(Bloomberg) -- “Green Book,” about race relations in the 1960s U.S. South, and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, emerged as the top films at the 76th Golden Globe Awards.
Rami Malek, who portrayed the late singer in the 20th Century Fox film, won the Golden Globe for best actor in a film drama at the ceremony Sunday in Beverly Hills, California. “Green Book” won a total of three awards, a big showing for Universal Pictures that gives the film a boost for the Oscars.
“We are still living in divided times,’’ Peter Farrelly, director of “Green Book’’ said in his acceptance speech. The film script -- about a racist Italian-American who drives a black musician through his tour of the South -- gave him hope, he said. “We want to be treated equally.’’
The Golden Globes set the stage for the race to the Academy Awards, with voting on the Oscars scheduled to begin Monday. While the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Globes, has no say in the Oscars, their award choices sometimes overlap. “A Star Is Born,” with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, was mostly snubbed despite being the favorite to win in several categories.
The Globes show, hosted on NBC by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, got to the big issue in Hollywood right away -- slow progress in promoting diversity in front of and behind the camera for women and minorities. Oh took a moment to say the industry is changing, with nominees this year that include “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Faces of Change
“I see you, all these faces of change, and now so will everyone else,” Oh told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Oh made history herself as the first woman of Asian descent in a generation to win best actress in a TV series drama for her role in “Killing Eve.”
“Bohemian Rhapsody” was controversial in its production, with the replacement of Bryan Singer, its director, who has denied accusations of sexual assault. Some critics also felt Mercury’s homosexuality and death from AIDS was underplayed.
“Green Book,” which starred Viggo Mortenson and Mahershala Ali, also ran into criticism, including from family members of Don Shirley, the virtuoso musician played by Ali. Some critics complained the movie was too much a white man’s view of a black man’s life.
Netflix Inc. led all studios with five wins, including prizes for “Roma,” about the maid in a well-to-do Mexican family, and the comedy “The Kominsky Method.” Alfonso Cuaron won best director for “Roma,” which also grabbed the prize for best foreign-language film. “The Kominsky Method” won Golden Globes for best comedy and best actor for its star Michael Douglas.
The wins for “Roma” gave “that film the push it needed,” said Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango.com “I think ‘Roma’ is your new best picture Oscar frontrunner starting now.”
To help win awards, Netflix is giving some releases more theatrical exposure than ever before. Cuaron said “Roma” may have gotten more exposure than if he had chosen a traditional distributor.
The streaming service is devoting more resources to pursuing awards to help attract top talent for creating original content. Netflix faces rising competition from the likes of Walt Disney Co., which acquired 21st Century Fox Inc. and plans to introduce its own Internet-based movie and television service.
Many of the women who took home Golden Globe awards used their speeches to call for more opportunity for females in Hollywood. A recent study from the University of Southern California showed African-American men making progress in Hollywood, while women lagged behind.
Regina King, who won her first Golden Globe for a supporting role in the Annapurna Pictures film “If Beale Street Could Talk,” pledged in her acceptance speech to ensure that women have 50 percent of the jobs in her future projects.
Politics was a big topic as usual. Christian Bale won for best actor in a motion picture musical or comedy for his portrayal of Vice President Dick Cheney, thanking Satan for the inspiration for the role. Some of the scenes of “Vice” take a satirical approach, making of Cheney a malevolent player on the U.S. political stage. The win gave Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures one of its two awards on the night.
(Adds background on Netflix award push in 12th paragraph. An earlier version fo this story corrected the names of awards in first paragraph and final paragraph.)
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