The Most Iconic Moments in Golden Globes History

Known for its unpredictability and expansive guest list, the Globes is far from the wallflower of award season.

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Over the years, we've seen plenty of controversial Golden Globes moments. Whether it's the open bar—rare for an awards ceremony—the expansive guest list, and/or the open seating, the Globes is known for its unpredictability, especially in contrast to the more buttoned-up events of award season (see: the Oscars). While plenty of viewers consider the Globes a predictor of who will take home statues at the Academy Awards, many of us watch because it feels like we're watching celebrities in a more "natural" state—goofing off, chatting with each other, and generally having a ball. The Globes have also given us some beautiful speeches and historic wins, so it's worth a watch as a ceremony in its own right.

Below, the 32 best moments from the Golden Globes, ever.

Jim Carrey's Speech

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The Golden Globes is sometimes known for its confusing use of categories (in this case, the clearly dramatic Man in the Moon was pretty clearly mislabeled as a comedy). But Jim Carrey certainly found the funny: "I am the establishment I once rejected," he said in his 2000 speech. "I am the Tom Hanks of the Golden Globes.''

Chrissy Teigen's Instant Meme Face

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It was the meme-worthy moment seen around the world. John Legend had just won in 2015 for the song "Glory," and—during his emotional speech—the camera cut to his wife Chrissy Teigen. She appeared to be...grimacing? (It was just her cry-face, and she later joked, "It’s been 5 minutes and I’m a meme” and "Sorry I don't practice my cry face okay" in characteristic fashion.)

Kate and Leo Reunite

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This would be far from the last moment that we'd catch a glimpse of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet's epic, decades-long friendship (forged on the set of Titanic), but it was a beautiful moment to have them costarring and co-nominated for Revolutionary Road—Winslet later won and told Leo, "I'm so happy I can stand here and tell you how much I love you and how much I've loved you for 13 years."

Tim Robbins Forgets His Agent

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Awards acceptance speeches can be tricky things: sometimes you're deeply surprised, and all the names of the people you've thought to thank disappear completely from your head. Such was the case when Tim Robbins forgot to thank his agent, and it became a running joke for the rest of the night.

Sarah Jessica Parker Celebrates

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Sarah Jessica Parker was astounded to win a Globe for Sex and the City and had an incredibly endearing speech. "I've never won anything in my life!" she said. "I'm not a winner!" She also thanked her "beloved husband" Matthew Broderick, and photos afterward snapped the couple looking elated.

Sophia Vergara's "Flub"

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Sophia Vergara is certainly in on the joke (one of the longest-running bits on Modern Family was her character Gloria's accent). During the 2017 ceremony, she quipped, "The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has an anal tradition." She pretended it was an accident. “I mean…they have an anus tradition. They have a tradition that they do every year...” Not everyone found it funny, but it got quite a laugh in the audience.

Edie Falco's (Very Quiet) Speech

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I can't even imagine what it would be like to go to the most important awards ceremony of your life, win an award, and not be able to give a speech because you have laryngitis. Such was Edie Falco's fate in 2003 for The Sopranos, but she croaked out a couple of words in a brave attempt to thank people.

Jamie Foxx's Speech

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Jamie Foxx can bring energy to even the quietest, least exciting awards ceremony, so his 2005 Globes speech deserves to be watched. He began by leading the crowd in a cheerful singalong, then continued to speak at length for about four very fun minutes.

Claire Danes (Finally) Thanks Her Parents

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On stage to accept Best Actress in a Drama Series for Homeland, the first thing Claire Danes did was to correct an omission from her acceptance speech from almost two decades prior (she'd won for My So-Called Life). She thanked her parents—and it was incredibly sweet.

Betty White Makes It Personal

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The late Betty White, who's never not hilarious, was on stage to present Charles Durning with his Supporting Actor award. In his haste, he forgot to give her a hug—and of course, White pretended to be deeply offended and gestured for him to get off the stage.

Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig Dance

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Putting Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig together is always a recipe for hilarity, particularly when they're called to present snarkily at awards ceremonies. In 2024, the two pretended that the nondescript melody cutting into their speech was an irresistible bop that necessitated goofy dance moves.

Marlee Matlin Wins

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Marlee Matlin, who's hearing impaired, was awarded Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God in 1987. Matlin, who brought up an interpreter to translate her sign language, began with a sweet line: "I'm not much of a speaker, he is!" before the two delivered a short, sweet speech.

Salma Hayek and Paul Rudd Panic Live on Air

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If you're a fan of uncomfortable humor, awards ceremonies can be a great watch. Such was the case when there was a teleprompter snafu live on air while Paul Rudd and Salma Hayek visibly started to sweat. "Hello. How's everybody doing??" Rudd panic ad-libbed.

Elizabeth Taylor Wears a Tiara

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I miss the days when the biggest stars on Earth appeared at awards ceremonies wearing wildly expensive jewelry (that they actually own—this was a gift from Elizabeth Taylor's third husband Mike Todd, on her left). Taylor looks like the queen she clearly was.

Jennifer Lawrence Loses

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Jennifer Lawrence—at award ceremonies and just generally—has a blunt, funny sweetness to her personality. And it was in full force at the 2024 Golden Globes. The camera panned to her, nominated for No Hard Feelings, where she mouthed, “If I don’t win, I’m leaving.” But then five seconds later, when her BFF Emma Stone won, she burst into exuberant celebration.

Meryl Streep's Speech

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Meryl Streep won the Globes' prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2017. I'm just going to leave part of her speech here. "There was one performance this year that stunned me—it sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good, there was nothing good about it...It was the moment where the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't a movie, it was real life."

There's a Three-Way Tie

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It's already rare for two actors to tie in a category, much less have three win in a single award. But such was the case in 1989, in which Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, and Shirley MacLaine tied, and (without MacLaine at the ceremony) the other two actors took turns speaking.

Brad Pitt's Funny Speech

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When accepting Best Supporting Actor for 12 Monkeys, Brad Pitt had a thought jump into his head immediately that he felt compelled to express. "I'd like to thank...actually the makers of Kaopectate," he said. "They've done a great service for their fellow man." (Apparently he gets a nervous stomach at awards.)

Natalie Portman Doesn't Mince Words

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The ceremony in 2018 was all about #MeToo, and after Oprah Winfrey made a rousing speech at the ceremony, Natalie Portman had an even more pointed note. Taking the stage with Ron Howard to award Best Director, she said, "And here are the all-male nominees." Cut to: all the nominees looking quite sheepish.

Maya Rudolph "Proposes"

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Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph, always ready to give it 110 percent as presenters, had a fun gimmick in 2019: Rudolph fake-proposing to Poehler. "Are we stealing focus away from the next award?" wondered Poehler. "Don't worry, it's just Best Screenplay," countered Rudolph.

Ving Rhames Gives Jack Lemmon His Award

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In 1998, after Ving Rhames won for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film, he asked if Jack Lemmon was in the audience. “I feel that being an artist is about giving and I’d like to give this to you, Mr. Lemmon,” he said. The two received a standing ovation.

All Eyes on Natalie Wood

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Aside from this epic photo of Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood together (they had been costars, and may have briefly dated), the pair here are ostensibly celebrating McQueen's Henrietta Award for World Film Favorite. But Wood, as a rising star, was the ingenue on everyone's mind.

Christopher Nolan Honors Heath Ledger

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The world was shocked when Heath Ledger passed away suddenly before he'd even turned 30—after delivering the performance of a lifetime in The Dark Night. In 2024, director Christopher Nolan was onstage for Oppenheimer when he took a moment to let us know what he was thinking: "The only time I've ever been on this stage before was accepting one of these on behalf of our dear friend, Heath Ledger, and that was complicated and challenging for me."

America and Eva Have Some Pointed Banter

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It's worth it just to put Eva Longoria and America Ferrara's exchange from 2016 here in full:

Longoria: “Yes, hi, I’m Eva Longoria—not Eva Mendes."
Ferrara: “And, hi, I’m America Ferrera, not Gina Rodriguez.”
Longoria: “And neither of us are Rosario Dawson.”
Ferrera: “Nope. Well said, Salma.”
Longoria: “Thank you, Charo.”

Sandra Oh Makes History

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In the same 2019 ceremony in which presenter Sandra Oh made a pointed joke about the lack of Asian-American on-screen representation, she also won Best Actress in a TV Drama for Killing Eve, becoming the first Asian actor to win more than one Golden Globe.

This Photo

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It's kind of a long story, but here are best friends Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds (Taylor's husband Mike Todd between them) in 1957. Todd died tragically in 1958, and Taylor would go on to date and later marry...Reynolds' husband Eddie Fisher. (The two friends would reconcile later in life.)

Steve Carell "Reads His Wife's Speech"

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Steve Carell, while wife Nancy nodded enthusiastically from her seat, read aloud a speech that he joked she'd written for him. He began, "Nancy, my precious wife, who put her career on hold in support of mine, and who sometimes wishes that I would let her know when I'm coming home late so she can schedule her life, which is no less important than mine..."

Amy and Tina's Whip-Smart Banter

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When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler get on stage together, you know it's going to be comedy gold. The first year they presented (2013) was no exception, and Poehler started with an absolute zinger: "That's what makes tonight so special. Only at the Golden Globes do the beautiful people of film rub shoulders with the rat-faced people of television."

Taraji P. Henson Hands Out Cookies

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Literally: Taraji P. Henson had brought cookies with her and handed them out to attendees as she headed onstage (it also was probably a reference to her Cookie character on Empire!). She also shot back at the teleprompter/Golden Globe producers: "Please wrap?? Wait a minute. I waited 20 years for this. You're gonna wait!"

Everyone Gets (Flu) Shots

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In the middle of the 2019 ceremony, Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg paused for a special event. Giving new meaning to LMFAO's "Shots," the catchy song was played, hilariously, while in-audience attendees were given the opportunity to have free flu vaccines administered to them. Not everyone looked enthused, but there were some enthusiastic takers.

Marilyn Monroe Wins

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It's not always the case that a film is recognized as a classic when it's first made. But 1959's Some Like It Hot was rightfully recognized as cutting-edge, and Marilyn Monroe was rightfully recognized as a star—including winning a Globe. (Also, this photo would be taken only about two years before her death.)

Ke Huy Quan Wins

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Really, all of Ke Huy Quan's wins were special (he won an Oscar, after all), but I'm quite partial to his Globes speech. “As I grew older, I started to wonder if that was it, if that was just luck,” he said. “For so many years, I was afraid I had nothing more to offer. No matter what I did, I would never surpass what I achieved as a kid...More than 30 years later, two guys thought of me. They remembered that kid and they gave me an opportunity to try again.”

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.