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Golden Globe Awards
Television Review

Golden Globes of a different color

By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / January 14, 2008

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Didn't you feel nostalgic last night, without the Golden Globes annual air-kiss booze-breath spectacular? Remember the sweaty, claustrophobic red carpet? Remember the vain posing, the affected twirls, the "who-are-you-wearings"? Remember the creepily boney backs, the overly plumped lips, and the modesty, the exquisitely false modesty?

Yes, those were the days.

Instead, due to the Writers Guild of America strike, the 2008 Golden Globes were announced during a flat hourlong special on NBC that played like an especially tinny episode of "Access Hollywood." Without the pomp, the primping, and the pimping, the Globes came down to very little indeed - just a bunch of names read off like a meaningless roll call. Whether last night's awards presentation will boost movie-ticket sales and sway the Oscar nominations - the only power of the Globes - remains to be seen in the coming weeks.

There were surprises here and there among the winners, but there were no jaws on hand to drop and no stutteringly surprised acceptance speeches. (If a career falls - or rises - in the woods. . .?) The movie prizes were spread among a number of films, so that there was no single big winner. "Atonement" won best drama, and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" won best musical.

Surely the audience's collective breath would have caught when Marion Cotillard was named best actress in a musical or comedy for "La Vie en Rose" - as in, "Marion who?" And surely Johnny Depp would have been lauded at length, winning best actor after having lost his seven previous Globe bids. In other film categories, Daniel Day-Lewis was named best actor in a drama for "There Will Be Blood," and fellow Brit Julie Christie won for best dramatic actress in "Away From Her."

The TV community - always seated a little farther back than the movie people at the Globes banquet - probably would have been visibly scandalized last night. Almost none of the TV prizes went to the expected recipients, as small shows rode roughshod over the mainstream favorites. Even Katherine Heigl from "Grey's Anatomy," last year's It Girl, lost out to Samantha Morton, who was in a potent but unknown HBO movie called "Longford," which also won best TV movie.

The excellent but little-seen AMC series "Mad Men" took best drama against "House" and "Grey's Anatomy," and its unknown star, Jon Hamm, beat out Hugh Laurie and Michael C. Hall for best dramatic actor. HBO's culty "Extras" upset odds-on favorite "30 Rock" for best comedy, and David Duchovny won the best comic actor nod for Showtime's "Californication," despite heavy competition from Alec Baldwin in "30 Rock" and Steve Carell in "The Office."

The winners were announced by entertainment "news" types such as Mary Hart from "Entertainment Tonight" at an unadorned press conference held by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. "This just feels . . . different!" exclaimed Lara Spencer from "The Insider" as she listed nominees and opened envelopes. "Different" - as in not the usual three-hour-long commercial for movies and TV shows, Lara?

The press conference was covered by E!, but NBC chose not to air any footage from the 30-plus minute event and presented the winners at its own slower pace over the course of an hour. Anchors Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell told us who won, then filled in with commentary that was totally inane - almost "Wayne's World"-level inane.

Before the awards, NBC tried to give the night some import - and promotional heft - with two hours of nominee blather from 7 to 9 p.m. called "Going for Gold." The interview segments, introduced by the unnervingly calm Matt Lauer, plugged a few movies, including "American Gangster" "Atonement," and "Juno." But there were no crazy Globes-esque eruptions of emotion, of course, except for the clip of nominee Nikki Blonsky from "Hairspray" watching the nomination announcements and literally kicking over the coffee table in seizures of shock. NBC re-aired the clip repeatedly, its only moment of passion for the night.