3 Golden Globe Awards for “Green Book” Film Portrayal of Jamaican Pianist Dr. Don Shirley

Golden Globe Awards for Green Book the Film Portrayal of Jamaican Pianist Dr Don Shirley

The film “Green Book.” written by director Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga, was a big winner at the 76th Golden Globe Awards on January 6, 2019, taking home the honors for Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Motion Picture in the comedy/musical category. “Green Book” is based on the life of Vallelonga’s father, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, who becomes the driver for Jamaican jazz pianist Dr. Shirley on a concert tour of the American South in 1962, the racism they face, and how the two men learn to respect one another’s differences and become friends. Cited by critics as depicting the most unlikely of friendships, the film has been praised as being “deeply moving” and “inspiring” with a good dose of humor even as it confronts serious issues.

The pairing of Dr. Shirley and Tony “Lip” came about from necessity during a very troubled time in American history. While Dr. Shirley was a wealthy and acclaimed musician, he needed a driver and a bodyguard when he decided to embark on an eight-week concert tour of the southern states that had laws and attitudes that were dangerous and discriminatory for black people. Tony was fast-talking and burly bouncer from the Copacabana nightclub and offered the perfect bodyguard for the refined and elegant Dr. Shirley, who was his opposite in nearly every way possible. Dr. Shirley spoke eight languages and was friends with JFK and enjoyed worldwide fame for his musical talent. He lived above Carnegie Hall. Tony knew mob figures and was best known for winning hot dog eating contests. They reveled together in a Cadillac for two months, and their shared experiences brought them to a true friendship.

Actor Mahershala Ali won his first Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Ali played the role of Dr. Don Shirley. Mahershala Ali has appeared in “House of Cards” and “The Hunger Games,” along with star turns in “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures.” He won an Oscar as Supporting Actor and a SAG award for his role in “Moonlight.” In his acceptance speech, Ali thanked his wife, mother, and grandmother for their prayers and support. He also thanked the real Don Shirley for being an inspiration and his co-star Viggo Mortensen, who he called “”extraordinary scene partner.” He also thanked director Peter Farrelly and his other co-star Linda Cardellini, calling her a “beautiful person.”

“Green Book” also won the Golden Globe in the Best Screenplay category for its writers Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, and Brian Currie. Vallelonga took his time in bringing the story to film out of respect for Dr. Shirley, who had wanted the film to happen after his death. Both Shirley and Vallelonga died in 2013. In an interesting side note, Shirley never wrote any of his music down, so for the film, the music had to be transcribed by ear.

And to top off the night, “Green Book” took the Best Film Comedy/Musical award. The fact that the film took three Golden Globes was characterized as somewhat surprising, given the competition in the categories, but with the three wins, the film is tipped to be a major force at the 2019 Academy Awards later in the year.

Photo Source: Green Book  Facebook Page

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Stephanie Korney