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© 1987-2017
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Golden globals

You know that silly thing about New Year’s resolutions? You know what I’m talking about? You come up with a list of things that you are absolutely going to stop—or maybe start—doing to make yourself a better person, to be healthier or smarter or just more fulfilled. Then the very first time you break your resolution, you shrug your shoulders and say, well, I gave it a good go, but now I’ve blown it. And then you go back to all the bad habits and unhealthy patterns you always had.

There is only resolution like that for me each year, and 2017 is the year that I am definitely for sure not going to fail. I am absolutely not going to write a single word about the Golden Globes. Oops. Darn. Well, that blows that. Oh well, I might as well keep going now.

The one saving grace that the Globes always had going for them was that no one took them seriously. The nominees certainly didn’t. They were always having such a good time with all of the free liquor and whatever else was being passed around at their tables that, by the time any of them got called up to go up on the stage, they only made the most cursory attempt at a speech. And the Hollywood Foreign Press Association—that’s the group that actually holds the awards, in case you were wondering—certainly didn’t take their own awards seriously. Why else would they repeatedly hire people like Ricky Gervais to host so they could then spend the entire evening pointing out what a joke the whole thing was? Watching the Globes was always kind of a just-for-laughs sort of thing, but at least it could be the same kind of good fun as watching an elaborate spoof with actual celebrities getting in on the joke and making fun of themselves.

This year something was different. It was as though, well, as though the Golden Globes were actually taking themselves—gasp—seriously. Winners were actually making the usual self-important speeches and thanking all the necessary people, the same as if this were—gulp—the Academy Awards. The most damning sign, though, was the choice of Jimmy Fallon as host. Whereas the likes of Gervais did to an awards ceremony what Donald Trump did to politics, Fallon is a throwback to the Bob Hope-style of bland humor that joshes without biting. To be sure, I thought the recorded opening number parodying La La Land was very entertaining, but his total back-footedness when his teleprompter failed was shocking. Does this guy have no backup material? It took ages for a writer backstage to eventually get the obvious Mariah Carey joke to him. (A Vladimir Putin tampering joke would have worked too.) When he got back on script, it was pretty lame though, in fairness, his opening line about the Globes being the last refuge of the “popular vote” worked on two different levels. For modern liberals, it was a deft and well-deserved dig at those idiots, morons and ignoramuses who drafted the U.S. Constitution. For others, though, it was Hollywood self-parody at its best, as the pampered, wealthy audience tittered appreciatively and approvingly at the notion that a tally of some ninety journalists based in Los Angeles is somehow more of a “popular vote” than, say, the box office receipts paid by millions of film viewers across the country and around the world.

But what about the awards themselves? Congratulations to Moonlight and La La Land for winning the big motion picture awards. By most accounts, they are fully deserving, although I am going on trust since I have yet to have an opportunity to see either. I wish there could have been some way that my sentimental favorite Sing Street could have won in the Musical or Comedy Motion Picture category, but I bow humbly to the popular vote. I was happy to see my onetime brief seat neighbor—and justly acclaimed actor—Isabelle Huppert pick up an award for Elle. I was also quite glad to see acting awards go to both Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie for the miniseries The Night Manager. Both of those men are always welcome on our screens, and that series was a very effective and entertaining spy thriller that kept us tuning in for weeks.

Congratulations also to Meryl Streep on her lifetime achievement award, although at 67 she seems a bit young for the sort of laurel usually handed out to those who are well past it. Presumably, some of her greatest lifetime achievements could still be ahead of her? I do not agree with the president-elect that she is overrated as an actor, but I do sometimes feel she is over-awarded. It is so strange that she keeps racking up so many Oscar and other nominations while so many other deserving working actors keep getting passed by. She was very effective in her speech at highlighting the diverse and international nature of the Hollywood community, but unfortunately she inadvertently sabotaged her own message of acceptance and tolerance with her condescending swipe at people who enjoy watching sports.

By far the best part of the evening was Kristen Wiig and Steve Carrell’s devastating and traumatizing presentation of the Best Animated Feature award. Their deadpan recitations of their childhood memories of seeing their first animated movies turned into a giddy horror show of emotional pain. Their delivery was so effective that the poor filmmakers of Zootopia were cruelly left to celebrate in front of the most emotionally drained and depressed audience since, well, Hillary Clinton’s concession speech.

And that is why the Golden Globes, in spite of everything, can still occasionally be worth watching.

-S.L., 10 January 2017

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