Hope You Didn’t Take It Seriously (Ricky Didn’t):
The 2010 Golden Globe Awards
January 17th, 2010
I said going into the 67th Annual Golden Globes Awards that I was more excited than ever to watch the show but the least “interested” in the actual awards that I’ve ever been. And that made for an interesting viewing experience as what I was excited for most disappointed me, with Ricky Gervais’ hosting gig becoming a muddled mess from the moment he started.
However, while I’ll get into that below the jump, what’s interesting is how liberating it was to have no emotional connection with the winners: admittedly, I’m usually one of those cynical objective types when it comes to these awards, so I’m not going to be legitimately outraged, but not having been “following” the nominees in detail made the show a lot more fun. It helped me see the show more for what it is, an entertaining amalgamation of what’s popular, whats trendy, and what’s been successful with audiences. And while you could argue the show at times feels like the People’s Choice Awards and other times feels like a Hollywood roast of those who have been around the business forever, it’s never boring.
And although I thought we could have gotten a far better show out of what was on the table, I have to say that I enjoyed watching it. And let’s face it: that’s all the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is really going for.
When a Host’s Not a Host
Whenever Ricky Gervais presents an award at the Emmys, we all marvelled at why he has never hosted an awards show before: he’s funny, he’s spontaneous, and he’s willing to say things that others might not. And one paper, the idea of Gervais hosting the Golden Globes, where he could spontaneous make funny comments that other people might not say about the drunk celebrities in the room, is fantastic. However, there were two problems that became clear very early into tonight’s broadcast.
The first is that Gervais, as a comedian, is perhaps best in the role of the interloper, the person taking over an awards show. What we realize is that while Gervais is capable of being funny, he felt particularly funny in those circumstances because he “took over” the stage: while he was supposed to be presenting an award, he instead went off on a tangent, or confronted Steve Carell over “stealing” his Emmy the previous year. The segments worked because they felt different, and when you actually make him the host of the show some of that spontaneity is immediately lost.
This may not be insurmountable on its own, but the other problem is that the Golden Globes has historically gone without a host for a reason: in celebrating both film and television, and by focusing heavily on actors who give long speeches, the show is a well-oiled machine that doesn’t really have room for a host. Even if Gervais had worked in order to give his hosting the same kind of spontaneity (in other words, if he had actually put any time or effort into the gig- he admitted at TCA that he hadn’t really prepared – or if he had been given writers like at the Oscars), the show is so tightly run that a host has about ten seconds to make a joke before being forced into moving things along. Ricky Gervais is funny when he stops an awards show cold, but he’s less funny when his jokes feel rushed in order to keep the show moving along.
A great host is capable of doing both of these things, but the Globes is not a place where someone could be a great host and Gervais isn’t someone who is able to strike this balance in this kind of environment. Perhaps at the Oscars, where hosts are given more times to establish themselves at the show’s opening, Gervais could thrive, but here it just fell flat from the beginning: the product placement was a single joke that wasn’t funny to begin with, and his monologue wasn’t memorable in any other way. And it set a tone that Gervais was never really able to recover: he made jokes at the expense of people in the audience, but they were at the expense of someone like Paul McCartney as opposed to someone like Harrison Ford (who looked both inebriated and bored when presenting a clip from Up in the Air). Gervais was hosting a show that would never allow him to regain his rhythm, and the result was a disappointing first gig that hopefully doesn’t convince other shows better suited to his particular brand of hosting to avoid him in the future – he could have done better, but the odds were stacked against him.
Of course, later in the show Gervais finally got his big moment: introducing a presenter with a beer in his hand, he says “I like a drink as much as the next man…unless the next man is Mel Gibson.” It was the one moment that felt totally spontaneous, but the idea that it was only possible once he was good and sloshed seems to go against the real potential that was there. Thankfully, recovering alcoholic Gibson can take a joke, and it was great to see Gervais unable to contain his laughter, but the joke came too little too late for me to adjust my overall opinion of his performance: he had too little time, and too little control, to do anything impressive, and he technically could have done more with what he had.
Always a Bridesmaid No More…
When it comes to the actual victors, the trend across the board seemed to choosing first-time winners who you probably didn’t realize had never won Golden Globes before. Michael C. Hall won for Dexter, but considering it was his fourth nomination for the show it’s not as if that’s a sign of the HFPA recognizing some new blood. The same goes for Julianna Margulies, who won her first Globe in six nominations for The Good Wife; it says nothing about her show (which I quite like), and everything to do with the Globes loving a comeback story. Toni Colette (her fourth nomination) and Drew Barrymore (her third) were in the same boat, and there’s nothing wrong with that: I think all four give great performances, and I was particularly pleased to see Barrymore beat out Jessica Lange considering that Barrymore gives the more fearless performance in Grey Gardens (Plus, on the film side, Jeff Bridges finally won a Golden Globe in his fourth nomination).
As for the series awards, there’s no surprises there: Mad Men may have gone without an acting award, but the series itself is too strong to be ignored as a whole (this is its third straight Globe win, by the way). And while Glee only picked up a single award, it made sense for it to be best Comedy/Musical series: it reflects the phenomenon the show became over the past season, which is something the HFPA loves recognizing and that, let’s face it, will not be recognized at the Emmys in the same way. I really like Glee, and I think it’s good to see it get some recognition for its inventiveness, so I was satisfied with the win.
And in the always wacky supporting categories, it’s hard to argue that either John Lithgow (who did some creepy work on Dexter this season) and Chloe Sevigny (who was a highlight as Nicki on Big Love’s third season) are undeserving.
When a Snub’s Not a Snub
For the most part on the TV side, the snubs lie almost entirely with FOX’s Glee, and I’ll admit it right now: I don’t think these count as snubs. In fact, I would argue that neither Jane Lynch nor Lea Michele (and certainly not Matthew Morrison) deserved to win their categories. While Lynch steals every scene she’s in, she was in a category with actresses (Rose Byrne and winner Chloe Sevigny) who are effectively in leading roles, and placing drama against comedy (which is a fault of the Globes’ crazy system) makes it so that Lynch was problematically out of place. And while Michele was out of place in a better way as the only Musical contender, she was contending with actresses like Edie Falco and Toni Colette who are their respective shows, and frankly I thought Rachel was criminally underdeveloped all season. While Lynch is much-buzzed about, and Michele fits the Globes’ young ingenue mould in an ideal way, they were disadvantaged by their competition simply having meatier roles.
- Did you SEE William Hurt’s beard? It deserves its own award, and its own movie, which would then win an award, which would then inspire a TV show, which would win more awards.
- I don’t care enough about the Globes to get angry about much, but I would have been annoyed if Michael Giacchino had lost Best Original Score. That he doesn’t have an Oscar from his previous work with Pixar (The Incredibles and Ratatouille) already is bad enough, so for his transcendent work on Up not to be recognized by the HFPA would have bugged me. Let the march to the Oscar (and one step closer to the EGOT) begin!
- Did you SEE Christina Hendricks? There is no better example of the term “Yowza.”
- As for predictions, I missed both Comedy Acting awards and Supporting Actor, but swept the Drama awards along with Chloe Sevigny’s much deserved win for Big Love – the show’s third season was very much hers – and the Comedy Series award.
- Best speech has to go to Mo’Nique, who really has this whole thing down: she’s marching towards an Oscar right now. Although Meryl Streep gets the award for best self-chosen nickname with Meryl “T-Bone” Streep. I’m game.
- On the film side of things, I was happy to see some wacky surprises since I don’t care enough to be angry: Bullock’s win demonstrates the hold of box office on these awards, and Robert Downey Jr.’s win continues a wonderful streak of awarding the person in that category who will give the most dangerous speech (Colin Farrell won the award the year before, although for a better performance in In Bruges). Avatar and Up were the big winners, picking up two awards a piece, but that’s no surprise and both are in for big Oscar seasons. The one film that got no love at all was The Hurt Locker, which has swept a lot of the precursors: other Oscar favourites like Up in the Air and Precious picked up awards (Screenplay and Supporting Actress, respectively).