The 9 most awkward moments from the Golden Globes

Kim Renfro
·8 min read
Bo Welch Catherina O'Hara thumbnail Golden Globes 2021 NBC
Bo Welch and Catherine O'Hara at the 2021 Golden Globes. NBC
  • The 2021 Golden Globe awards were held primarily online and there were several technical glitches.

  • The HFPA was also under close scrutiny due to a lack of diversity and controversial practices.

  • We've rounded up every awkward and uncomfortable moment from the night.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The 78th annual Golden Globes took place Sunday night, put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) with live presenters and virtual guests appearing from around the world. It wasn't the first Hollywood event to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was certainly the most chaotic awards show so far.

From technical glitches to several ill-timed jokes and mishaps, we're here to reflect on the night's awkward moments.

Keep reading for all the hiccups and cringeworthy moments.

Tina Fey seemed to call out the plot of "Soul" during the opening monologue, despite literally playing a role in the movie.

Amy Poehler Tina Fey NBC Golden Globes opening Golden Globes 2021 NBC
Tina Fey at the 2021 Golden Globes. NBC

In the opening monologue of the show, cohosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took turns making jokes about the movies nominated that night.

"'Soul' is a beautiful Pixar animated movie where a middle-aged Black man's soul accidentally gets knocked out of his body and into a cat," Fey said. "The HFPA really responded to this movie because they do have five cat-members."

This joke seemed to skirt criticism of the movie's plot, which takes the main character (a Black man named Joe) out of his own body for a majority of the movie. Fey's character, a soul named "22," occupies Joe's body for the second half of the film, a choice which disconcerted many critics and perpetuates a troubling pattern among animated movies starring non-white characters,

It was awkward watching Fey joke about that particular aspect of the movie without any acknowledgment of her own role in that storyline.

The first award of the night went to Daniel Kaluuya - and his microphone feed was immediately muted.

Laura Dern Daniel Kaluuya Golden Globes 2021 NBC
Laura Dern and Daniel Kaluuya at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards. NBC

When Kaluuya won best supporting actor for his role in "Judas and the Black Messiah," he seemed overjoyed on the video feed. But as soon as he began speaking, it was clear that his audio feed was muted.

He spoke for about 20 seconds without realizing nobody could hear him. Eventually, presenter Laura Dern made it seem as if they were going to simply cut away.

"As you can see, we unfortunately have a bad connection," she said. "We apologize for that technical problem and send all of our congratulations to Daniel on his Golden Globe win."

Thankfully, just moments later, the audio began working.

"You did me dirty! You did me dirty!" the actor said to applause. "Am I on? Is this on? Is this on?"

He then went on to give his speech. You can watch it here.

Catherine O'Hara's husband jokingly played her "off stage" mid-speech but the music was hard to hear so it just looked like he was annoying her.

Bo Welch Catherina O'Hara Golden Globes 2021 NBC
Bo Welch and Catherine O'Hara at the 2021 Golden Globes. NBC

Catherine O'Hara won best actress in a comedy or musical TV series, and, like all of the night's winners, she was also video-calling into the ceremony.

Her husband, production designer Bo Welch, seemed to be trying to recreate the atmosphere of a real award ceremony. When O'Hara won, he played "applause" audio on his phone. Then, partway through her speech, he seemingly played random music as a way of mimicking the show's signal to "wrap it up."

But his phone audio didn't come through the sound system very well, so for viewers it just sounded like distracting noise.

To add to the confusion, O'Hara snapped at Welch in a very convincing commitment to the bit. It might have looked to some people like a mini-marital dispute was playing out on live television, but we're confident it was all part of the joke gone awry.

A bit later in the show, it looked like Catherine O'Hara and Bo Welch weren't told they'd be on camera ahead of the commercial break.

Catherine O'Hara Golden Globes NBC Golden Globes 2021 NBC
Bo Welch and Catherine O'Hara at the 2021 Golden Globes. NBC

At one point, both O'Hara and Welch had their heads down, appearing to be looking at their cell phones. The other people being featured were trying to talk amongst each other, but the whole system for pre-commercial video chatting was a mess from the start.

O'Hara and Welch eventually looked up and waved, but it seemed like no one had properly communicated when celebrities would be on the live feed and when they would be free to relax a little.

"Soul" co-director Kemp Powers delivered a prerecorded speech when the movie won best animated movie, but the HFPA didn't notify him he was a nominee until a few hours before the show.

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Kemp Powers on director Pete Doctor's phone screen. NBC

As The Hollywood Reporter noted, Kemp Powers' status as a Golden Globe winner isn't clear. In the past, a co-director with a similar title on a Pixar animated movie was not included among the list of nominees.

THR reports that Powers wasn't notified of his nomination until just a few hours before the Golden Globe awards were set to begin on Sunday. That could explain why he wasn't waiting in front of a live video feed during the ceremony. Instead, he gave his thanks via a pre-recorded video that "Soul" director Pete Doctor played during his acceptance speech.

Representatives for the HFPA and the Golden Globes did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.

Tracy Morgan mispronounced "Soul" as he announced the winner for best score.

tracy morgan Golden Globes 2021 NBC
Tracy Morgan presenting a Golden Globe award. NBC

When it came time to read the winner for best original score in a movie, Morgan looked down and then yelled what sounded like "Sal!"

He looked at the paper again and started laughing. Before he could say the correct movie title, the feed cut to a pre-recorded video from composer Jon Batiste that had already started playing. It felt like the beginning of Batiste's speech had been cut off, but the program just barreled forward.

Rosamund Pike tried to acknowledge the broken legal system at the core of her movie "I Care A Lot," but instead she said an awkward "thank you."

Rosamund Pike winning Golden Globes 2021 NBC
Rosamund Pike accepting a Golden Globe at the 2021 awards. NBC

Pike won best actress for her role in Netflix's movie "I Care A Lot," in which she plays a con artist who's able to manipulate the legal system and take advantage of vulnerable elderly people.

At the end of her speech, Pike said: "And finally maybe I just have to thank America's broken legal system, for making it possible to make stories like this."

She trailed off very slightly as she said her thanks, possibly aware of the awkward phrasing she chose.

Pike seemed surprised and deeply grateful for her win. But it was a strange way to bring up the cruel and harmful way people take advantage of people deemed unable to take care of themselves. She likely meant to simply highlight the injustices of guardianship, but just wandered into the wrong phrasing.

Music started playing off Josh O'Connor as he acknowledged the mental health crisis facing the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Josh O'Connor Golden Globes 2021
Josh O'Connor at the 2021 Golden Globes. NBC

Just over halfway through the ceremony, Josh O'Connor won for best actor in TV drama for his role as Prince Charles in "The Crown." He was the first actor who directly mentioned mental health (as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic) in an acceptance speech.

"I wanted to say I'm very lucky to be able to work in this period, and there are so many people who are unable to work and are alone and isolated," O'Connor said. "And I hope that we can all collectively put mental health at the forefront of our minds."

His message was unfortunately overshadowed as O'Connor was the very first winner of the night who had "wrap it up" music start playing mid-speech.

It was an unfortunate time for the show's director to suddenly start curbing speeches. Some of the night's earlier winners, like Mark Ruffalo, Aaron Sorkin, and Jason Sudeikis, had all been given almost two minutes for their speeches without interruption.

Sacha Baron Cohen thanked the "all-white foreign press" while accepting his first award of the night.

Sacha Baron Cohen Golden Globes 2021
Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife Isla Fisher at the 2021 Golden Globes. NBC

In the weeks leading up to Sunday's Golden Globes, reports from the LA Times and other outlets brought attention to the problematic structure and practices of the HFPA, which is made up of about 90 people, none of whom are Black.

Throughout the ceremony, many presenters and winners made references to the importance of diversity and having the movies and TV shows we celebrate be a proper reflection of the world we live in.

But Cohen was perhaps the most direct with his message, which was likely an awkward moment for the HFPA. The first thing he said upon winning best movie (musical or comedy) for "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" was "thank you to the all-white Hollywood Foreign Press."

Just a few minutes later, Cohen won a second Golden Globe (this time for best actor in a musical or comedy). During his second speech, he made no further mention of the lack of Black journalists in the HFPA.

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