For many years, the Golden Globes — that is, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association film and television awards — have lacked a certain gravitas in the Hollywood press community. They came across as a somewhat boozy first-out-of-the-stable awards ceremony, where everybody had a good time and the awards themselves — often category-challenged — weren’t meant to be indicators or predictors.
The votes come from a small group of, well, writers and press folks, which is not the same as having a membership in an academy. In other words, they ain’t the Oscars. And having Ricky Gervais host didn’t help matters.
Still, the awards are often taken as having a certain cutting-edge quality, a quirky flavor in their choices. And many enjoyed the free-for-all party atmosphere of fun, chaos and confusion, not to mention fashion choices a bit more daring than usual.
So what happened this year, as the Golden Globes kicked off the 2019 awards season?
People — meaning critics, usually — complained that the proceedings lacked brinksmanship, that they were too tame, with scant surprise or pizzazz.
Were they woke? I’m not sure, but I had a good time even if I wasn’t there.
Confession is in order. I missed the first hour, having reclined for our weekly secret pleasure of watching “Outlander” on Starz, the further adventures of Jamie (he of the impenetrable Scottish brogue) and Claire in their time-traveling adventures in pre-revolutionary America.
I did manage to see pictures of Lady Gaga’s billowing blue gown, with a trail so long you could hide several Gagas in it. Her star vehicle, “A Star Is Born” (at least the fourth go-around for the Hollywood tragedy), unfortunately did not fare so well, except to win an award for the hit and all-pervasive-on-YouTube song “Shallow.”
Gaga lost out in the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama category to Glenn Close, who won in a big upset for “The Wife,” playing a power behind the throne but never in the spotlight. Close, a Hollywood star at least since “Fatal Attraction,” gave credit to her competitors and talked movingly about her mother, who never had the kind of success she deserved in her life.
In another surprise, the Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama award went to Rami Malek for his uncanny portrayal of Freddie Mercury, the ill-fated rocker of Queen, in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which also won for Best Motion Picture – Drama, another big surprise.
This Golden Globes night was essentially a feel-good night and a visible and ongoing accolade for diversity in the field of motion pictures and television, although “Black Panther” — a very different sort of comic-book hero epic, which made huge amounts of money and got critical praise, didn’t make much of an impact, award-wise. But if “Black Panther” deserved more, we can be thankful perhaps that “Aquaman” was not honored merely for the big bucks that it’s already rolling up.
Big bucks were not a factor in “The Green Room,” a smallish, independent-type, black-and-white buddy movie, for which Mahershala Ali won a Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role award, while the movie itself garnered Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
Sandra Oh, of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame, won Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series for “Killing Eve,” doing her parents (whom she obviously adores) proud and making for an emotional highlight of the evening. Also a plus on the representation front was Regina King’s win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for the film “If Beale Street Could Talk.” In her speech, King pledged that everything she produced would be “50 percent women.”
Longtime television star and comedienne Carol Burnett was honored with an award of her own. She commented about how “incredibly fortunate I was to be there at the right time,” speaking of her legendary variety-comedy show.
Veteran actor Jeff Bridges, still going strong after decades of roles, got the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award in a grand salute that seemed to feature voices tossed low for the occasion. Just listening to Sam Elliott and Bridges made you want to say the oft-used word “dude” like a bear.
The closest thing to a shock was Christian Bale, who won a Best Actor award for playing Dick Cheney in “Vice,” saying his performance was inspired by Satan.
It was the Golden Globes. And it was a nice night.