It's almost pointless to critique -- positively or otherwise -- The Golden Globes. The Hollywood Foreign Press becomes a more laughable and pandering award-bestowing organization every year, and the awards not-handed-out tonight -- with its seven Best Dramatic Picture nominations and the Best Musical/Comedy Picture category proving more than ever before how inane it is to automatically have those two broad genres combined -- were no less absurd than any other year, and possibly more so. I don't mean to imply that the various winners (or at least most of them) weren't deserving, but the obvious methodology this relatively small group of foreign critics and journalists use to determine who gets the tiny statuettes has always been based more on pandering, swag and the continued desire for prestige than anything honest. And every year around this time, we always have to remind ourselves that the only reason the Golden Globes have become as big a deal as they have is because the HFPA was able to sell a TV show and throw a party. Well, without either this year, the awards themselves were even more front-and-center, and that, as usual, wasn't really a good thing.
And besides ... what the hell was that? Do you think people in that studio and at NBC were congratulating each other for a job well done? I'm not intimating that producing the kind of show they were forced to do tonight was easy, but it certainly would be easier with less brain-dead hosts than Nancy O'Dell and (especially) Billy Bush.
Actually, critiquing the awards themselves is almost less interesting than simply paying attention to some of the more ridiculous things that came out of Bush's mouth. If there was ever any doubt that Billy is related to our not-so-well-spoken president, it was certainly laid to rest during this broadcast, which somehow felt even less informative and entertaining than an episode of the talking heads' own Access Hollywood. Take, for example, the commentary after Sweeney Todd was announced as the winner of the Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical award when Bush said, "Tim Burton and Johnny Depp: when you get that kind of collaboration, between Scorsese and DiCaprio or something, it just seemed to be able to pull it off together." Now, I won't pay any mind to the lack of any sort of coherence within the English language, let's just look at the great historical actor/director pairing Bush chooses to utilize as a comparison to Burton/Depp -- Scorsese and DiCaprio. Because yes, folks -- when people who know anything about film history are going to choose great director and actor collaborations, including modern ones that the average moviegoer would remember, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio certainly jumps to mind first. No disrespect to Leo -- who I enjoy as an actor; I was one of the relatively few to applaud his performance in The Aviator when he seemed to bug a lot of people -- but I'm pretty sure even he would have had to have a little chuckle at that one. OK fine -- James Stewart and Terrence Mann might have been a bit too obscure for today's audience. Even John Ford and John Wayne might not have worked. But Molly Ringwald and John Hughes would have been a better comparison to use if you're going to pair Martin Scorsese with someone other than Robert De Niro! I mean ... really? And he gets paid a lot of money to spew that blather?
But wait ... there's so much more ...
For instance, Billy seems to like the word "boutique." Apparently, Entourage -- one of the most popular shows on HBO, and one which gets its fair share of publicity and media attention -- is a "boutique" show, which made Jeremy Piven's Best TV Supporting Actor award somewhat of a surprise to Billy. Also "boutique"? The Coen Brothers. I suppose "boutique" is really supposed to mean artsy, not necessarily commercial, or maybe well-respected but not exactly popular. Javier Bardem was named Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for No Country For Old Men, and Billy said, "For a Coen brothers movie, people are starting to see it. It's actually crossed the $45 million mark, which is a huge accomplishment for them because they're so boutique." The problem isn't that what BB says is 100% wrong, but just because their films don't all generate huge grosses doesn't exactly make them "boutique."
Actually, the better part of that comment was the first half, in which little Willy said about Bardem's performance, "I heard somebody say, 'one of the best villains ever.' Like in the category of Darth Vadar." I mean ... I can't be the only person to cringe at Billy's obvious inability to think of a more appropriate top villain comparison.
And by the way, it's not like Billy's partner-in-crime Nancy wasn't as bad; she just wasn't as bad as often. But also in commenting on Bardem's win, O'Dell proved why she didn't go into film criticism: "This one was I think, just a shoe-in. You just look at him in this character -- he plays very deranged, if you haven't seen this movie -- and just with him coming and that haircut that he has, it just tells you something is wrong." I mean, where to begin? I'm sure some people were going through withdrawal what with no red carpet outfit and hair critiquing, and poor Nance was obviously one of them. But yeah ... with that haircut, something sure was wrong. Good thing Bardem knew how to wear it well -- it apparently won him a Golden Globe.
But back to Bushy; here are a few more juicy bits of Billy:
He apparently has trouble discerning between movies and TV series. After Glenn Close one for her performance in FX's tremendous show Damages, he said, "She's a force in this movie ... in this, in this series." At least that time he had the consciousness to correct himself. Later on, he was less able to speak and think at the same time. Commenting on Mad Men's Best Drama Series win, Billy mouths, "It's just a great, sleak, sexy show: early '60s, Madison Avenue ... although there's a lot of smoking going on in the movie; the actors better have good insurance." I know, I know ... calling the show a movie isn't even the worst part of that statement.
- >Proving, as always, that not only has he obviously not seen I'm Not There but also that he has no fucking clue what he's talking about, he shows slight disappointment at Amy Ryan not winning for Gone Baby Gone. Of Cate Blanchett's well-deserved Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture award, he says, "At the end of the day it's a woman imitating a man." Sigh.
When Jon Hamm was named Best Actor in a TV Drama, Billy proves that if a knowledgeable entertainment journalist can't write it for him, he knows little about the actual industry, calling AMC's Mad Men "their first major series that's done well." No Billy, it's actually their first major series and first originally internally produced dramatic series at all. OK, I guess he's not wrong since it's also by default the first series that's done well.
Yet another comment that really speaks for itself: "I think the Hollywood Foreign Press loves David Duchovny because The X-Files was big here and abroad, so he's got kind of a nice base there. But at the same time, Californication, I wouldn't say is a comedy. It's cool." So keep that in mind all you comedy writers thinking that you can create a "cool" series. You can't because you see, if it's cool, it's not a comedy. Oh ... it's still "cool," just not funny ... or something. Could someone get started on categorizing what films and television that most of us have categorized as comedies should actually be re-cataloged into the "cool" genre. That would be helpful. Thanks.
Extras won Best TV Series comedy. I'll admit, I was a bit surprised by that, but I suppose that's why Billy was hosting this show instead of me. He said, "No surprise here. Ricky Gervais is an original of comedy. He brought The Office to America. He was in the original back in the UK. He's done the same thing with Extras. Great show." Oy ... I mean, really. Where to begin? How about the idea that "he's done the same thing with Extras." Let's see. He made The Office for the BBC where it became a hit before being syndicated in the US where it became, in Billy Bush terms, something of a "boutique" hit. Then he sold the rights and a guy named Greg Daniels recreated the show for an American audience. Meanwhile, Gervais decided to make another show called Extras as an original series for the American cable network HBO. It aired two brief seasons, and my guess is, you will not see an American version on NBC or any other network any time soon. But hey, I'm not sure, and unlike Billy, I was surprised by its win.
Julian Schnabel received the Best Director award, after which Nancy O'Dell said something innocuous that I didn't care to jot down. For once, all Billy could say was "Good point." However, I found myself wondering, is that all he had to say because they had to move on to the next award? Or, did he simply have no idea who this Schnabel dude was because The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was probably too "boutique" even for him.
Johnny Depp finally won his first Golden Globe after seven previous nominations. What do you think of that Billy? "Johnny's the man. I mean, he invented his character in Pirates of the Caribbean, and people loved it. Sweeney Todd. No different. He just goes in and brings this character to life. A lot of people didn't know he could sing. Johnny came to LA -- back when he first arrived -- with a rock band, and he's been singing all along." Ouch. I think this qualifies as an Excedrin headache. Johnny? I think Billy has a crush on you.
On Daniel Day-Lewis winning for There Will Be Blood, a film that would probably give simple-minded Bushy an aneurysm so I'm sure he hasn't seen it: "He is an actor's actor. He's the real deal." What does that even mean?
But Billy doesn't have to care what I say anyway. Nancy was there not just to complement him, but to compliment him as well. Obviously approving of Julie Christie's Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama win, Billy said, "The amazing thing here, and what I think people are so passionate about in this performance ... there's this woman slipping into Alzheimer's, and her husband needs to put her into this old folks home. It's incredibly sad, and you think, 'God, what a depressing role,' but she somehow brings incredible grace and dignity to it. It's uplifting in a way." Now sitting here, I thought, "Hmmm, well, that's what we call acting, and she's a great actress and is able to bring complexities to such a role, so you're marveling at those specific elements is a bit ... simplistic." Nancy, on the other hand, probably had no idea what he was talking about, so instead she simply offered, "Very well said."
I think comments on the awards themselves will, in fact, need to be relegated to a separate post later today, but one more thing on NBC's broadcast: in case you didn't notice, not all of the awards were actually announced. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly not only won Best Director for Schnabel but also received Best Foreign Language Film, but it took reading a news story to realize that. The Coen Brothers received the Best Screenplay award, but not on the air. And did anyone realize that they announced the winner of Best Actress in a TV Miniseries or Movie, but not the Best Actor nor the Best TV Miniseries or Movie itself? NBC tried to intimate that they were announcing the winners as the Hollywood Foreign Press was feeding them to them, all live, but that was obviously not the case. The winner of the Best TV Miniseries or Movie Award was the HBO film Longford, and Jim Broadbent's performance in that film's title role brought him the Best Actor award. Queen Latifah's (surprising, at least to me) Best Actress in a TV Miniseries or Movie win did receive the on-air announcement, and I figure it has to be because NBC figured nobody would care about Longford and Broadbent, but hey, people know who Queen Latifah is. I wonder how HBO felt about that little slight.
I know nobody was expecting much from the broadcast: they didn't have a lot of time to plan it, and they had to use "news" writers and announcers in order to avoid any strike issues. And ultimately, this is really still more publicity and attention that the Hollywood Foreign Press' awards even deserve. I suppose in its own way, Atonement's win makes perfect sense as everyone -- especially cousin Billy -- has a lot to make-up for.