January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010
Golden Globes

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and the start of another work week for a lot of us. I hope yours if off to a great and safe start.

It is going to be another down and lazy day for me. I woke up with another horrible headache and my speech is slurring and my balance is way off. So I am going to spend the day relaxing with my dogs and enjoying the day and being alive.

Last night, I am sure a lot of you were watching the Golden Globes like I was. Back in the 90s I was lucky enough to get to go to the Golden Globes twice and the Academy Awards twice while I was dating a prominent doctor in LA. So today my blog will be my take on the Golden Globes last night.

I was a total cinematic slacker in 2009. I admit it. But it was a really, really, really tough year for me. 2009, I will see you in hell. Anyway, back to the matter at hand I did not see much last year, so maybe I have no business yakking about the Golden Globes and the fairness or unfairness of it all, but guess what? I'm going to shoot my mouth off regardless.

I do not know much about the workings of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is responsible for choosing the winners of the Golden Globes. What I do know is that it is a relatively small, "exclusive" (less than 100 members) group of foreign journalists who cover Hollywood for the rest of the world. These journalists/members are based out of the United States but write for foreign audiences, and they themselves are not native to the United States. I could be wrong about all of this, and please feel free to correct me if I am, but this is what I have gathered from my admittedly very rushed researching. For your consideration, here is a list of the members, the people you either want to praise or blame for the winners.

So, when it comes to movies, there are blockbusters, and there are non-blockbusters. I know it might be over simplifying, but that is essentially how it breaks down all year long. There are those that are made to make money and those that are made to win awards sometimes, a movie does both and gets the audiences AND awards (Titanic and, apparently, Avatar). There is mainstream, and there is not. Just because something bombs at the box office does not automatically put it into the non-blockbuster category, though if it looks like a blockbuster, clucks like a blockbuster. You get the picture. But just because something is artsy does not mean it can not also be mainstream, and just because something is mainstream does not mean it can not also be artsy.

I kind of feel like I am digging my own grave right now, so I am going to try to stop babbling. In conclusion, the movies I'm calling non-blockbusters, in the context of this piece, are what I would consider typical awards fodder (generally end of the year releases, but not exclusively), stuff with substance that deserves to be seen but generally does not find the biggest audience or a ton of money, "the good stuff" if you want to be snotty, or independent or arthouse or whatever. Basically, you are not going to find Transformers 2 in this category.

Now, all that being said, I do not ever remember there being such a distinct division between blockbusters and non-blockbusters at the Globes as there was this year. There is just such a rift. The 67th Annual Golden Globes was a total popularity contest. I know, I know, people are going to say that it is always a popularity contest, but I do not necessarily agree with that. My point is that it is painfully obvious this time around. If there was the option to go with a commercial choice, the Hollywood Foreign Press took it and ran with it. This is like high school; it could very well be an episode of Glee! Take the Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical category: there's the jock (Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes), and then there is the geek (Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man). On what planet would Michael Stuhlbarg NOT deserve this award? Well, this one, apparently, if you ask the HFPA. The cool kid won out. But really, does not it make sense when you think about who is voting? Would foreign, globally conscious voters vote for the flashy Downey, Jr. in a holiday blockbuster or the seriously subtle Stuhlbarg in an under the radar gem? Hmmm. Downey, Jr. is the more familiar choice, the safe choice and, I propose, the cowardly one.

But I never really thought about this or felt so cynical about it until this year. Have the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association been blinded by the bling? This show just seemed so glaringly commercial. I mean, I have a love/hate relationship with awards season (don't we all? We love to hate them!), and whether I agree with the winners or not, I have always LOVED watching the Globes (something about celebrities and booze...). It's maybe my favorite out of all the shows - I love the combination of film and television. Anyway, I feel like the Globes have gotten it right a LOT over the years, so I'm not going to let this year's show muck up its reputation overall. But yeesh...what happened tonight? Well, the box office owned it. The wins for Robert Downey, Jr., Sandra Bullock (I'm sure she's lovely in The Blind Side, but really?? Best Dramatic Actress over all those others?), The Hangover, and Avatar prove that. The box office told credibility and artistry to suck it. That may be a little harsh, but it's how I see it. Since Avatar is a global phenomenon, and the Globes promote, for lack of a better term, global-ness, it makes sense that Avatar won Best Motion Picture Drama. Why would the foreign press care about a film about the Iraq war (The Hurt Locker, which I would have called a lock to win)? Hollywood proper will care when it comes time for the Academy Awards. But globally? Nah. To put it simply, this year's Golden Globes ceremony was a slave to the box office. Or maybe whore is more apt...

Now, some other random thoughts on the show in a segment I'm calling "Things I learned from watching the 67th Annual Golden Globes" (I'm not going to list all the winners or nominees; for a comprehensive list, go here):

* Evidently, I need to start watching Glee and Dexter. I'm not being facetious either.

* Neil Patrick Harris and Jane Krakowski talked about not being suited for drama because of their enormous foreheads...um, Quentin Tarantino's is still bigger. Than both combined. Sorry, guys.

* I still hate the combo Musical/Comedy category. The only reason Nine got nominated is BECAUSE it's a musical - it certainly didn't deserve it otherwise. I think the "musical" label should be cut out completely, and musicals should be placed into whichever category is the most fitting, be it dramatic or comedic. Nine would be a drama. Ray was considered a musical, and thus Jamie Foxx robbed Paul Giamatti of his Golden Globe for Sideways because he was unfairly placed in the same category as Giamatti. Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles is not a comedic/musical performance - it is dramatic. And just because the movie is about a singer and has songs in it, that doesn't make it a musical! See also: Walk the Line. At least Nine actually IS a musical, even though it's not a very good one. But where would the brilliant Chicago land - comedy or drama? It's a very dark comedy, certainly, but I would probably come down on the side of drama. Any thoughts on this?

* If I'm going by the nominees for Best Comedy (or Musical - arg!), then 2009 was a very, very bland year for comedies. I guarantee you that no one would have even given It's Complicated or Julie & Julia a second thought, much less any nominations, if not for the prestige that Meryl Streep brings with her everywhere she goes. Don't get me wrong, I love her with a fiery passion, but they'll nominate anything she does. Nine, by default, had to be in this category, (500) Days of Summer, from what I hear, is worthy of its nomination, but is The Hangover really all that? What about the brilliant and hilarious Zombieland?

* Apparently, The Hangover IS all that, as it racked up yet another award - Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. Well, okay then. I guess I have to see it.

* The standard for nominated comedies seems to have plummeted. I can't imagine something like The Hangover being nominated any other year. Why wasn't Superbad nominated in its year? What, that was too low-brow for the Globes, but The Hangover isn't? No, I'm not bitter...

* Combining adapated and original screenplays into one category is stupid. And Quentin Tarantino should have won for Inglourious Basterds. Just saying.

* Ricky Gervais rules. I especially liked his jab at Mel Gibson. While holding a beer, he introduced Gibson, "I like a drink as much as the next man...unless the next man is Mel Gibson." Ba-zing.

* Alec Baldwin needs to go away and give someone else a turn (namely, Steve Carell).

* The more time that passes, the less I like Up.

* The more often that ludicrously long subtitle to Precious pops up, the more ridiculous it sounds, and the more it, unfortunatly, hurts the credibility of the film. Let. it. go.

* Mo'Nique's well-deserved win tonight brings her one step closer to the Oscar. She gave a beautiful speech, too.

* Christoph Waltz's well-deserved win tonight brings HIM one step closer to the Oscar.

* I love Colin Farrell more every day. His Best Actor (Musical/Comedy) Globe win last year for In Bruges was one of the most wonderful and unexpected surprises that the show has ever given me. It might just be my favorite Globe win of all time. Farrell was back tonight, as a past winner, to present an award. I don't remember exactly what was said verbatim, but Ricky Gervais talked about how film brings people together and shatters stereotypes, something like that. He solemnly segued, "One stereotype I hate is that all Irishmen are just drunk, swearing hellraisers." Without skipping a beat, Gervais promptly introduced Colin Farrell. Farrell came out and took it like a champ. He even hugged Gervais. He then said, in a playful sing-songy voice, "Oh, I once was a cliché." He continued, "I heard Ricky had specifically asked to introduce me, and I thought...'Oh, balls.'" It was glorious.

And finally, speaking of glorious, or inglourious to be precise...I absolutlely LOVE Christoph Waltz's thematic, custom-tailored-for-the-occasion acceptance speeches. It's really rather marvelous. The other night at the Critics' Choice Awards, he spoke of the series of "choices" that brought him to that moment and that award. Last night, at the Golden Globes, because it was a global award involving our whole planet, he went with an astronomical theme (and I don't mean "astronomical" in the sense of being huge, I mean it literally, as in pertaining to astronomy). Waltz talked about his "globe," being exposed to the gravitational forces of Quentin Tarantino, and being a part of the bigger constellation of this film.

I think his approach to these speeches is so adorable and totally refreshing. Most people just recycle the same thing over and over; Waltz is actually thoughtful enough to recognize and appreciate each honor in its own right by expressing his gratitude in terms of the award itself. I think that's just extraordinary. What a sweet, humble, gracious, beautiful man. Christoph Waltz, you're a hell of a guy, you deserve every bit of this, and I can't wait to hear what you do with your Oscar speech.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab