The 2021 Golden Globes' 13 Most Awkward Moments And Mistakes

golden globe awards 2021 kenan thompson and maya rudolph
(Image credit: nbc press)

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it might just be a mid-telecast attempt at humor from NBC's Golden Globes. We all knew this year's ceremony was going to be only mildly different from other largely remote awards shows that aired during the pandemic, but what we didn't know was just how awkward things could and would get. Constantly. Like, throughout the entire show. Starting with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey's opening monologue from opposite coasts to the point in every awards ceremony when the play-off music seemingly starts as soon as the winners begin talking.

To give this year's Golden Globe telecast credit, the technical issues that were peppered throughout the first half of the show were largely absent in the back half. (Not completely absent, mind you, but largely.) So let's go through some of the most awkward moments and fails of the night.

Tina Fey And Amy Poehler's Opening: Tarantino Burn

In one of the Golden Globes' earliest barbs, Amy Poehler brought up how many Hollywood A-listers usually sit at the front table during non-COVID times, and joked about Quentin Tarantino crawling under the table touching people's feet. The reaction was about as loud as a socked foot landing on a soft carpet.

Tina Fey And Amy Poehler's Opening: Emily In Paris Burn

Tina Fey made it quite clear that she didn't give a hoot about Emily in Paris, joking that Michelle Pfeiffer's French Exit was what she did after watching one episode of the Netflix original. Cut to a quick shot of star Lily Collins awkwardly smiling about the jokes, and the monologue instantly felt weirdly more mean-spirited than silly, even though Fey was far from the first person to take aim at Emily in Paris.

Tina Fey And Amy Poehler's Opening: HFPA Diversity Burn

In one of the more amusing examples of celebs biting at least one hand that feeds, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took some brutal shots at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, saying its headquarters was the back booth of a French McDonald's. Perhaps most poignantly, the duo shined a light on how the HFPA doesn't have any Black members within its ranks, which felt like a wildly too-real slam that led into arguably THE most awkward moment of the night.

Daniel Kaluuya's Muted Acceptance Speech

The very first Golden Globe award was presented by the ever-graceful Laura Dern, who looked about as stunned as everyone else when it was apparent that winner Daniel Kaluuya's audio feed was muted as he attempted to thank his Judas and the Black Messiah team. Dern attempted to save the moment with a technical difficulties explanation, but Kaluuya's audio popped in just afterward, yelling "You did me dirty!" before delivering his actual acceptance speech. The timing of that, juxtaposed with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's words about inclusivity, felt straight out of a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.

Catherine O'Hara's Botched Music Joke

Catherine O'Hara clearly had an inkling she would win the award for Best TV Actress in a Comedy, seeing as how her husband 

Bo Welch had some shenanigans planned, though they went haywire immediately. The gag was that he would play O'Hara off with orchestral music from his phone when she talked for too long, only he played the wrong song, twice, and both of those moments happened at the wrong time. Plus it all sounded like garbled noise through the feed.

Soul Co-Director Kemp Powers' Video-In-Video Speech

Given how wonderful Soul's soundscape was, it seems anti-logical that the co-directors' Golden Globes speech would have gone the way it did. When the Pixar film won for Best Animated Feature, co-director Pete Docter gave his thanks before passing the baton to Kemp Powers. But rather than Powers having his own video feed set up, he delivered his speech through a mobile device that Docter held up. As such, Powers' entire moment featured a weird echo caused by the dual technology set-up.

Mark Ruffalo's Acceptance Speech And Other Glitches

Was it just me, or did it seem like Mark Ruffalo and his family were set up in a bathroom of some kind? His acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Drama for HBO's I Know This Much Is True was full of room-related echos, and it also glitched out near the end during a particularly important portion. Random glitches also plagued some of Amy Poehler's audio, Norman Lear's speech, and others, making it seem like the only people who did sound-checks were those who spoke for less than 20 seconds.

All Of The Winners Talking Too Quickly

One of the biggest audio issues plaguing this year's Golden Globes was the fact that it appeared as if none of the winners were told to take a second to wait for applause to die down before they started their speeches. Time and time again, the first words that various winners spoke were either muted, or they were just overshadowed by claps and cheers. It was bizarre how many relatively minor errors happened over and over again.

Kenan Thompson And Maya Rudolph's...Whatever That Was

The winner of the most purposefully awkward moment goes to comedians and SNL familiars Kenan Thompson and Maya Rudolph and their bonkers on-stage acceptance of a fake award. In another example of things getting too-real, Amy Poehler prefaced the segment by pointing out the ceremony's already long run-time. And then Rudolph talked about getting a vodka enema, and Thompson faked his way through French translations in a way that instantly brought his All That character Pierre Escargot to mind.

Tracy Morgan Mispronouncing 'Soul'

When presenting the award for Best Score, Tracy Morgan managed to mispronounce the title Soul, saying it as "Sow-well." It almost seemed like a joke, but then the camera caught his face for a split second after he realized his error, and it was pretty obvious (and priceless) proof that his bungling was unintentional.

Jon Baptiste And Others Being Cut Off

Just a minute after Tracy Morgan botched one of the easiest-to-say titles in this year's Golden Globes, co-winner Jon Baptiste didn't appear to be finished with his section of the acceptance speech when the feed suddenly shifted to Trent Reznor. Had it been a completely isolated incident, it might have been another possibly suspicious moment involving a Black winner, but there were quite a few winners whose feeds ended awkwardly.

The Doctors And Nurses Bit

Truthfully, the 78th annual Golden Globes featured one of the best comedic segments I've seen in years, in which children answered questions about nominees in hilarious (and heartwarming) ways. But that excellent was contrasted by the pretty laugh-less segment featuring a bunch of nominees ostensibly wasting healthcare workers' and viewers' time with useless questions.

Every Political Joke

Anytime a host, presenter or performer mentioned a political affiliation, an ex-President, or any form of a headline-making news topic form the last year, it was like hearing a chalkboard being dragged over a sea of sharp fingernails.

At least this year's Golden Globes did offer a few bright moments, with two involving late actor Chadwick Boseman, and one involving Al Pacino taking an impromptu nap. Here's hoping next year's festivities are at least 95% more comfortable and viewers can get back to watching winners glitch up because of too much alcohol as opposed to technical problems.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.