The Golden Globes have always been an easy target for mockery. You take a roomful of celebrities, marinate them in free booze, and hand out awards selected by a clique of obscure foreign entertainment journalists. Waiting for the next red-carpet disaster or gaffe-riddled acceptance speech, you can’t help but wonder, How much sillier can a major awards show get?
This year, thanks to the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike, we found out: a whole lot sillier. Faced with the prospect of picketing writers and no-show stars, NBC canceled the Jan. 13 ceremony and replaced it with an awkward, low-wattage 35-minute news conference. And audiences stayed away too. Only 6 million viewers tuned in, a steep drop compared with last year’s 20 million.
For the far-flung honorees, the pomp-and-circumstance quotient couldn’t have been lower. Californication star David Duchovny, who won best actor in a musical or comedy series, was at the movies seeing The Bucket List. Julian Schnabel, who earned both the best-foreign-language-film and best-director prizes for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, was stuck at a New York City airport: ”I watched on a monitor at baggage claim.” His attire for the occasion? A black shirt, pajama bottoms, and sneakers — though, he notes, ”I probably would’ve been wearing that to the real Golden Globes.”
But the real shame of this bungled affair was that so many of the honorees — who make up one of the most critically acclaimed lineups in recent Globes history — genuinely needed the exposure that a full-blown awards show would have provided. ”I was disappointed,” says Glenn Close, who nabbed a trophy for her work on Damages — an FX upstart that could use some ratings juice for season 2. ”We had such cause to celebrate.” Mad Men star Jon Hamm, who won best actor in a drama series, shares the sentiment: ”It was a bummer. I really wish we could have been at the traditional ceremony.” (It didn’t help that NBC commentator Billy Bush called Mad Men a movie after it won best drama series.)
For the year’s many provocative smaller films, like Diving Bell, No Country for Old Men, Juno, and There Will Be Blood, the spotlight of a glitzy awards show would have been particularly welcome. ”A lot of the movies this year are about something,” says Schnabel. For her part, Marion Cotillard, who won best actress in a musical or comedy for her performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, is trying to maintain a healthy perspective, despite the fact that she was deprived of her first big red-carpet moment. (Cotillard looks nothing like she did in Rose.) ”I’m not disappointed or bittersweet,” she says. ”I’m just enjoying this. I can’t try to think what it could have been.” As the French — who are no strangers to strikes — like to say, c’est la vie. — Additional reporting by Ari Karpel and Lynette Rice