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The Best and Worst of the Golden Globes Acceptance Speeches

Cheers for Sterling K. Brown and Laura Dern, jeers for James Franco, and a WTF for Nicole Kidman

Getty Images/Ringer Illustration

Outside of Seth Meyers’s edgy monologue and Oprah’s inspirational speech, there were a lot of other words spoken at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, most of them by the award winners. Of course accepting an award is an award-worthy endeavor in itself. Here are our superlatives for the evening’s trophy recipients.

Weirdest Imagery: Nicole Kidman, Best Actress—Limited Series or TV Movie

Kate Halliwell: As the first winner of the night, Kidman kicked off the show by thanking her Big Little Lies costars and attributing her win to the power of women. “I do believe and I hope we can elicit change through the stories we tell and the way we tell them,” Kidman said. She ended her speech on a more personal note: “Keith Urban, when my cheek’s against yours, everything melts away, and that’s love.” She didn’t expand on how her husband would manage to get his cheek against hers, but we assume he’d be wearing lifts.

Best Repeat Performance: Sterling K. Brown, Best Actor—Television Series (Drama)

Daniel Chin: While many acceptance speeches are often routine and predictable, Brown continues to use the short window of time to say something impactful. After his powerful speech at the Emmys, Brown spoke at the Globes on the state of black actors in Hollywood and used the opportunity to thank writer Dan Fogelman for the creation of his character on This Is Us: “You wrote a role for a black man. That could only be played by a black man. And so what I appreciate so much about this thing is that I’m being seen for who I am, and being appreciated for who I am, and it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me or dismiss anybody who looks like me.”

Most Selfish Curve: James Franco, Best Actor—Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy)

Ricky Wolff: Franco made his worst awards-season blunder Sunday since his awkward turn as cohost of the Oscars in 2011. After winning a Globe for his starring role in The Disaster Artist, Franco invited The Room star Tommy Wiseau onstage. But as the (self-described) New Orleans native tried to grab the mic, Franco steered him away, depriving the world of what would have been, no doubt, a truly glorious speech. Making matters worse, Franco then performed a Wiseau impression with Wiseau standing right next to him. You’re tearing me apart, Franco.

Most Inexplicable Use of the Mute Button: Frances McDormand, Best Actress—Motion Picture (Drama)

Halliwell: “Well, I have a few things to say.” McDormand’s acceptance speech went exactly as well as you’d expect, as she went straight from offering to buy tequila shots for her fellow category members to extolling the virtues of “brick and mortar” movie theaters. Even a rogue mute button, which inexplicably bleeped out words like “Fox Searchlight” and “tectonic shift” couldn’t keep McDormand silent, and she managed to slip a few actual curse words by the censors. “Trust me, the women in this room tonight are not here for the food,” she finished with a knowing wave of her finger. “We are here for the work. Thank you.”

Best Shutdown of the Hurry-Up-and-Finish Music: Guillermo del Toro, Best Director—Motion Picture

Wolff: The Mexican director won his first Golden Globe for The Shape of Water. In an exuberant acceptance speech, a clearly emotional del Toro waxed lyrical about monsters and science-fiction movies. “For 25 years I have handcrafted very strange little tales, made of motion, color, life, and shadow. And in many of these instances … these strange stories, these fables have saved my life.” In the midst of his speech, the music began to play to signal that his allotted time was nearly up. Del Toro, intent on finishing, protested: “Lower the music, guys. It’s taken 25 years to get here, give me a minute.”

Worst Opening Sentence: Alexander Skarsgard, Best Supporting Actor—TV Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie

Chin: When Skarsgard opened up by saying, “I have a friend who is 8 years old,” I immediately knew this speech wasn’t going to go over well.

Best Argument to Start Snitching: Laura Dern, Best Supporting Actress—TV Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie

Halliwell: Dern accepted her award by invoking her character Renata Klein on Big Little Lies and speaking to the “culture of silencing” that was normalized both in the plot of the HBO miniseries and over the years in Hollywood. “Many of us were taught not to tattle,” she said. “I urge all of us to not only support survivors and bystanders who are brave enough to tell their truth, but to promote restorative justice. … May we teach our children that speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new North Star.”

Most Uncomfortable Use of a Joke From a T-shirt: Fatih Akin, In the Fade —Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language

Chin: Aaaand the most awkward acceptance speech goes to German director Akin. After kissing Diane Kruger a whole bunch of times—probably a few too many, if you ask me—and thanking distributor Warner Bros., Akin blindsided everyone and said, “If you see a cop, warn a brother.” I don’t know if the joke or the palpable awkward silence in the room was worse.