Mildred Hayes (McDormand) wants justice for the rape and murder of her daughter Angela, and isn't happy with the local police's lack of progress in that investigation.
Ron Howard laughed awkwardly as co-presenter Natalie Portman noted that the best director category was composed of five male nominees - and given that Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird won best comedy or musical that night, with Saoirse Ronan named best actress in that same category, she had a point.
Nicole Kidman paid a touching tribute to her husband Keith Urban as she accepted the award for best performance by an actress in a limited series for Big Little Lies. McDormand won Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, for her role in the film. Then there was the young, charming Armie Hammer ("Call Me By Your Name"), who certainly fits the profile of a Globe victor, and Richard Jenkins ("The Shape of Water"), the likable veteran.
"This character that I played represents something that is the centre of our conversation right now - abuse", she said.
Barbra Streisand, presenting the final award of the night for Best Drama, was introduced as the only woman in history ever to win the Golden Globe for Best Director.
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Now playing in Asheville are the Golden Globe winners "Lady Bird" (at Grail Moviehouse), "The Disaster Artist" (also at the Grail, victor of Best Actor, Musical or Comedy, for James Franco), "The Shape of Water" (at the Fine Arts Theatre and Carolina Cinemark), "The Greatest Showman" (at chain theaters, victor for Best Original Song, "This Is Me"), "Coco" (Best Animated Motion Picture, at chain theaters) and "Darkest Hour" (at the Fine Arts and chain theaters, victor of Best Actor, Drama, for Gary Oldman).
And that's the strangest thing of all about this year's Golden Globes, an awards ceremony largely dismissed by anyone except rabid industry-watchers and people who like to watch movie stars get drunk over a long, self-congratulatory night. The film also took home the award for best screenplay. She profusely thanked her mother, who she said was on a video call.
But it could be argued the night belonged to Oprah Winfrey, who was the receipient of the Cecil B. De Mille award. "I do believe and I hope we can elicit change with the stories we tell and the way we tell them".
The Best Original Score award went to "The Shape of Water".
The award for most touching acceptance speech of the night would nearly certainly go to Guillermo del Toro, who paid tribute to the monsters he has always loved as he picked up the Best Director prize.
"The Handmaid's Tale", a Hulu hit about women fighting to survive in a dystopian society in which they are treated like property, landed the award for best TV drama and its lead, Elisabeth Moss, won for best actress in a drama series. She was nominated for the Golden Globe alongside Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Meryl Streep (The Post), and Michelle Williams (All the Money In the World).
Based on the novel by André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name tells the story of Elio (Timothée Chalamet) who falls in love with Oliver, (Armie Hammer), an American academic who comes to stay at his family's home in Italy during the summer of 1983.