20 Biggest Surprises in Golden Globes History

by IMDb-Contributing-Writers | last updated - 05 Jan 2018

These are some of the top upsets and most unpredictable moments at the Golden Globes in its history. — Sharon Knolle

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Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at an event for 71st Golden Globe Awards (2014)

The Golden Globe Awards are known as much for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's somewhat unpredictable choice of winners and nominations as they are for their slightly different sense of decorum, compared to other Hollywood award shows. Both can lead to some bonkers moments. Here are some of the most stunning.

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Pia Zadora at an event for 39th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1982)

Pia Zadora's Questionable Win

When Pia Zadora was named "New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture" in 1982, the outcry was immediate. Not only did she edge out Elizabeth McGovern and Howard E. Rollins Jr. of Ragtime, as well as Kathleen Turner (Body Heat), but the award also gave the impression that her ultra-rich husband at the time, Meshulam Riklis, had bought her award. Riklis had flown voting members to his casino in Las Vegas and hosted lavish screenings at his home. The category was retired in 1984.

Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver at an event for The 46th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1989)

A Three-Way Tie for Best Actress

At the 1989 ceremony, the Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama had a three-way tie. Jodie Foster, who went on to win an Oscar that year for The Accused, tied with Sigourney Weaver (Gorillas in the Mist) and Shirley MacLaine (Madame Sousatzka). Even more surprising: There were ties in four more categories that year!

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Dinah Manoff, Kristy McNichol, David Leisure, Richard Mulligan, and Park Overall in Empty Nest (1988)

Another Three-Way Tie

What was going on in 1989? Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical honors were shared by Michael J. Fox ("Family Ties"), Judd Hirsch ("Dear John") and Richard Mulligan ("Empty Nest"). Only Mulligan was on hand to give an acceptance speech.

Christine Lahti at an event for The 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1998 (1998)

"I Was in the Bathroom, Mom!"

In 1998, when Michael J. Fox announced Christine Lahti as the winner of Best Actress in a TV Drama, the "Chicago Hope" star was "indisposed." "Is this history in the making?" fellow presenter Laura San Giacomo said. Finally, Lahti's husband, Thomas Schlamme, took the mic and was joined by a Spanish-speaking Robin Williams! When she finally hit the stage, a flustered Lahti said, "I was in the bathroom, Mom!"

Jack Lemmon and Ving Rhames at an event for The 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1998 (1998)

Ving Rhames Gives Away His Globe

One of the greatest Globes moments ever happened in 1998: Ving Rhames won Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for "Don King: Only in America" but he insisted that Jack Lemmon should have won for "12 Angry Men." Rhames wouldn't rest until he'd given his award to the stunned acting legend. The gesture earned them both a standing ovation. Rhames never did take back his award, so the Hollywood Foreign Press Association sent him a duplicate.

Keri Russell at an event for The 56th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1999)

Keri Russell's Surprise Best Actress Win

The Globes have a reputation for rewarding new talent, but in 1999, no one expected "Felicity" star Keri Russell to win Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama over more established stars Gillian Anderson, Julianna Margulies, Kim Delaney, and Roma Downey.

Angelina Jolie at an event for The 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1998 (1998)

Angelina Jolie Makes a Splash

Although it happened after the ceremony (and off camera) Angelina Jolie celebrated her best-actress award for the TV movie "Gia" by jumping in the pool at the Beverly Hilton, sequined dress and all.

Elizabeth Taylor in The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2001 (2001)

Elizabeth Taylor is 'New at This'

In 2001, cinema legend Elizabeth Taylor took an alternative route while presenting the big award of the evening: Best Motion Picture - Drama. Instead of reading the nominees from the monitor, she opened the envelope. "I'm new at this," she said, as Dick Clark joined her onstage. When it was time to announce the winner (Gladiator), she had to be reminded to consult the envelope instead of the monitor.

Renée Zellweger at an event for The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2001 (2001)

Renée Zellweger Pulls a Lahti

In 2001, Nurse Betty star Renée Zellweger hit the bathroom as her category was being presented, just like Christine Lahti. Because the award was presented by Hugh Grant, the segment played out like a preview of Bridget Jones's Diary, with Grant initially declaring that the actress must be drunk as he announced her Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical win. Not necessarily, but she was very embarrassed.

Lara Flynn Boyle

Ballerina Boyle

It's not quite as outrageous as the swan dress that Björk wore to the Oscars in 2001, but when Lara Flynn Boyle hit the Globes red carpet in 2003 in a pink tutu, she was the talk of the evening.

Jack Nicholson at an event for The 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2003 (2003)

Nicholson Admits Awards Shows Make Him Nervous

Many Golden Globes speeches have been delivered under the influence of alcohol (champagne is on every table), but Jack Nicholson's 2003 acceptance speech for his performance in About Schmidt was a first: The actor admitted he'd downed a Valium earlier in the evening. He also referred to his co-star Kathy Bates as "The Bates Motel."

Mickey Rourke

Rourke Thanks All His Dogs, Aronofsky Flips the Bird

Mickey Rourke (who won Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama for The Wrestler over Sean Penn in Milk) notably thanked "all his dogs" in 2009's ceremony, adding, "Sometimes when a man's alone, all you got is your dog." The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky incurred a Federal Communications Commission fine when he responded to Rourke's thanks with a middle-finger salute.

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster Gets Personal

In her 2013 Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech, Jodie Foster got a laugh by building up to this admission: "I have a sudden urge to say something that I've never been able to air in public that I'm a little nervous about ... I am, uh... I'm single." It was the first time she's publicly acknowledged that she's gay (she said she did her coming out "a thousand years ago") and thanked her ex-partner and her children.

Jacqueline Bisset at an event for Dancing on the Edge (2013)

Jacqueline Bisset's Baffling Speech

First, it took Jacqueline Bisset a while to get the stage in 2014; it seems no one expected her to win Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, based on where she was seated. Then she gave a long, rambling speech that had to be bleeped in parts. But, despite the music trying to play her off, she persisted.

Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, and Wes Anderson at an event for 72nd Golden Globe Awards (2015)

Grand Budapest Hotel Wins Over Birdman

Birdman would go on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but director Wes Anderson and crew had a nice surprise at the Globes, where The Grand Budapest Hotel won Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical at the 2015 awards.

Gina Rodriguez at an event for 72nd Golden Globe Awards (2015)

Gina Rodriguez Makes History

First-time nominee Gina Rodriguez won the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical Globe in 2015 for sitcom "Jane the Virgin," beating out big names such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Edie Falco. It was also the first Globe for the CW Network.

Lady Gaga at an event for 73rd Golden Globe Awards (2016)

Lady Gaga Gets the Gold

No one seemed more surprised than Lady Gaga in 2016 when she won Best Performance in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for "American Horror Story," beating out Felicity Huffman ("American Crime"), Queen Latifah ("Bessie"), and Kirsten Dunst ("Fargo").

Aaron Taylor-Johnson at an event for The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2017 (2017)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Big Upset

It was considered a big deal when Aaron Taylor-Johnson scored his first Golden Globe nomination for Nocturnal Animals. And then he won! The film's supporting-actor Oscar nomination (which was announced after the Globes) went to Michael Shannon, and the Oscar itself to Mahershala Ali, but the first-timer had a great night at the 2017 Globes.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus at an event for The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2017 (2017)

JLD is a DJ!

Is there anything talented "Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus can't do? Apparently not, as one of the best visual jokes of the 2017 Globes was a quick cut to her manning the turntables.

Tom Hiddleston at an event for The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2017 (2017)

'The Night Manager' Squeezes Out The 'O.J.' Cast

The cast of "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson" swept the Emmys, but the 2017 Globes showed more love to Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, stars of the British miniseries "The Night Manager." Sarah Paulson still won for "O.J.," but Courtney B. Vance and Sterling K. Brown were left out in the cold. And then Hiddleston ended up having to apologize for his eyebrow-raising speech.

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