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My favorite awards show is the Golden Globes, specifically because the Golden Globes are completely unbeholden by the intrinsic questions of Quality and Tradition and Making Basic Coherent Sense that so bedevils other awarding bodies. Nobody really thinks the Golden Globes mean anything, and so the mere fact of their continued existence — and increasing popularity — actually grade-inflates them into meaning something. They are handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of people who could frankly be Norwegian lizard-men for all we know. But the lizard-men throw a great show. They feed people booze. The sheer inauthenticity of the event seems to loosen up celebrities, in a way that actually encourages authenticity.
The Golden Globes realize this. They signed up Ricky Gervais to turn the show into a West Coast Friar’s Club Roast — and although Gervais jabbed Hollywood, his main target was always the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and they couldn’t get enough of it. Until they did, and hired my guest colleagues Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts. Last year, Fey and Poehler managed to deliver what amounts to the Platonic Ideal of an Awards Show: Smart and sassy, fun and a bit awe-inspiring. Remember when Daniel Day-Lewis’ beautiful thank-you to Steven Spielberg perfectly timed with the playoff music, becoming the real-life version of the end of A Beautiful Mind? I attribute that entirely to Fey and Poehler. The Globes have them contracted for two more years; I say sign them to a lifetime non-compete contract, and watch lesser awards shows struggle to keep up.
So, yes, this year’s Golden Globes nominations are, shall we say, confusing. As my colleague Jeff Labrecque pointed out, the Best Comedy/Musical category is composed of American Hustle, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, and The Wolf of Wall Street. None of these films are precisely what you imagine when you think of “comedies.” Llewyn Davis is a musical, yes; but since the duality of this category basically requires you to pretend that microwaves aren’t very different from refrigerators, even its inclusion is a bit hazy.
But walking down this line of reasoning only leads to more questions. I don’t think there was a funnier performance in a movie this year than June Squibb in Nebraska, insofar as I laughed at literally every single thing she said. Her hit rate was 100 percent; the best that any of the guys in This Is the End managed was Danny McBride with 80 percent. (Unless you’re counting Channing Tatum, who nailed every second of his role. All three of them.) I will probably laugh more at The Wolf of Wall Street than I did at Scary Movie V. And Inside Llewyn Davis is funny, if you realize that the sadness of life is just one big comedy, man.
So do the Globes need fixing? Absolutely. They need to double down. How ridiculous that they only have a mere two “Best Film” categories, when there are so many kinds of movies released each year. Just purely theoretically, let’s imagine that this year’s Globes added in a new category: “Best Action Comedy.” Here are the five likely nominees:
Iron Man 3
Fast and Furious 6
White House Down
Now You See Me
The World’s End
What a category! Two actually decent blockbusters, an underrated flop, a surprise-hit gem, and an actual good movie by an actually good director starring a cast of funny British guys who will absolutely guarantee virality when they go off-script handing off the award for Best Miniseries/Musical or whatever!
Think of it: I see Jesse Eisenberg locked in a brutal campaign with Simon Pegg, a campaign that takes place entirely in the realm of podcasts and Tumblr posts. I see Shane Black, the godfather of the action comedy, finally winning his Scorsese-Doing-Departed prize. I see people complaining that Furious 6 was not really an action comedy so much as it was a gleefully over-the-top serious action movie. And my response to that is: “Well, Furious 6 is a million times funnier than Her.”
And like, I’m looking out for my pals in the HFPA here. They want to get famous people walking down the red carpet and saying funny banter onstage? Creating the “action-comedy” category assures a regular supply of Robert Downey Jr. for as long as he plays Iron Man.
But you think “action-comedy” is too vague, or that it encroaches too much on the “musical/comedy” area. Fair point. So let’s really blow this out of the water with a category guaranteed to cause chaos: “Best Horror/Romance.” Seriously, look at this lineup:
The Great Gatsby
World War Z
To the Wonder
BOOM. You want celebrities? I just gave you a Pitt, an Affleck, and a DiCaprio. Plus, you’ve just brought in Rachel McAdams (a red carpet essential) and Olga Kurylenko (potential dark horse for Best Dressed). Baz Luhrmann’s there, so you know something crazy will happen. And Mama means you get an all-important appearance by the delightful Jessica Chastain, hopefully in her Mama wig.
Even better, by creating a place to honor two genres that are rarely served by awards shows, you guarantee that people watching the Globes will get to talking about the movies that should be there (You’re Next and Before Midnight, duh.) And if you think it’s silly to throw Horror and Romance together, just remember that, technically, the Golden Globes consider Les Misérables to be in the same category as Caddyshack.
I’m being quite serious. Spreading the awards love to films that don’t usually get awards love could actually change the whole way we talk about movies. Smart-person discourse about pop culture always gets dominated by Oscar season for at least two months of the year, which means we inevitably wind up talking about the same group of 15 movies — most of them serious, most of them based on true stories, and even in a good year like 2013 at least a quarter of them will be forgettable. Imagine a category for Best Crime/Non-Animated Family Film:
The Bling Ring
Oz the Great and Powerful
Now you’re double-dipping on Pitt, plus with Diaz and Bardem and Cruz. You’ve got the intrinsically interesting showdown between the lowbrow breaking-bad girls of Spring Breakers and the highbrow breaking-bad girls of The Bling Ring. And Prisoners, an actually good movie that wasn’t self-important enough to be an Oscar movie, would get a nice months-later publicity bump. Spring Breakers‘ James Franco would run a vicious campaign against his opponent, Oz the Great and Powerful‘s James Franco.