Let’s just get into it with Ricky Gervais’ hosting. His controversial stint last night, which clearly made the vast majority of the room uncomfortable and downright offended, is being discussed ad infintum this morning after. Gervais has my eternal admiration for creating both “The Office” and “Extras”. The stand up of his that I’ve seen is underwhelming and does not represent what he is capable of. There are a lot of people who think Gervais did a fantastic job because he gave the stars a healthy dose of reality. I’m not adverse to the self congratulatory joke that are the Globes getting a beatdown, that is if the jokes are funny. For the most part though, Gervais managed to be offensive without justifying it with quality. How far he went is being a bit overstated. Most hosts go that far. From recollection, insults are thrown out at a wide array of people during award shows that are either insulting or touch upon some recent Hollywood scandal. That’s exactly what Gervais did. Except they were lazy jokes, with easy targets, making cracks about actors that have been made countless times. Lazy jokes aside, the source of the controversy is not neccesarily the material, but the way Gervais presented it. Robert Downey Jr. put it best when he called it, “hugely mean spirited with slightly sinister undertones”. To expect anything less than that from Gervais would be naive, but there was a particularly cruel vibe at work last night even for him. He seemed to actively want everyone to hate him. It was like watching Gervais on some sort of masochistic mission to be the most hated man in the room. It’s not a good sign if you’ve pissed off Tom Hanks of all people. At the same time, the HFPA is moronic; Gervais never pretended that his act would be any different than his stand up persona and this is exactly the kind of comedy he is known for. He certainly went for it which, in theory I love. I just wish the jokes had actually been funny to justify the outright hatred and disdain he exuded every time he came out. Sorry to say, but the majority of his jokes were uncreative and unfunny, which leaves us with a man on stage who despises everyone and makes shitty jokes. I will forever be a fan of Gervais, but I won’t pretend he was a great host simply because he’s Ricky Gervais or because he stuck it to the Globes.
The awards themselves went as expected for the most part and were pretty boring outside of some small moments that made it all worth it. As a rule, seeing one film sweep during all of awards season is obnoxious. The kind of groupthink that emerges every year overshadows how many films come out and undermines how many are worthy of attention. Sitting through months of Slumdog Millionaire winning every concievable award two years ago became painful. Thankfully, this year’s consensus pick, The Social Network is the most deserving of the film’s in contention for the big award. I might like Black Swan a bit more but TSN will also make my top ten of the year and as a film, it is a greater achievement than Aronofsky’s latest. Seeing something this great get deserved recognition is gratifying and it will remain so when it recieves its Best Picture Awards at the Oscars.
The best moments came in small and few doses. In all honesty, the highlight of the evening was a tie between Tilda Swinton’s epic delivery of “Pillars of the Earth” and Jeremy Irons equally epic delivery of “The Fighter”. Yes, these were the moments I clung to. Longer moments included certain acceptance speeches. Paul Giamatti’s amusing and assumedly drunken speech started with “I’ve never seen so many Godiva chocolates” and went to thanking “the great nation of Canada”. Steve Buscemi (while I would have very much preferred a Cranston or Hamm win) had a nice speech and referred to the “sad music” that comes up. Colin Firth gave the best speech of the night; it was dignified but kind of depressing because Firth seems to be going through a midlife crisis of sorts. Lee Unkrich wondering if presenters Justin Bieber and Hailee Steinfeld were even born when the first Toy Story came out was funny much needed l. Presenters Robert Downey Jr., Tiny Fey and Steve Carell provided some much needed laughs. Chris Colfer winning was a triumph. For all the innumerable problems I have with “Glee”, Colfer remains a pillar of talent in a sea of decreasing dreck. Sexiest line reading of the night goes to Alicia Keys saying Black Swan. Carlos winning was the most exciting win of the night. It’s not a film I outright love, but one I like a lot and greatly admire. Other than that, the proceedings were expectedly boring. I was clinging onto being superficially giddy over stupid things like Angelina Jolie fixing Brad Pitt’s bowtie or Emma Stone and Mila Kunis jumping up and down together out of context. Seeing those random celebrity moments before commercial breaks were a lot of fun. Lastly, being a huge (and I mean obsessively huge, this cannot be overstated) fan of “GUTS” and “Get the Picture” made it endlessly surreal to see Mike O’ Malley on a Golden Globes stage.
The low points of the actual ceremony? The DeNiro montage was in no way representative of a 40 year career. All I got from it was it reminded me how badly I need to see The King of Comedy. Also not so fun was seeing Michael C. Hall with a divorce beard. Calling Michael Douglas a “special guest” and earlier on cutting to Jane Lynch when The Kids Are All Right wins an award. Stay classy, Golden Globes. On the plus side, Douglas looks fantastic and seeing him get emotional and saying “There has to be an easier way to get a standing ovation” was a personal highlight. Having no In Memoriam segment was more upsetting than it would have been to be reminded of all the people we lost this year. “Boardwalk Empire” winning over “Mad Men” was dissapointing but expected since the HFPA likes recognizing new shows. The entire category was a joke the moment “The Walking Dead” was nominated over “Breaking Bad” which should have taken the award for Best Drama even over this past season of the always remarkable “Mad Men”. Robert DeNiro’s acceptance speech had its moments but it somehow turned into an awkward and unsuccessful stand-up routine. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo getting to go on and on endlessly while Katey Sagal and others get the “sad music” cue almost immediately.
All in all, the Globes had their moments but they were sparse indeed and needed active looking to be found. Thankfully there are a lot of strong films this year in contention for the big awards. Awards season continues to be a love/hate time and as ridiculous as it all is, it is undeniably entertaining to follow.