While honouring the best movies and TV shows, the mostly virtual 78th annual Golden Globes included three noteworthy wins by females. Hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in a first-ever bicoastal telecast from New York's Rainbow Room and the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Sunday was a really big night for these headline makers.
1. Chloé Zhao
Chloé Zhao made history as the first Asian woman to ever win the award for Best Director in a Motion Picture. What’s more, she is also only the second woman to actually win it, period. The Chinese filmmaker’s "Nomadland,"an inspired, moving and original adaptation of the Jessica Bruder book, won Best Motion Picture – Drama too, making it the first film directed by a woman to win in the category.
“‘Nomadland’ at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao, who accepted both awards remotely, said as she collected the Best Picture prize. “So for everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, this is for you. We don’t say goodbye, we say, ‘See you down the road.’”
As Zhao, 38, directed, wrote, co-produced and edited the acclaimed “Nomadland,” she has become the most-awarded filmmaker in a single awards season. As well as acknowledging her team, during her speech, the Los Angeles-based leading Oscar contender thanked the movie’s star, Frances McDormand, who is also one of the co-producers.
In the Searchlight drama, McDormand plays a 61-year-old widow who looses everything in the Great Recession. She embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
While Zhao is the first woman to win Best Director at the Golden Globes since Barbara Streisand won in 1983 for "Yentl,” this year saw three female directors nominated for the gong for the first time ever. The other two female directors were Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman” and Regina King for “One Night in Miami.”
2. Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda’s distinguished and storied acting career, which spans roughly six decades, was recognised at the Golden Globe Awards, with the actress receiving the coveted Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Acheivement Award. It is considered the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s (HFPA) highest honour for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” Throughout her career, Fonda has won seven Golden Globes and been nominated for an impressive 15. She is best known for her work in movies like “Klute” and “Coming Home,” which earned her Golden Globes and Oscars, as well as "9 to 5." More recently, she has been associated with TV shows like Netflix’s "Grace and Frankie."
The 83-year-old award winner gave a powerful acceptance speech while picking up the gong. She championed diversity and encouraged the industry to support and elevate new voices and talent.
“I mean, doing this simply means acknowledging what’s true, being in step with the emerging diversity that's happening because of all those who marched and fought in the past and those who've picked up the baton today. After all, art has always been not just in step with history, but has led the way. So, let's be leaders, OK?," Fonda said in her speech.
The recipient of the award, which has been bestowed upon only 17 women since it was first handed out to Cecil B. DeMille in 1952, is also known for being a “New York Times” bestselling author and fitness guru. However, she’s mostly praised for her unrelenting activism for causes such as women's rights and the environment.
3. Andra Day
Andra Day became the second Black actress to nab the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama award in Golden Globe history and the first to do so in 35 years. The star, who won the prize for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Hulu’s “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” is the only one who has managed to pull off the feat after Whoopi Goldberg did so in 1986, for her role in “The Color Purple.”
Day beat out stellar fellow nominees Viola Davis, Vanessa Kirby, Frances McDormand and Carey Mulligan, who was believed to be the frontrunner. And the first-time Globes winner was also nominated for Best Original Song, “Tigress and Tweed.”
While virtually accepting the award, a stunned Day gave a nod to the other nominees, saying she was "in the presence of giants." She also thanked the "transformative, dynamic Billie Holiday, who just transformed me with this role and with her presence and with her spirit."
In the press room, she also noted the magnitude of the awards accolade. "The thing I take from Billie more than anything is the strength of a Black woman," she said. "To know that the last person who won this award was Whoopi Goldberg in “The Color Purple” is so not representative of how many Black women’s stories have been told sensationally and need to be told by the amazing talented actresses who do this."
The film is based on the book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” by Johann Hari and follows the late jazz singer, also known as “Lady Day”, during her career. The Lee Daniel biopic shows how she was targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation.
Controversy shrouded this year’s Golden Globe Awards after a “Los Angeles Times” story revealed that none of the HFPA's 87 members are Black.