Golden Globes

[Only IN Hollywood] Japanese film with Pinoy, ‘Squid Game’ actor, and transgender make history at Globes

Ruben V. Nepales
[Only IN Hollywood] Japanese film with Pinoy, ‘Squid Game’ actor, and transgender make history at Globes

INSIDE THE BALLROOM. A record eight winners were also first-time nominees. Those eight victors were also among 12 who were first-time recipients of these Golden Globes trophies. Courtesy of HFPA.

Asians figured prominently in this year’s Globes!

LOS ANGELES, USA – A Japanese film in which a Filipino actor co-starred won a major prize, a 77-year-old became the first Korean actor to win a Golden Globe, and an African-American/Latina also made history as the first transgender person to win a Globe.

Those and more milestones marked the 79th Golden Globe Awards held Sunday, January 9, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which votes on the annual awards honoring excellence in film and television, presented the Globes this year in a private event with representatives of many non-profit organizations it has supported over the years.

Real-time updates on the winners were posted on the Golden Globes’ website and its social media sites.

The usually jampacked International Ballroom of the Hilton had socially distanced seating this time, with guests required to undergo COVID-19 test screening at least 48 hours before Sunday evening, show their negative result at check-in, and wear masks during the event.

MASKED UP. At the 79th Golden Globe Awards (from left): Filipino guests Harry Hartman, Lisa Manibog Lew Brennan, Janet Nepales and the columnist, Ruben V. Nepales. Contributed photo.

Many of the grantees of HFPA, which has given $50 million to entertainment-related charities, scholarships, humanitarian efforts, film restoration, and disaster relief efforts (the association has donated through UNICEF Philippines) in the past 25 years, announced the winners in the 25 categories.

One of the night’s big winners was Drive My Car, the Japanese film which bagged the best motion picture – non-English language prize. In my column last week, I wrote about Perry Dizon, the Pinoy actor from Mindanao who is in the film’s cast.

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Drive My Car, in which Perry plays a Filipino thespian (with Tagalog lines) cast in a multilingual production of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima, prevailed over stiff competition: Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers, Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God, and Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment Number 6.

With its triumph in the Golden Globes, the Ryusuke Hamaguchi-directed film further gained momentum in the Oscars race, where it is already buzzed as a frontrunner and has previously advanced to the shortlist.

An ecstatic Perry replied to me via email when I asked him about Drive My Car’s Globes victory: “It was a roller coaster of a ride from a small player coming from a small town of Maco (Davao de Oro) who joined an opus that suddenly rose to fame and is now being recognized by the league of international critics and film experts.”

“I want to thank Teruhisa Yamamoto (producer) for developing Drive My Car and proposing it to Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe (screenwriters) and turning it into one of the most important films of the 21st century. I am very humbled and honored to be part of this chance of a lifetime. Thank you so much!”

Asians figured prominently in this year’s Globes. Squid Game’s O Yeong-su (aka Oh Young-soo) became the first Korean thespian to win a Golden Globe (best supporting actor – TV).

O Yeong-su, who, at 77, is the most senior actor contender in the 2022 Globes, triumphed for his Koon Yoon-su role in Squid Game, which also has the distinction of being the first-ever Korean series to cinch a Globe nomination (best TV series – drama).

FIRST. ‘Squid Game’ star O Yeong-su’s historic win as the first Korean actor to bag a Golden Globe was announced by HFPA grantee and founder and executive director of Kids in the Spotlight, Tige Charity. Courtesy of HFPA.

No less than South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, congratulated the actor on social media: “His journey of acting for more than half a century eventually overcame borders and cultural differences, creating great emotional and lingering impressions on the world stage. I would like to express my respect and gratitude to actor Oh Young-soo, also known as ‘Gganbu Grandpa.’”

History was also made when Michaela Jae Rodriguez bagged best actress in a TV series – drama honors for her performance as the nurturing but no-nonsense ballroom house mother, Bianca, in Pose. She became the first transgender person to cinch a Globe.

Michaela’s exuberant, joyful reaction, captured in a video, went viral. She said, “I got to keep myself together. Okay, number one: you all know I haven’t been getting on live because I…child, I’ve been working real hard.”

“But I got to take this moment to say this, because I couldn’t really say all of this; I just post it. And I’m definitely going to be posting but I have to say this: number one, thank you, Golden Globes.”

“This is for the LGBTQAI black, Latina, Asian, the many multi-beautiful colors of the rainbow around the freaking world. This is not just for me. This is for you all!”

“This is the door that opens for you all. Not me. For you all. There are going to be so many young individuals; young, talented, thriving individuals, who are going to be able to trail in and storm in through the door.”

“This is for you all. I don’t know how many times I have to say it. I’m probably going to sound like a broken record.”

“There were no acceptance speeches so I’ll give it here. I’m going to say I am very thankful to the many beautiful people that came together with this show.”

PIONEER. HFPA grantee and Hola Mexico Film Festival director Diana Luna announced Michaela Jae Rodriguez’s historic victory as the first transgender actor to win a Golden Globe. Michaela cinched best actress in a TV series – drama honors for ‘Pose.’ Courtesy of HFPA.

“Mr. Ryan Murphy, thank you for actually seeing me. Steven Canals, bitch, you wrote the hell out of this show. Miss Janet Mock, you took it, you swooped it. Bam.”

“Miss…Child. See, I’m glad this is not on the stage because child, I would wreck it on the stage. But our Lady J, you came in like an angel in the night. And you just really graced us with your beautiful writing as well.”

“To my beautiful family: Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, Angelica Ross, Indya freaking [Moore].”

Michaela and O Yeong-su were among a record eight winners who were also first-time nominees. Those eight victors were also among 12 who were first-time winners. 

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Jenn Dees, programs director of PEN America Los Angeles, was one of the representatives of organizations supported by HFPA who announced the night’s winners. These grantee reps first talked about their respective organizations and then opened the all-important envelopes.

Before revealing the best screenplay and best actress in a limited TV series or movie winners, Jenn said, “PEN America is a 100-year-old organization of writers who defend and celebrate free expression.”

“We believe passionately that writing has the ability to transform the world, and PEN America works globally to promote the freedom for all to create literature and openly express their views.”

“Before the start of principal photography, a movie begins with one thing, and one thing only…an idea from a writer. And without that spark of imagination…and the artistry that flows from their pen…nothing else will come to pass.”

One of the three key moments that received a standing ovation from the audience was when Kyle Bowser, senior vice president of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Hollywood Bureau, made an announcement:

“Nearly two years ago, as a righteous ultimatum reverberated around the world, insisting Black Lives Matter, several industry proponents challenged the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to adopt and advance a substantive agenda for internal reform.”

“Despite the many nationalities represented within HFPA membership, black members were nonexistent.”

“Toward that end, HFPA is adopting an impressive suite of progressive initiatives, including its assent to become a founding institution affiliated with the newly formed Reimagine Coalition – a conglomerate of divergent affinity groups committed to promoting a uniform approach toward diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the entertainment industries.”

Jeremy Tran, Gold House executive director, was among those who joined Kyle onstage and who also spoke. He said: “Gold House is a dynamic community of Asian and Pacific Islander changemakers. We fight for equality by advancing API representation and empowerment.”

GOLD HOUSE. Jeremy Tran, Gold House executive director, was among those who joined HFPA’s groundbreaking Reimagine Coalition of diverse voices: ‘Gold House is a dynamic community of Asian and Pacific Islander changemakers. We fight for equality by advancing API representation and empowerment.’ Courtesy of HFPA.

“From our advocacy work with every major studio, to grants for emerging creatives and founders, history making at the box office to overdue awards recognition, we work to fundamentally transform public opinion by taking control of our own narrative.”

“But that’s not all we are — and not all we can be. We know we’re stronger together. We know we need our allies, and proudly join them tonight.”

“We know each community faces distinct struggles but the path to real inclusion and real change is shorter together. Gold House is honored to be complicit in that change – complicit in changing what’s behind the camera, in front of it, and what’s golden on stages before your very eyes. Together.”

After their respective remarks about banding together to form the Reimagine Coalition, Tran, Bowser, RespectAbility vice president of communications and entertainment & news media Lauren Appelbaum, HFPA president Helen Hoehne, HFPA chief diversity officer Neil Phillips and IllumiNative’s Bird Runningwater appeared together onstage and drew a standing ovation.

REIMAGINE. A standing ovation greeted the joint announcement of the Reimagine Coalition by (from left) Gold House executive director Jeremy Tran, RespectAbility VP of communications and entertainment & news media Lauren Appelbaum, SVP of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau Kyle Bowser, HFPA president Helen Hoehne, HFPA chief diversity officer Neil Phillips, and IllumiNative’s Bird Runningwater at the 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Courtesy of HFPA.

Two stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, appeared in separate videos they made for the evening.

In her video, Jamie talked about HFPA’s philanthropy: “For a very long time, I didn’t realize that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was, in fact, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and that they used the funds generated by the Golden Globe Awards and the telecast to fund incredible programs throughout our community.”

“They fund creators, educators, institutions of higher learning, and film preservation organizations. And they do so at a very lowkey, off-the-record evening of giving. I’ve been the lucky host of that evening a couple of times.”

“And so, I just wanted to honor and stand with them in this continued advocacy of great need and great support that the HFPA continues to serve and offer, with their generosity. I’m proud to be associated with them in this venture.”

JAMIE. ‘I just wanted to honor and stand with them (HFPA) in this continued advocacy of great need and great support that the HFPA continues to serve and offer, with their generosity. I’m proud to be associated with them in this venture.’ – Jamie Lee Curtis, appearing in a video. Courtesy of HFPA.

Arnold, in his video, remarked, “Tonight, we have had the pleasure of seeing just some of the most incredible philanthropic programs, supported by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the past 27 years. They have not undertaken this journey for accolades, no.”

“They have done it because they understand, that to support the arts and creativity, one must cultivate new, original, and diverse voices from all walks of life and all corners of the globe.”

“I was one of their beneficiaries. Let me tell you why. Because when I was finished with my bodybuilding career, I came to Hollywood and started my movie career.”

“I often heard, ‘Arnold, you should change your last name. No one can pronounce it. What is it? Schwartzen? Schnitzler? Something like that?’ ”

“And then, they told me I should get rid of my accent. They always said, ‘No, no, no.’ The Hollywood Foreign Press said, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ And in 1977, I won the Golden Globe New Star of the Year award.”

ARNOLD. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a video, ‘Tonight, we have had the pleasure of seeing just some of the most incredible philanthropic programs, supported by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the past 27 years.’ Courtesy of HFPA.

“And my dream of being the best in my category was becoming a reality now. So that recognition by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association meant the world to me because these are the international journalists with a worldview.”

“So, I cannot think of anything more fitting than to have some of these incredible new talents from some of these organizations, present our final award for best motion picture – drama.”

And with those words from Arnold, several HFPA grant recipients – Adele B. Wilson (Streetlights), Samuel Curtis (Get Lit), Jacqueline Alexander Sykes (St. Elmo Village) and Lucia Torres (Las Fotos Project) – announced together the night’s biggest winner: The Power of the Dog. – Rappler.com

(Full disclosure: The columnist is a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.)

Ruben V. Nepales

Ruben V. Nepales is an award-winning journalist whose honors include prizes from the National Entertainment Journalism Awards, a U.S.-wide competition, and the Southern California Journalism Awards, presented by the Los Angeles Press Club.