The best, worst, and most surprising moments from the 2023 Golden Globes

The best, worst, and most surprising moments from the 2023 Golden Globes

Jarrod Carmichael has hits and misses, Jennifer Coolidge leaves 'em laughing, Colin Farrell turns on the charm, everybody loves Brad Pitt, and much more

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Image collage of Angela Bassett, Jerrod Carmichael, Ke Huy Quan, Jennifer Coolidge, and Colin Farrell
Clockwise from left: Angela Bassett, Jerrod Carmichael, Ke Huy Quan, Jennifer Coolidge, Colin Farrell (All photos courtesy Rich Polk/NBC/Getty Images)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

After going dark last year, a seemingly repentant Golden Globe Awards returned this year in a bid to win back Hollywood and viewers. Host Jerrod Carmichael, who kicked things off by addressing the controversies that have embroiled the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, eventually gave way to the stars in the room, some gloriously unhinged acceptance speeches, and the show did its best to live up to its reputation as Hollywood’s biggest party. Here then are some of the best, worst, and most surprising moments from the Golden Globes’ comeback.

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2 / 19

Best: Jerrod Carmichael’s opening monologue

Best: Jerrod Carmichael’s opening monologue

Jerrod Carmichael sits on the 2023 Golden Globes stage
Jerrod Carmichael
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

Rather than brushing off the controversy that kept the Golden Globes off the air last year, Jarrod Carmichael took on the issue directly in his monologue. He pointed out that they didn’t have a single Black member until George Floyd died. “I’m here because I’m Black,” he said, before telling the story of getting the call inviting him to host. “One minute you’re making mint tea, the next you’re invited to be the Black face of an embattled white organization.” Carmichael pulled no punches, admitting that he took the job for the money (a cool $500k, he revealed) after consulting a Black friend. It was a bit awkward at times, but it would have been even more awkward not to mention it.

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3 / 19

Worst: Winners getting played off the stage

Worst: Winners getting played off the stage

Michelle Yeoh accepts the Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy award at the 2023 Golden Globes
Michelle Yeoh
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

“You can forget that piano,” Colin Farrell admonished when the music came up during his acceptance speech. He wasn’t the last to resist being played off. Michelle Yeoh wasn’t as nice about it. “Shut up. I can beat you up,” she said. We believe her. This isn’t anything new, but these winners have earned their time in the spotlight, so let them speak. In the case of Yeoh, she might not have an opportunity to do it on the Oscar stage (Cate Blanchett is heavily favored to win best actress, and her win tonight only improved her chances at the Academy Awards). Carmichael made a point to tell viewers not to blame pianist Chloe Flower, who provided transition music for the show but was not the one interrupting the speeches. Blame the person with a stopwatch in their hand and a finger on the button.

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4 / 19

Most surprising: “Naatu Naatu” wins Best Original Song

Most surprising: “Naatu Naatu” wins Best Original Song

M.M. Keeravani accepts the Best Original Song award for "Naatu Naatu" at the 2023 Golden Globes
M.M. Keeravani
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

In a category that included songs by Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga, who could have predicted that a song from Tollywood sensation RRR would take the win? The film itself was one of the most surprising successes of 2022, so this just follows the trend. It’s also the first Asian song to ever take home the award. But what’s most exciting about this development is that it increases the chances that “Naatu Naatu” will be nominated for an Academy Award in the same category and we’ll get to watch them perform it on the Oscars broadcast.

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5 / 19

Best: Angela Bassett wins Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Best: Angela Bassett wins Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Angela Bassett accepts the award for Best Supporting Actress at the 2023 Golden Globes
Angela Bassett
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

Bassett reminded everyone that the last time she was a Golden Globe winner was back in 1994 for What’s Love Got To Do With It. It was her time again this year, and she looked amazing on the stage as she gave her emotional acceptance speech. Mentioning the late Chadwick Boseman by name, she said, “Weeping may come in the evening, but joy comes in the morning.” She also thanked Marvel fans for embracing the Black Panther franchise, and noted the history made with her win. It’s the first time Marvel has ever won a major above-the-line award (but the Oscars are still to come, so it may not be the last).

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6 / 19

Worst: Will Smith jokes

Worst: Will Smith jokes

Jerrod Carmichael onstage at the 2023 Golden Globes
Jerrod Carmichael
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

As soon as the incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock happened at last year’s Oscars, we knew we’d be cursed to live with Will Smith jokes at every awards show for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t make them any easier to endure. At the Golden Globes, we had to hear Carmichael joke that Smith was the winner of “the Rock Hudson award for the best portrayal of masculinity in an awards show.” But that wasn’t the extent of it. Eddie Murphy ended his acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award with another jab, “Keep Will Smith’s wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” We would hope that the groans in the room would be a sign to other awards show writers that it’s time to drop the subject, but we know they won’t be able to resist.

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7 / 19

Most surprising: Jeremy Allen White wins Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy

Most surprising: Jeremy Allen White wins Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy

Jeremy Allen White
Jeremy Allen White
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

We’re not going to say that Jeremy Allen White’s win for The Bear isn’t deserved—it totally is—but we can’t say it was expected. White has never been nominated for anything before, The Bear has only had one season, and though it was nominated in the comedy/musical category, it’s not really a comedic performance. The achievement is especially impressive when you consider the other actors he beat out to win the award: Donald Glover, Bill Hader, Steve Martin, and Martin Short. No wonder he had tears in his eyes during his acceptance speech.

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8 / 19

Best: Ke Huy Quan wins Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Best: Ke Huy Quan wins Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Ke Huy Quan accepts the award for Best Supporting Actor at the 2023 Golden Globes
Ke Huy Quan
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

Ke Huy Quan started his speech by thanking Steven Speilberg, who was sitting in the audience as a fellow nominee (at least at that point) for directing The Fabelmans. Quan went on to talk about getting started as a child actor in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, and his fears that he would never be able to top it. He credited his return to filmmaking, more than 30 years later, to The Daniels. His sweet and sincere speech set the right tone for the rest of the night.

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9 / 19

Worst: No musical performances

Worst: No musical performances

Rihanna at the 2023 Golden Globes
Rihanna
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

As we mentioned earlier, the Best Original Song category was so strong this year that RRR’s “Naatu Naatu” beat out tracks from Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga. How much fun would it have been to see some of them perform their nominated songs on the stage? We didn’t get to hear more than a brief snippet of them. And Rihanna was even in the house! Without these musical interludes to keep the energy up, the show feels like a long slog to the bitter end.

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10 / 19

Most surprising: Argentina, 1985 pulls off an upset in the Best Non-English Language Film category

Most surprising: Argentina, 1985 pulls off an upset in the Best Non-English Language Film category

Santiago Mitre and Ricardo Darín accept the Best Non-English Language award at the 2023 Golden Globes
Santiago Mitre and Ricardo Darín
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

The category of Best Non-English Language Film was especially strong this year, with five critically acclaimed films from 2022 in contention. No one expected the lesser known Argentina, 1985, about a team of lawyers prosecuting Argentina’s military dictatorship in the ’80s, to beat out All Quiet On the Western Front, Close, Decision To Leave, and RRR, but beat them it did. Between this and winning the World Cup, Argentina is enjoying quite the hot streak right now.

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11 / 19

Best: Colin Farrell tells Barry Keoghan not to eat his cornflakes (and helps all the winners onto the stage)

Best: Colin Farrell tells Barry Keoghan not to eat his cornflakes (and helps all the winners onto the stage)

Colin Farrell accepts the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy at the 2022 Golden Globes
Colin Farrell
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

During a night with some great acceptance speeches, Colin Farrell gave one of our favorites. He spent the first few minutes telling Ana de Armas how much he loved Blonde, then went on to be funny, charming, and authentically humble. After refusing to be played off, he went on to reprimand his co-star (and housemate while filming The Banshees Of Inisherin) Barry Keoghan for eating his cornflakes and leaving him with no breakfast in the morning. He also thanked Jenny the donkey (Jenny lives!). As if that we’ren’t enough, we enjoyed watching him the rest of the night helping others climb the treacherous steps to the podium. What a gentleman.

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12 / 19

Worst: No film or TV clips

Worst: No film or TV clips

Paul Walter Hauser
Paul Walter Hauser
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

Usually, in these kinds of shows, we get a chance to see scenes from the nominated films and shows highlighting what made them worthy of recognition. That’s especially important in a year when a lot of people didn’t see many of the films up for awards. But we didn’t get any meaty clips of the performances, or any sort of introduction to the nominees at all. If this was supposed to be an enticement to get moviegoers back into theaters, it mainly failed on that front. The only clip packages we got were the ones for Ryan Murphy and Eddie Murphy in advance of their lifetime achievement awards. That’s great for catalog titles, but won’t do much to boost ticket sales at box offices right now.

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13 / 19

Most surprising: Jerrod Carmichael name-drops Shelly Miscavige

Most surprising: Jerrod Carmichael name-drops Shelly Miscavige

Jerrod Carmichael
Jerrod Carmichael
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

Tom Cruise made headlines in 2021 by announcing that he was returning the three Golden Globes he previously won. Alluding to that controversy, Carmichael came out from backstage at one point holding three awards he claimed were Cruise’s. That was an expected joke, but he took it one step further and offered to trade them in exchange for the safe return of Shelly Miscavige. For those who don’t know, Miscavige was the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige. She went missing under mysterious circumstances, and the church continues to be super sensitive about the subject. Carmichael may regret the joke when mysterious cars start showing up across the street from his house.

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14 / 19

Most surprising: Kevin Costner wins Best Actor in a Television Series - Drama

Most surprising: Kevin Costner wins Best Actor in a Television Series - Drama

Regina Hall presents the Best Actor in a Television Series - Drama award at the 2023 Golden Globes
Regina Hall
Image: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

The acting categories provided another surprise with Kevin Costner’s win for his role as John Dutton in Yellowstone. He beat out Jeff Bridges, Diego Luna, Bob Odenkirk (who lost his last chance at a Golden Globe for Better Call Saul), and Adam Scott. Perhaps this came as a surprise to Costner as well, since he didn’t show up for the ceremony. Costner did have a legitimate excuse, though—he was “sheltering in place” in Santa Barbara due to the recent flooding. Having experienced the deluge in L.A. over the past couple of days, we can verify that tracks.

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15 / 19

Best: Pretty much any time Jennifer Coolidge was on stage

Best: Pretty much any time Jennifer Coolidge was on stage

Jennifer Coolidge presents the best supporting TV actor award at the 2023 Golden Globes
Jennifer Coolidge
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

For a show that was comparatively short on real comedic moments, Jennifer Coolidge provided plenty of laughs. The first came when she arrived to present the award for Best Supporting Actor in a TV series. She talked about her reservations about being a presenter at the show, including potentially tripping and breaking her skull. When she was advised to wear Crocs, she worried that they would clash with her Dolce & Gabbana dress, quipping, “Those crazy Italians will lose their minds.” Later, when she won for her role on The White Lotus she thanked all the people who kept her going over the years with small jobs and said that her neighbors have finally started inviting her over for dinner. Not only did she made everyone laugh, but she made White Lotus creator Mike White cry. We may have teared up a little too.

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16 / 19

Worst: House Of The Dragon wins Best Television Series - Drama

Worst: House Of The Dragon wins Best Television Series - Drama

Emma D’Arcy, Miguel Sapochnik, and Milly Alcock accept the Best Television Series - Drama award at the 2023 Golden Globes
Emma D’Arcy, Miguel Sapochnik, and Milly Alcock
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

Really, HFPA? Who are these voters who think House Of The Dragon was a better drama than Better Call Saul, Ozark, The Crown, and Severance? We’d just like to have a word. Even executive producer Miguel Sapochnik was surprised at the show’s win, and came just short of admitting that Severance was a better show. The worst part is that it was the last chance for Better Call Saul and Ozark to take home a Golden Globe now that both have finished their runs.

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17 / 19

Most surprising: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appears remotely

Most surprising: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appears remotely

Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Screenshot: NBC

Sean Penn making an unannounced appearance on the show was surprising enough, but he brought an even more surprising message with him. After Penn’s inspiring introduction, President Zelenskyy appeared on screen to thank Americans for their support as his country fights for its freedom. As a former entertainer himself, Zelenskyy knows how to talk to a room of film people, referencing the depiction of war in movies and stating that “there will be no third world war. It is not a trilogy.”

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18 / 19

Best: Everyone saying “Hi” to Brad Pitt

Best: Everyone saying “Hi” to Brad Pitt

The cast of Abbott Elementary
The cast of Abbott Elementary
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC (Getty Images)

We love a running joke, and several presenters and winners kept this one going during the show. Quinta Brunson was so relatable when she paused in the middle of her speech to say hello to Brad Pitt. Others kept the joke going, including Harvey Guillén and Regina Hall. We’re not going to lie, we would have been distracted if Brad Pitt were sitting in front of us too.

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19 / 19