Standout moments from the Golden Globe Awards, which returned to television Tuesday night after a year’s absence.
DON’T SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER
Pianist Chloe Flower had a sweet gig at the Golden Globes, playing TV and movie theme songs on camera as the show went to commercial breaks, but it turned temporarily sour when some in the viewing audience wrongly assumed she was the one deciding when annoyed winners had to wrap up their speeches.
“Shut up, I can beat you up,” said Michelle Yeoh, the star of many a kung fu movie, when piano music began playing her off about two minutes into her acceptance of the Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy film for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
“You can forget that piano,” Colin Farrell said over the music as he accepted the male version of the same award for “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
When Austin Butler won best actor in a drama film for “Elvis” and the piano began, he pleaded for a song by the man he portrayed.
“At least play ‘Suspicious Minds’ or something,” Butler said.
But none of that was Flower.
“People on Twitter are mad like she’s playing people off, but it’s a track,” host Jerrod Carmichael said during the show. “Chloe, we are lucky to have you.”
Flower tweeted on the topic herself mid-show.
“I would never play piano over people’s speeches!!” she wrote. ”I’m only playing when you see me on camera!”
MURPHY SLAPS WITH TWO MINUTES AND A MIC DROP
Eddie Murphy certainly didn’t need playing off. Many who win the Cecil B. DeMille Award, a lifetime achievement prize, use the moment to make a major speech. Oprah Winfrey ‘s in 2018 inspired calls for a presidential run. But Murphy’s acceptance took just two minutes, shorter than many of the night’s regular winners.
He thanked a handful of people and quickly wrapped it up with a mic-drop joke about Will Smith and Chris Rock.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time so I could stand up here and keep saying thank you until they play the piano,” Murphy said. “But I’m gonna wrap it up and just say something to all the up-and-coming dreamers and artists that are in the room tonight. I want to let you know that there is a definitive blueprint that you can follow to achieve success, prosperity and peace of mind. Pay your taxes, mind your business, and keep Will Smith’s wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth!”
TEARS FOR LEAN YEARS AND LOST FAMILY
Despite the Globes’ diminishment amid controversy in recent years, winning them still brought plenty of tears, sometimes from unexpected people. Ke Huy Quan set the emotional tone as he cried throughout his acceptance of the night’s first award, best supporting actor in a film for “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” He tearfully thanked Steven Spielberg for giving him his start in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” before talking about the decades he spent thinking he would never get to top it.
Spielberg, who has remained restrained winning bigger awards, got emotional when he won the best director Globe for “The Fabelmans.” Because this one was about his family. “I’ve been hiding from this story since I was 17 years old,” he said, his voice cracking. He called out each of his family members by name, ending with his late mother, Leah Adler, who inspired the Michelle Williams character at the heart of the film, saying “she is up there kvelling about this right now.”
Jennifer Coolidge, who always seems to be doing a bit when she speaks on stage, and frequently was Tuesday night as a presenter and winner, shed a few sincere tears when she effusively thanked creator Mike White for putting her in “White Lotus,” for which she won best actress in a limited series.
“You changed my life in a million different ways,” Coolidge said. “My neighbors are speaking to me.”
White wept during the speech, and was still red-eyed minutes later when he accepted the best limited series award for the show.
EXCUSING ALL THE ABSENCES
On a night when some boycotted the show, Golden Globes presenters took the rare step of explaining, sometimes in detail, why some winners weren’t there. Cate Blanchett, winner of best actress in a movie drama for “Tár,” “couldn’t be here tonight because she’s on production in the UK,” presenter Henry Golding said.
Amanda Seyfried, winner of best actress in a limited series for “The Dropout,” “is deep in the process of creating a new musical so she could not be here tonight,” presenter Mo Brings Plenty said.
Regina Hall made it clear that she was reading from a teleprompter and mocked the explanation she had to give for Kevin Costner not accepting his best actor in a TV drama award for “Yellowstone,” despite the serious subject matter of this week’s severe flooding in California.
“He so much wanted to be here,” Hall said, shaking her head and laughing, “but because of the unprecedented weather, he has to shelter in place, in Santa Barbara.”
“Let’s pray everyone,” she said, before catching herself and saying “no, that’s awful.”
CARMICHAEL CASUALLY COURTS CONTROVERSY
Host Jerrod Carmichael pulled no punches with his jokes, starting with his opening monologue, in which he said he was hired “because I am Black.” A few of his on-the-edge jokes, delivered in his laid back style, fell flat, including a dig at Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology, and his calling the Beverly Hilton, the Globes’ longtime home, “the hotel that killed Whitney Houston.” The superstar died in a room there in 2012.
But a joke based on the antisemitic statements of Ye, formerly Kanye West, got a strong laugh when Carmichael told Spielberg that he had seen “The Fabelmans,” which is based on Spielberg’s Jewish family.
“I actually saw it with Kanye,” Carmichael said, “and it changed everything for him.”
Spielberg responded with a “thank God” gesture.