In their third and final year hosting the Golden Globes on Sunday, January 11, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler held nothing back – and the winners followed suit, commenting on current issues of activism in their acceptance speeches throughout the night. Women in film spoke up for one another, and actors and actresses spoke up for the trans* community and people of color fighting for rights today.
No one and nothing was safe during Tina and Amy’s opening monologue. The two started the evening by cracking jokes about The Interview, this year’s most controversial film by far. As they said, the Golden Globes was a night “to honor all the movies North Korea is okay with.” On a more serious note later in the evening, Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Theor Kingma spoke out in support of free speech “from North Korea to Paris.”
Next in the opening monologue, Amy commented on Hollywood’s standards for women, saying that Boyhood, a movie filmed over the course of 12 years with the same cast, proves that there are “still great roles for women over 40 as long as you get hired under 40.”
Tina continued on that same line of thought when she said that it took Steve Carell 2 hours each day to prepare for his role in Foxcatcher, and for comparison, it took her 3 hours prior to the Golden Globes to prepare for her role as “human woman.”
Tina’s comments about Amal Alamuddin’s achievements as a human rights lawyer were met with thunderous applause. Amal is best known for being George Clooney’s wife, but she certainly deserves to be known for her own work.
As Tina said, “Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected for a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
Of course, George Clooney’s work as a human rights activist was highlighted during his award, but it was a welcome change to hear Alma’s work highlighted as well.
Tina also used Drama of the Year nominee Selma to comment on current events in America today. She sarcastically called Selma, “the American Civil Rights movement that totally worked and now everything’s fine.” Later, Common and John Legend won Best Original Song for ‘Glory; from Selma, and Common took that moment to say to the audience: “Selma is now.”
Tina and Amy concluded their opening monologue with jokes about Bill Cosby. The audience sounded shocked at the jokes, but Tina and Amy were careful to make them not at the expense of rape victims, but at Bill Cosby himself, mimicking his voice.
One of the first awards of the evening went to Joanne Froggatt for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey. During her acceptance speech, Joanna said that she received letters from women in response to her character’s rape during the last season.
“One woman summed up the thoughts of many, saying she wasn’t sure why she had written but she just felt in some way she wanted to be heard,” Joanna said. “I’d like to say, I heard you and I hope saying this so publicly in some way means you feel the world hears you.”
Another highlight of the evening was Gina Rodriguez’s tearful acceptance of the award for Best Actress in a Television Series (Comedy) for her role in Jane the Virgin. Gina spoke up for Latino culture in her acceptance speech, saying, “this award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes. My father used to tell me to say every morning: ‘Today is going to be a great day. I can and I will.’ Well, Dad. Today is a great day. I can and I did.”
The transgender community was represented at the Golden Globes by the Amazon Play series Transparent, which won for Best Television Series (Comedy or Musical). Producer and writer Jill Soloway dedicated the Golden Globe to Leelah Alcorn “and transgender people who died too young.”
Later in the evening, Jeffrey Tambor won Best Actor in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical) for his portrayal of Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman in the midst of her transition.
“I want to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community,” Jeffery said. “Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your courage. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for your patience. And thank you for letting us be a part of the change.”
Amy Adams was also among winners using their acceptance speech time to speak up. She won Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her role in Big Eyes. Amy played Margaret Keane, a real painter from the ‘50s and ‘60s whose husband took credit for her work. Amy commented that her character was a woman with a quiet voice who finally got to use it.
“It’s so wonderful that women today have such a strong voice,” Amy said. “I have a four-and-a-half-year-old, and I’m so grateful to have all the women in this room. You speak to her so loudly.”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, who won Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for The Honorable Woman, thanked the ‘honorable’ women in her personal life, and Patricia Arquette of Boyhood spoke up for single mothers in her acceptance speech for Supporting Actress in Boyhood.
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey ended their three-year run as Golden Globes hosts by cracking jokes that made viewers laugh while drawing attention to important issues. Hopefully award seasons will continue to tackle activist issues in 2015 and years to come, even without Tina and Amy as hosts.