The surprises started early at the 77th Golden Globes when Ramy Youssef from his Hulu series Ramy was the upset winner of night’s first award, best television actor in a comedy/musical, but most of the shocks were saved for the show’s third hour, when Taron Egerton and Awkwafina won top acting awards in categories dense with marquee contenders.
The 30-year-old Egerton won for portraying Elton John in the classic-rock biopic Rocketman despite facing a field of nominees in the best actor – comedy/musical category that included Leonardo DiCaprio, Eddie Murphy and Daniel Craig. Egerton won a year after Rami Malek took home the same award for portraying another flamboyant British rock icon, Freddie Mercury of Queen, in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Egerton, star of the cheeky spy franchise Kingsman, thanked the piano man he portrayed.“To Elton John, thank you for the music,” Egerton said. “Thank you for living a life less ordinary. And thank you for being my friend.”
In the corresponding category for actresses, Awkwafina won over a field that included Emma Thompson and Cate Blanchett for her work in Lulu Wang’s The Farewell.
Last year, Constance Wu was the first actress of Asian heritage to be nominated in the best actress (comedy/musical) for her performance in Crazy Rich Asians. On Sunday, Awkwafina became the first woman of Asian heritage to win the prize.
The biggest shock of the 77th Golden Globes might have been in the animated feature category when Laika’s humble Missing Link topped a field of blockbuster nominees with better pedigrees, larger budgets, stronger reviews and bigger box office.
“I’m flabbergasted,” writer-director Chris Butler said with a dazed expression after he was handed the shiny trophy that most observers expected to go home with one of the three Disney projects nominated. That Disney trio represented three of the year’s biggest box-office hits (Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, The Lion King) and the nominees are now left to speculate just how much the Disney glut might have divided the category and split the ballot.
It was the first win for Laika, the Oregon company that specializes in the meticulous craft of stop-motion animation. The studio had been nominated three times before — for Coraline (2009), The Boxtrolls (2014), and Kubo and the Two Strings (2014).
“I’m genuinely shocked,” said Butler, who also was the writer-director of Laika’s ParaNorman (2012). The victory march for Butler and the film’s producer, Arianne Sutner, was literally a long one in the making — the pair were seated so far in the back of the dining room at the Beverly Hilton that it took quite a while for them to reach the microphone.
The night’s surprises started early with the night’s first category, best actor in a television comedy/musical, a field of nominees that included Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd and Bill Hader. Despite the noted names, the award instead went to Youssef who co-created the semi-autobiographical show about a first-generation Muslim American struggling with his religious identity in a modern world. Youssef commented on a different identity challenge as he accepted the award.
With a toothy grin, the 28-year-old New Jersey native looked out on the audience of famous faces and saw plenty of blank expressions. “I know you guys haven’t seen my show,” Youssef said, drawing a big laugh and an approving ovation. Youssef added that his win would surprise his Egyptian-born parents. “My mom,” Youssef deadpanned, “was rooting for Michael Douglas.”
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