Finally, Woody Allen wins a best picture Golden Globe! It was the first of his many such triumphs at the Beverly Hilton, which culminated in his 2014 Cecil B. deMille Award for lifetime achievement. Of course Woody wasn’t there to accept the honor. His first muse Dianne Keaton was.
Woody has maneuvered his career between comedy and drama and, with Hannah and Her Sisters, he succeeded in creating "perhaps the most perfectly assured braiding of comedy and drama in mainstream American film.” as one critic put it. Hannah is a masterpiece, no questions asked and has been compared to Chekhov. For the film, Woody assembled a remarkable cast of actors, each one worthy of award recognition.
For the three sisters, he cast his then muse, Mia Farrow, plus Barbara Hershey, and Diane Wiest. Michael Caine was cast as the philandering husband, and Mia’s mother (and Tarzan’s Jane) Maureen O’Sullivan played their mother. Woody himself played one of the husbands. Others in the large cast included Lloyd Nolan (who died four months before the film's release), Max von Sydow, Julie Kavner. Daniel Stern, Richard Jenkins, Fred Melamed, Lewis Black, Joanna Gleason, John Turturro, and, in unbilled parts, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Roberts and Sam Waterston.
But essentially it was a family affair, far removed from what would later turn into an ugly legal battle; the less said about that the better. When Allen conceived of the script it was about a man who falls in love with his wife’s sister, but then after reading Anna Karenina, he made it a much more complex triangle. At the time he admitted Mia's relationships with her mother and siblings inspired the story. And even though both Farrow and her mother felt their lives had been invaded by Woody’s screenplay, they blithely accepted it as art for art’s sake.
The film opened in early February of 1986 but stayed in the minds of critics both in Los Angeles and New York till late December, when they voted it the best film of the year. It was the front-runner to win the Oscar as well, had it not been for the Hollywood Foreign Press giving their best motion picture drama award to Oliver Stone’s come-from-behind Platoon, which won in a stunning upset.
Hannah, however, won Oscars for screenplay, and for both supporting actor and actress, Michael Caine and Diane Wiest, neither of whom were honored by the HFPA. The Golden Globe winners for Best Actor and Actress in a Musical or Comedy that year were Sissy Spacek for Crimes of the Heart and Australian newcomer Paul Hogan for Crocodile Dundee. Supporting Globe winners that year were Tom Berenger for Platoon and perennial favorite Maggie Smith for A Room with a View.