Sunday, January 16, 2011

Golden Globes Successfully Roasts Itself

Ricky Gervais Didn't exactly blow his hosting gig at the Golden Globe Award Show, though it certainly looked like it. I think he was up to something a bit more subtle.

In the course of the long ceremony he treated the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the literal hand that was feeding him, to a non-stop barrage of sneering abuse, some funny, some shockingly blunt. Right out of the gate, Gervais made jokes about The Tourist, the star-studded bomb nominated for best comedy or musical (huh?), a nod which may or may not have been influenced by the film's producers junketing the HFPA to Vegas. It had zero chance of winning anything, but nominating one of its stars guaranteed Brangelina would attend the awards ceremony. Gotta have them!

Ricky Gervais made fun of Phil Berk, the president of the HFPA, practically to his face. He was not amused. He also introduced Steve Carrell with a joke that his early departure from "The Office" was killing the franchise he created. Steve was really not amused-- though it's hard to tell if he was just in character.

Ricky Gervais' antics polarized the audience as well. Aside from the justifiably livid Mr. Berk, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and especially Robert De Niro did not seem to appreciate Rick Gervais' blunt snark. Christian Bale, who worn Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter (well deserved!) threw a punch of his own at the HFPA, calling the press people who nominated him "those awful characters." (When Christian Bale started to speak, my wife sat up and said "I had no idea he was English!" This is much to Mr. Bale's credit, if you ask me.)

It was one of the weirdest awards shows I've seen in a while. What made it weirder is I watched it sort of backwards: came in the last 45 minutes or so, then picked it up from the top when NBC repeated it at 8 p.m. PST.

This is what I think Ricky Gervais was doing: what he was hired to do. He was trying to de-legitimize the Golden Globe Awards-- this year's awards, at least. He was, in gangster-movie parlance, busting out the joint.

This is not as seditious as it sounds. As things stood, the HFPA was already riding some bad press about the whole Tourist/Vegas Junket nomination buying scandal. Another similar report of vote-buying had just appeared in the trades mere days from the ceremony. The Golden Globes people could do two things: ignore the bad press and carry on, or hire someone like Mr. Gervais, let him torch the place, and start over. Hollywood is all about image control, and though things looked remarkably out-of-control most of the time, The HFPA successfully took it's scandals public, turned them into punchlines, and even looked like the victimized party at the end.

Personally, I never took a liking to Ricky Gervais or his humor. Not sure why he rubs me the wrong way-- too smug, too dry, too look-at-me-ain't-I-clever. I always though he was a comedian's comedian, which is why I thought he'd do a slick job hosting the Globes. Called that one wrong, huh?

A few disconnected observations:

• The tone of the show was so odd and vicious that when The Social Network won for best picture, Jessie Eisenberg and his blandly handsome co-star (whose name I forgot) looked positively hesitant about ascending to the stage at Scott Rudin's request to share the accolades. I don't blame them.

• Nail a bunch of 2x2 studs together, paint them gold, then adorn with strings from several bead curtains: Do-it-yourself Golden Globes Awards set! I especially liked the "Flying Crystal Pickles" backdrop.

• "Glee's" Lea Michele does not seem to have an "off" switch. That's the likely reason a camera was stationed about eight inches from her head the entire evening.

• Chris Colfer won for his work on "Glee." Very well deserved. Kudos also for Steve Buscemi for "Boardwalk Empire." It's the Year of the Really Pale Actor!

• Someone still needs to explain to me why Annette Bening's work in The Kids are Alright was better than Julianne Moore's. Just confused, is all.

• Aaron Sorkin, winning for his Social Network screenplay, gave us a valuable insight into the mind of a Hollywood insider, offering his opinion that “elite is not a bad word, it’s an aspirational one.” I hope the valet at the Beverly Hilton, after hearing this, keyed his Lamborghini Murcielago.

1 comment:

  1. From the Hollywood Reporter's review:

    The trouble is, the awards are for the people in the business, but the show itself is for the viewers at home. There’s only so much sycophantic back-slapping anyone can take without a little needling to burst the ego bubble.

    But if Gervais wasn’t intending to come back, which is what he’s said prior, he sure went out swinging, thanking all the right people – the HFPA, NBC, the stars in the room for being good sports, then ending with, “And thank you to God for making me an atheist.”

    That pretty much sealed it, one would suspect.

    I understand next year they're going to avoid this controversey by hiring Steven Merchant