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'Golden Globes' Provide a Some Fun Moments in a Long Night of Jokes and Jibes

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jan 16th 2011 11:58PM
Ricky GervaisBefore we get to the dishing and rehashing, go ahead, make fun of the Golden Globes. Everybody does.

The show's host this year, Ricky Gervais, certainly had a gleeful time poking fun at the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes on the Globes. The HFPA members didn't just nominate 'The Tourist' because they wanted to hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, Gervais said at the start of the ceremony, "they also accepted bribes," Gervais joked. (I think that was a joke. Maybe.)

Even one of the evening's winners, Robert DeNiro, mocked the HFPA in a halting acceptance speech that contained less wit than he thought it did.

"The important thing is that we are all in this together -- the filmmakers who make the movies and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association members who in turn pose for pictures with the movie stars," said DeNiro, who won a Cecil B. DeMille award for career achievement. "I'm sorry more members of the Hollywood Foreign Press aren't with us tonight but many of them were deported right before the show."

Zing! Not really!

OK, so much of the humor didn't land during the Globes (unless it was deployed by the likes of Jane Lynch or Tina Fey or Steve Carell), and the legitimacy of the Globes is dodgy at best. But the HFPA's mildly boozy annual ceremony sometimes helps bring attention to projects and performances that actually deserve the hype.

Also, it allows us regular people to put on our sweatpants, get comfy on the couch and watch famous people parade around in super-fancy clothes, which we can mock when those duds are really horrible. And of course, when it comes to the ceremony itself, we're hoping one of those genetically blessed Hollywood types gets drunk enough to make a memorably weird acceptance speech.

There was nothing ultra-weird about Sunday's ceremony, sadly, though some of those gowns were pretty migraine-inducing (why doesn't January Jones just let the fabulous costume designers from 'Mad Men' pick her red carpet looks? Why??)

In any event, no matter how many hyperattractive people pack the ballroom in question, ennui tends to settle over these awards shindigs around the mid-point. It was at that point I realized that the Globes are just a much more glamorous version of an old-fashioned family reunion.

When he won an award for his work in 'You Don't Know Jack,' Al Pacino reminded me of a spacey but cool uncle. Jane Lynch, when she won for her brilliant work on 'Glee,' was every bit the super-funny cousin that makes trekking to chaotic reunions worthwhile. Colin Firth, who won a drama award for 'The King's Speech,' was that really suave, self-deprecating cousin from abroad who makes everything more classy and appealing whenever he opens his mouth.

Robert Downey Jr. was, of course, the charismatic bad boy. When he strode up to the podium to present the best actress in a film award, he made clear his disdain for Gervais' bon mots, which frequently were, let's face it, either a little obvious or too insider-ish.

"Aside from the fact that it's been hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I'd say the vibe of the show is pretty good so far, wouldn't you?" Downey remarked. Then he improved the vibe by implying that he'd slept with -- or would like to sleep with -- all the best actress nominees.

Stay classy, Golden Globes!

The ceremony had its boring moments, but it wasn't the death march that we usually get with the Emmys and Oscars. Now those are slogs. Still, three hours of Gervais made me long for the days when he would come out and do three brilliant minutes of incisive comedy at these sorts of glittering affairs. Hollywood royalty eventually gets peeved if the non-fawning goes too far, and even for us sweatpant-clad types, his humor was clunky at times. Still, some of Gervais' banter hit the mark, as when he called the foreign-film prize an "award no one in America cares about."

Why stop there? Does anyone really care about the Globes? Some of the winners clearly did -- if they secretly thought the Globes were dumb, effusive winners such as 'Treme' actress Melissa Leo (who won for 'The Fighter'), Lynch and Katey Sagal (a surprise winner for 'Sons of Anarchy') were doing a very fine job of acting when they were up on that podium.

But they didn't appear to be acting, they looked genuinely thrilled to win. And even if we think the Golden Globes are voted on by a strange, enigmatic and secretive group of fairly random people who really, really like Piper Perabo, the awards show does have a utility. I'll say it again: The ceremony sometimes garners more attention for shows that need and deserve it.

This year, however, the Globes got it a little bit wrong a lot of the time, at least in the television arena (and that's all I'm addressing here, see our sister site Moviefone for the film lowdown). The good news: The stranglehold that '30 Rock' used to have on the comedy categories was finally broken. The bad news: Some of the shows that got statues didn't really deserve them.

Holy hair gel, but really, 'Glee' won yet another award (this time for best TV comedy)? Please! I know awards-giving bodies like to reward flashy projects for being, well, flashy, but 'Glee' needs another statue like Mr. Schuester needs a perm. It's a messy, inconsistent show that is worth watching -- maybe -- one week out of three. Every time the show gets rewarded like this, it's just another reason for 'Glee' to give in to its self-indulgent side. Sigh.

Still, Lynch's expert speech, in which she was briskly funny and she thanked all her people without boring us senseless, was fun, and Chris Colfer's sheer joy at winning as best supporting comedy actor was delightful to see.

"To all the kids who are told by bullies in school they can't have what they want ... well, screw those kids," Colfer said.

And even if Katey Sagal should have won a hundred awards last year for her work on season 2 of 'Sons of Anarchy,' it was hard not to be happy for her when she got an award for her season 3 work as tough matriarch Gemma Teller-Morrow. "I'm so glad to you're the boss of me," Sagal said to her husband, Kurt Sutter, the creator of the FX drama.

It was no surprise that 'Boardwalk Empire' and Steve Buscemi won drama awards as well, given the show's HBO pedigree and its connections to film royalty, i.e. Martin Scorcese. Still, Buscemi very much deserved the award for his very subtle work. Likewise, it was about time that Jim Parsons won more recognition for his delightful portrayal of a socially challenged nerd on 'The Big Bang Theory.'

Also not surprising, but disappointing, was Laura Linney's win for 'The Big C.' Linney is an amazing actress, but that Showtime series was hobbled by many flaws. Oh well. Awards voters can't resist voting for the nominee with the classiest film pedigree, and Linney does have that going for her. Let's just hope that when the show returns the rest of the show rises to the level of her talent.

One big surprise was the win for 'Carlos' as best miniseries or TV movie. It had stiff competition from 'The Pacific' and 'Temple Grandin,' but the French film about the terrorist Carlos the Jackal emerged with the trophy.

All in all, some worthy people won, some very attractive people got excited and gave heartfelt speeches, we got to see Matt Damon doing a DeNiro impression and we got to witness the real Temple Grandin exuberantly embracing Claire Danes, who won an award for her portrayal of the autistic woman in an HBO film.

So what if it all took place on a crystal-bedecked set that looked as though it had been borrowed from 'The Sonny & Cher Show'? These awards shows are as ephemeral as the morning dew. We'll hardly remember the good, the bad and the ugly in a few hours.

Scratch that. I might remember some of those unfortunate dresses.

For the full list of Golden Globes winners, look here.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.
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What is wrong with everyone? Ricky Gervais was brilliant and the only reason to watch this show. If he does not host again next year I for one will not watch as most of the awards go to movies or shows no one watches anyway (other than Glee). People need to remember he is a comedian. He makes fun of anything. That's what he does. What else where you expecting?

January 17 2011 at 9:11 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Brendan D

I agree with Jimmy that Gervais is out; he pissed off WAAAY too many people, and it was clear in his opening monologue that the laughter was uncomfortable (except, maybe, from some of the producers who have to deal with the more... er... difficult actors).

As far as the winners go, does anybody really pay attention to that? I mean, it was great to see Natalie Portman get up there and make a very funny, very human joke about her fiancee's lack of acting talent, but I'm probably just saying that because I've had a crush on her since I was ten and saw her in "The Professional." But "Glee" over "Modern Family" was a joke. I was happy to see Chris Colfer win, but mostly because he's the only person not named Jane Lynch worth watching on the show. As far as Lynch goes, I'm willing to give her all the awards she may or may not deserve; despite the fact that Sofia Vergara is far, far funnier on "Modern Family," Lynch has earned it, of only due to her indelible turn in "Best in Show," for which I'm still PO'd that she wasn't even nominated for an Oscar.


I'm still a little shocked at the "Temple Grandin" love; even though I like Claire Danes, I thought the TV movie was horrendous and overwritten. Likewise, Al Pacino was fine in "You Don't Know Jack," but was it really a great performance, or was it merely a good performance by a great actor in a year in which few TV movies were any good? I'm not entirely certain, but I tend to favor the latter. Lastly, I'm usually dubious about best writing nods, but I'm positively tickled that Aaron Sorkin won for best screenplay, if only because it dovetails nicely into his longtime cohort Thomas Schalamme's new project "Mr. Sunshine," which I'm praying won't suck. I'm hoping to read what you have to say about it soon, Mo, because if it's bad, I might just lose faith in everything I believe about TV: I simply cannot believe that Allison Janney can do two bad things in a row, and "Across the Sea" gave me my fill of bad Allison Janney projects for a good long while.

January 17 2011 at 1:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Chris Colfer quote is wrong, and DeNiro's line about the HFPA being deported wasn't bad. It was the follow-up about the wait staff that seemed to shock the audience.

Gervais' bon mots were "insider-ish?" Only if you think the world doesn't know Tom Cruise is a Scientologist. (Or that Mel Gibson hates Jews. Or that Charlie Sheen likes hookers. Etc.) It's also a stretch to say "three hours of Gervais." He probably had less than 10 minutes of total screen time, and that's being generous.

One thing's for sure: He will never host another awards show.

January 17 2011 at 12:59 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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