Saturday night's Golden Globe Awards was an awards show with surprises--which in itself is pretty surprising. Cher showed up in a demure outfit, Marlee Matlin arrived with a new boyfriend, and Sammy Davis Jr. shared the stage with David "Talking Head" Byrne.
Add to that the fact that most of the winners actually showed up.
But even more curious was that, in a movie year filled with so many critically acclaimed blockbusters that the Oscars are up for grabs, Bernardo Bertolucci's historical saga "The Last Emperor" was able to sweep four of the top categories, including best director and best drama, while James L. Brooks' five-time nominated "Broadcast News" was shut out entirely.
Immediately whispers spread through the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton that perhaps the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which bestows the awards, hadn't understood enough about the American TV news industry to appreciate Brooks' film--a charge that several of the journalists shrugged off. (Then, again, this is the same crowd who honored Pia Zadora as new star of the year in 1982.) No matter, because the foreigners knew what they liked.
And they liked "Moonstruck," naming Cher as best actress in a comedy and Olympia Dukakis as best supporting actress, and choosing John Boorman's "Hope and Glory," as best comedy.
Though noting privately that he hasn't seen any of the competition ("I'm going to the movies this week"), Bertolucci was cautiously optimistic about "The Last Emperor's" Oscar chances. "If everybody says it will win, then everybody has the responsibility of making it happen," he said spiritedly.
Still, he's clearly not taking any chances. In his acceptance speech for his Golden Globe as best director, Bertolucci admitted consulting a witch doctor in Zanzibar last week who told him to get to America pronto .
Unexpectedly, Robin Williams captured the best actor in a comedy award, but he was in New York hosting "Saturday Night Live."
"If he was here," said presenter and close buddy Christopher Reeve, "there would be no telling what he'd say."
While Dukakis held back tears during her acceptance speech, Cher was defiant. Looking debutante-like in a black velvet gown with nary a hint of decollete or belly button, she answered the crowd's huge roar of approval for her award by comparing her fans to those of the New York Jets football team. "They've taken so much for being my fans," said the actress, who at the last minute skipped the New York Film Critics awards banquet in order to attend the Golden Globes ceremony. "But you guys have hung in there--and here we are!"
And so was everyone else--or maybe it just seemed like that. Once the ugly duckling of the annual awards derby, still the less influential stepsister to the Oscars, the Golden Globes by mixing film and TV honors settles for the respect of paparazzi because of the huge field of stars who show up year after year. And this year's group was a bumper crop.
For instance, Sir Richard Attenborough presented the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contribution to the world of entertainment to Clint Eastwood, who praised this year's abundant number of "big screen-sized" productions as in keeping with DeMille's tradition. "And it's a pleasure to see that," Eastwood observed.
But make no mistake. The real charm of the Golden Globes usually isn't its high-mindedness; it's the preponderance of over-exposed flesh, over-done jewelry and over-the-top lingerie masquerading as evening wear among the attendees.
Sally Kirkland, named best actress in a dramatic film for "Anna," captured the unofficial "I-was-poured-into-my-dress tonight" title won by Justine Bateman at the Emmys last year. Cybill Shepherd ("Moonlighting" co-star and newlywed Bruce Willis didn't show up) showed off her post-twins figure with a "Gone with the Wind"-like prom dress, while Pam Dawber paraded her still-ongoing pregnancy in a jumper number.
But the best outfit of the evening belonged to Tracey Ullman, who touted it on "Late Night with David Letterman" the day before and then went on to trounce three Golden Girls to win best actress in a TV comedy series.
Looking like Shirley Temple (or was it Betty Boop?) in a white pique-and-petticoat Thierry Mugler party dress that Ullman teamed with red polka-dot pumps and red chiffon hair bows, she sounded as if tough contract negotiations are coming up soon with the Fox network.
Queried backstage if she would ask Fox chairman Barry Diller for a raise, Ullman said determinedly, "Well, he better give me a nursery for my child!"
Another surprise was Dabney Coleman's award for best actor in a TV comedy series. Genuinely stunned, Coleman stopped blowing cigar smoke long enough to stare at his award and cynically remark: "Gee, I thought it would be a little bigger than this."
But an emotional Susan Dey, winner of the best actress in a TV drama series category for "L.A. Law," declared, "Well, I don't know. It's big enough for me."