It was an evening so unpredictably kooky that even Shirley MacLaine was spooked. “I never saw somebody give away their award. I never saw someone practically accept one while flushing the toilet,” said the trippy recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement at Jan. 18’s 55th annual Golden Globes ceremony. No lie. The showstopping antics of Ving Rhames, who tearfully turned over his Best Actor in a TV Movie award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon, and Christine Lahti, who had to be fetched from the ladies’ room to claim her Best Actress in a TV Drama prize, were perfectly in keeping with the evening’s loopy feel. Summed up MacLaine: “Things are just so discombobulated.”
Statue passing and bathroom runs aside, the Globes have always been considered an important predictor for the Oscars. But this year’s results, if anything, have only made the picture…just so discombobulated. Sure, the strong case Titanic made with four wins, including Best Drama and Best Director (James Cameron), seems to put the kibosh on L.A. Confidential, the favorite of the early critics’ awards. But many observers refuse to count out Confidential, which picked up the Best Supporting Actress Globe for Kim Basinger. “We do think it has a better shot with the Academy than with the foreign press [who give out the Globes],” says Warner Bros. distribution president Barry Reardon. “L.A. Confidential is a very American story.”
Another reason that it may be too early to begin anointing Titanic: A number of industry insiders took exception to Cameron’s speeches, particularly his quip when accepting the Best Drama award: “So, does this prove once and for all that size does matter?” One (possibly envious) exec at a rival studio voices the sentiments of a number of attendees, calling Cameron’s comments “pompous” and “arrogant.”
Most important, TriStar’s As Good as It Gets also made a strong Oscar statement by winning three big prizes in the musical or comedy category: Best Comedy, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), and Best Actress (Helen Hunt). “What the Globes did was put As Good as It Gets on more people’s lists,” says Sony worldwide-marketing head Bob Levin.
Hunt’s win also generated some non-Oscar speculation: Will the star’s burgeoning film career lead her to leave Mad About You at the end of this season? Many insiders expect the show to continue one more season, but some think Hunt will quit if she wins the big prize on March 23. Actually, she says, “the decision will have more to do with whether Paul [Reiser] and I can get excited about doing another year.”
So, in the end, are the Globes really an important barometer for the Oscars? Or are they simply Hollywood’s version of awards-season dress rehearsals? Titanic’s Billy Zane has his own theory: “I just think it’s an excuse to have lots of caviar at 10 o’clock.”
(With reporting by Judy Brennan, Pat H. Broeske, Joe Flint, and Zorianna Kit)