Award shows are a bit of an American obsession. There are the big three, Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys, and then there is everything else (I counted 15 off the top of my head). All these events try to balance stodgy star-studded formality with hip irreverence. The Oscars are the gold standard for the former, and either the Independent Spirit Awards or MTV Movie Awards for the latter. While it may not be possible to mix both in a truly satisfying way, these shows keep trying.
Last night’s Golden Globes was the latest attempt at achieving this magical blend. They missed. This award show, unique in honoring both TV and Movies in one night, has long been one of the looser galas of the award season. This is partly the result of the unpredictability of the foreign press voting and the fact that TV and Movie stars get to hang out together. It’s a bit of a party.
In hoping to make this year’s broadcast a rating winner, the Globes added a host, British comedian Ricky Gervais. I am not sure his small penis and masturbation jokes were what show organizers had hoped for. Too bad, because that’s what they got, along with sarcastic ridicule of the actor’s profession and Gervais’s promotion of his new video and TV show. He joked, “I won’t be asked back!” He’s right.
With 25 awards and one special tribute to cover in 180 minutes, there is hardly a minute to spare between the presenter’s corny jokes and the winner’s endless thank you’s to industry insiders. The fading in of the orchestra, signaling to the winner to wrap it up, was the norm.
It just amazes me how unprepared winners are for these award shows. They stumble, ramble, and forget that this is a SHOW. This thanking of agents has got to stop. Thank them AFTER the show, personally, with a letter. Remember winners, people who are watching and have no idea who you are talking about! You come across as self-centered when you don’t recognize that millions are watching. More than anything, winning these awards is a “branding” opportunity where you come across as competent, thoughtful, gracious, and humble.
In my personal utopia all winners would stick to some version of the following script when accepting an award:
First, I would like to congratulate the other nominees. I feel privileged to be included with such other great talent and know that awards for “best” are full of subjectivity – someone else might have won on another day. I am just thankful I did tonight. This award means a lot to me because – insert SHORT personal story here – and because of this, I am happy to win. Thanks, too, to the people watching tonight and those that supported this project by (watching or buying a ticket). Thanks to all my agents and collaborators – you know who you are. Finally thanks to my (wife, husband, partner, family, mother, father, brother, and God). This means a lot to me THANKS!
Seriously is that so hard to do? Be prepared, have a point, and keep it short. If possible, be funny and poignant, void of politics. It is. The best speeches of the night stuck to that formula.
Mo’Nique, Sandra Bullock, and Robert Downey offered the most entertaining speeches of the night. James Cameron was also gracious in recognizing his ex-wife (Kathryn Bigelow), who he thought should have won best director for the Hurt Locker. There was also a great tribute to Martin Scorsese, whose speech WAS prepared full of humility and appreciation.
Sometimes the Globes are the precursor for who will win the Oscars. If this is the case, good news for Avatar Fans. It should win everything. I have gone on endlessly about this film here previously. I was glad to see Mad Men win again, which I have also gone on endlessly about. I was thrilled to see The Hangover win an award. Comedies like these almost never get recognized despite being just as hard to execute well as a drama. I was also glad to see a win by Sandra Bullock. Her performance in The Blind Side is easy to dismiss, but she carried the movie in a way I’m not sure anyone else could have. It was an absolute star turn. I was also glad to see Christoph Waltz win for Inglorious Basterds. The Foreign Press got it primarily right last night.
My only disappointment was in the screenwriting department. I didn’t get Up in the Air. District 9 was FAR more original, and Hurt Locker was much more affluent in complexity and detail. Maybe the Oscars can get that one right. A complete list of winners and nominees is available here.
With Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin hosting the Oscars, the pendulum will swing more on the side of formality. Let’s hope the nominees can prepare a speech for this show scheduled for March 7.