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Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book honoured in a night of surprises

A number of films were shut out and went home empty-handed despite multiple nominations apiece

Los Angeles

IN A NIGHT of major upsets, Green Book, a divisive road movie about race relations, emerged as the big winner at the 76th Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night, taking home three trophies, including best comedy. Bohemian Rhapsody was named best drama, leaving A Star Is Born, the expected frontrunner, with a lone Globe for best song.

Among the other surprises, the veteran Glenn Close beat Lady Gaga for best actress. Gaga was expected to win for A Star Is Born, her first leading role in a movie. A shocked Close, who won for The Wife, spoke of her mother - a woman "who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life. We have to find personal fulfillment," Close said forcefully after gaining her composure, as actresses in the ballroom jumped to their feet. "We have to follow our dreams." Close, crying and grasping for words, noted that her movie, The Wife, took 14 years to get made.

The ceremony - a rollicking, rowdy affair during which multiple winners were bleeped on the NBC telecast because of their remarks at the microphone - was notable for its attention to diversity.

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Female winners like Close and Regina King, who won best supporting actress for If Beale Street Could Talk, used their moments in the spotlight to speak out for women's rights. Sandra Oh, as a co-host and a winner for her acting in the TV drama Killing Eve, applauded Hollywood for making headway with inclusion efforts.

Other winners included African-American actor Mahershala Ali, for Green Book, and the openly gay Ben Whishaw, who received a Globe for the Amazon mini-series A Very British Scandal. Alfonso Cuarón won best director for Roma, his subtitled black-and-white homage to life in Mexico City in the 1970s. Roma also won the foreign film prize. "Gracias familia, gracias Mexico," he said from the stage.

Bohemian Rhapsody, the blockbuster Freddie Mercury biopic, also won two Globes, with Rami Malek beating Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) for best actor. (Malek notably did not thank the director of the film, Bryan Singer, who was fired before production was completed.) "Thank you for your courage in embracing your true self," Graham King, a Bohemian Rhapsody producer, said of Mercury in collecting the best drama Globe.

No other film won more than one. A number of movies - Mary Poppins Returns, BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, Boy Erased, Can You Ever Forgive Me? - went home empty-handed despite multiple nominations apiece.

Gaga, Mark Ronson and the other songwriters of Shallow, from A Star Is Born, collected the Globe for best song. "To the captain of the S S Shallow," Ronson said, speaking first and looking toward Gaga, who was standing next to him with tears in her eyes. "The genius comes from you." She leaned into the microphone and said, "As a woman in music, it is really hard to be taken seriously as a musician and as a songwriter." With that, the producers of the show started to play the group offstage, seemingly determined to keep the ceremony moving at a breakneck clip.

The foreign press association, rather strangely (or not, given its focus on celebrity), considers foreign films ineligible for its best picture awards, limiting the impact that Roma could have on the night. (In another quirk, American studios can dictate where their films compete, hence the classification of A Star Is Born as a drama and not a musical.)

Few films had more riding on Sunday night than Green Book. It has been a box-office disappointment, collecting US$35 million (roughly half of which goes to theatre owners) and costing an estimated US$50 million to make and market. Some people adore the film's feel-good depiction of inter-racial friendship in the Deep South during the 1960s. Others have been appalled by its reliance on racial cliché.

Its win for best comedy or musical may give Green Book a much-needed boost. "We're still living in divided times," said Peter Farrelly, who directed the film. "This story, when I heard it, gave me hope." Green Book also won best screenplay and best supporting actor, which went to Ali, who plays an erudite pianist in the film.

Olivia Colman won best actress in a comedy or musical for her work in The Favourite, a pitch-black comedy about royal schemers. Best actor in a comedy or musical went to Christian Bale, who portrayed former vice president Dick Cheney in Vice. "Thank you, Satan, for giving me inspiration on how to play this role," Bale said in accepting the award.

In accepting her trophy for best supporting actress, King thanked her publicists and then, refusing to leave the stage as the orchestra started up, spoke about the need for equal employment opportunities for women, in Hollywood and elsewhere. "Time's Up times two," she said.

For all of the attention given to the movie winners, best actress in a TV drama was one of the most intriguing matchups of the night, pitting a co-host versus a Hollywood legend. Oh won for her performance in BBC America's buzzy Killing Eve. She beat out, among others, the Oscar-winning Julia Roberts, nominated for playing a mysterious counsellor on Amazon's Homecoming, her first regular television role. Oh was not recognised by Emmys voters in September. Both Killing Eve and Homecoming were passed over for best television drama, however. That award went to the FX spy drama The Americans - an honour the series never achieved at the Emmys before ending its six-season run last year.

In a surprise, The Kominsky Method (Netflix) beat The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon) for best television comedy. A creator of The Kominsky Method, Chuck Lorre, thanked Michael Douglas and the show's other star, Alan Arkin. Douglas won best actor for his work on the show. "For 45 years, you've always surprised me and treated me so well," Douglas said, addressing the members of the press association. He dedicated the award to his father, Kirk Douglas, 102.

Amazon did get one win when the star of Mrs Maisel, Rachel Brosnahan, retained her crown for best actress in a TV comedy. It was not a good night for HBO, which only converted one of its nine nominations into a win: Patricia Clarkson received the Globe for her supporting role in Sharp Objects.

The Globes dispensed with the seriousness that characterised last year's ceremony, when actresses draped themselves in black to protest sexual harassment, and got underway at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday night with red gowns, an award for comedic TV acting and a co-host yelling, "We're going to have some fun!" With that, Andy Samberg and the night's other host, an ebullient Oh, breezed through a "nicing" of the room instead of the usual roasting. They did not make one joke at President Donald Trump's expense. Jim Carrey, a nominee for Showtime's Kidding, participated in a goofy gag from a table in the ballroom. The sharpest bits came from Oh, who pretended to be a Neanderthal studio executive searching for a director - "First, man. If man not available, pair of man." - and ended with a teary acknowledgment of the "moment of change" in Hollywood over the past year regarding diversity on-screen. "Right now," she said, "this moment is real".

Jeff Bridges collected the Cecil B DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in film, and Carol Burnett accepted a new award, named after her, for career achievement in television.

Steve Carell presented Burnett with the award, calling her "one of the most revered, respected and most well-liked people in show business" before making an off-colour quip about nice-guy Tom Hanks that NBC censors bleeped. Julia Roberts offered a rambunctious hoot from the audience, which jumped to its feet.

"I'm really gobsmacked by this," Burnett, 85, said. "Does this mean I get to accept it every year?" She used most of her speech to reminiscence about the TV industry of the 1960s and '70s, ending with her signature line, "I'm so glad we got this time together."

Bridges, 69, offered no deep thought on any topic other than the joy of being alive, using most of his time to rattle off thank yous. "I've got to thank my sweetheart," he said, gesturing to his wife, Susan Geston. "Forty-five years of support and love." NYTIMES