Every year, the star-studded red carpet, weeks of speculation and buzz surrounding nominations and a hilarious, high-profile host (or hosts) comprise the indulgence and shameless ploy for media attention that is the Golden Globe Awards.
This year, both expected and unexpected titles and performers received awards. Among this year’s winners, there were many first timers, such as Lady Gaga (Best Actress in a Mini-Series, “American Horror Story: Hotel”) and Rachel Bloom (Best Actress in a Comedy Series, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”). There were also veterans like Kate Winslett (Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, “Steve Jobs”), Aaron Sorkin (Best Screenplay, “Steve Jobs”) and Sylvester Stallone (Best Supporting Actor, “Creed”) gracefully accepting their awards. The prestigious Cecil B. DeMille award was granted to the legendary Denzel Washington (“The Equalizer”), making him only the third Black actor to receive the honor.
Some nominations and wins, however, were just baffling. The entire Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy category was a mixed bag of films dubiously touted as comedies (or musicals). Films like “Joy” and “The Martian” were nominated alongside “Trainwreck” and “Spy,” with “The Martian” taking home the Golden Globe. The only thing funny about “The Martian” was that it was placed in this category at all.
What wasn’t funny at this year’s ceremony was Ricky Gervais’ performance as host. Not only was his monologue a hollow critique of Hollywood’s shining stars, but it also slammed those responsible for putting him on the Globes stage for the fourth time. His incredulity at being asked back to host, given the backlash he receives each time, matched that of his audience. However, the almost certainty of criticism didn’t deter him from making his usual acerbic remarks.
Every time the camera cut to another mildly amused or insulted guest, Gervais’ poor taste became more painfully obvious. His affronts ranged from crass remarks about Jeffrey Tambor’s role as a transgender woman on the Emmy-winning Amazon original series “Transparent,” to unrestrained innuendos about Bill Cosby’s sexual misconduct. His monologue and subsequent jokes seemed to have been given as little thought as the decision to bring him back as host. His usual antics were at best half-hearted and at worst offensive.
Among the other presenters there weren’t many redeeming moments of entertainment. Jonah Hill (“Wolf of Wall Street”) showed up as the bear from “The Revenant” alongside Channing Tatum (“The Hateful Eight”), while America Ferrera (“Superstore”) and Eva Longoria (“Telenovela”) joked about getting confused for other Latina actresses, eliciting laughs. Jamie Foxx (“Django Unchained”) did his best Steve Harvey impression, announcing “Straight Outta Compton,” which hadn’t been nominated, as the winner of best original score and drawing attention to the film’s snub. Otherwise, there was little else to distract from Gervais’ cringe-worthy comments and the poorly produced awards ceremony.
This year’s Globes pitted two notable Amazon original series against one another. Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman’s “Mozart in the Jungle” beat out Jill Soloway’s “Transparent” for Best Comedy Series, and Gael Garcia Bernal (“Y Tu Mamá También”) took home the title of Best Actor in a Comedy Series.
It was a big night for “The Revenant” as well — which received the award for Best Motion Picture Drama and earned its director, Alejandro González Inarritú the title of Best Director of a Motion Picture and Leonardo DiCaprio the title of Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.
Brie Larson received her first Golden Globe Award for her performance in the drama “Room,” the touching story of a woman and her five-year-old son freed from captivity and finally experiencing the world outside. And Jon Hamm won his second award this year for his role as Don Draper, the stone-faced advertising executive on “Mad Men.”
Jennifer Lawrence (“Joy”) beat out the other talented performers recognized in her category (though it is questionable whether Lawrence belonged in the comedy category at all). And it goes without saying that Taraji P. Henson’s win, placing her among the slowly increasing ranks of women of color who have received awards for their roles on television, was both well-deserved and entertaining. Her response to being told to wrap-up her acceptance speech was perfect: “Wait a minute. I waited 20 years for this. You're going to wait. Yeah, you're going to give me a little more time.”
It’s always inspiring to see talented artists get recognition for their hard work, but when award ceremonies designed to acknowledge talent and hard work are driven by publicity and industry politics, the show becomes less appealing. Each year Hollywood lets the masses into its glamorous world for a few hours, drawing in audiences with this short window of opportunity to indulge in its façade of prestige. Yet, I will doubtlessly continue to watch, even though I know my joy for seeing artists I respect and admire getting acknowledgement is just an illusion.