Five things I learned from the Golden Globes

Posted by · 5:37 pm · January 17th, 2011

Appropriately enough for the occasion, I watched last night’s Golden Globe awards in a celebratory alcoholic fog (the night having coincided with a friend’s birthday) so thick it took most of today to sleep it off — hence the apologetically late posting.

My memory of the evening’s finer details is therefore about as clear as, say, Ricky Gervais’s, though I do recall cheering so manically for “Carlos”‘s win in the TV Miniseries category (even if the film is, by its director’s own admission, a work of cinema) that I inadvertently tossed red wine in my hair. That, and so many green dresses on screen that I briefly wondered if the collected stylists of Hollywood had been roped into a particularly gratuitous product placement scheme for the weekend’s box office champ.

The awards themselves, meanwhile, were both well-judged and helpful, tying (or at least tidying) up a few loose ends remaining on the circuit — and even allowing me some minor bragging rights for calling the widely unfancied Paul Giamatti. (For an hour, at least, until my inevitably doomed prediction of a Best Picture upset missed outright — awards season giveth, and it taketh away.)

These, however, are the chief takeaways from the night as the dust (and my head) clears.

The Oscar goes to… “The Social Network”
If “The King’s Speech” was going to emerge as a formidable Best Picture foil to David Fincher’s juggernaut, last night would have been the time for it to step forward and announce as much — particularly given the HFPA’s European leanings. Instead, it stood meekly by with a lone win for Colin Firth while “The Social Network” racked up four wins (in the same quartet of categories that season sweeper “Slumdog Millionaire” took two years ago, if you want to get mystic about it), which suggests to me this may be no contest.

The Globes aren’t afraid to go their own way when they feel like it — they resisted overwhelming precursor momentum for “No Country for Old Men” and “The Hurt Locker,” after all — so the fact that even they fell in line behind the Facebook film is telling.

Best Supporting Actress at last has a certifiable frontrunner
While the other three performance races crystallized some time ago, Best Supporting Actress played coy for as long it could, with different contenders edging back and forth in the momentum stakes and no inarguable One To Beat emerging. That situation shifted slightly this weekend: while the category remains a contest (Hailee Steinfeld’s absence from the Globe nominees renders the result ambiguous for Oscar punters), Melissa Leo’s one-two punch at the Critics’ Choice and Globe ceremonies has nonetheless given her a sizeable lead.

That the usually starry-eyed HFPA voters could agree on a character actress they didn’t even nominate two years ago for “Frozen River” suggests a meme may have taken hold — and it was smart of Leo to include a polite but pointed rallying cry for older actresses in her acceptance speech. (Particularly since Annette Bening’s forgettable appearance last night won’t have done much to derail the Portman Express over in lead.)

The HFPA doesn’t think comedy is a joke… entirely
Globe voters have been weirdly bipolar of late when it comes to their much-maligned Comedy/Musical categories. Only two years ago, they earned themselves a measure of indie cred by handing awards to “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “In Bruges” and “Happy-Go-Lucky”… only to throw it away the next year with less well-received wins for bubblegum blockbusters “The Hangover” and “Sherlock Holmes.”

They further vexed critics last month by dishing out multiple nominations to the likes of “The Tourist” and “Alice in Wonderland,” but last night’s results suggest they’re apologetically trying to court them once more. The two wins for acclaimed Sundance dramedy “The Kids Are All Right” were easy calls, but Paul Giamatti’s well-received Best Actor win was less widely expected — and if “Barney’s Version” doesn’t exactly qualify as a critics’ movie, it’s certainly no populist pick. What mood the currently contrite voters will be in next year, however, is anyone’s guess.

Never underestimate Sony Classics for Best Foreign Language Film
As I wrote in my predictions yesterday, I’ve been sensing a surge of enthusiasm for Susanne Bier’s “In a Better World” in the past few weeks — had I actually seen the film, I might have been a bit braver and gone with the prediction. What’s becoming increasingly clear, however, is that you bet against Sony Pictures Classics in this category at your own risk.

The arthouse distributor shepherded three of last year’s five Oscar nominees, including the eventual “surprise” winner, and looks to be an equally dominant presence this year, with “Of Gods and Men,” “Incendies” and “Life, Above All” all tipped to appear on next week’s Academy shortlist alongside the Bier film. Last night’s semi-upset win, over two higher-profile auteur works led by major international stars, makes me wonder if we could see the first Globe-Oscar match-up in this category since “The Sea Inside” six years ago.

Ricky Gervais should host, like, everything
Sure, he ain’t as pretty as James Franco and “The Office” showed he’s no threat to Hugh Jackman in the song-and-dance department, but the Brit’s polarizing hosting gig last night reminded me of what I want first and foremost from any awards ceremony emcee: big laughs, and a lot of them.

Whether baldly deriding “The Tourist” or (my personal highlight of the show) introducing Bruce Willis as Ashton Kutcher, Sr., Gervais brought a welcome jolt of danger and spontaneity to what was mostly a surprise-free show, correctly gauging the appropriate level of irony to take towards an institution already well aware of its many detractors. I have no idea what to expect from next month’s Academy Awards show — perhaps Anne Hathaway has been hiding her mad stand-up skillz under a bushel all this time — but if it makes me laugh quite as hard as I did last night, I’ll be surprised.


→ 24 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

24 responses so far

  • 1 1-17-2011 at 5:48 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Yeah, Gervais was fantastic. The criticisms I’m reading today from various publications is making me shake my head.

  • 2 1-17-2011 at 5:48 pm

    Conor said...

    Finally, someone on this site admits they genuinely liked Gervais! Maybe he’s overly mean spirited but it was sure funny.

  • 3 1-17-2011 at 6:15 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    He wasn’t mean enough.

  • 4 1-17-2011 at 6:58 pm

    Patriotsfan said...

    Dittos to every comment on here.

  • 5 1-17-2011 at 8:06 pm

    Carson Dyle said...

    I can’t believe that people are getting upset/offended by Gervais’ antics.

    Are they forgetting that this is the Golden Globes? Actually, all if all awards ceremonies went through this kind of effacement during the show itself, they’d be the butt of fewer jokes, and probably genuinely worth watching. Get Gervais to do the Oscars, says I – he’s far better at hosting than he is at being film star…

  • 6 1-17-2011 at 8:16 pm

    al b. said...

    Loved Gervais last night! I’ve been a fan of his ever since The Ricky Gervais Show on XFM! Highly recommended if only to hear Karl Pilkington say some of the most stupid things ever said in the history of man!

    Anyway, yes I agree, Gervais should host the Oscars at some point!

  • 7 1-17-2011 at 8:16 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    In retrospect, it really is amazing how far Gervais was willing to go that night. I found his audaciousness hysterical (in a shocking “Did that really just happen?” way), but now I wonder how many people in the industry he’s alienated now!

    Besides that, go Melissa Leo! I love it when illustrious character actors win supporting Oscars.

  • 8 1-17-2011 at 8:32 pm

    San FranCinema said...

    The love-hate relationship we all have to the Globes seems cyclical to me. … Just a few years ago, after that arid writers’ strike/press conference horror, everyone realized they liked and missed the Globes and wanted it back in all its Moet-and-Godiva glory. … Now enough time has passed to remind us all what a shady, sycophantic operation it is, and, hey, it’s open-season again!

    Gervais got high marks from the crowd I watched with. Basically what he did was broadcast the running commentary that many of us voice at home from the safety of our couches. He put his mouth where the money is.

  • 9 1-17-2011 at 9:27 pm

    Eric said...

    Gervais is apparently not being asked to host ever again after last night. Its front and center on aol.

  • 10 1-17-2011 at 9:29 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    Kris you now have Reznor and Ross on the sidebar being nominated, or maybe you did last week but don’t recall. I know all season you been saying that branch is insular and is unlikely to nominate them but like I have been saying I think they have a very good chance to win. Have your thoughts changed or you still don’t think they have a shot?

  • 11 1-17-2011 at 9:57 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    And Ricky was great there is no way in hell Franco and Hathaway will even be near as funny. I mean they are actors not comedians. Good on Ricky. I hope to see Sacha Baron Cohen host one of these eventually.

  • 12 1-17-2011 at 11:37 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    The highlights for me were Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, closely followed by Robert Downey Jr. :)

  • 13 1-18-2011 at 7:02 am

    Maxim said...

    Lodge, it is comments like the ones here that remind me, that you are, in fact, an easy to please goon, just as long as all the correct, simplistic buttons of yours are pressed.

    That goes for all of you above, by the way, and I mean that in the most judmental way possible.

    Let’s talk Gervais, a joyless little troll of a host,
    or more accurately, a heckler with a microphone. Because this is exactly what his approach to hosting was – heckling from a safe distance. Note, also that the meanest things he said were not even directed at the presenters but at big name camera-cutaways.

    And let’s get one thing absolutely straight here – for all of his so called willingness to shock, Gervais was solidly on safe ground. Attacking HFPA for nominating Depp isn’t exactly the height of boldness, and you’d really have to be pretty dumb not to miss it.

    Heck, at least Armond White for all his trolling actually had guts to troll with conviction. Gervais, on the other hand was too busy trying to please the likes of the commenters above but telling them what they wanted to hear with all the vile but none of the actual bite.

    I repeat that I do not think that many at HFPA feel like they have got what they bargained for. Gervais has truly blurred the line between himself and his office alter ego and I do not think this is the kind of thing they shoot for.
    For whatever you think they should be, Globes had historically lived by their sense of glamour and I do not think they could have last this long with this much of vile and self depreciation. Yes, we all know they are pretty worthless but seeing someone like Gervais drive that point (and really that was they only point) is as painful as watching Kathy Griffin’s endless shtick about her non-celebrity celebrity.

    It’s not just that Gervais went over the line that gets me, it is the fact that his inability to even tell where the line is extends to his knowing what is or isn’t funny. And believe me I am a big big fan of funny. It’s just that once I caught on to Gervais act, and I did so very yearly last year, it all becomes very sad. His last, completely non sequitur scripted “atheism” outburst at the end of the telecast practically screamed of desperation. Gervais was as predictable as he was obvious. But hey, at least he went through the entire evening without making a billionth “Holocaust” joke (settling for much more high brow Mel Gibson reference), so I guess I’ll call that progress.

    I also hope that seeing Michael Douglas present, and effortlessly and earnestly deliver what was easily the funniest line of evening, will in fact open your brain to a possibility that HFPA did not, in fact need to nominate him.

  • 14 1-18-2011 at 7:43 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    …will in fact open your brain to a possibility that HFPA did not, in fact need to nominate him.

    Baffled by this statement. When did I ever say the HFPA did need to nominate him?

    I do, however, defer to your expertise in matters of joyless trolling.

  • 15 1-18-2011 at 7:50 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    Oh man Guy took Maxim’s words about Ricky Gervais and used them on Maxim!


    I can’t believe the Oscars are still OVER a month away. It has come to a point where the only unpredictable categories are the shorts.

  • 16 1-18-2011 at 7:57 am

    Maxim said...

    “When did I ever say the HFPA did need to nominate him?”

    Interesting comment coming from someone who made such a fuss out of Douglas’s nomination and allowed for no possibility that, it couldn’t have just, you know, happened like so many things at the Globes. You mean to say that your absolutism didn’t imply HFPA members were contractually obligated to provide that “TV
    moment” you talked about earlier?

    I guess I should not have expected more constructive feedback from a person who thinks that t0ile7 jokes about old people provided ” big laughs” or that anything Gervais said were spontaneity.

    P.S. That Kutcher joke you mentioned is at least three years old (and I have heard it multiple times). And about three years too late.

  • 17 1-18-2011 at 8:05 am

    Maxim said...

    “Oh man Guy took Maxim’s words about Ricky Gervais and used them on Maxim! ”

    As if I I didn’t see that coming when I was typing my response. You guys are so original.

  • 18 1-18-2011 at 8:18 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    You’re the one who made a fuss out of the following throwaway jab I made about Douglas’s nomination:

    Again, in return for that, we must tolerate a shameless please-don’t-die nod for Michael Douglas’s self-parody in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

    Nope, I don’t see any mention of the words “TV moment,” nor was I implying contractual obligation of any sort on the HFPA’s part — just ghoulish sentimentality. I realize you do like a back-and-forth, Maxim, but it’s easier to engage when you argue with things I actually said, and not your own extrapolations. I hope that’s more constructive.

    Moving on.

  • 19 1-18-2011 at 8:36 am

    Maxim said...

    Guy, for the sake of accuracy I would like to remind you that for what you consider a throw-away jab (and really if that’s what you consider it to be then what isn’t it?) you got negatve feedback from other people too.

    I would also like to welcome you to go back and take a listen to Oscar Talk #45, where the issue of that nod was brought up again.

    I’m really not as big on arguing as you think and will just say that my point was that with Douglas presenting a major Award, there could be other explanations for why he was nominated. Benefit of doubt . That’s pretty much it.

  • 20 1-18-2011 at 10:51 am

    evelyn garver said...

    Gervais should be the Globe’s permanent host. The old fashioned gentleman host who is at heart one with audience went out with Bob Hope. It hasn’t worked at the Oscars since Billy Crystal. Just look at the “sacrificial lambs” they’ve put up this year. For the Globes, the incendiary combination of booz, dangerously crowded seating arrangements and Gervais’ genuine lack of caring for the ceremony makes great television.

  • 21 1-18-2011 at 11:36 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Funny that you would preach “benefit of a doubt,” Maxim, since you seem so utterly incapable of debating anyone in good faith. Oh that’s right, you’re not “big on arguing.” You just assume that Guy will see your comment, say “Oh my God, I *am* an easy-to-please goon!” and not offer any sort of rebuttal.

  • 22 1-18-2011 at 12:32 pm

    Maxim said...

    Bob, at least when I debate, I offer my own opinion, back it up and stay on topic. I don’t insert myself into other people’s “debates” either.

    As for the actual rebuttal, I am still waiting for one. Butting into other people’s conversation doesn’t count.

  • 23 1-18-2011 at 1:13 pm

    Kyle said...

    I love this concept of butting into a conversation on a public comment board.

  • 24 1-18-2011 at 4:04 pm

    Erik815 said...

    Okay, so how about we let Ricky host again next year, but go by the rules of a presidential debate, so each time he insults a movie star, that movie star gets 30 seconds for a formal rebuttal (shame Sean Penn wasn’t presenting or winning any awards tonight, I’m sure he’d have taken the jokes well).