General Mar 1, 2021 | 10:50 AMby Colin McGourty

Checkmate! The Queen’s Gambit & Anya Taylor-Joy win Golden Globes

The Queen’s Gambit Netflix series has won the Golden Globe for the Best TV Limited Series while Anya Taylor-Joy, who starred as chess prodigy Beth Harmon, took home her first Golden Globe as Best Actress. Anya, who faced stiff competition from Cate Blanchett (Miss America) and Nicole Kidman (The Undoing), commented afterwards, “We played very sassy chess and I didn’t realise I needed sassy chess in my life, but I do!”

A Golden Globe for The Queen's Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit was released on October 23rd last year and within a week had hit no. 1 in 27 countries. Within a month it had been no. 1 in 63 countries and become the most popular limited series ever on Netflix, with 62 million accounts watching the show. World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen also gave his stamp of approval.  

It now seems The Queen’s Gambit is set to follow its popular success with critical acclaim. The Golden Globe Awards, voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association since 1944, are the first major TV awards of 2021. The Queen’s Gambit was nominated in two categories and won them both.

Anya Taylor’s competition for Best Actress for a Limited Series was formidable:

  • Cate Blanchett, Miss America
  • Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People
  • Shira Haas, Unorthodox
  • Nicole Kidman, The Undoing

But her portrayal of Beth Harmon’s Fischer-like rise to the top of world chess in the 1960s won the prize and she got to give the winner’s speech – virtually, due to the pandemic:

My god Scott (Frank, the Director), I love you for letting me be part of this journey. Thank you for trusting me with Beth. It’s wonderful that everyone’s seen the show, but I would do this project again and again and again. I learned so much, I’m so grateful and thank you to the audiences that watched it and supported it and the characters. It meant the world, so thank you so much.

Anya Taylor-Joy expanded on her feelings afterwards when talking to journalists:

She was asked if she’d had enough of chess for a lifetime and never wanted to see a board again:

Oh goodness, I could never say that. I love chess! I’ve had to pick up new skills for the movies that I’ve been doing, so I’m looking forward to having some time off so I can get back to chess. And how has my life changed? It’s wild but I think the thing that makes me the happiest is that I love what I do more and more with each project. I was concerned at a certain point that that love would go away and it really hasn’t, so I’m very grateful to still be as passionate as I am about what I love to do.

Carla Renata of The Curvy Film Critic began, “I am coming to you from the chess capital of the world, Saint Louis, Missouri”, before asking about, “the most surprising thing you discovered learning how to play chess?”

Anya responded:

How much fun it is to punctuate a feeling by moving a piece! It’s really fun! Thomas Brodie-Sangster and I did that with each other a lot. We played very sassy chess and I didn’t realise I needed sassy chess in my life, but I do!

Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomas Brodie-Sangster at the US Championship

It wasn’t just Anya Taylor-Joy who won, however, since The Queen’s Gambit also took home the Best Limited Series award, where the other nominees were:

  • Normal People
  • Small Axe
  • The Undoing
  • Unorthodox

William Horberg, the Executive Producer, noted when accepting the award that Allan Scott had acquired the rights to Walter Tevis’ novel three years before Anya Taylor-Joy was born. Horberg also credited director Scott Frank as “the only one I know who could bring the sexy vibe to chess”.

Judit Polgar, the greatest female player of all time, and Garry Kasparov, arguably the greatest overall player of all-time and someone who played a significant part in designing the chess games in the show, both reacted to the triumph:

The Queen’s Gambit will be competing for Emmys and BAFTA awards in the months ahead, but for now you might want to check out more of World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen on The Queen’s Gambit, as he discusses some of the chess moments.

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