Listen, I love the Academy Awards. Love watching them with friends and a bottle of cheap champagne. Love talking about them for the entire year before they happen. Love the fact that winning an Oscar apparently makes you live longer and have lots of kids. But if we’re talking about pure enjoyment, I’m a Golden Globes guy. I have no idea what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is, or why they seem to think that “Comedy” and “Musical” are one and the same. I realize that they just love throwing nominations at a specious array of big-name stars: How else do you explain all the nomination love for Nine?
But if it’s little more than a slapdash, fame-besotted celebrity booze cruise, the Golden Globes are also the most enjoyably old-fashioned pageant left on TV. Here’s a few reasons (besides the free-flowing social lubricant) why I prefer the Globes to the Oscars:
1. The Golden Globes are on the right side of history
Globe haters love to point out the questionable past winners (call it the Pia Zadora Paradigm). But the HPFA arguably has a better track record than its more prestigious sibling. Look no further than three of the greatest miscarriages of Best Picture justice in Oscar history: Crash beating Brokeback Mountain, Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan, and Ghandi beating E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
All three losers have become essential classics, while the three winners’ reputations have all suffered (or, in the case of Crash, fallen into the toilet bowl of Starz Original Programming). Well, the Golden Globes gave their best Motion Picture -– Drama award to Brokeback, Ryan, and ET.
2. The Best Musical/Comedy Awards are secretly brilliant
Without a doubt, the separation of Film and Lead Acting nominees into two separate genres is the most illegitimate thing about the Golden Globes. But here again, the Globes’ track record is better than you expect; in fact, looking at the winners’ list in the past decade is like imagining a more robustly clever, less masochistic alternate-universe America: Toy Story 2, Almost Famous, Moulin Rouge!, Chicago, Lost in Translation, Sideways, Walk the Line, Dreamgirls, Sweeney Todd, and Vicky Christina Barcelona.
The nominees are even more fun: Would the Oscars have ever recognized Best in Show, Bend it Like Beckham, Borat, Hairspray, In Bruges, or The Squid and the Whale, outside of the Screenplay Award ghetto?
And let’s be honest: the Oscars have always segregated drama and comedy actors. The difference is, Oscar voters just don’t bother to recognize comedic performances at all. Some of the most mesmerizing winners of Comedy/Musical Golden Globe trophies weren’t even nominated for Oscars: I’m talking Jim Carrey channeling Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon, or Sally Hawkins’ infectiously cheerful role in Happy-go-Lucky, or Gene Hackman giving the performance of his lifetime in The Royal Tenenbaums.
Heck, even the Academy seems to realize that the Globes are onto something. They can talk all they want to about how there were always ten best picture nominees in the ’30s, and widening the field this year is just getting the Awards back to basics, but you and I both know that the five extra Best Picture slots are directly intended to get Dark Knight-style blockbusters (and maybe – gasp! – more than one comedy) into the big show.
3. The Globes are openly (as opposed to secretly) “rigged”
Yes, there are all kinds of stories about people bribing the HFPA, but you know what? I think it’s plenty more disturbing that no one bribed the Academy, and they still didn’t let Anvil! The Story of Anvil, The September Issue, or Tyson get onto the best documentary shortlist. I find it offensive to think that Stephen Daldry and Ron Howard have been nominated so many times without blackmailing every member of the Academy.
The Globes don’t pretend to be unbiased. They nominate famous people. They nominate newly-famous zeitgeist personalities (see: Precious, Slumdog Millionaire). They nominate great films and terrible films, and usually give the award to the great film. In the process, the Globes more closely resemble the original Academy Awards than do the modern-day Academy Awards, because…
4. At the Golden Globes, Show Biz People are all one big happy family
It’s completely nonsensical to think of James Cameron being in the same room as the cast of Cougar Town, or Christoph Waltz being just a couple tables away from the cast of Glee. But one of the zippy pleasures of the Globes is the high-low mixing of every level of the Hollywood stratosphere. And because they’re at dinner tables (instead of crammed into an auditorium), you get the sense that the actual awards are a mere distraction for the party guests, that they’re all just waiting for the next commercial break to get back to talking about wonderful things we’ll never know.
Don’t believe me? Check out this video of Ving Rhames handing off his Golden Globe to Jack Lemmon:
I think that might be the most joyful image of the Hollywood I’ve ever seen. The way the audience claps even louder when they see that Ving Rhames is crying; the shout-out to Stanislavsky; the sudden turn from mawkishness to spontaneity when Rhames says, “Is Mr. Jack Lemmon here?”; the way that the audience gives a standing ovation when Lemmon walks up to the stage; Jack Nicholson at the 5:17 mark, apparently asking Lemmon to pass the Globe along to him; Lemmon, speechless, wonderfully improvising his way through a speech (in another life, he would have been a great Michael Scott).
The whole thing is so infectiously giddy, at once hilarious and moving. It’s the perfect Golden Globes moment.
So that being said, and putting prestige aside for a moment, anyone out there with me that the Globes are better than those Oscars?