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Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Another spin of the Globes

Okay, here’s a question. How come Chris Cooper suddenly looks so old, and yet Dick Clark still looks like a special effect from a movie about somebody who has sold his soul to stop aging?

That’s right, it’s head scratching time again. We have lived through another Golden Globes award ceremony. Here is the executive bulletin for those of you who forgot to tune in:

The Clothes: Lara Flynn Boyle Boyle, what were you thinking?! I didn’t think it was possible, but you actually made Bjork’s fashion sense, by comparison, seem sensible and practical.

The Horse Race: There was no break-away winner. Last year the awards showered on A Beautiful Mind proved an accurate harbinger of that movie’s fortunes at the Academy Awards. This year the awards were spread more evenly, but the plurality winner was Chicago, which got two acting awards and one for best musical or comedy film. There was a clump of other films tying for second place. These included The Hours (best drama and one acting award), Gangs of New York (best director and best song), Adaptation (two acting awards) and About Schmidt (best screenplay and one acting award). By the way, when did Martin Scorsese start looking and sounding so much like Woody Allen? Must be a New York thing.

The Mood: The Golden Globes are fun and relaxing to watch because everyone is sitting around at tables instead of being stuffed into auditorium seats. A welcome fixture at all major awards ceremonies is Jack Nicholson’s mug grinning prominently in the audience. He really seems to enjoy these things, and he invariably looks cooler than cool. This façade cracked a bit on Sunday night, however, when he strode to the podium to collect the award for best actor in a film drama, About Schmidt, and he casually and nearly incoherently mentioned that he had taken a valium before the ceremony. So much for his cool being innate.

The Speeches: Thank God for Larry David. Since everybody in attendance at the Golden Globes is 1) “creative” and 2) “drunk,” the emotion/tear level is extremely high as the winners all do their best to appear humble and deserving at the same time. And the women are the worst. Star after star comes to the microphone and valiantly fights off the overwhelming emotions as they appear so flabbergasted and surprised that you’d swear that they hadn’t even known they were nominated. Then they pull out a carefully crafted acceptance speech and deliver it more or less flawlessly. Renée Zellweger gave perhaps the evening’s best example of this performance. Meryl Streep did a respectable variation, as she noted pointedly how long it had been since her last award from anybody. The first few speeches were particularly heavy-laden with such passion, so it was an incredible relief when Larry David got his award for the best television musical or comedy series for his Curb Your Enthusiasm. In a testament to the fact that the landmark Seinfeld sitcom was as much or more his creative baby than that of the series’ namesake, he delivered a perfectly deadpan and hilarious speech about how the award meant he could definitely count on getting “lucky” with his wife that night. Another nice moment was when a bubbly and ebullient Edie Falco got her award for The Sopranos and rasped only a few words because she had laryngitis. That nearly made up for Kim Cattrall’s sentiment, which unwittingly summed up the whole point of Sex and the City, that friendships with women are more long-lasting than relationships with men.

The Tribute: This year’s career honoree was Gene Hackman. And, say what you want about the Globes, they usually get this one right. Hackman is a great actor with few pretensions. He looked properly humble as he watched the clips from his large body of work, and perhaps a bit uncomfortable that there seemed to be so much emphasis on his turn as Lex Luthor in the Superman movies.

What It All Means: This is the point where a geek like myself rants about how even the very existence of the best movie of the past year, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, was barely acknowledged. But let’s remember who votes on the Golden Globes. It’s foreigners, and by that I mean non-Americans, or as I like to think of them, people who just aren’t American… yet. But the selectors are not merely foreigners, they are journalists. A predictable mindset begins to emerge. When we examine the subject matter of the honored films, we can perceive a classic culturally liberal bias. These movies celebrate writers (The Hours, Adaptation), performers and trial lawyers (Chicago), or suffering immigrants (Gangs of New York), or else they condescend to conservative Midwesterners (About Schmidt). Lord of the Rings has none of this. It is about warriors fighting pure evil, and that is exactly the wrong message among the crowd in Hollywood on Sunday night for these neo-pacifist, anti-war-against-Iraq times. (Interestingly, war was a bit more popular in the television awards, with HBO’s The Gathering Storm, about Winston Churchill, and Path to War, about Lyndon Johnson, collecting three statuettes between them.) Barring an extremely quick and successful American military adventure over the next few weeks, look for a similar snub at the Academy Awards.

-S.L., 23 January 2003

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