Monday, January 18, 2010

67th Golden Globe Awards

Because everyone involved seemed to have caught on finally that this perennial charade is a meaningless popularity contest bought and sold by politicians, campaign managers and financiers, the 2010 Golden Globe Awards struck me as one of the best award shows in recent memory. It might've been the digs at NBC, it might've been a realization that playing second fiddle to the Academy Awards is a lame pedestal, or perhaps it was merely that I'm growing up a bit and starting to let go of my futile, juvenile dream, year after year, that somebody deserving might win an award someday. Either way, the theme of the night seemed to be: "Fuck it, have another drink."

The evening began with a Supporting Actress Award for Mo'nique. At the time, I settled into my couch, fearing a landslide of awards for Precious, a film with myriad supporters who I can't believe have actually sat through the thing. However, that barrage of white guilt never came and if the movie had to win something, I can admit that I'm glad it went to one of the least intolerable of Precious' assets. And if there needed to be a "token" black winner, I'm glad they got it out of the way first thing.

The awards quickly took a backseat to wanton buffoonery, as Ricky Gervais took stabs at NBC, Jennifer Aniston and Mel Gibson that bordered on mean-spirited in just the right way, as all were completely accurate and justified. Gervais also made explicit reference to the drinking that seemed to be even more excessive here than in years past.

Another winner was lost to the bathrooms, Felicity Huffman botched her lines, and Meryl Streep and Drew Barrymore both revealed themselves to be "talkers". On top of this, the camera crew and technical director all seemed to have been on the sauce as well, showing us Leo when they should've been showing us George, accidentally going live with half of a second of John Krasinski's hair, and cutting to a reaction shot of Arnold Schwarzenegger during Michael Haneke's acceptance speech for no apparent reason ... except perhaps that they are both Austrian? Should've shown us Jennifer Hudson during Mo'nique's speech, boys.

But wait a second - Michael Haneke? What the heck?

Yes, amidst all the drinking, something truly bizarre happened: there were more than a few deserving winners. When I use the adjective "deserving", I don't mean necessarily to imply that these were the "best" (even of those nominated) in the category but that the sight of them holding an award doesn't make me want to scratch my eyes out. Seriously: The White Ribbon for Foreign Language Film, Michael Giacchino for Up? Christoph Waltz and Jeff Bridges? Mad Men?

And then, holy shit: The Hangover and Avatar. The announcer certainly saw it coming, but I didn't: Cameron managed a remarkable feat by taking all the good will leftover from Titanic and slowly squandering over more than a decade so that when his blue cat people first showed up in press stills, his movie became an underdog. Two consecutive billion-dollar successes risen from the ashes of terrible buzz and snickering cultural pundits? Phew.

But The Hangover may be the biggest surprise of the night. Any one person's opinion of the film is irrelevant: that's decidedly not an award movie, even in the Globes' unique "Musical/Comedy" ghetto. How did it slip through? It seems that as fewer and fewer take the Globes seriously, a startling degree of honesty has weaned its way into the voting. In a circle-jerk that annually reminds me that the award shows I looked forward to as a child were watched with affection and excitement only through the addled, simplistic perspective of a twelve-year-old, I hate to stumble upon silver linings or rays of sunshine. I want to cast this whole thing off and ignore it as the claptrap it is. But just when you think you're out...

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