Gayle King, Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL KOVAC
Gayle King, Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL KOVAC

In the whir of black dresses, golden statuettes and acceptance speeches, the real winner of the 2018 Golden Globes wasn’t a film or television series.

Oprah Winfrey — talk-show host, philanthropist, producer, actress and businesswoman — stole the night with a 10-minute
battle cry that touched on everything from racial equality to press freedom to sexual harassment.

Winfrey made the memorable speech as the first African-American woman to accept the Cecil B DeMille Award, honouring her contribution to the world of entertainment.

It was the first major Hollywood awards ceremony to be held since the furore broke over sexual harassment in the film industry. Stars wore black to honour victims.

Almost as if surging into battle, the crowd came to its feet as Winfrey built to her conclusion. "For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up," she said to applause and tears.

It was a well-orchestrated, well-intentioned performance that sent a powerful message and made the antidiscrimination movement seem unstoppable.

But despite the call to action, the ceremony went on the to next category — best director — for which the nominees were all men. Just like that, the event became a half-hearted protest: black dresses blended into black tuxes, dimming the outcry.

The battle may well require more black dresses and more powerful words — and more female winners in categories in which women compete against men.