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8 Best Grownup Moments at the Golden Globe Awards

Grownups earned honors, jokes were cracked, many drinks were slurped — here are the moments to remember forever


spinner image Paul Giamatti poses with the award for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Motion Picture  Musical or Comedy for "The Holdovers" at the 81st Golden Globe Awards
Paul Giamatti
John Salangsang/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

There was a palpable sense of relief in the crowd at the 2024 Golden Globe Awards telecast Jan. 7. Hollywood’s writing and acting strikes are over; pandemic fear no longer prevented the stars from showing up en masse for a party; and the awards organization itself is making a comeback. After years of scandals that besmirched the name of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Golden Globes organization dropped the old HFPA name and cleaned up its act.   

Here are some more of the most memorably historic moments of a show that gave some over-50 talents their due:​

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spinner image Meryl Streep and Martin Short at the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards
Meryl Streep (left) and Martin Short
Francis Specker/CBS

Meryl Streep, 74, did a command performance

Host Jo Koy, 52, addressed Only Murders in the Building nominee Meryl Streep, 74: “Thirty-four nominations! This woman, there’s nothing she can’t do. ... My mom loves you. Everybody loves you, Meryl.” But he really wanted her to do his favorite line from her movies: “Wakanda forever!” Though Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was one of the rare films she did not star in, she obligingly did it, crossing her fists across her chest. Alas, she lost best supporting TV actress to Elizabeth Debicki, who admittedly was dazzling as Diana in The Crown. There, there – maybe next time, Meryl! 

spinner image Angela Bassett, Robert Downey Jr., and Jared Leto at the 81st Golden Globe Awards
Robert Downey Jr. (center)
Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Robert Downey Jr. gave an honor to the Golden Globes

The winner for best supporting movie actor, Oppenheimer’s Robert Downey Jr., 58, gave the Golden Globe voters — 300 showbiz journalists from around the world — a welcome shout-out. “Golden Globe journalists!” said the star. “Thank you for changing your game, therefore changing your name, salute!” He was more self-deprecating about his own Globe honor. “Dozens of folks have come up to me since the summertime saying that I was, I quote, ‘unrecognizably subtle’ as Lewis Strauss. To my fellow nominees: Let’s not pretend this is a compliment. This is a first time — this is more of a most improved player thing!”

spinner image Jim Gaffigan at the 81st Golden Globe Awards
Jim Gaffigan (left) onstage at the 81st Golden Globe Awards.
Rich Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Comic Jim Gaffigan, 57, celebrated a win for his people

“This is going to be the first time stand-up comedians are going to be acknowledged at a major award show. You know, in a way it’s like the Golden Globes for 80 years. Good-looking people threw a party, right? And then you guys finally decided to invite the talented people!” He added a good gag: “Stand-up comedy is a brutal business. And thanks to Netflix, people get overpaid for it.” But the first-ever winner for best stand-up special was a no-show. Gaffigan had to present the award to himself, since winner Ricky Gervais, 62, boycotted the event. Not totally surprising, since when he hosted the show five times, he was controversially harsh and insulted the celebs in the audience, and quipped, “The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton — a bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker and more easily bought – allegedly!” Gervais was offended that people were offended by his humor, so he and the Globes agreed to part ways. Evidently the Globes voters didn’t hold a grudge.

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spinner image Christopher Nolan, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon at the 81st Golden Globe Awards
Christopher Nolan (left) alongside Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Christopher Nolan brought a tear to our eyes

Nolan won for directing Oppenheimer, his first Globes win after four prior nominations (for Inception, Dunkirk and Memento; he was also nominated this year for writing Oppenheimer). “The only time I’ve ever been on this stage before was accepting one of these on behalf of our dear friend, Heath Ledger, and that was complicated and challenging for me,” said Nolan of the beloved actor, who died from a drug overdose. “And in the middle of speaking [tonight], I looked down at Robert Downey Jr., who caught my eye and gave me a look of support. The same look he’s giving me now, the same love and support he showed so many people in your community over the years.”

spinner image Mark Hamill at the 81st Golden Globe Awards
Mark Hamill
Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Luke Skywalker presented the first Globe award for making big money

“It’s great to be at the Golden Globes,” said Mark Hamill, 72, star of Star Wars and the 2024 Globe winner for animation, The Boy and the Heron. “The only award show with an open bar. I’m very excited to [announce] for the very first time ever the nominees for cinematic and box office achievement.” Who could possibly win? How about the movie with by far the most box office, Barbie? It was a foregone conclusion, but a landmark change in the Globe awards — and it helps the film’s odds for Oscar wins. 

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spinner image Paul Giamatti accepts award for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Motion Picture  Musical or Comedy for "The Holdovers" at the 81st Golden Globe Awards
Paul Giamatti
Rich Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Paul Giamatti struck a blow for educators everywhere

On his sixth Globe nomination and third win, The Holdovers star and best film actor winner Paul Giamatti, 56, made a joke about his aches and pains that some grownups can relate to. “My gosh, so many stairs! Too many stairs, my knees are shot. Never going to be in John Wick 5 at this rate.” Besides showering his Holdovers colleagues with praise, he singled out people who seldom get kudos in showbiz. “It’s a movie about a teacher. I played the teacher in it. My whole family are teachers, all of them, going back generations. Teachers are good people. Gotta respect them. They do a good thing. It’s a tough job. So this is for teachers as well. Thanks, guys!”

spinner image Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, Frank Rich, Jesse Armstrong, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun, Alan Ruck and J. Smith-Cameron accept the award for Best Television Series  Drama for "Succession"
(Left to right) Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, Frank Rich, Jesse Armstrong, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun, Alan Ruck and J. Smith-Cameron.
Rich Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Farewell, ‘Succession’

The Golden Globes did not tell Succession to “F--- off!”: One of the most-nominated TV series of the year shocked no one by winning the Globe for best drama series. “We decided this was the right time to end the show, and that was bittersweet,” said show creator Jesse Armstrong, 53, “because I finally bought some shoes that are appropriate for award shows and this might be the last time I ever get to wear them. But things like this make it much sweeter.” Granted, it might have been even sweeter if Brian Cox, 77, nominated for best drama actor, had won. Only Succession’s youngsters Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Matthew Macfadyen won. Still, it’s a show for grownups with Cox as the dominant character. So we count it as a win for the 50-plus crowd.

spinner image Lily Gladstone accepts award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture  Drama for "Killers of the Flower Moon" at the 81st Golden Globe Awards
Lily Gladstone
Rich Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ was a Native American triumph

Martin Scorsese, 81, made a movie about history that also made history when star Lily Gladstone became the first-ever Indigenous winner for best actress in a motion picture. The only precedent was Irene Bedard’s 1995 nomination for best actress in the limited series Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee. Beating the likes of Carey Mulligan, Greta Lee, Cailee Spaeny, Annette Bening and Sandra Hüller was no mean feat. And it was good to hear the first-ever Globes acceptance speech in the Blackfoot language Siksika as well as English. “This is for every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream," said Gladstone, "who is seeing themselves represented and our stories told — by ourselves, in our own words — with tremendous allies and tremendous trust from and with each other.”

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