Girl power was the new black this Sunday at the Golden Globes in Beverly Hills. Actually, black was the new black as almost every woman in attendance was wearing a black dress. This show of sartorial unity was in support of the #MeToo movement which grew rapidly in reaction to the sexual harassment scandals that shook Hollywood late last year.
Female-centric shows Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale both did well in nominations and awards. HBO series Big Little Lies scooped the award for the Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. Actors from the show Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgård were also recognised, winning Best Performance by an Actress, Actress in a Supporting Role and Actor (in a Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television), respectively.
Whilst accepting the best show award, Reese Witherspoon took the opportunity to reach out to ‘People who are feeling silenced…Time is up, we see you, we hear you and we will tell your stories.’ Witherspoon’s production company Pacific Standard was one of the creative forces behind Big Little Lies. She formed the company in 2003 to create a wider range of interesting and authentic opportunities for women in the television and film industries.
Last year audiences were captivated by dystopian series The Handmaid’s Tale. Based on the book by Margaret Atwood, the drama follows the life of a handmaid called Offred. Elizabeth Moss won the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Television Series for her multi-faceted portrayal of the protagonist. The show itself was named Best Drama Series and its tagline: ‘We will bear no more’ made it a surprisingly appropriate win, chiming with the latest movement against sexual harassment and discrimination: Time’s Up. The second season of The Handmaid’s Tale is rumoured to be returning to streaming series Hulu and Channel 4 in April.
“The electric atmosphere of change seemed to herald a new era of zero tolerance and equal treatment for both genders in the industry and perhaps even further.”
Sunday was also a night of firsts. Sterling K. Brown was the first African-American actor to win the Best Actor in a TV Drama category, Aziz Ansari became the first Asian actor to win Best Actor in a Television Comedy for Master of None, and Oprah Winfrey was the first black woman to be awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. The media mogul’s speech was arguably the highlight of the entire evening.
In her speech, Winfrey recalled the feeling of inspiration she felt as a young black girl watching previous black winner of her award, Sidney Poitier, win the Oscar for Best Actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She also used the moment to “express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.” Her words were so galvanising that the audience in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, and indeed the world, were soon calling for her to run against Donald Trump in the next US election.
The electric atmosphere of change seemed to herald a new era of zero tolerance and equal treatment for both genders in the industry and perhaps even further. Although there is still a long way to go before true equality is achieved, as Natalie Portman highlighted as she went off book to announce the ‘all male nominees’ for Best Director. But overall the 2018 Golden Globes were a shining celebration of female creative achievement and empowerment. Let’s hope this is just the beginning.