Golden Globes winners include Will Smith and The Underground Railroad

(l-r) Will Smith, Mj Rodriguez, and Ariana DeBose.

The 79th Golden Globe Awards honored the best in film and American television of 2021, as chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), that is. Their nominations were announced on December 13, 2021 by rapper Snoop Dogg and HFPA president Helen Hoehne. The ceremony took place on January 9, 2022. For the first time since 2008, there was no traditional televised ceremony.

There were four winners of note: Will Smith won for best actor in a motion picture drama for King Richard. Ariana DeBose won for supporting actress in a motion picture for West Side Story. Mj Rodriguez made history as the first transgender actress to win a Golden Globe; she won best actress in a drama TV series for Pose; she self-describes as “a young black Latina girl from Newark NJ” — her mom is African-American and her dad is African-American and Puerto Rican. The Underground Railroad won as best miniseries or TV film.

In support of boycotts of the HFPA by various media companies, actors, and other creatives over its lack of action to increase the membership diversity of the organization, the Golden Globes’ regular broadcaster NBC declined to televise the Awards. The HFPA ultimately chose to hold the presentation privately at The Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, California, with attendance limited to the organization’s beneficiaries, and results announced to the public via the Golden Globes’ social media outlets.

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama Actor was won by Will Smith – King Richard as Richard Williams. His competition was Mahershala Ali – Swan Song as Cameron Turner; Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos as Desi Arnaz; Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank; and Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth as Lord Macbeth. King Richard is a biographical drama film directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin that follows the life of Richard Williams, the father and coach of famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, who served as executive producers of the film. It also starred Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn, and Jon Bernthal.

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture, Supporting Actress was won by Ariana DeBose – West Side Story as Anita. Her competition was Caitríona Balfe – Belfast as Ma; Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog as Rose Gordon; Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard as Oracene “Brandy” Price; and Ruth Negga – Passing as Clare Bellew. West Side Story is a musical romantic drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Tony Kushner, the second feature-length adaptation of the 1957 stage musical of the same name. Rachel Zegler, in her feature film debut as Maria, won Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Actress and West Side Story won Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Best Performance in a Television Series – Drama Actress was won by Mj Rodriguez – Pose (FX) as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista. Her competition was Uzo Aduba – In Treatment (HBO) as Dr. Brooke Taylor; Jennifer Aniston – The Morning Show (Apple TV+) as Alex Levy; Christine Baranski – The Good Fight (Paramount+) as Diane Lockhart; and Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) as June Osborne / Offred.

The Underground Railroad (Prime Video) won for Best Miniseries or Television Film, beating out Dopesick (Hulu), Impeachment: American Crime Story (FX), Maid (Netflix), and Mare of Easttown (HBO). The Underground Railroad is an historical fantasy drama streaming television limited series created and directed by Barry Jenkins based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead, starring Thuso Mbedu, Chase W. Dillon, Joel Edgerton, Fred Hechinger, Peter Mullan, Mychal-Bella Bowman and Sheila Atim.

The series is a fictional story of people attempting an escape from slavery in the southern United States in the 1800s utilizing a key plot element that employs the literary style of magic realism. In reality, “The Underground Railroad” was a network of abolitionists, hidden routes, and safe houses that helped enslaved African-Americans escape to freedom in the early to mid-1800s. In the novel and the series, it is an actual railroad complete with engineers, conductors, tracks, and tunnels. Cora, an enslaved woman from Georgia, joins newcomer Caesar to ride the subterranean train to freedom.

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