Golden Globes a Rather Dull Warm-up for Oscars

January 18, 2010
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Leave it to master of awkward comedy Ricky Gervais to leave stars twitching in discomfiture at Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards ceremony.

After taking successful swipes at his “Office” predecessor Steve Carell and a lobbing a less-humorous barb at Paul McCartney, he quaffed a beer, blamed the Globes’ legacy of gleeful inebriation for any offensive words uttered from his mouth and proceeded to call attention to one controversial celebrity’s most notorious moment.

“It’s not my fault. I like a drink as much as the next man,” Gervais asserted. “Unless the next man is Mel Gibson” — a jab at the actor’s alcohol-fueled anti-Semitic tirade following a DUI arrest in 2006.

It was one of the few humor high points in a rather dull affair — perhaps more alcohol was needed at the generally loose and relaxed affair. It all seemed a bit, well, like the Oscars. With the nominations out next month and the ceremony in March, the Globes are a warm-up to the big night.

The night’s winning film, “Avatar,” and its victorious director, James Cameron, now figure to be a dominant force in that ceremony. Hitherto the Globes, the awards momentum had been with two critical favorites — Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq war action-drama “The Hurt Locker” and Jason Reitman’s comedy-drama “Up In the Air.”

The Oscars are allotting 10 spots instead of the traditional five to the best picture. The move was viewed by many as an attempt to allow more populist movies such as last year’s “Dark Knight,” a film that missed the Oscar best-picture cut but now stands at No. 2 on the all-time domestic box office list. Now, “Avatar” — No. 3 on that box office list — appears ready to follow in the footsteps of Cameron’s Oscar-sweeping epic “Titanic.” It’s doubtful the Academy, weary of the show’s declining ratings, would allow such an opportunity to slip through their fingers to honor the commercially slight “Hurt Locker,” which has been honored by critics groups in New York, Los Angeles and a dozen cities in between. At least “Up in the Air” won best screenplay; “Hurt Locker” went home empty-handed. (By the way, Bigelow is Cameron’s ex-wife, a dramatic showoff likely to continue through awards season.)

Also looking to figure in the best picture race: Quentin Tarantino’s World War II reimagination “Inglourious Basterds,” which picked up a supporting-actor trophy for Christoph Waltz; “Precious,” which captured supporting actress for Mo’Nique; and perhaps “Crazy Heart,” which took home an award for Hollywood favorite Jeff Bridges and its theme song. Will “The Hangover,” which won best picture in the comedy-musical category, figure into the Oscar best-picture race with 10 slots open? It would definitely be something to see a crude comedy rub elbows with prestige pictures and Hollywood epics.

Speaking of crude, let’s get back to Gervais. His mischievous spirit was much appreciated in Sunday’s staid affair. He was the first solo host in more than a decade, and he made his best effort to ensure he would be the last — chomping at the various hands that feed him. He mocked the network airing the show, NBC — fretting that he better get on with the show before Jay Leno arrived to usurp his monologue — and at the awards committee itself.

“The one thing that can’t be bought is a Golden Globe — officially.”

Sandra Bullock referenced that killer line — let’s just say the Globes have a history of honoring some odd choices — when she won her best dramatic actress award. Hey, better you say it than us, Sandra.

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