Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Toasting and roasting the Globes

Okay, so I did get distracted by the Golden Globes. I guess my tardy final tribute to that actor I missed in my tribute to movie folk who left us in 2001 will have to wait one more week. I hope he doesn’t mind. And, if he does, I hope he doesn’t haunt me.

But before I can deal with him, I just have to ask the question: who came up with the categories for the Golden Globe awards anyway? I mean, the categories are so convoluted and twisted and wide-ranging and all-encompassing that it is technically possible for The West Wing, Malcolm in the Middle, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Roots, I Love Lucy and the New York Yankees all to be nominated in the same category and in the same year. I don’t know about you, but I find this confusing.

I mean who could have thought up a competition this byzantine and otherworldly? Probably, foreigners. Wait, that’s right, these awards are actually voted on by the Hollywood foreign press, so no wonder they can seem a bit strange to us Americans. It also explains how Charlie Sheen managed to get an award. Instead of Spin City, most of the voters probably misread the ballot and thought they were voting yet again for Sex and the City, which they gave every possible award they could. (Okay, so they stiffed John Corbett.) I think it is actually a rule that the foreign press automatically gives an award to any nominee that has the word “sex” in the title. Hey, you don’t think these guys landed jobs in Los Angeles just so they could visit Disneyland, do you?

Further evidence of the “foreignness” of these awards is the fact that they actually gave a directing award to Robert Altman (for Gosford Park). If they were more clued in to things, they would have known that Robert Altman isn’t supposed to get awards. Especially since he made The Player.

One place where they did get the American thing right was in giving a special achievement award to Harrison Ford. There is no other movie actor working today (except maybe Tom Hanks) who has the traditional American leading man thing down better than Ford. This was emphasized by the fact that he looked so darn uncomfortable watching all his old clips and giving his acceptance speech. This is clearly a man who knows exactly how much luck was involved in his Hollywood success and who is completely humbled by it.

I think the foreign press influence here explains two of the ways that the Golden Globes differ substantially from other Hollywood awards shows: 1) a lot more alcohol consumption and 2) a lot less flag waving. (The alcohol is probably necessary since, if you win, you run a serious risk of having to talk to Dick Clark.) Aside, from Sarah Jessica Parker’s early acceptance speech for (you guessed it) Sex and the City, in which she dedicated her award to New York City (the series’s “fifth lady,” she said), there was none of the fervent displays of patriotism we have seen in most similar shows since 9/11. This may also be explained by the fact that 90 percent of the actors who won were from Australia. Okay, maybe it wasn’t 90 percent (besides, everyone knows that 99 percent of all statistics are made up out of thin air), but it seemed like a lot. Especially if you forget that Russell Crowe is actually from New Zealand.

Speaking of Australians, I have to say I was rather impressed with Nicole Kidman’s acceptance speech for her award for Moulin Rouge! She managed to get in a huge snub of her ex-husband by thanking every single person she had ever met in her entire life except Tom Cruise. Ouch! All in all, it was a very good night for Moulin Rouge! since it also got awards for best musical/comedy movie and best original score. The triumph was marred only by the fact that director Baz Luhrmann was the only person to be yanked off the stage for violating the strict 38-minute time limit for acceptance speeches.

But it was the best night of all for Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind. Last year I expressed amazement that Ridley Scott’s Gladiator did so well at these awards. This year I can at least say that the voters could have done much worse than honoring Howard’s well-crafted biography of Nobel Prize winner John Nash. And it is only fitting that Russell Crowe got a Globe for this flick rather than for Gladiator, showing that maybe, in some cases anyway, the foreign press actually know more than the people who vote for the Oscars.

-S.L., 24 January 2002

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