Anyone who tuned into the Golden Globes last night for the 69th time (or maybe the first time) were pre-sold on how nervous the attending celebrities would be thanks to their host, Ricky Gervais (watch his most memorable moments here). The now 3-time grandmaster of the event got so much press last year for skewering the audience and the on-stage presenters that we heard everything from rumors that he had been fired during the actual event to one of the anonymous Hollywood Foreign Press Association honchos taking the mic to say he would no longer support the star's work.
Alas, he was still invited back and everyone prepared for the worst. Those critical of Gervais this time though took him more to task for not being nearly as outrageous as he was last January, which is more akin to the second time you ride that great rollercoaster because you know where the dips are and you brace yourself better. Still funny as ever, it is this under-reaction to Gervais that could certainly extend to the Golden Globes presentation itself, a been-there-done-that bit of overhyping that is not nearly the opening act to the Oscars that people think it is (if it ever was to begin with). So what did we learn from the 3-hour, freakishly always-on-schedule awards show?
1. A NEW TV SHOW IS ITS OWN AWARD
If ever you get into an all-encompassing Golden Globe pool and you are unsure of how to pick the TV categories, here's a helpful hint: Choose the newbies. The Globes love to hand out awards to brand new shows, as evidenced last night when 8 of the TV trophies went to first-season efforts. Then when your friends wonder how you could possibly pick someone like Kelsey Grammer for Boss over Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad, you can say "Hey, I'm not the stupid one -- talk to the HFPA!"
2. DOES HARVEY WEINSTEIN OWN THESE PEOPLE?
With due respect to Michelle Williams and The Artist, the Golden Globes are less the kickoff to the Oscars than they are Harvey's coming-out party. At least last night it was, as they took home 6 of the 14 film awards. Even the HFPA voters chose The Social Network over The King's Speech last year, but they have always been generous to the Weinsteins. How else do you explain two nominations for Madonna's universally-maligned W.E., a film that hasn't even been properly released yet? Hell, this is the group that nominated Emilio Estevez's Bobby for Best Picture, for God's sake.
3. WHO LOOKS THE BEST ON STAGE?
Another helpful tip for your pools (as scary as it is): Think like an HFPA member. They have thrown this fancy party, accepted all the bribes imaginable and now need to decide which celebrities they want on stage. That is how we all knew Madonna's film was going to win for Best Song and not Best Score. Cause she wrote the song and would have to go accept it. It's how we knew that The Adventures of Tintin would beat Rango for Animated Feature. Steven Spielberg is more recognizable than Gore Verbinski. Surprising they gave Best Screenplay to Woody Allen considering he doesn't show up for these awards anymore. Guess they figured an absentee writer with a recognizable name is better than giving something to The Ides of March. Or that it was time to finally award him for writing after 11 nominations without a win and they already gave it to Alexander Payne for his last two screenplays.
4. BRIDESMAIDS APPLAUSE?
Even though it did not win anything, did everyone hear that last night? It was loud. It was supportive. The film which has burst onto the Best Picture conversation of late is still getting doubts that it can successfully collect enough "First Place" mentions on Oscar ballots to get the necessary 5% for a nomination. It was already in this writer's Top 8 list for a nomination. Last night's applause may have helped cement it there.
5. THE ACTRESS RACE IS MORE CLOUDED THAN EVER
Pay attention to the Screen Actors Guild because they will be breaking this stalemate. The Broadcast Film Critics Association predicted Viola Davis. The Globes gave Best Actress (Drama) to Meryl Streep, but also gave Michelle Williams the award for Best Actress (Comedy) in the anything-but-hilarious My Week With Marilyn. Williams deserves it; Viola finally got a role longer than eight minutes; and Streep hasn't won since 1982. Then again, 8 of the Globes last 10 choices for Actress (in either category) have won the Oscar. SAG can only boast 7.
6. THERE IS MORE THAN ONE "RACE"
When Sidney Poitier stepped on stage and received an immediate standing ovation, it was a respect that transcended race. When Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for The Help, the Globe directors went out of their way to locate any African-American in the audience they could find to cheer her on. Good for her, but does she need the validation of Chris Tucker? Yes, he was there, presumably as a seat filler (and to applaud any black actor who took the stage). Don't think I'm the only one who took notice. When Ricky Gervais amusingly referred to Colin Firth's only flaw as being an incredible "racist," cameras immediately cut to the table for The Help. Just not long enough to hear their story.
7. TWO CATEGORIES WE CAN LOCK UP
Those of us who hoped that Albert Brooks could give Christopher Plummer a run for most overdue Oscar -- and that maybe the two actresses from The Help would cancel themselves out to make way for Melissa McCarthy -- can probably stop dreaming. Both Plummer and the aforementioned Octavia Spencer seem destined for Oscar gold now. Not only would it be disappointing for the 80-year-old Plummer to lose, and insulting for voters to actually recognize the white chick from The Help, but numbers don't lie. Each of them also won the BFCA's Oscar guesstimate award and when they align with the Globes choices, Supporting Actress is a perfect 8-0 while Supporting Actor is 6-1. That one came courtesy of Eddie Murphy and neither Plummer nor Spencer has a Norbit coming out.
8. DON'T PUT STOCK INTO THE SCORSESE VICTORY
This is not just sour grapes from someone who predicted Michel Hazanavicius and believes Hugo to be the single most overrated film of 2011. Chalk it up to another recognizable face taking the stage or not, but the fact remains that the Globes have not exactly been a forecaster of Best Director of late. Only 5 of the last 10 and just 1 of their last 4 choices have gone on to win the Oscar. It was Martin Scorsese's third Globe for directing after The Departed and Gangs of New York. In March he will still have less Oscars than Hilary Swank.
9. BEST PENIS JOKE OF THE NIGHT
It wasn't Jane Lynch and Tina Fey referring to actors being just like their characters (i.e. Thomas Jane in Hung) and then high-fiving their ingenuity. Nope, it was George Clooney thanking Michael Fassbender for taking over the full-frontal nudity department and remarking that he could play golf with his arms behind his back, proving once again that men really do know their own equipment better. Though Ricky Gervais' joke involving Jodie Foster's "Beaver" was priceless enough to even have the actress/director give him two thumbs up.
10. THE ARTIST VS. THE DESCENDANTS
It has been the race all along. Each won Best Picture & Actor in their respective genre categories last night, and it seems clear that the Globes' percentage for Best Picture choices is about to go up. 6 of the last 7 years, neither of their Drama or Comedy choices have won the Oscar. As completely meaningless stats go, the Best Actor has only come from the Best Picture 10 times since 1975 (including just last year). The Artist is still the Best Picture favorite, and some are trying to make George Clooney the frontrunner. Looking at the numbers, victories from both the Globes and BFCA have produced Oscars for Best Actor 7 out of 9 times, including the last six. Do not take Jean Dujardin out of the race just yet, though even when SAG in 2003 chose the Globes comedy victor Johnny Depp after the Globes (Drama) & BFCA chose Sean Penn for Mystic River, who ended up winning that battle? Yup, Sean Penn.
Bonus: Our friends over at Fandango compiled the biggest snubs, surprises and most outrageous Ricky Gervais jokes from readers and here's what ya'll had to say.
Top 5 Snubs:
1. Kristen Wiig, “Bridesmaids” (Best Actress/Comedy) 23%
2. “Bridesmaids” (Best Picture/Comedy) 21%
3. Viola Davis, “The Help” (Best Actress/Drama) 13%
4. Elton John, “Hello Hello” from “Gnomeo & Juliet” (Best Song) 6%
5. “The Help” (Best Picture/Drama) 5%
Top 5 Surprise Wins:
1. Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn” (Best Actress/Comedy) 34%
2. Madonna, “Masterpiece” from “W./E.” (Best Song) 21%
3. “The Descendants” (Best Picture/Drama) 18%
4. “The Adventures of TinTin” (Best Animated Feature) 7%
5. Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady” (Best Actress/Drama) 4%
Top 5 Most Outrageous Jokes from Ricky Gervais:
1 The Jodie Foster/”Beaver” joke 26%
2 Kim Kardashian vs. Kate Middleton comparison 19%
3 Justin Bieber and Martha Stewart’s turkey baster 17%
4 Madonna/”Like a Virgin” 11%
5 Antonio Banderas & Salma Hayek & the English language 6%
For a complete recap of all our 2012 Awards Season coverage, head on over here.