Ten Times the Golden Globes Got It Right

The Globes don't get as much respect as the Oscars or the Emmys, but sometimes they make way better choices.

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The Golden Globes are a particularly bizarre awards show because they seem to hold an important place in awards season but are chosen by a relatively small group of obscure journalists. Though sometimes the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's choices are inexplicable, in other cases they are truly delightful, awarding performances in movies and TV the bigger awards shows wouldn't touch. Here's a list of the 12 best choices the HFPA has made.

Best Drama Film, 1982
There's an element of fluke to this. Gandhi, which won best picture this year at the Oscars, was nominated as a foreign film at the Globes. Still! Isn't it lovely that the Foreign Press chose Spielberg's alien classic. Not that the other films up for that awards were necessarily bad—An Officer and a GentlemanSophie's Choice—it's just nice that E.T. beat them.

Claire Danes
Best Actress in a Television Drama, 1994 

Long before Claire Danes was the awards darling she currently is, the Globes gave her the prize for Best Actress in a Drama Series for the ratings-challenged teen gem My So-Called Life. She beat out Kathy Baker for Picket Fences, Jane Seymour for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Angela Lansbury for Murder, She Wrote, and Heather Locklear for Melrose Place. And this was before My So-Called Life was a beloved gone-to-soon cult favorite, but rather a show destined for cancellation. Kudos, once again, to the Hollywood Foreign Press' appreciation of teen TV.

Sharon Stone / Nicole Kidman
Best Actress in a Drama / Best Actress in a Comedy, 1995
1995 was a crazy good year for actresses in films. There were breakthrough performances by Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas and Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding, plus great stuff from acting vets Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Annette Bening, and eventual Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (not to mention unnominated greatness from Julianne Moore in Safe and Kathy Bates in Dolores Claiborne). In such a competitive year, it's a credit to the Globes that they managed to hand trophies to two of the most exciting, least safe performances of the bunch. Sharon Stone is campily brilliant in Martin Scorsese's Casino, while Nicole Kidman's darkly comedic performance in To Die For is still one of the most interesting things she's ever done.
Party of Five
Best Drama Series, 1995
Just in general, 1995 was a cool year at the Globes. This is probably the craziest win for a TV show ever, given that this was a teen-oriented series that aired on FOX, which at the time was still clawing for the level of respect that the other networks got. (Party of Five's win was a big part of earning that respect, coming in the midst of three other Best Drama Series wins for The X-Files.) It was especially surprising given that their competition represented the epitome of 1990s awards bait, with two medical series (ER and Chicago Hope) and two acclaimed cop/lawyer shows (NYPD Blue and Murder One).
Keri Russell
Best Actress in a Television Drama, 1998
The Claire Danes and Party of Five wins kind of paved the way for Russell's triumph for the incredibly buzzy first season of Felicity. But the WB was even more critically dismissed than FOX was when Party of Five won, and nobody really expected Russell to win for such youthful, soapy show. People tend to sleep on Felicity these days, but that was a really good show, and good for the Globes for not penalizing it for not being about typically "dramatic" themes.

Gene Hackman
Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy, 2001 

It's not necessarily that Hackman beat out anyone in particular—Hugh Jackman in Kate & Leopold, blah. Nor is it that Hackman is an under-appreciated actor. Rather, what puts Hackman on this list is the fact that he was honored for his work in a Wes Anderson movie, The Royal Tenenbaums. It's far too rare that an actor wins for his/her work in a Wes Anderson movie. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that actors in his films adapt to his idiosyncratic style. Late career Hackman was so joyously mischievous as the titular character that its perfectly apropos that he came away with a trophy.

Jennifer Garner
Best Actress in a Television Drama, 2001

The first season of Alias was fantastic and only fell short of perfection because its second season WAS perfect. Garner was mostly an unknown when Alias began, certainly far from the Affleck-betrothed celebrity she would one day become. The Emmys never came through for Garner, or Alias, really. Which is too bad, because the only way this award could have been any more correct is if it had gone to the also-nominated Lauren Graham for Gilmore Girls that same year.

Jason Bateman
Best Actor in a Television Comedy, 2004

In another instance of the Globes recognizing a now-fawned-over-but-then-unappreciated show, Jason Bateman won the best actor in a comedy prize for playing Michael Bluth Arrested Development, beating out the likes frequent Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub, who was on Monk at the time. 

Geena Davis
Best Actress in a Television Drama, 2005

I'm not sure if this award was incredibly well-deserved or not. I barely remember the ABC series Commander in Chief, on which Davis played the President of the United States. But two things make this particular win one of the Globes' better decisions. 1) It's never a bad idea to give Geena Davis an award. She's an Oscar-winner, sure, but that was so long ago, and who remembers The Accidental Tourist anyway? She's given so many great performances since then. And more importantly, 2) it led to this most excellent of awards speeches.

"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me"
Best Original Song, 2010

Burlesque didn't get any Oscar nominations in 2010, and that is an absolute shame that I hope the Academy members are prepared to live with for the rest of their lives. The Globes weren't perfect in their recognition of the Cher/Christina Aguilera classic—they nominated this song and "Bound to You" but somehow NOT "How You Burlesque"?—but they knew enough that when Diane Warren and Cher and a movie called Burlesque come together, it's only polite to give them an award.

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