Movie stars and what Amy Poehler called the “rat-faced people of television” crammed together last night for the annual Golden Globes mash up. Throw together a bunch of borrowed diamonds, gallons of champagne, and about 200 categories and you’ve got a party.
The movie winners were a varied bunch, and may presage a spread-the-wealth outcome in next month’s Oscars. Best of all: “Argo” took two major awards, for best drama and for Ben Affleck as best director. I’m guessing Affleck, who was snubbed in the director category by the Oscars, felt a touch of vindication.
“Les Misérables” scored big with three awards, including best comedy or musical, while “Django Unchained” took two — Quentin Tarantino for screenplay (yes, over Tony Kushner) and Christoph Waltz for supporting actor. “Lincoln” had only one win, when Daniel Day-Lewis was named best actor in a drama. His acceptance speech was a dramatic performance of its own; funny how the guy bestowed such elegance on the Golden Globes when he called his statue “this lovely thing.”
The TV winners were largely an echo of last September’s Emmys, with HBO’s “Game Change” and Showtime’s “Homeland” — which took best actor, actress, and drama — dominating. HBO, which also won two awards for “Girls,” and Showtime, which got another nod when Don Cheadle took best actor in a comedy or musical for “House of Lies,” couldn’t complain; the networks, however, certainly could. There was only one non-cable win all night: Maggie Smith for supporting actress in PBS’s “Downton Abbey.”
Tina Fey and Poehler were a power pair as cohosts, bringing what was essentially a killer Weekend Update segment to the world with their opening material. That is, they made some good jokes, and they made some bad jokes good with their expert deadpan. Too bad all the award presentations got in the way; I could have used more of these ladies. Poor Seth MacFarlane, who’ll be hosting the Oscars next month.
Fey and Poehler one-upped famously edgy Globes host Ricky Gervais a number of times, most of all with a major knock at Hollywood’s King of the World: Talking about “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow, Poehler said, “When it comes to torture, I trust the woman who spent three years married to James Cameron.” The moment seemed to suspend in midair, as the irreverence and specificity of the joke dawned slowly but surely on the audience. “Do we hate this or do we like this?” everyone seemed to be thinking. Fortunately, the latter vibe triumphed.
Fey and Poehler moved ahead with a joke about the disastrous Oscar pairing of Anne Hathaway and James Franco, and they brilliantly confused the HFPA — the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an odd group of approximately 90 journalists — with HPV. They made it funny, along with their requisite Meryl Streep joke — “She has the flu,” Poehler said, “and I hear she’s amazing in it.”
Poehler gave a shout-out to her fellow Boston-area native, Affleck, saying that he filmed “Argo” in Iran because “he wanted to film somewhere that was friendlier to outsiders.”
The Jodie Foster Moment: What? Foster accepted her Cecil B. DeMille Award with a speech that felt like stilted slam poetry in need of an annotated analysis (hear that, Internet?). She seemed about to come out as a lesbian, then explained why she wouldn’t, pointing to a life in the public eye, the death of privacy in America, and the bane of reality TV. It was touching, but mostly puzzling. Looking at her table, particularly at friend Mel Gibson and her two sons, she tumbled forward with her thanks, seemingly inventing some new rules of punctuation. Did she retire from the business? Hard to say, but at points it seemed that way. Her destined-to-go-viral line: “I am not Honey Boo Boo Child.”
As the telecast moved along swiftly, you couldn’t not love Adele, who sputtered her way through an acceptance speech for best song. You couldn’t stop gawking at Jessica Lange and Anjelica Huston, with their Picasso faces. You couldn’t help but feel the audience exhilaration when Bill Clinton came out to introduce clips from “Lincoln,” eliciting a salute from Steven Spielberg. “That was Hillary Clinton’s husband,” Poehler said.
You couldn’t help but wonder if Sasha Baron Cohen was auditioning for a hosting job next year, as he presented the animated film award (to “Brave”) with lots of teasing of the audience. You couldn’t help but see the inevitable GIF of Glenn Close pretending to be drunk. That happened when Poehler and Fey pretended to mourn their loss for best actress in a comedy and Fey congratulated winner Lena Dunham, saying, “I’m glad we got you through middle school.”
And you couldn’t help but want to scream when Sofia Vergara’s Diet Pepsi ad kept coming on one more time.
It has been interesting to watch Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet across the years. He’s entirely confident now, without the excessive flattery that he used to rely on when faced with the likes of Denzel Washington and Foster. And, now that he’s a one-man Hollywood corporation, the stars look him in the eye. He matters.Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.