While host Ricky Gervais un-friended half of Hollywood last night as host of the Golden Globes, The Social Network cemented its status as the movie of the year, as both its writer and director went out of their way to make it up to the man they portrayed as a selfish, cold-hearted geek—Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The Social Network won four Golden Globes, including best picture, director, screenplay and score.
Meanwhile a midlife crisis-obsessed Colin Firth and a visibly pregnant Natalie Portman were king and queen of the Hollywood prom, winning best actor and actress for The King’s Speech and Black Swan, respectively. Melissa Leo and Christian Bale won supporting actress and actor awards for their showy turns as white-trash trash talkers in The Fighter. And an exuberant Paul Giamatti gave “the great nation of Canada” a big shout-out as he accepted the best actor in a musical or comedy for Barney’s Version. It was a good night for lesbian portrayals as Annette Bening won best actress in a musical or comedy for The Kids are All Right, and Jane Lynch won a supporting actress for her TV role as the gay gym teacher in Glee, which won three awards. Robert De Niro tried reprising his King of Comedy role with some weakly scripted one liners as he accepted the Cecil B. De Mille Award for lifetime achievement. And at the end of the night a persistently venomous Ricky Gervais eliminated his last possible friend in the room as he thanked God for making him an atheist.
That’s the short version of a three-hour show that was, nevertheless, shorter than the average Oscar night. The universe unfolded more or less as it should, with the Globes setting up a fairly sound set of predictions for the Oscars—although the Oscars don’t have a separate comedy/musical category, so don’t expect Giamatti to spin his triumph into an Academy nod.
Recently in a Maclean’s video, I shot my mouth off about how the Golden Globes are a joke, and how the choices of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are warped by self-interest—whether it’s honouring The Tourist to lure Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie or honouring Burlesque after taking a free junket to see Cher perform in Vegas. Of course, I’m not the only one saying this. Everybody is. And shortly before last night’s awards, a former publicist for the Golden Globes show launched a $2 million lawsuit alleging its organizers have taken bribes. Which provided Gervais with fresh material to demolish the folks who had hired him.
Regardless of all that, the Globes are still more fun to watch than the Oscars. Because the party maters more than the awards. And because the stars drink during show. Even the host drinks during the show. Or is that just part of his schtick?
Last night I curled on the couch with a laptop, typing. The time flew by, and I was only watching people drink. (I’ve learned from past experience that typing and drinking don’t mix). You can find a list of all the award winners and nominees here, but here’s my blow-by-blow account of the evening:
Ricky Gervais’s beer is waiting for him on the podium. He takes a sip and says, “It’s going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking, or as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast.”
Gervais launches right into the controversial highlights. Admits he hasn’t seen The Tourist, then adds, “It must be good because it’s nominated. So shut up. I want to quash this ridiculous rumour that the only reason the Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated The Tourist is so they could hang out with Johnny Depp. That’s not the only reason. They also took bribes.”
Moving right along to the scandal about the HFPA’s junketeers taking a free ride to see Cher sing in Vegas, Gervais says, “You want to go see Cher? . . . No . . . Why not? . . . Because it’s not 1975.”
Then he draws so groans as he takes a low blow at an easy target, citing heterosexual actors pretending to be gay as “the complete opposite of some well-known scientologist.” Tom Cruise does not appear to be in the room.
Speaking of easy targets, next comes Hugh Hefner’s marriage to twentysomething Crystal Harris, who is 60 years his junior. The joke: that she thought he was 94, not 84. The sight gag: Crystal performing fellatio on the old man while checking her watch and thinking, “Hold out, and just don’t look at it when you touch it.”
Christian Bale takes best supporting actor in a drama for The Fighter. As if determined to erase his image as a cantakerous jerk in a single speech, he thanks everyone on earth, pointing to his wife. Any man would be lucky as hell to be married to her. He’s wearing a beard. A lot of actors are wearing beards. It’s what they do between roles.
Katie Segal, a blast from the past, seems as shocked as we are to see her win something. Yes, that Katey Sagal from Married With Children. She wins best supporting actress in a TV drama for Sons of Anarchy.
Carlos, the spectacular French TV mini series that Olivier Assayas directed as a super-long motion picture—and is the only ‘movie’ on all the New York Times film critics’ top 10 lists—wins for best TV mini series. So what is it, a movie or a TV show? And will it be eligible for the Oscars? Someone, please Google that.
Ricky Gervais continues to get away with murder. “Please welcome Ashton Kutcher’s dad, Bruce Willis,” he says, as Demi Moore’s ex walks out. And you half-expect Willis to slug the impudent Limey.
Chris Colfer takes best supporting actor in a TV series for his role as a gay kid in Glee, and makes the evening’s first political statement by dedicating his prize to all the kids that watch the show how he hopes it inspires them fighting the bullies who won’t let them be who they are.
Gervais now introduces his host, HFPA pres Philip Berk, saying he’s so old “I just had to get him off the toilet and put his teeth in.” And as Berk step up to the podium, after that intro it’s impossible not to fixate on the guy’s bad dye job (if it’s his real hair). Berk apparently has been a member of the HFPA for 33 years, and somewhere along the line seems to have lost his sense of humour. All this talk of bribery and corruption be getting to him, “Ricky,” he says, “next time you want me to help you qualify your movies, go to another guy.” Making it sound more like a threat than a joke. Let’s add extortion to the list of the HFPA’s alleged crimes.
Steve Buscemi wins best actor in TV drama for Boardwalk Empire. The prompts are telling him to get off the stage almost before he’s got his speech out of his pocket. Suddenly Buscemi, so often typecast as weasel, seems more human by the second as he devotes most of his gratitude to his family. Yes, he has one.
Gervais says The Social Network was his favorite picture of the year. Sounding serious, more of an opinion than a joke. Then the joke: “The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is worth $7 billion. Or as Heather Mills calls him, “‘The one that got away.’”
I guess that HFPA Vegas junket to see Cher did the trick. The song she sings from Burlesque, “You Haven’t Seen the Best of Me,” wins best song. But it’s the songwriter who accepts, not Cher. Oh right, she’s doing a show in Vegas.
It’s cute-as-a-button teen time as Hailee Seinfeld and Justin Bieber present the animated feature award, which goes, not surprisingly, to Toy Story 3. The guy who accepts wonders if they were even born when the first Toy Story came out.
Gervais introduces Robert Downey Jr., noting that his movie credits—Iron Man, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Two Girls and A Guy, Bowfinger—all sound like porn titles, then adds that “most of you know him from the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail.”
RDJ, introducing best actress for comedy and a musical hones in on what everybody by now must be thinking with a line that cuts as deep as anything Gervais has said: “Aside from the fact that it’s been incredibly mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the vibe of the show is pretty good so far, wouldn’t you?”
Downey Jr., immediately usurping Ricky’s role as the Smartest Guy in the Room, then launches into an ingenious routine, naming all the best actress candidates for a musical or comedy saying, “I don’t know if an actress can do her best work until I’ve slept with her . . . Julianne, I told her I was working with strange new feelings that were confusing me. Annette . . . ” And on it goes. “Just saying, if I could, I would give it to all five of you.” Finally a comic has connected with the audience, rather than just making them wince.
Annette Bening wins best actress for a musical or comedy, and thanks “the 1962 winner for the GG for most promising actor, my husband, Warren Beatty.” Warren looks like a proud papa.
Gervais introduces Sly Stallone, praising his “versatility” for playing both a boxer and Rambo.
Geoffrey Rush, looking like William Burroughs in a black suit and fedora presents an award with an über-pale Tilda Swinton, who’s all in white and resembles an albino alien. They’re quite the couple; they should go on the road together.
Al Pacino gets a standing ovation as he accepts his fourth Golden Globe, for playing Jack Kevorkian in You Don’t Know Jack and says, “It’s a great honour for me to have played Jack Kevorkian….it’s great for actors who portray real actors. It’s kind of a special thing for an actor when they get to play a real person.” He’s being sincere. I wonder if Jesse Eisenberg feels the same way, knowing he’s unlikely to win even if The Social Network sweeps.
The most passionate speech of the night so far comes from Claire Danes, who wins best actress in a TV movie drama for Temple Grande. The autistic subject of the movie is in the house. Danes, surfing the verge of tears, says no one but HBO would make a movie like this. I wonder: why can’t there be more HBOs?
Ricky Gervais keeps swinging below the belt, producing more shudders than laughs.
He introduces “the ungrateful Steve Carrell” as a “jobbing actor” who became famous by starring in a remake of his show, The Office. “He’s now leaving that show and killing a cash cow for both of us,” says Gervais. Carrell deadpans a loud, sarcastic “Ha, ha, ha” but looks genuinely unamused as he says this routine is getting old.
Aaron Sorkin, accepting the screenplay award for The Social Network, thanks Sony’s studio execs for believing “that the people who watch movies are at least as smart as the people who make movies.” He praises director David Fincher for being “able to make scenes of typing, and sometimes just talking about typing” play like bank robberies. And he patches things up with the movie’s anti-hero, Mark Zuckerberg. Turning his speech into an virtual amendment to the script, Sorkin him a “visionary” and an “altruist,” then closes off by telling his daughters that “elite is not a bad word, it’s an aspirational one.” Makes you wonder what’s up with those kids.
Jane Fonda, who presents a trailer for Burlesque, looks like Barbarella Redux in a metallic dress with pointy shoulder pads.
Jeremy Irons, in his English Actor voice, out-enunciates everyone as he presents best supporting actress to Melissa Leo for The Fighter. After situating herself—in “ Southern California, the home of my mother, her mother, her mother before her”—she makes sure everyone knows that she almost didn’t go meet the director because she figured she was to young to play Mark Wahlberg’s mother.
Matt Damon presents the Cecil B. De Mille Award to Robert De Niro, who, after the obligatory montage, puts on his King of Comedy hat and joins in the roast of his hosts. “I’m glad you made the announcement two months ago, well before you had a chance to review Little Fockers,” he says. “We’re all in this together, the people who make the movies, and the members of HFPA who pose for pictures with the movie stars. “
After watching the montage, he says, Awakenings was one of my favorite movies, great performance by Robin Williams. I just forgot that I was in it.”
And: “All these movies are like my children. . . except my children are more expensive and you can’t remake them in 3-D to push up the grosses.” Who writes this stuff?
Megan Fox, only moments earlier fodder for a joke by De Niro about full-body scans, arrives in a gown that makes her look like goddess bandaged in pink satin and sequins. She looks fabulous and then demonstrates her inability to read a teleprompter.
Annette Bening presents best director to director David Fincher, who sounds as smart as his films. When he was asked to make The Social Network, he recalls, “I thought, ‘This is so strange because I normally make pitch-black studies of misanthropes or serial killers.” After speed-reading his gratitude with dispassionate cool, he thanks his entire cast by their first names then says, “I’m personally loathe to acknowledge the wonderful response this film has received for fear of becoming addicted to it.” Like Sorkin, he also goes out of his way to praise Zuckerberg, whose life served as “a metaphor for communication and the way we relate to each other.”
This feels unprecedented: filmmakers rehabilitating the reputation of a subject that they have tarnished onscreen. It’s as if Zuckerberg, newborn philanthropist and Time Person of the Year, has spun the movie’s portrayal of him into a fresh Facebook update.
Halle Berry presents best actor for motion picture comedy or musical. Johnny Depp is competing against himself for roles in two movies that aren’t really about acting, as the Mad Hatter and Angelina Jolie’s lapdog. Which leaves the field wide open for Paul Giamatti. His win is the ultimate nerd victory. When his name is announced, the star of Barney’s Version gets kissed first by Robert Lantos, his jubilant producer, and then by presenter Halle Berry, which leaves a stronger impression:
“Jesus Christ, Halle Berry. Jesus Christ. Halle Berry,” says Giamatti, who seems more excited by the Berry kiss than by the hunk of metal in his fist. “I’m a little jacked up because I ate 5 boxes of the free Godiva chocolates,” he says. “Halle Berry! I always think a mistake has been made because the other men in this category are superior to me in every regard, as men and actors. . .
“I had three wives in this movie, just a trifecta of hotties. I got to smoke and drink and get laid in this movie and I got paid for it. An amazing thing.” Giamatti goes on to thank “this incredible family of Mordecai Richler,” who let me snoop around in their private lives. But he lavished his most fulsome gratitude on Richler’s home turf, where the movie was shot: “Montreal—an incredible place in a great nation. Canada! I salute the great nation of Canada!”
Jeff Bridges presents the Globe for best actress in a movie drama to a visibly pregnant Natalie Portman for Black Swan. After thanking her parents and grandparents, she thanks the Black Swan choreographer who is the father of her child, and whose character has a key line in the film, telling the artistic director he wouldn’t sleep with her. “He’s the best actor,” says Portman. “It’s not true! He totally wants to sleep with me!”
Hanks, taking the stage with Tim Allen, tries to even the odds somewhat by taking a swipe at the host: “Like many of you, we recall when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very nice comedian.”
10:40 p.m. Colin Firth, showing a glimmer of grey in his hair, gives the night’s most eloquent speech, proving he’s an actor by being able to thank a host of people in lovely language without pulling a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket: “Getting you through the mid-stage of your life with your dignity and your judgment intact can be somewhat precarious. Sometimes all you need is a little gentle reassurance to keep you on track.” Clutching his statuette, he says, “Right now this is all that stands between me and a Harley Davidson.” He goes on to express his affection or director Tom Hooper and co-actor Geoffrey Rush, by referring to “a surprisingly robust triangle of man-love that has somehow moved forward in perfect formation for the last year and a half of so…Geoffrey, my true friend and geisha girl.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Michael Douglas, cancer survivor, looking good, crowns the evening as he comes up to present Best Picture. “There’s got to be an easier way to get a standing ovation,” he says.
As The Social Network wins the top prize, producer Scott Rudin adds his voice to the filmmakers’ Facebook friending campaign, thanking “everybody at Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg for allowing us to use his life and his work as a metaphor.” At this rate, Zuckerberg will be getting a lifetime achievement Oscar.
11 p.m. Apparently, all is fair in the manufacture of Hollywood fable. It’s all about sportsmanship. And as Ricky Gervais signs off, he thanks everyone in the room for being good sports . . . “and thank you to God, for making me an atheist.” God, I guess, is the ultimate good sport. But by now, even He has tuned out.