Ricky Gervais drank beer on stage, Colin Farrell chewed gum, Sally Hawkins came so perilously close to having an actual nervous breakdown that aid from Emma Thompson was required, Mickey Rourke thanked his dogs and Steven Spielberg gave possibly the most boring acceptance speech in the history of awards.
What else to say, really? The 2009 Golden Globes ceremony -- well, it was better than last year's. Of course, that wasn't too hard considering that last year the writers strike kept everyone away and the awards were announced in a monotone roll call by such luminaries as Mary Hart.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, January 13, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Golden Globes review: The review of the Golden Globes broadcast in Monday's Calendar section said that Rainn Wilson and Hayden Panettiere presented an award together. It should have said the award was presented by Wilson and Blake Lively.
So the sight of all those pretty people in their pretty clothes filling the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton offered some reassurance in an otherwise confusing time (although the proliferation of Brian Grazer hair -- Colin Farrell, Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Bacon -- was a bit alarming). Not that anyone mentioned the writers strike or the still-possible actors strike, or the economy, or virtually anything else outside the confines of the Hollywood bubble. Sacha Baron Cohen got stink eye and murmurs of disapproval just for making a Guy Ritchie joke. (Sacha, just be thankful Sean Penn wasn't there to wrist-slap you as he did Oscar host Chris Rock for his infamous Jude Law jest.)
Still, the evening was not without its Moments of Significance. In danger of becoming the Susan Lucci of the award season, Kate Winslet actually won! Twice! And then, in perhaps the very best moment of the evening, she forgot Angelina Jolie's name!
Heath Ledger took supporting film actor for "The Dark Knight," and for the first and only time during the three hours, the champagne-swilling, chattering-through-acceptance-speeches audience joined in silence and applause.
Oh, and Tracy Morgan announced that Tina Fey had promised him that if Barack Obama won, he, Morgan, would become the new spokesman not only for "30 Rock" but also for "post-racial America. So deal with that, Cate Blanchett."
Otherwise, the ceremony did what it always does -- bring TV and movie people together under the same roof ("Hello, we're TV actors," Rainn Wilson announced to high hilarity just before he and Hayden Panettiere presented the best television drama award to "Mad Men") and act as the ultimate Oscar prognosticator. Odds look good for "Slumdog Millionaire," Winslet and Rourke (the shout-out to his dogs may have sealed the deal).
Watching the three hours creep by, one is struck by the major difference between the Oscars and the Golden Globes. No, it's not just the breadth and value of the respective judges (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences versus a handful of Hollywood-based foreign journalists); the Oscars attempts to be a television show and the Golden Globes does not.
No host, no opening monologue, no breakaway skits, no musical numbers, no huge evocative and ever-changing stage -- the Golden Globes is a televised awards presentation that relies totally on the apparently worldwide desire to see movie and television stars wearing fancy clothes, making a few jokes, saying nice things about each other and occasionally breaking down in tears.
(Really, between Hawkins and Winslet, you have to wonder what happened to that famous British stoicism. Did it end with Thompson, who once made it a point to tell everyone she kept her Oscars in the loo?)
On the one hand, this is the best thing about the Globes: It is what it is, no frills. Ricky Gervais (is it really too late to ask him to host the Oscars?) can stroll out on stage, take a sip of beer and lecture the audience -- "Shush. How rude are you lot? Just because you're a bunch of famous film stars . . . ." Don Cheadle can rib the Coen brothers for never casting him in one of their films, and winners get more than 75 seconds to make their acceptance speeches.
This last, of course, is both a blessing and a curse, leading this year to the strange yet undeniable dignity of Rourke's gratitude to those who took a chance on him and also an irritating second round of tears and gasps from Winslet.
But then you catch those camera sweeps of the room and you realize that no one at the party is paying much attention anyway. So really, why should we?
Hey, you posters on The Envelope forum, Tina Fey is no fan of yours. Check out the video on the Gold Derby blog. Also, a photo gallery of the best and worst of the Globes, and our award-season experts Tom O'Neil and Pete Hammond look ahead to the Oscars. Will the Globes have any effect on academy voters?
Fashion: Simple silhouettes, dark tones and smart accessorizing ruled a decidedly subdued red carpet. PAGE 2-3
Globes Diary: Behind the scenes at the ballroom. PAGE 3
Salty: The profane and funny were in fine form. PAGE 4
Legacy: A standing ovation for Heath Ledger. PAGE 4
A list of the winners. PAGE 4