Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Globe trotters

It’s official. Emma Thompson can have me anytime she wants me.

I’ve had a major crush on her for years. Ever since I started seeing her in movies directed by and starring her then-husband Kenneth Branagh, like Henry V and Dead Again. The deal was sealed when she contributed a hilarious turn to the sitcom Cheers as Frasier Crane’s ex-wife, children’s TV host Nanny G (not to be confused with Nanny McPhee, the character she played in two movies for which she wrote the screenplays). It’s been all uphill since then.

But nothing—not her Merchant-Ivory roles, her heroines from Shakespeare, Jane Austen or Harry Potter movies—has endeared me as much as her appearance at the Golden Globes on Sunday (seen here in Ireland on Monday). When she walked up to the podium with her expensive shoes in one hand and a martini in the other, I was ready to hop on a plane and fly to her then and there.

Let’s face it, every time I think the Globes have really gone over the top (which is pretty much every year) they find a new top to go over. And, yes, I am once again breaking my vow never to talk about the Golden Globes ever again because they don’t—or shouldn’t—matter.

The Globes have always been more entertaining than other (real) awards programs because 1) they leave out the boring categories like “costume design” and “film editor” and hand out more awards to actors by inventing categories like “Best Performance by a Trans-gendered Actor in Musical or Comedy or Dog Food Commercial,” and 2) they give all the attendees loads of alcohol and get them really drunk so they say and do outrageous things. Actors and directors enjoy it all so much and are so anxious to get an award—any award, no matter how meaningless—that they show up at this event every year, even though the entire thing is run by two sleazy guys working out of a cheap hotel room with a borrowed laptop and dot matrix printer.

This year, the way things would be going was pretty much signaled when Jacqueline Bisset won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for something called Dancing on the Edge. After she made the two-mile walk up to the stage, she wasted precious minutes trying to sober up and earn her next nomination for Most Surprised and Overwhelmed Actress at an Awards Program. When she finally got going, it was too late.

And that’s one of the things that was different about this year’s broadcast. In past years, a recipient generally had to waste a good fifteen minutes of our time (or more) before the orchestra played him or her off the stage (if ever). That stood in stark contrast to the Academy Awards where the winners have twenty seconds and no more to thank everyone they have ever met. But this year, pretty much everyone at the Globes got “played off” by the music, which they mostly ignored.

Some of the acceptance speeches were good (Spike Jonze, Cate Blanchett), or at least entertaining (Andy Samberg, Matthew McConaughey). But the real amusement was in seeing what silly bits the various presenters would get roped into. The strangest (but funny because it, inadvertently or otherwise, tied into the whole Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing) bit involved Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and their daughter, who happened to be Miss Golden Globes. (Who knew there was even such a thing?) Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (one of the night’s winners) had the most fun with gags involving Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who at one point stuffed her mouth with a big hot dog for a set-up embarrassing audience camera shot.

In the end, what can you say about an awards ceremony where Leonardo DiCaprio wins in a category in which Bruce Dern loses? Or where Elisabeth Moss wins in a category in which Jessica Lang, Helen Mirren and Helena Bonham Carter were nominated?

Or for that matter, what do you say about an awards ceremony in which the main prize of the evening, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, goes to someone who doesn’t even bother to show up to collect it. Woody Allen might be strange, but he did have enough cop-on to know not to bother making the trip. In his stead, Diane Keaton accepted it. (Apparently, Mia Farrow was busy.) Her speech wasn’t actually bad, and Allen certainly deserves some kind of lifetime award—although he shows no signs that his career is winding down yet. It was a bit strange, though, when Keaton finished up by singing the children’s song “Make New Friends (But Keep the Old).” It was as though she had lost a bet or something.

So there was something for everyone. On one hand, there were people amusing themselves by taking the piss out of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. On the other hand, there was a healthy dose of sanctimony by people who were taking it all way too seriously. (That’s you, Bono and U2.)

Now that we’ve had our little bit of fun, can we now get on to the somewhat slightly more serious business of the Academy Award nominations?

P.S. Emma! Call me!

-S.L., 14 January 2014

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