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Netflix Snubbed at Golden Globes as Gervais Skewers Hollywood

Lucas Shaw

(Bloomberg) -- The Golden Globes lived up to their reputation as Hollywood’s most unpredictable awards show.

“1917,” a World War I epic from director Sam Mendes and Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, won the prize for best drama Sunday from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, inserting itself into an awards race just days ahead of its wide release in theaters. Mendes also took home the prize for best director.

That was bad news for Netflix Inc. “1917” beat out four other pictures, including three contenders from the streaming giant: “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story” and “The Two Popes.” Pundits had seen “The Irishman” as the frontrunner -- not just Sunday night but at the Academy Awards next month. But Netflix won just two prizes on the night, one for its TV show “The Crown” and another for “Marriage Story.”

The result is a scrambled race for the best-picture Oscar -- Hollywood’s most-coveted prize -- as nine different movies won awards out of the 14 Golden Globe categories, and no movie won more than three. Netflix fell as much as 1.4% in New York trading Monday.

Complete List of Golden Globe Winners

If any film emerged as a frontrunner for the Oscars, it is Quentin Tarantino and Sony Corp.’s “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood,” which won the Golden Globe for best film comedy. Tarantino also won best screenplay for his ode to 1960s Hollywood, while Brad Pitt won best supporting actor for his performance as a stunt double to the film’s lead actor, Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Thank you to the eclectic and ever raucous Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” Pitt said in accepting his award.

The NBC telecast was hosted by comic actor Ricky Gervais, fronting the show for the fifth time. In his opening monologue, he skewered actors who use their acceptance speeches for political statements -- and the companies they work for.

“Well, you say you’re woke, but the companies you work for in China -- unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?”

The commentary struck a nerve on social media, with the hashtag #HollywoodHypocrites trending on Twitter Monday. But picking Gervais as host didn’t boost the ratings. NBC said on Monday the show was seen by 18.3 million viewers, down about 1.7% from a year earlier.

Foreign Journalists

While the Oscars reflect the tastes of the people who work in Hollywood, the Globes are decided by a few dozen international journalists. They have always shown a preference for big names, leading to surprise winners.“1917,” which opened in select theaters in December, will go into wide release Friday.

Winners in the big Golden Globe categories, best drama and best musical or comedy, have gone on to win best-picture Oscars five times over the past decade. Double winners include “Green Book,” “Moonlight,” and “Argo.”

And while the Golden Globes have never been the best predictor of Oscar glory, the top awards can extend a movie’s life at the box office, and a growing cadre of streaming services view them as a key way to bring in subscribers and attract talent for projects.

Netflix has chased awards with particular gusto, spending tens of millions of dollars on campaigns and angering competitors. Awards voters were at first reluctant to acknowledge Netflix, which has upended Hollywood’s economics.

Major theater chains refuse to show Netflix movies -- because they become available for streaming so soon -- and some major media companies have stopped selling their TV shows and films to the streaming giant.

Filmmaker Resistance

But resistance from filmmakers melted in the face of funding for their projects. A veritable who’s who of filmmakers, including Alfonso Cuaron, Martin Scorsese, Noah Baumbach and Ava DuVernay, has now made films for the company. The imprimatur of those lions of cinema has helped Netflix charm awards voters. The company received more Globes nominations than any other studio, and Cuaron won the Oscar for best director last year.

“No one cares about cinema and no one watches network TV,” Gervais said in his opening monologue. “Everyone’s watching Netflix.”

Everyone, that is, except members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Netflix’s lavish spending and plethora of nominees didn’t result in many victories.

Korean Victory

“Parasite” won the Golden Globe for best foreign-language film, the first South Korean movie to ever win that prize in the event’s 77-year history. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite” is a parable of class, family and privilege about a poor Korean family that insinuates itself into the lives of a wealthy family.

‘Parasite’ Is Awarded Top Foreign Film at Golden Globes

The film debuted in October to ecstatic reviews and was named the year’s best film by the National Society of Film Critics.

The win boosts the Oscar odds of “Parasite,” which has the third-best shot at winning best picture according to Gold Derby. Winning the top prize is always a challenge for a foreign film, and foreign movies can’t even be nominated for the best drama or comedy at the globes.

Unlike the Emmys and the Oscars, the Golden Globes honor both films and TV shows. HBO’s “Succession” was crowned best drama while Amazon.com Inc.’s “Fleabag” won best comedy.

AT&T Inc.’s HBO won the most awards of any network, scoring four between “Succession,” a drama about a family that controls a media empire, and “Chernobyl,” a miniseries about the disaster at a nuclear plant in the old Soviet Union.

Despite earning the most nominations of any network, Netflix only won one prize for TV shows. Apple Inc., a newcomer to the awards circuit, failed to win a statue in its first year competing at the Golden Globes.

The iPhone maker earned three nominations for “The Morning Show,” its drama set behind the scenes of a TV news program upended when one of the hosts is accused of sexual harassment.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook attended the program, and was almost immediately subjected to a barb from Gervais, who last hosted the show in 2016.

“Apple roared into the TV game with ‘The Morning Show,’ a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing made by a company that runs sweatshops in China,” he quipped.

Facebook Inc. also took a shot, from comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen, who was introducing the film “Jojo Rabbit,” a satire about a young German boy who finds out his mother his hiding a Jewish girl in the attic.

“The hero of this next movie is a naive, misguided child who spreads Nazi propaganda and only has imaginary friends,” he said. “His name is Mark Zuckerberg. Sorry, this is an old intro for ‘Social Network.’”

--With assistance from Jeff Sutherland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at lshaw31@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Rob Golum, Dave McCombs

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