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Biggest Golden Globes winner: Oprah Winfrey, for most rousing speech

Oprah Winfrey accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. | . Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Oprah wins.

Oprah Winfrey was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes — but the former Chicago TV host won a larger victory with a rousing speech in which she gave thanks to those who helped her become a legendary pioneer, celebrated the First Amendment and the journalists who shine a light on the truth, reminded us of some of the worst chapters in this nation’s history, saluted true heroes — and rallied an audience that was looking for a seminal moment in one of the most emotionally charged awards ceremonies in Hollywood history.

Over the years, I’ve argued the Globes are an overblown, over-hyped ceremony. There are fewer than 100 members in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — and not all of them are respected journalists. Each year, some of the nominees in certain categories, and some of the winners they select … just ridiculous.

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I stand by that assessment — but I can’t deny the mastery of the HFPA PR agents, and how they’ve positioned the Globes as one of the most important and prestigious nights in showbiz. The stars turn out for the Globes, and the entertainment media take the Globes seriously, and that’s the way it is.

Especially this year. Especially with the Golden Globes being the first of the major awards shows in the wake of the months-long sexual harassment scandal that rocked the industry to its core.

And who better than one of the all-time trailblazers for women, for minorities, for the oppressed, for the abused, to give the speech of the night?

Oprah for president!

This was one of Winfrey’s finest moments, in ways big and small. “I want all the girls watching here to know that a new day is on the horizon!” she exclaimed.

She personally thanked the legendary TV exec Dennis Swanson, who hired her to host a show called “A.M. Chicago,” which eventually became “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Such a classy gesture.

She said: “We all know the press is under siege these days, but we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. … I value the press more than ever before …”

She paid tribute to Recy Taylor, a hero of the civil rights movement who died just 10 days ago.

And she said these words that should be etched in stone:

I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they — like my mother — had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers; they are working in factories and they work in restaurants, and they’re in academia and engineering and medicine and science; they’re part of the world of tech and politics and business; they’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military …

“Big Little Lies’ winner Laura Dern also gave a great speech, culminating with, “May we teach our children that speaking out without the fear of retribution is our new North Star.”

• • •

As for the show itself …

Some celebrities, including Sharon Stone and Kate Hudson, found a way to wear black in honor of the cause of the night, but also show a LOT of skin.

There was also room for absurdity, as when James Franco won best actor in a comedy/musical for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in “The Disaster Artist,” shared the stage with Wiseau — but then swatted Wiseau aside when the profoundly untalented filmmaker tried to soak up too much of the moment. Franco and Wiseau aren’t quite to the level of Andy Kaufman and Tony Clifton, but they’re in the neighborhood. (It’s also a joke Franco’s admittedly entertaining imitation of Wiseau in “The Disaster Artist” was a better piece of acting than Daniel Kaluuya in “Get Out” or Steve Carell’s work in “Battle of the Sexes.”)

Kudos to the HFPA for recognizing the brilliance of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in a number of categories, including best picture (drama), best screenplay for writer-director Martin McDonagh, best actress (drama) for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for Sam Rockwell.

As much as I enjoyed and admired “Lady Bird” and “Get Out,” IMHO those well-crafted films are not in the same league as “Three Billboards,” “The Post,” “Wind River” and a number of other 2017 releases. Not in terms of story, direction, acting, photography, editing or lasting impact and influence.

“Three Billboards” is a masterpiece. “Lady Bird” and “Get Out” are exciting works from filmmakers who will no doubt some day make masterpieces.

 • • •

When Globes host Seth Meyers said he was going to address the “elephant not in the room,” you knew a Harvey Weinstein joke was coming — and sure enough, Meyers noted that in 20 years, Weinstein would be the first person booed in an “In Memoriam” tribute at an awards show.

There was actually a smattering of boos, to which Meyers ad-libbed, “And it’ll sound like that.”

The Weinstein jab occurred after a half-dozen better and funnier jokes from Meyers, who began his monologue by cracking, “Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen …”

Meyers said to the males in the audience, “This is the first time in three months you won’t be terrified to hear your name read out loud.”

 Not bad. Not great … but not bad.

When there was a tepid reaction to a shot at Kevin Spacey, Meyers ad-libbed: “Oh really, that was too mean … to KEVIN SPACEY?”

Bull’s-eye.

It was no easy task to be the first host of a major awards show after the scandal that rocked the industry to the core. Meyers had to strike a balance between trying to score some laughs, being slightly irreverent — and not stepping on a landmine that would result in him getting Twitter-bombed.

My guess is Meyers is one of the many key participants in this edition of the Globes breathing a sigh of relief NOT to be the headline of the night.