Monday, January 18, 2010

Golden Gabbing

I was a total cinematic slacker in 2009. I admit it. But it was a really, really, really tough year for me. 2009, I'll see you in hell. Anyway, back to the matter at hand... I didn't see much last year, so maybe I have no business yakking about the Golden Globes and the fairness or unfairness of it all, but guess what? I'm going to shoot my mouth off regardless.

I don't know much about the workings of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is responsible for choosing the winners of the Golden Globes. What I do know is that it's a relatively small, "exclusive" (less than 100 members) group of foreign journalists who cover Hollywood for the rest of the world. These journalists/members are based out of the United States but write for foreign audiences, and they themselves are not native to the United States. I could be wrong about all of this, and please feel free to correct me if I am, but this is what I've gathered from my admittedly very rushed researching. For your consideration, here's a list of the members, the people you either want to praise or blame for the winners.

So, when it comes to movies, there are blockbusters, and there are...non-blockbusters. I know it might be over-simplifying, but that's essentially how it breaks down all year long. There are those that are made to make money and those that are made to win awards...sometimes, a movie does both and gets the audiences AND awards (Titanic and, apparently, Avatar). There's mainstream, and there's not. Just because something bombs at the box office doesn't automatically put it into the non-blockbuster category, though...if it looks like a blockbuster, clucks like a get the picture. But just because something is artsy doesn't mean it can't also be mainstream, and just because something is mainstream doesn't mean it can't also be artsy. I kind of feel like I'm digging my own grave right now, so I'm going to try to stop babbling. (Sheesh, can you tell I haven't done this in awhile? Yikes...) In conclusion, the movies I'm calling non-blockbusters, in the context of this piece, are what I would consider typical awards fodder (generally end of the year releases, but not exclusively), stuff with substance that deserves to be seen but generally doesn't find the biggest audience or a ton of money, "the good stuff" if you want to be snotty, or independent or arthouse or whatever...basically, you're not going to find Transformers 2 in this category.

Now, all that being said, I don't ever remember there being such a distinct division between blockbusters and non-blockbusters at the Globes as there was this year. I've already been having a blast discussing this on various Facebook status messages (I LOVE talking about this stuff!), but it's especially fascinating and disconcerting this year. There's just such a rift. The 67th Annual Golden Globes was a total popularity contest. I know, I know, people are going to say that it's always a popularity contest, but I don't necessarily agree with that. My point is that it's painfully obvious this time around. If there was the option to go with a commercial choice, the Hollywood Foreign Press took it and ran with it. This is like high school; it could very well be an episode of Glee! Take the Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical category: there's the jock (Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes), and then there's the geek (Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man). On what planet would Michael Stuhlbarg NOT deserve this award? Well, this one, apparently, if you ask the HFPA. The cool kid won out. But really, doesn't it make sense when you think about who's voting? Would foreign, globally-conscious voters vote for the flashy Downey, Jr. in a holiday blockbuster or the seriously subtle Stuhlbarg in an under-the-radar gem? Hmm. Downey, Jr. is the more familiar choice, the safe choice and, I propose, the cowardly one.

But I never really thought about this or felt so cynical about it until this year. Have the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association been blinded by the bling? This show just seemed so glaringly commercial. I mean, I have a love/hate relationship with awards season (don't we all? We love to hate them!), and whether I agree with the winners or not, I have always LOVED watching the Globes (something about celebrities and booze...). It's maybe my favorite out of all the shows - I love the combination of film and television. Anyway, I feel like the Globes have gotten it right a LOT over the years, so I'm not going to let this year's show muck up its reputation overall. But yeesh...what happened tonight? Well, the box office owned it. The wins for Robert Downey, Jr., Sandra Bullock (I'm sure she's lovely in The Blind Side, but really?? Best Dramatic Actress over all those others?), The Hangover, and Avatar prove that. The box office told credibility and artistry to suck it. That may be a little harsh, but it's how I see it. Since Avatar is a global phenomenon, and the Globes promote, for lack of a better term, global-ness, it makes sense that Avatar won Best Motion Picture Drama. Why would the foreign press care about a film about the Iraq war (The Hurt Locker, which I would have called a lock to win)? Hollywood proper will care when it comes time for the Academy Awards. But globally? Nah. To put it simply, this year's Golden Globes ceremony was a slave to the box office. Or maybe whore is more apt...

Now, some other random thoughts on the show in a segment I'm calling "Things I learned from watching the 67th Annual Golden Globes" (I'm not going to list all the winners or nominees; for a comprehensive list, go here):

  • Evidently, I need to start watching Glee and Dexter. I'm not being facetious either.
  • Neil Patrick Harris and Jane Krakowski talked about not being suited for drama because of their enormous, Quentin Tarantino's is still bigger. Than both combined. Sorry, guys.
  • I still hate the combo Musical/Comedy category. The only reason Nine got nominated is BECAUSE it's a musical - it certainly didn't deserve it otherwise. I think the "musical" label should be cut out completely, and musicals should be placed into whichever category is the most fitting, be it dramatic or comedic. Nine would be a drama. Ray was considered a musical, and thus Jamie Foxx robbed Paul Giamatti of his Golden Globe for Sideways because he was unfairly placed in the same category as Giamatti. Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles is not a comedic/musical performance - it is dramatic. And just because the movie is about a singer and has songs in it, that doesn't make it a musical! See also: Walk the Line. At least Nine actually IS a musical, even though it's not a very good one. But where would the brilliant Chicago land - comedy or drama? It's a very dark comedy, certainly, but I would probably come down on the side of drama. Any thoughts on this?
  • If I'm going by the nominees for Best Comedy (or Musical - arg!), then 2009 was a very, very bland year for comedies. I guarantee you that no one would have even given It's Complicated or Julie & Julia a second thought, much less any nominations, if not for the prestige that Meryl Streep brings with her everywhere she goes. Don't get me wrong, I love her with a fiery passion, but they'll nominate anything she does. Nine, by default, had to be in this category, (500) Days of Summer, from what I hear, is worthy of its nomination, but is The Hangover really all that? What about the brilliant and hilarious Zombieland?
  • Apparently, The Hangover IS all that, as it racked up yet another award - Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. Well, okay then. I guess I have to see it.
  • The standard for nominated comedies seems to have plummeted. I can't imagine something like The Hangover being nominated any other year. Why wasn't Superbad nominated in its year? What, that was too low-brow for the Globes, but The Hangover isn't? No, I'm not bitter...
  • Combining adapated and original screenplays into one category is stupid. And Quentin Tarantino should have won for Inglourious Basterds. Just saying.
  • Ricky Gervais rules. I especially liked his jab at Mel Gibson. While holding a beer, he introduced Gibson, "I like a drink as much as the next man...unless the next man is Mel Gibson." Ba-zing.
  • Alec Baldwin needs to go away and give someone else a turn (namely, Steve Carell).
  • The more time that passes, the less I like Up.
  • The more often that ludicrously long subtitle to Precious pops up, the more ridiculous it sounds, and the more it, unfortunatly, hurts the credibility of the film. Let. it. go.
  • Mo'Nique's well-deserved win tonight brings her one step closer to the Oscar. She gave a beautiful speech, too.
  • Christoph Waltz's well-deserved win tonight brings HIM one step closer to the Oscar.
  • I love Colin Farrell more every day. His Best Actor (Musical/Comedy) Globe win last year for In Bruges was one of the most wonderful and unexpected surprises that the show has ever given me. It might just be my favorite Globe win of all time. Farrell was back tonight, as a past winner, to present an award. I don't remember exactly what was said verbatim, but Ricky Gervais talked about how film brings people together and shatters stereotypes, something like that. He solemnly segued, "One stereotype I hate is that all Irishmen are just drunk, swearing hellraisers." Without skipping a beat, Gervais promptly introduced Colin Farrell. Farrell came out and took it like a champ. He even hugged Gervais. He then said, in a playful sing-songy voice, "Oh, I once was a cliché." He continued, "I heard Ricky had specifically asked to introduce me, and I thought...'Oh, balls.'" It was glorious.
And finally, speaking of glorious, or inglourious to be precise...I absolutlely LOVE Christoph Waltz's thematic, custom-tailored-for-the-occasion acceptance speeches. It's really rather marvelous. The other night at the Critics' Choice Awards, he spoke of the series of "choices" that brought him to that moment and that award. Last night, at the Golden Globes, because it was a global award involving our whole planet, he went with an astronomical theme (and I don't mean "astronomical" in the sense of being huge, I mean it literally, as in pertaining to astronomy). Waltz talked about his "globe," being exposed to the gravitational forces of Quentin Tarantino, and being a part of the bigger constellation of this film...oh hell, just watch it, it's great:

I think his approach to these speeches is so adorable and totally refreshing. Most people just recycle the same thing over and over; Waltz is actually thoughtful enough to recognize and appreciate each honor in its own right by expressing his gratitude in terms of the award itself. I think that's just extraordinary. What a sweet, humble, gracious, beautiful man. Christoph Waltz, you're a hell of a guy, you deserve every bit of this, and I can't wait to hear what you do with your Oscar speech.


Alexa said...

Lisa, love this post! Happy you are back. So much to respond to...I'll try to get some stray thoughts together...

Indeed it was a popularity contest...but I feel that it almost always is. If you follow the winds of who is "in" you can safely guess the winners (and win your office pool).

You must start watching Dexter! You will adore it. I was overjoyed when Michael C. Hall won (even though Jon Hamm was nominated too).

So agree on the Precious title. Enough already, Sapphire. We get it.

Still don't really get The Hangover. Love Galifianakis but had a girl aversion to a lot of it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog! Pretty much sums up my feelings of the night. Gervais's joke early on about the Globes being bought off turned out be prophetic. Here's what I think clearly should've won the top awards:

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Best Comedy: (500) Days of Summer (much more than a comedy, but better than the other four films combined)
Best Dramatic Actor: Colin Firth (the eternal dark horse this season, in what I think is the year's most emotionally turbulent male lead performance)
Best Dramatic Actress: (Tie) Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe (two smashing debuts)
Best Comedic Actor: Michael Stuhlbarg (obviously)
Best Comedic Actress: Yeah, I agree with Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Julia Child. Plus, her speech was another one of the night's great highlights
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (Cameron's self-important speech concluding the night got some great icy reactions from the crowd)

Bill Treadway said...

To quote a Dave Mason song, it's like you never left. Your piece is so good, Lisa. It's everything a reader could want: informative, funny, insightful.

You have such a gift, my friend. I loved reading it. I agree Stahlbarg should have won. Not enough people saw A Serious Man, sadly. I find the opposite effect happens to me with Up. I love it more and more each time I see it.

TomS said...

Nice to see you back. Thank you for your recent message..I was pleasantly surprised...and you deserve a reply.

Movie awards used to be just they are commercial, and chummy, and say very little to those who care about the art that can be found in popular film. The small "indies" or "Art-house" films today were at one time serious award contenders, and for the good reason that they deserved to be held up as examples of quality. They still do, but rarely are any more.

By the way, I have to say that I really loved "Nine"... but I already said why in my blog...And Colin Firth was robbed...

I long for the days when an "Annie Hall" could still triumph over a "Star Wars". It was interesting then!

Artherian Art Maggyt said...

pretty blog! I just love it... great post and also very interesting, also I talk about the latest films and I like to do some appointments about films an characters and actors/ actress.

Signed by Art Maggyt.

Anonymous said...

I have gotten over taking these award shows very seriously. They always seem to get so many things wrong in my opinion.

Ex: I don't understand the appeal of Crash and thought Babel was a much better movie especially since they had similar subject matter.

The best way to judge how good a movie is by time. Just because a movie is popular now doesn't mean it will popular years from now.

I might lose it if Avatar gets best picture at the oscars. I don't care what anyone says Avatar is by far not one of the best movies ever made. -Not fair for Avatar to get all this attention while The Dark Knight was mostly ignored when it came for award time.-

What do you think of the oscars expanding the best picture catagory?

I'm suprised The Blind Side is on the best picture catagory. In my opinion 500 days of Summers should have taken its place.

I'm sorry you're getting sick of Up!. I adore the movie and seems to always get me emotional every time I watch it. I'm glad it has been put in the best picture catagory.