Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer stepped onto the red carpet together Sunday, clad in black gowns, ready to take on a throng of fans, reporters, and fellow Golden Globes attendees for a night that was guaranteed to be unlike any other. The two old friends, co-stars from the 2011 film The Help, put their arms around each other for a photo before Chastain flipped her head over her shoulder toward their actual dates, who were straggling behind them. “We forgot about the men,” she said with a laugh.
She was right. The 75th Golden Globes will be remembered as the physical manifestation of the #TimesUp movement, a visceral, multi-pronged initiative created by women to change the culture of harassment and abuse by powerful men that has plagued Hollywood and other industries for decades. The night belonged to the women.
And from the moment they stepped onto the carpet, change was in the air. You saw it with Viola Davis’s natural, voluminous curls, which for her were a representation of the night’s theme. “I’m telling you, it’s so difficult to be your authentic self on these red carpets,” Davis told me after she walked the bright-light parade. “But we got to talk about real things of substance, of purpose, of significance [tonight]. We were reminded of why we are on this earth. It’s about community. It’s about connection. But it’s also about telling women who are sexually assaulted, who are going to stay silent, that they, too, are worthy.”
It was also about the guests whom the actresses brought into the ballroom with them at the Beverly Hilton—from Michelle Williams inviting #MeToo founder Tarana Burke to Shailene Woodley, who brought her close friend and native treaty rights activist Calina Lawrence, a member of the Suquamish Tribe in Washington State, as her date.
“I called Calina a few weeks ago and asked her what she was doing. I didn’t know at that point that other people were doing the same,” said Woodley, who first met Lawrence when she worked on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. “I knew what tonight was going to represent on an energetic level and a visual level. Calina was the first and only person that came to my mind.”
For Lawrence, the night afforded her the opportunity to connect with women like Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, and Zoe Kravitz. “What I take away from being in a space like this with women whom I normally would not have access to, I’m shown that it is possible to not only be validated but to say, I don’t want to be left out of the conversation anymore,” said Lawrence.
The Hollywood Foreign Press also appeared to be on the side of the women, seemingly allowing the actresses’ speeches to run long, while the men more often received a rude musical interlude. At least Geena Davis, the actress whose very institute is dedicated to analyzing the discrepancies in screen time between men and women, thought so.
While she examined the L’Oreal lipstick selection in the bathroom, Davis agreed that the women’s speeches felt longer than the men’s, and added that the presenters’ moments had seemed to be cut short in order to allow the women more time to talk. “They are letting all the right people speak,” she said before making an exit back to her seat.
Not everyone was given the opportunity to orate. Pamela Adlon, who lost best actress in a comedy to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Rachel Brosnahan, thought about seizing the moment—and offered to give her speech in the women’s restroom to the group of ladies waiting in line. Her friend even offered to help her up onto the couch to make an impromptu stage. Adlon ultimately declined, but gave the onlookers a hint of what could have been: “It was great.”
Of course, once Oprah Winfrey delivered her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, that was all anyone could talk about. It crystallized the objectives of #TimesUp in a way that related to the entire audience, bringing them to their feet multiple times. Even those in the press room, including Handmaid’s Tale winner Elisabeth Moss, knew something important was happening. “I heard the screaming when she was on stage, but I missed the whole thing,” she said. “I plan on watching it as soon as I get home.”
Winfrey is known for her ability to give impromptu speeches that inspire throngs of people. With this one, according to her friend and collaborator Ava DuVernay, she worked on it for a while. “I first heard the speech over the Christmas holiday. She really wrote this. She took it to heart in a way that was deeply felt, and I think people could tell,” said DuVernay—confirming that Winfrey attended a #TimesUp meeting and has been a chief collaborator in the group.
DuVernay added that a lot of men have also reached out to the organization, hoping to lend their voices to the cause. She’s happy they haven’t done so just yet, though. “This is a women’s moment, and I think it’s wise for men to let women have it and to not try and insert themselves into it,” she said. “Just be quiet for the night and let us do the talking.”
Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan, at least, seemed to be game for that. The director, whose film was nominated for three Golden Globes but walked away empty-handed, was ready to leave after the second loss: “We’ve got one more to lose, and then we can go drink,” he said to a pal.
Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:All the 2018 Golden Globes Red Carpet LooksNicole SperlingNicole Sperling is a Hollywood Correspondent for Vanity Fair.