Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

Custom Search

© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Globes set my head spinning

It was a night when the laws of nature were turned on their head, when black became white and white became black and nothing made any sense anymore. How else can you explain an evening where Robert Downey Jr. looked strangely mysterious and alluring and Elizabeth Taylor looked like she was on drugs? Or where Gladiator got the top movie prize?

I am talking, of course, about the Golden Globes.

It is “conventional wisdom” to say that the Globes are a harbinger, an indicator, a precursor of how the awards that really matter (i.e. the Academy Awards) are going to go. But my suspicion is that the people who say this are mainly people who have recently won Golden Globes.

In reality, the Golden Globes ceremony seems to be the Oscars without any of the pressure. At the Academy Awards, you can see on people’s faces just how seriously they are taking the whole thing. I mean, I don’t think I have ever seen a presenter have to wait for someone to return from the bathroom before being able to hand her the Oscar. And the Oscars are important because they are voted on by people’s peers. That means that the results are, although heavily political, at least generally well informed. Despite all the lip service that winners of other awards, even the so-called People’s Awards and various critics groups’ awards, give to the importance of being recognized by this group or that group, it is their own peers that they really care about. I mean, practically every winner on Sunday night seemed visibly to be suppressing a smirk when giving the obligatory thanks to the Hollywood foreign press corps.

Other obvious differences between the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards is that the Globes have a lot more acting categories (so more winning actors) and they seem to have no clear limit on time spent on acceptance speeches or on the number of drinks purchased at the cash bar. This probably explains why the attendees seemed so darn happy and giddy as they sat at their tables. The atmosphere reminded me of nothing so much as the occasional spoofs of awards banquets we have seen on such TV sitcoms as Absolutely Fabulous, Murphy Brown and Frasier. The main competition actually seemed to be between the winners to see who could feign the most exaggerated look of shock at taking the prize. The clear winner was Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker who practically needed a wheelbarrow to carry her hanging jaw all the way to microphone.

And speaking of Frasier, thanks to the magic of my time-shifting TiVo, I happened to watch the Globes immediately after watching the episode where the fictional Dr. Crane improbably won a lifetime achievement award and worked himself into such a state of self-doubt that his acceptance speech wound up being a cry for help and pity. Thus, I had a distinct sense of déjà vu as Kelsey Grammer strode to the podium to accept his award for Best Actor in a TV Series on NBC about a Radio Psychiatrist. Happily, life did not imitate art, as Grammer noted the many awards that Frasier had already won and concluded that the series had deserved every single one of them.

As for the actual selections, I seem to be in a minority as far as being underwhelmed by Gladiator when compared to its competition in the Best Motion Picture in the Drama category. On the other hand, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was by no means undeserving of either of its two awards in the Best Director of a Motion Picture (Ang Lee) and Best Foreign Language Film, even though it did mean that Steven Soderbergh lost not once but twice in the directing competition (Erin Brockovich and Traffic).

But enough about that. How many more days until Oscar night?

-S.L., 25 January 2001

If you would like to respond to this commentary or to anything else on this web site, please send a message to Messages sent to this address will be considered for publishing on the Feedback Page without attribution. (That means your name, email address or anything else that might identify you won’t be included.) Messages published will be at my discretion and subject to editing. But I promise not to leave something out just because it’s unflattering.

If you would like to send me a message but not have it considered for publishing, you can send it to

Commentaries Archive