Monday, January 16, 2012

Another Golden Globes

Well, another Golden Globes ceremony has come and gone. As awards shows go, it wasn't as good as last year, but still a much more entertaining spectacle than any of the recent Oscar or Emmy broadcasts. Ricky Gervais, who swears he's not coming back next year (we'll see) wasn't nearly as acerbic or badly received as the last time, but he was working with a different crowd. Most of the room was prepared for the worst this time, so many presenters had good retorts for him, or were at least much better sports. If Gervais was playing it safe, he didn't show it. He looked like he was having a ball for the whole night, ragging on Johnny Depp, Colin Firth, and NBC.

The awards themselves are easier to sit through because there is a lot less self-important filler. No montages, no musical numbers, no accountants. Aside from Morgan Freeman being given the Cecil B. DeMille Award, trophies were handed out very quickly, one after the other. Bad speeches, bad dresses, and awkward reaction shots were pretty constant all evening, but it felt like they all went by much quicker than usual. The only thing I found really galling was the really heavy-handed bleeping of profanity. We lost whole sentences and jokes instead of just one or two words, and there were some pretty foul mouths in the room.

Well, on to the winners. On the television side, I don't have much to say. I meant to come back to "Homeland" after the first episode but I haven't gotten around to it. Ditto "Downton Abbey," "American Horror Story," "Boss," and "Mildred Pierce." However, it was great to see Idris Elba get some recognition for "Luther," and Peter Dinklage for "Game of Thrones." I have to say that the TV awards have always felt like more of an afterthought at the Globes because you don't see writer or director trophies being handed out. It was hard to take this year's nominees seriously when there were such obvious omissions like "Breaking Bad" in the Best Drama Series category. Also the Globes have always had a weird penchant for freshman shows like "Episodes," and "American Horror Story," which have both been widely panned by the usual critics.

On the movie side, the races look to be much more in tune with the wider Hollywood awards season vibe. George Clooney and Jean Dujardin won Best Actor trophies, and will be battling it out for top spot at the Oscars. Michelle Williams won Best Comedy/Musical Actress, and Meryl Streep took home Best Drama Actress, but there's still a good chance that Viola Davis could be a spoiler at the Oscars. Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer have the supporting awards all but locked up though, and I expect the same will hold true for Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, who were honored for writing and directing respectively.

However the big question of who is going to win the Best Picture Oscar remains a mystery. As many have pointed out, it hasn't been a great year and there haven't been any real standouts films. "The Descendants" won the Best Drama Golden Globe, which was a nice surprise, but there's no guarantee that the win will translate to more momentum in the Oscar race. "The Artist" won Best Comedy/Musical, and seems to be right on track for Oscar glory, but the Academy is far more timid and conservative than the Globes. More accessible crowd pleasers like "Hugo" and "Midnight in Paris" are still definitely in the race.

I tend to agree with today's Slate article, that points out that the Globes is sometimes a far better barometer of quality than the Oscars. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association may be unscrupulous, and we know they can be bought, but it does have the benefit of operating outside the system and have proven time and again that they have very different tastes and ideas than Hollywood does. They're far less prone to the regional politicking and legacy picks, and their choices often mirror the critical consensus to maintain what little credibility they have. This year's Best Film winners, "The Descendants" and "The Artist," are definitely critical rather than commercial favorites.

It's going to be very interesting to see what the Oscars are going to do. Will they follow the Globes' lead and elevate films that will be a challenge for audiences, or will they fall back on safer material? The Oscar nominations won't come out until Tuesday, January 24th, and with the race so wide open this year, we'll almost certainly see a few titles in the mix that the Globes snubbed. Will "The Tree of Life" be back on the table? Will "Drive" or "Melancholia" break through?

We only know one thing for certain. With fresh wins for "The Artist" and "The Iron Lady" under his belt, Harvey Weinstein is back, baby!

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