Globes hosts Fey and Poehler raise the roof

If the Oscars are film's night of nights, and the Emmys are television's night of nights, then where does that leave the Golden Globes?

They are widely held to be a preview of the Academy Awards, though their accuracy in predicting Oscar winners has been blunted somewhat since a decade-long sweet spot from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.

Only twice since then – Slumdog Millionaire in 2009 and The Artist in 2012 – have they accurately foreshadowed the winner of the coveted best-picture Oscar. But that statistical reality does little to dampen the red-carpet fantasy.

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Hollywood is superficial, even when it's navel-gazing. And when it comes to television awards nights, the tone is set in the first five minutes. That's why the Oscars and the Emmys live and die on their host. And why even our own Logies have, for decades, been paying for the sins of a series of opening dance numbers from the 1980s.

This year's Golden Globe awards – the 70th – were hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who lit up the screen from the moment they stepped onto the stage. They were sharp, hilarious and courageously upheld the grand tradition of mocking the night's organisers, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

"[Last year's host] Ricky Gervais could not be here tonight because he is no longer technically in show business," Fey said. Poehler replied: "We want to assure you that we have no intention of being edgy or offensive tonight because, as Ricky learned the hard way, when you run afoul of the Hollywood Foreign Press they make you host this show two more times.”

Indeed many of the perceived weaknesses of the Golden Globes are in fact its greatest strengths.

Instead of being strapped-in, auditorium style, guests are seated at tables, fed and watered, resulting in an uneasy sense of chaos. In a close-up, Mel Gibson looked glassy-eyed and perhaps even a little lonely. Others, such as Glenn Close, were captured in animated conversation.

The anachronistic categories – such as "film, comedy or musical" – mean that a bleak tragedy such as Les Miserables is up against the whimsical comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Madness? No, just the Golden Globes.

The big gamble is that, in an attempt to be looser and more shambolic than their more formal cousins, the Globes risk looking a little too loose and shambolic. Letting comedians off the leash is always a risk. Usually it pays off, but sometimes it doesn't. Fey and Poehler soared. Sacha Baron Cohen, trying really hard to look like an English wanker, simply wasn't funny. In future, perhaps he should stick to character work.

In the end, however, perhaps the Golden Globes are something of a bastard child of both the Oscars and the Emmys, somehow not quite the equal of either, and saddled with some of the worst qualities of both.

Even within Hollywood opinion is divided on the value of the awards, and their organising body, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Journalist Nikki Finke, editor in chief of the powerful industry blog Deadline, has been famously scathing in her criticism of both.

But they are the opening salvo in what has become a genuine "awards calendar". With so many "nights of nights" you could be forgiven for wondering when they find the time to actually make the movies and TV shows given they are so busy thanking people for finding the "courage" and "vision" to star in them.

Next up, the Screen Actors Guild's "SAG" awards, awards from the Director's Guild, the Writer's Guild and others, Britain's BAFTAs, Australia's AACTAs and, of course, the Oscars on February 24. It's a long red carpet. But that, as they say, is showbusiness.

smh.com.au

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