By Eleanor Ringel Cater
The Golden Globes, Oscar’s younger, dumber and prettier sibling, threw a nice little monkey wrench into the eternal question: who will win what on Oscar Night.
Well, it’s eternal for movie critics and for pundits in general who suddenly morph into movie critics around Oscar time. I think I read what Bill O’Reilly was picking a few years ago.
The Golden Globes began as a joke: a doling out of awards by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a somewhat dubious group made up of somewhat dubious people. Well, dubious in the implication that they make their living writing about movies. A lot of them have other real jobs, but moonlight as movie reviewers.
But somebody — I always thought it was Dick Clark, but maybe not — had two brilliant ideas: put the Globes on TV and get the nominees, presenters, and other guests smashed on champagne during the ceremony. So, whatever the Globes lack in credibility, they more than make up for with sheer entertainment value.
Sunday’s co-hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, didn’t let the team down. They were just as funny as Ricky Gervais, who hosted the Globes for three years and, perhaps, even more wicked. Two examples:
Fey (praising Anne Hathaway who won a little later for “Les Miserables”): “I have not seen someone so alone and abandoned like that since you were on stage with James Franco at the Oscars (the pair co-hosed a few years back).
Poehler, about director Kathryn Bigelow: “I really haven’t been following the controversy over “Zero Dark Thirty,” but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.”
Speaking of Bigelow, the best director category was one of the places the Oscars took it on the chin from the Globes. Snubbed by the Academy Awards, she was one of the directing nominees at the Globes, along with Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, and Ang Lee.
The winner, however, was Ben Affleck whose movie, “Argo,” is in the Oscar race for Best Picture. However, the Academy chose not to nominate him — another of those cases where someone not worthy of a best director slot somehow directs a best picture nominee. The last time a split like this happened was when Bruce Beresford wasn’t a nominated director, yet his movie, “Driving Miss Daisy,” was named Best Picture of 1989.
So, whoever wins Best Director at the Oscars, it ain’t gonna be Affleck, who looked genuinely happy and surprised when his name was read.
When it comes to Best Picture, the Globes almost always look somewhat prescient because they wisely divide the category into Best Drama and Best Comedy or Musical.
Last Sunday’s winners were “Argo” and “Les Miserables,” neither of which is considered (at least before the Globes) an Oscar front-runner. That race has taken a generation-gap turn, pitting Old Hollywood (so to speak), in the person of Steven Spielberg and his movie “Lincoln” vs. New Hollywood (so to speak) represented by former indie guy, David O. Russell and his “Silver Linings Playbook.”
The Globes split the Best Actor and Best Actress categories into two groups, too. So both Daniel Day-Lewis (Drama, “Lincoln”) and Hugh Jackman (Comedy/Musical, “Les Miz”) went home winners. I think Jackman knows the die is already cast come Oscar night.
The actress awards split between the Academy’s two early front-runners: Jennifer Lawrence, laughing it up in “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jessica Chastain, serious as a Dixie Chick (sorry; stolen line from “Pitch Perfect”) in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
And the take-away from all this? Yes, the Globes are more fun. Still. But also, that the Globes may have grown up more than Oscar would like to admit. I mean, consider the choice for hosts.
The Globes went with two of the funniest people in the business, Fey and Poehler, “SNL” veterans with their own top-rated shows.
And Oscar? Well, they chose Seth McFarlane, creator of “Family Guy,” a kind of second rate “South Park,” and director of “Ted,” about a stuffed bear with a filthy mouth.
Now that’s entertainment.