women are overlooked and passed over.
And though she spoke of her mother as one of those women, after a 45-year career with six Oscar nominations and no win, it was hard not to feel as though Close was also referring to herself. She’s a woman who, not so long ago, would have been unable to find a job in an industry that so often prizes looks and beauty above talent, and certainly above experience.
In a way, this unexpected turn of events was the most optimistic of the night. Even brilliant and accomplished women like Close can feel forgotten or unsung as they age, and we need to be reminded to give them the support and praise they deserve — even on the most fun awards night of the year.