Seven Decades Of Golden Globes: Part 5: The 80s

by HFPA January 6, 2016

1983  Richard Dreyfuss, Ben Kingsley (Best Actor - Ghandi and New Star)


As we count down the days to the 73rd Golden Globe Awards, the HFPA’s Jean-Paul Chaillet and Juliette Michaud look back at the Awards through the years and how the Globes reflected Hollywood history.

“I did expect this and if I hadn’t won, I would have cramped.” It is January 28, 1984 at the 31st Annual GG and in the grand ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel; Shirley MacLaine has just grabbed the Golden Globe she won for Terms of Endearment. The audience loves it, and she goes on. “It must have been confusing for the members of the HFPA to decide whether to put all our performances in (…) Drama or Comedy. Maybe if they had had a category called Life, it would have been easier because that’s what it was like making the movie.”

Life indeed breathes in films with tenderness and passion as the eighties are well on their way, offering a different sensitivity that seems to reflect a switch in tastes. Remember a few of the 80’s best films: Amadeus, Born on the 4th of July, Out of Africa, Rain Man, Romancing the Stone, Working Girl, Hannah and Her Sisters, Prizzi’s Honor, The Silence of the Lambs, Driving Miss Daisy … And what about the foreign ones? The Last Emperor, Indochine, Cyrano de Bergerac Pelle the Conqueror, My Life as a Dog, Cinema Paradiso. Their originality is inspiring and as diverse as the countries they come from, forcing Hollywood to reflect on their impact. Independent cinema, in the wake of its two front men, Spike Lee and Steven Soderbergh, is starting its prodigious ascent.

Other memorable films of the time include Once Upon a Time in America, Mission, Fatal Attraction, Barfly as well as lighter fare like Footloose, The Gremlins, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters. Did we mention Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Arnold and Sly, Tom Hanks, all the new bankable heroes who will reign supreme at the box office for so long to still be relevant today? And what about the unavoidable anthems of those years: Take My Breath Away from the Top Gun soundtrack, Flashdance ... What a feeling, I Just Called to Say I Love You from The Woman in Red? Don’t they still resonate in your ears? Don’t be ashamed to admit it!

The cinema of the eighties is incredibly fun, cocky and creative, exploring all sorts of themes, offering all sorts of rides. Don’t look for a common denominator except inventiveness, emotion, pleasure, cult impact, and an extraordinary artistic ambition. Clint Eastwood will earn two Golden Globes for best director, first in 1989 for Bird and four years later for his haunting Unforgiven. In his footsteps, Kevin Costner impresses with Dances with Wolves, his masterful directorial debut.

A magic and moving moment: In 1990, when Audrey Hepburn, now devoting most of her time to her mission as a Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef, receives her Cecil B. DeMille statuette, the second of her special awards, after nine Golden Globes nominations and only one win. Elegantly dressed in white, like the angel she had played a year before in what would be her last movie appearance, in Steven Spielberg’s Always.

During that decade, the choices for the Cecil B. DeMille Award really reflect the strong ties between the journalists of the Foreign Press and Hollywood. They single out screen legends whose humanitarian work and charitable endeavors have transcended their movie careers. Liz Taylor who tirelessly fights against AIDS, but also Robert Mitchum and Doris Day, Barbara Stanwyck and Lauren Bacall, Jack Lemmon and Paul Newman. How amusing it is to glimpse at their photo album. In 1987, Anthony Quinn, is sitting by the new sensation, Nastassja Kinski, Klaus’daughter.

In 1991, Pretty Woman doesn’t win any Globes but Julia Robert does. Instant stardom. Same global level of fame for the golden boy Tom Cruise, who consolidates his star status with his winning performance in Born on the 4th of July. Julia Roberts’ appearance is like a sudden fresh breeze. Comparisons with the breakout of Audrey in Roman Holiday are inevitable. Is Jennifer Lawrence the new Julia? Or a quirkier mix, somewhere between a new Holly Hunter and a new Gwyneth? You be the judge …

It is still fascinating that the membership of the HFPA, who grows steadily during that decade, with more and more press conferences organized each year, is able to never miss the arrival of new talents and accompany them along the way while they make their mark in the history of American cinema … To become part of their journey around the globe.

Juliette Michaud and Jean-Paul Chaillet

Check out our gallery of Golden Globe photographs from 1980s and 1990s, here.