New mood for change or still business as usual at Golden Globes?

Oprah Winfrey speaks after accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award.
Oprah Winfrey speaks after accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (Reuters/NYTimes) - If Harvey Weinstein was watching in private somewhere the Golden Globes (Jan 8 morning, Singapore time) - an event where he was a major player for decades - he got confirmation that he is still a pariah in Hollywood.

He was booed four minutes into the show.

A tide against sexual misbehaviour is sweeping through Hollywood, whipped up by allegations of sexual misconduct by folk like Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, and Sunday's event reflected the new clamour for change, with many wearing black.

Seth Meyers, hosting the Globes for the first time, took the plunge from the outset, referring to "the elephant not in the room" when he opened the NBC broadcast by saying: "Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen."

He later said of Weinstein: "Don't worry, he'll be back in 20 years when he's the first person booed during the 'In Memoriam' segment."

Oprah Winfrey, in receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, defiantly shouted that "a new day is on the horizon" towards the end of her eight-minute speech. "When that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men," she said.

It was lost on few that Winfrey was accepting an award named for a man who helped cement a culture of male domination in Hollywood. Indeed, after she exited the stage, Natalie Portman arrived to present the best director prize and said: "Here are the all-male nominees."

Guillermo del Toro won for The Shape Of Water which, however, lost out to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for best movie.

Three Billboards won four Globes in all, laying down the marker for film to beat in the upcoming Oscars.

The movie is about a mother who goes to extremes to keep police focused on her daughter's murder.

Elsewhere, stories about women in dystopian saga The Handmaid's Tale and drama Big Little Lies also resonated, winning the top television honours.

The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's novel, won best TV drama and best actress for its lead star Elisabeth Moss, who dedicated her win to the veteran author.

"Margaret, this is for you and all women that came before you and after you that were brave enough to speak out against injustice and intolerance," Moss said.

Big Little Lies, about the lives of a group of women living in an affluent California coastal town, swept the best limited series/TV movie category. Its stars Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard and Laura Dern won for acting.

"This show is so much about the life we present to the world and that can be very different to the life we live behind closed doors," said Reese Witherspoon, star and co-producer of the show.

"To the people out there who are feeling silenced... we see you, we hear you and we will tell your stories," she added.

This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown was named best dramatic actor, the first time in Globes history that a black man had won that prize.

"You wrote a role for a black man that could only be played by a black man," Brown said in his speech, thanking This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman. "I am being seen for who I am, and being appreciated for who I am, and it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me or dismiss anybody who looks like me."

But several movies received nothing, including Steven Spielberg's newspaper drama The Post, which was nominated for six prizes. Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, Mudbound and All The Money In The World were also ignored.

Before the ceremony, NBC and the givers of the Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, had tried to assure viewers that the event would be as frothy as ever.

Not quite. On the red carpet, eight actresses walked hand in hand with activists who focus on sexual harassment and gender inequality.

But inside the ballroom, the ceremony in many ways felt like business as usual.

Stars, producers and studio executives schmoozed in frantic fashion during the commercial breaks and straight through some awards. The vibe even approached carefree - as if Hollywood felt it had exculpated itself with all the serious talk on the red carpet and the sharp-edged jokes Meyers cracked during his monologue.

Reaction on social media was mixed. Some people cheered actresses for turning the red carpet into more than a parade of dresses while others recoiled.

"A group of elitists, who live behind walls and gated communities, protected by security with firearms, who kept secrets on sexual assaults for decades, that pretend to have the moral high ground," conservative activist Scott Presler tweeted in a post that was retweeted more than 4,000 times.

And it was notable that many of the men who won awards did not mention the current soul-searching that Hollywood is undergoing regarding sexual harassment and the role of women in entertainment.