Unlike most other Hollywood awards ceremonies, the Golden Globes take time to honor both the great television and movies of the past year. While it lacks serious clout compared to, say, the Academy Awards, the Globes are useful in gauging what was important on the big and small screen, and they help set the stage for later award shows. A movie or series that picks up a Golden Globe has a clearer shot at an Oscar or Emmy later on.
The show is also useful as a yardstick for seeing how far the industry as a whole has come in terms of embracing new trends and voices. The show itself may struggle with what to say about diversity — the opening musical number made an awkward, self-congratulatory joke about nominees not being uniformly white this year — but when it came to those the Hollywood Foreign Press deems worthy of honor, TV continues to push the envelope in a way that has left film in its dust. That was clear both in the nominations, and the eventual wins for 2016.
Television has seen the most seismic shifts in Hollywood over the last few years, and that was self-evident at the Globes. The nominated shows included series like Black-ish, Atlanta, The Night Of, Transparent, and others that addressed the experiences of people outside the typical straight white male perspective. Black-ish’s Tracee Ellis Ross won Best Actress in a TV musical or comedy, and she was the first black woman to win the award since 1983. Donald Glover took home two Globes, Best Actor and Best Series, for the irresistibly weird Atlanta, and managed to shout out the Migos for their track “Bad and Boujee” in the process.
Here's the video, Donald Glover says he wants to thank "black people in Atlanta" and Migos for making Bad & Boujee. pic.twitter.com/gwZ0gnDN4W— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) January 9, 2017
The nominees and winners for film were nowhere near as forward-looking. Save for the Best Supporting Actress category, most of the nominations went to white men and women. La La Land, a musical about making art in Hollywood, and therefore an immediate awards favorite, swept the show with seven wins. Casey Affleck took home the Best Actor award for Manchester by the Sea as expected, in spite of serious questions about his suitability as a role model. And even though Moonlight won Best Picture, that was its only win of the night despite it earning six total nominations.
This is not to downplay the incredible work that went into La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, and others. But the contrast was proof positive that the film industry remains relatively conservative when it comes to making or honoring creators who take risks and keep inclusivity in mind. In the year since #OscarsSoWhite broke into the mainstream, films like Loving, Fences, Moonlight, and even the controversial Birth of a Nation have courted awards buzz, and for the most part managed to find a seat at the table. But those films are still a small handful compared to the movies being made by and starring more conventional (read: white) talent.
TV, on the other hand, is consistently making forward strides. That much has been true in the magazine covers showcasing the women and people of color telling their stories on the small screen, and it was true at the awards last night. How long will it take for movies to catch up?
Correction 5:15pm ET: A previous version of this article stated that Tracee Ellis Ross was the first woman of color to win the Best Actress in a TV Comedy Golden Globe since 1983. That was false. She is the first black woman. We regret the error.