The Golden Globes just made the Oscar race more interesting, culling the nominees to one strone comedy, the French silent treasure "The Artist," and one touching dramatic contender, Alexander Payne's critically acclaimed "Thew Descendants." Each film's star, Jean Dujardin and George Clooney, won best actor in his respective category. It looks as if these two utterly different films will face off in a high noon shootout when Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 24.
English comic Ricky Gervais, hosting the event for the third year in a row, sank his fangs into safe targets in his opening monolog. After a gibe at his own tiny male endowment, Gervais dropped a few predictable off-color puns about Jodie Foster's film "The Beaver," and bemoaned the recent spate of celebrity divorces. "Arnold and Maria, J Lo and Marc Anthony, Ashton and Demi, Kim Kardashian and some guy no one can remember (Minnetonka-born NBA star Kris Humphries). He won't be around long. A marriage that lasted 72 days. I've sat through longer James Cameron acceptance speeches." Gervais then bit the hand that hired him, turning his sights on the Globes' host, low-rated NBC and the sometimes scandal-wracked guild of international entertainment reporters who vote in the ceremony. Gervais called HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" the story of "a load of immigrants who came to America 100 years ago and got involved in bribery and corruption and they worked their way up into high society. But enough about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association."
Christopher Plummer took the best supporting actor prize for his turn as an elderly father accepting his gay sexuality in "Beginners." No surprise there; the prize was widely predicted, both on the strength of his performance and as a recognition of his long and distinguished career. The win may predict Oscar glory ahead. All four of last year's Golden Globe winning film actors, Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, went on to earn Oscars.
"The Artist," though nominally a silent film, won the best original score. French Composer Ludovic Bource charmingly apologized for his English, blew kisses to his family watching back in France, avoiding any discussion of the controversy surrounding the film's use of lengthy selection from the late Bernard Herrmann's soundtrack for "Vertigo."
Madonna followed, accepting the best original sone award for "Masterpiece," from the film she also directed, "W.E." "I'm not French, I have no excuse" for a stumbling speech, she said, before launching into a longwinded thanks-to-everyone I know acceptance. She was eventually played off the stage by the studio orchestra.
Winning best actress in a musical or comedy for her work as Marilyn Monroe in the little-seen "My Week With Marilyn," Michelle Williams apologized to her daughter for "six months of bedtime stories in which all the princesses were read aloud in a Marilyn Monroe-sounding voice."
Director Steven Spielberg accepted the statuette as "The Adventures of Tintin" won as best animated feature, saluting his motion-captured actors Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell and "the man of a thousand digital faces, Andy Serkis."
In TV categories, Jessica Lange, best supporting actress for her work in HBO's "American Horror Story," added a fifth Globe to her collection. She thanked the show's writers, noting that "every year I find it rarer to find a beautifully written piece." Showtime's terrorism drama "Homeland" won as best dramatic series, Kate Winslet's best actress win as a Depression-era restaurant owner in the HBO miniseries "Mildred Pierce" earned her a third Globe, Kelsey Grammer was named best actor in the dark political drama "Boss," and Laura Dern won best actress in a television series, comedy or musical, as an emotionally troubled woman in HBO's "Enlightened."
This was a fun, well-paced show, but the Globes aren't the Oscar litmus test they once was were. With best picture nominations in Dramatic and Comedy or Musical categories, the Globes used to accurately predict the film that would take the best picture Oscar. But over the last seven years, only "Slumdog Millionaire" went on from a Globes win to take the top Academy Award, in 2008.