Golden Globe Winners, Ranked From Best to Most Nonsensical

There were few wins at last night’s Golden Globes ceremony that I’d classify as truly deserving the category of “worst” — most were a varying degree of quite excellent, where the deservingness of the competition fluctuated, thus making the actual choices range in their also-deservingness. So ranking the awards from “Best to Most Nonsensical” makes a bit more sense than from “Best to Worst,” though if we’re really discussing it, ranking art in quantifiable superlatives is all pretty nonsensical. Giving into it sure can be fun, though. Thus, here are your winners from last night, ranked in an entirely subjective order from entirely deserving to, well, less deserving.


1. Best picture, drama: Moonlight

With its lyricism, insinuation, and lack of Hollywood-studio-placating-white-character, Moonlight was very dissimilar to your usual awards-bait fare. It examines masculinity, race, and sexuality as it relates three chapters in one boy’s life, and does a wonderful job thereof. Also, its competition included Lion, a film about Cecil the Lion; Manchester By the Sea, a film about forlorn seagulls; Hell or High Water, a film about an overflowing pool; and Hacksaw Ridge, a film about a hardware store.

2. Best picture, comedy or musical: La La Land

La La Land was a delight, and was probably the only thing that merited such a word in 2016. Although it won more awards than it needed, and in doing so overshadowed other relevant work at the Globes, its win in this particular category was unequivocally deserved. Thankfully, it beat Deadpool, which wasn’t even the best film about a pool in this year’s awards.

3. Best series, comedy or musical: Atlanta

Gone are the days where broad sitcoms dominate the TV comedy world: Atlanta is sometimes a hilarious comedy, sometimes an anxiety-inducing or even surrealist drama, and always loose and unexpected; but it’s grounded mostly by its meticulousness at depicting its title city, and black experiences therein. Unlike a series like Girls, another dramedy that likewise deliberately destabilizes itself with an different narrative/temporal choices, but whose characters are often just as inconsistent, Earn, Van, Paper Boi, and Darius feel reliable, despite the mercurial tone of the world Donald Glover depicts around them.

Also, again, the competition – who wants to see Mozart trailblazing through ferns? Been there, done that.

4. Cecil-est B. Demille Award: Meryl Streep

The Cecil B. Demille Award goes to some great people — but I think indisputably this one was one of the Cecil B. Demille-est. If anyone needed further confirmation that Trump depicts a false reality, his comment following her speech about her being “overrated” is a shining example. A president who denies the force of Meryl Streep is like a President who denies the force of global warming. Oh wait.

5.  Best television movie or mini-series: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, FX

The People v. O.J. Simpson’s greatest hurdle to overcome, in being a Ryan Murphy project (albeit one that he thankfully only executive produced), was being a Ryan Murphy project. Oh, and depicting one of the more culturally fraught murder trials of the past few decades without being too salacious or exploitative. Oh, and revitalizing John Travolta’s career. It did all those things, and for that it beat two series about nighttime and The Dresser, a TV movie that’s just the internal monologue of a large drawer.

6.  Actress, mini-series or television movie: Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Sarah Paulson is so good that she even brought flesh and blood to her ectoplasmic-heroin-addicted-dead-prostitute-in-cheetah-print character on American Horror Story: Hotel. It was about time she got one of these, and given that this wasn’t your typical Ryan Murphy project, it was for a role that didn’t require such a long and weird descriptor.

 7. Actor, comedy or musical: Donald Glover, Atlanta

He created, starred in, and wrote a good amount of Atlanta. This award was kind of a Duh-nold Glover situation, if you will.

 8.  Supporting actress: Viola Davis, Fences

Doing justice to August Wilson onscreen is no easy feat, and I can imagine it was perhaps even stranger to translate the role of Rose to film after having played her for months on end for a Broadway audience of over 1,000. And she was forcefully good. And let’s face it, Davis was far superior in Fences than in her role in the new film — which both premiered and closed last night — Hidden Fences

 9. Speaking of which, weirdest racialized invented film: Hidden Fences

Over the course of the evening, two people, Michael Keaton and Jenna Bush Hager, made a new film, right on the spot! Showing their interest in and knowledge of films about black people, they clearly decided to spontaneously make a film of their own!

 10.  Original score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Hurwitz managed to make a great deal of audience members and critics swoon without once giving into the cynical realization of how annoying it’d otherwise be to sit in a movie theater and simply be thinking “*swoon*” on repeat.  The score, as it quotes earlier Hollywood movies and tinges them with a bit more melancholy, serves as a hypnosis device allowing the audience to lose itself in the film’s beauty.

11.   Actress, drama: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

“Isabelle Huppert goes to extremes in shocking psychosexual drama” is a sentence that could describe a great deal of her roles; this one was also peppered with an odd, dizzying amount of humor.

12. Supporting actress: Olivia Colman, The Night Manager

I will say something: I have not seen The Night Manager. But Olivia Colman had a damn good year, and should have also been nominated for her hilariously condescending supporting roles in both Fleabag and The Lobster, and so, alas, while I lamented the loss of a moment to ra[e]ve about Maeve, I am very pleased that she won.

13.  Actress, comedy or musical: Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish

Tracee Ellis Ross’ Dr. Rainbow Johnson is one of the show’s best characters, played with equal parts warmth and neurosis. This was probably the best season of Veep — and Julia Louis-Dreyfus rose to even greater heights than imaginable — but she has enough Emmys to last her through a nuclear holocaust.

14.  Original song: “City of Stars,” La La Land

It’s a testament to the simple charm and beauty of this song that even a month after seeing the film, I still have the melody stuck in my head — and it’s so adaptable to any situation. Say you’re making an oregano heavy dish, it could become “City of Za’atar,” or say you’re having a tough time with college bureaucracy, “City of Registrars” certainly is catchy.

15. Actor, drama: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

He managed to upstage all of the sad seagulls in the poster, and ensure that the sadness of a Bostonian was not overshadowed by the accent of a Bostonian.

16. Supporting actor: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager

Again, I haven’t seen The Night Manager, but Laurie was great — particularly in his fiery scene of sex and disdain with Julia Louis-Dreyfus — on the otherwise overlooked season of Veep, so as an honorary award for that, sure — #15.

17.  Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Would’ve preferred a win for Barry Jenkins — particularly since La La Land swept up pretty much all of the awards, everywhere — but Damien Chazelle did do a mighty gorgeous job making me think Los Angeles gridlock traffic is magical.

18.  Animated film: Zootopia

I’m a fucking adult, so this category is down here, but, fine, Zootopia was great.

19. Actress, comedy or musical: Emma Stone, La La Land

It’s hard to put Emma Stone down here, because she was damn wonderful in this movie. But. Was her role as substantial as Annette Bening’s in 20th Century Women, Hailee Steinfeld’s in The Edge of Seventeen, or Meryl Streep’s as the sweetly/inspiringly/frighteningly deluded, miserable opera singer in Florence Foster Jenkins

20.  Actor, comedy or musical: Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Charming but brooding! Singing but almost not singing! Looking ridiculously dapper! Sure!

21.  Best series, drama: The Crown

This category was rife with series that some years ago wouldn’t have been considered for the “Drama” category — a robo-Western, an 80s throwback about a monster that looks like a floral butthole and his relationship with a small town gal named Barb, and of course the small-scale series about a troop of professional musical chairs players, Game of Thrones. But it was the traditional drama — the biopic about the entire reign of the Queen of England —  that won. Someday the musical chairs show will get its moment in the spotlight.

22.  Actor, mini-series or television movie: Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager

As I said, this one falls somewhat arbitrarily, as I’ve not yet seen The Night Manager. But I will say that because I had to say the word “Hiddleswift” this year, I’m putting him slightly lower on the list than I otherwise might have.

23.  Actor, drama: Billy Bob Thornton, Goliath

Billy Bob Thornton is very good in this show, but seriously, Awards Ceremonies seem like Westworld hosts programmed to say “doesn’t look like anything to me” any time The Americans is nominated for something. Matthew Rhys was incredible this season, as he’s consistently been. What the hell is going on?

24. Screenplay: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should La La Land have won Best Screenplay over Moonlight or the poignant film about seagulls?

25. Foreign language film: Elle

Huppert was great in this film, but again we’re faced with a matter of “should this film have won over the others in the category” — namely Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann and Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. With perhaps a bit milder reaction, I can’t help but see some truth in Richard Brody’s review of the film:

“Elle” exists not to be watched but to be described, summarized, pieced together, because in terms of its action, its characters, its situations, it doesn’t exist except as a pile of tropes and clichés that have neither a material nor a symbolic identity but solely a string of simplistic causes and programmed responses.

26. Actress, drama: Claire Foy, The Crown

This is the only place where xenophobia would have worked for the greater good: Give. It. To. The. Americans. 

27. Supporting actor: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

Scary-psychopathic-hillbilly-caricature-as-envisioned-by-fashion-designer wins over Mahershala Ali.

*A few of the above plot descriptions, if it’s not clear, are not real.