The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards highlight some of the most inspiring movies, TV series and performances from this past year. Tearjerking family dramas, war heroes, magical musicals, brilliant mathematicians and even an alien arrival -- they're all on the nominee list. Here's a breakdown of the series, films and performances that took our breath away and left us feeling inspired.
The Mel Gibson-directed effort is based on the true story of combat medic Desmond Doss who became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his service during World War II. The film is a study in faith – both in a higher power and one’s self, but it’s not just Doss’ heroics that make the movie so inspiring. Andrew Garfield, nominated in the Best Actor category for this role, brings a vulnerability and honesty to his portrayal of Doss – a man whose courage and service can teach us a valuable lesson.
La La Land is being hailed as a modern day Singing in the Rain. The completely original musical stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as two L.A. artists hoping to make it big. Gosling is a jazz pianist, Stone a budding actress and the two fall in love (with each other and the city they live in) through dance and a few catchy numbers. It’s romantic, magical and a bit nostalgic – perfect ingredients for a Golden Globe winner.
This comedy starring Meryl Streep is all about following your dreams. Florence Foster Jenkins, another real-life historical figure, was a champion of the arts and an accomplished pianist until an arm injury prevented her from playing. She set her sights on singing instead but, unfortunately, had little talent for it. The film follows Streep, who plays the aging, colorful socialite as she pursues her dream of singing at the famed Carnegie Hall. It’s a story of perseverance, full of heart and some laughs as well.
Denzel Washington is intimately familiar with famed playwright August Wilson’s Fences. The actor starred in the stage version of the story years ago and now he’s brought it to the big screen – he directs and stars in the film version out in theaters now. Washington plays Troy Maxson, a former baseball star struggling to provide for his family and wrestle his own demons. It’s a role the actor was born to play, one close to his heart and possibly the best work of his career to date.
We’ve briefly touched on Garfield’s performance in Hacksaw Ridge but the actor’s commitment to the role, and the real-life hero he’s playing on screen, runs deep. Garfield visited Desmond Doss’ home town and the place he grew up in order to better understand the humble war veteran and his dedication is being noticed by the Hollywood Foreign Press association with a Golden Globe acting nod.
It’s rare that a sci-fi movie leaves you feeling inspired. These days, aliens landing on Earth usually end with apocalyptic battles, explosions and violence. Arrival is a different kind of “alien encounter” film, one that has something to teach us about the power of words and human understanding. Amy Adams plays linguistics professor Louise Banks who’s tasked with communicating with a group of aliens who arrive unexpectedly while also wading through her own grief after losing her daughter to cancer. Her performance is subtle but deeply moving and deserving of recognition.
You might not recognize her name, but newcomer Ruth Negga is making waves this awards season thanks to her portrayal of Mildred Loving in Jeff Nichols powerful drama, Loving. The film follows the true story of Richard Loving and his wife, Mildred, an interracial couple whose marriage served to spearhead a battle against state laws prohibiting legal unions between couples of different races during the 1960’s. Negga’s portrayal of Mildred, a steady, unflappable woman who endured mistreatment, hostility and the separation of her family in order to be with the man she loved, is both timely and timeless.
Denzel Washington may be the star of the family drama Fences but Viola Davis is its foundation. The actress plays Rose Maxson, a mother and wife doing her best to keep her family together despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Davis brings strength and incredible emotional depth to her role as the family’s matriarch and it’s her confrontational scenes with Washington – her husband in the film – that make the movie a must-see.
Historical dramas seem to be the theme of this year’s awards season but even among those standards, the true story behind Hidden Figures is unique. Based on a work of nonfiction, the film follows three African American women who helped NASA launch the first man into space. It’s a story not often told but one we all should know. Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughn, a brilliant mathematician who, along with her colleagues, had to fight against blatant racism and sexism in order to pursue advancement in her field.
This year, Disney proved that animated movies can be inspiring too. Moana, the story of a young Polynesian princess chosen to save her people by journeying across the sea and returning a stolen artifact (with the help of a demi god) is full of fun, music, laughter and heart. The studio spent years researching Polynesian culture to get the story right and brought on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and native Hawaiian newcomer Auli’i Cravalho to play the titular roles of Maui, the trickster demi god and Moana, the feisty young heroine. It’s a story of fulfilling your purpose and following your own path.
Film isn’t the only place we found inspiration this year. There were plenty of new TV series nominated for Golden Globes that made their mark. NBC’s This Is Us made viewers cry week after week, and that’s a good thing. The drama follows a family through the years as two parents struggle to raise a trio of youngsters. Through flashbacks we see the kids grow up. In the present, we watch as they navigate their own problems – career trouble, body image issues and estranged parents. The show continually tugs on our heartstrings by reminding us of the importance of family.
The People vs. O.J. Simpson is expected to win big at this year’s awards show and, if the Emmys are any indication, Courtney B. Vance should take home another statue for his performance as Johnnie Cochran. Vance electrified audiences as the defense lawyer with the famous glove speech but his story off screen is just as inspiring as the one he’s telling in front of the lens. Vance, a Guideposts cover star, shared with us how faith has helped him in his career and as he takes care of his mother who suffers with ALS.
The Best Actress in a Comedy Series category is filled with talented women – Issa Rae from HBO’s Insecure, Tracee Ellis Ross from ABC’s black-ish and Rachel Bloom from the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are all contenders – but Gina Rodriguez gave one of the most inspiring performances this year as a young woman wrestling with motherhood, family issues and romantic relationships on the hit comedy Jane the Virgin. She’s taken home a Golden Globe for this show before, we’ll see if she will again.
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