In a fairly routine but mostly satisfying Golden Globes ritual Sunday night, outgoing co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were not quite as edgy as they had promised everyone they would be. But whatever sharp barbs viewers were hoping for in their jokes instead came from upsets in plenty of categories.
[Read the full list of 2015 Golden Globe winners]
Bragging to reporters all week about putting their joke-writing duties off until the very last minute (a nonchalant act of procrastination that may or may not be 100 percent true), Fey and Poehler took their opening monologue right where many viewers hoped, aiming at the newly married George Clooney (a favorite target) and the newly, probably permanently disgraced Bill Cosby.
Obviously, one of those jokes is a lot easier to make than the other. Re: Clooney, who was awarded the Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, Fey noted that the movie star was there with his new wife, Amal Alamuddin, “a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected for a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules-of-war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
On Cosby, however, well, it’s a raw subject with real people alleging real hurt. But ripe nevertheless: “In ‘Into the Woods,’ ” Fey said, “Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from a tower for her prince, and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby.” She and Poehler then took turns with their impressions of Cosby saying “I put the pills in the people . . . ” (Anyone can do a Cosby impression; anyone who remembers Cosby’s Jell-O Pudding Pops ads.) It was not the sharpened moment of post-feminist commentary that, fairly or otherwise, so many of us look for from the duo.
Oh, but wait, this is an awards show, not a panel discussion. Fey and Poehler were fun hosts, and I’m sure on some future Golden Globes night when some new host is failing to pass muster, we’ll probably long for their return.
They hosted in the full spirit of the event: The Golden Globe Awards, given by the harmlessly odd Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is the loosest and most casual of the many glittery, red-carpet-attached, film-and-TV-awards shows that are out there. It’s the only one I ever really enjoy watching, even when it succumbs to moments of Hollywood-style piety (stand — no, get up and stand — for free speech!) and its speeches get a little overblown (Kevin Spacey).
At this year’s show that phenomenon was far outweighed by some Golden Globes recipients who gave meaningful and gracious acceptance speeches — Michael Keaton, who won best actor (comedy) for the movie “Birdman,” for one example; Common, for another, who accepted the award for best original song with John Legend for “Glory,” from the civil rights movie “Selma”: “Now is our time to change the world,” he said, referring to the current vibe in American race relations. “Selma is now.”
Most of the awards in the TV category were a pleasant surprise, as if some rogue TV critic had hacked into the system and selected the nominees who deserved it rather than the usual suspects expected to win it.
Maybe the world is finally sorting itself out: FX’s “Fargo” miniseries was better than HBO’s “True Detective.” And Billy Bob Thornton’s work in “Fargo” (best actor in a miniseries) was more interesting than either Matthew McConaughey’s or Woody Harrelson’s performance in “True Detective.”
And yes, Showtime’s “The Affair” is worth all that elliptical storytelling in its first few episodes. Amazon’s “Transparent” does brilliantly signal that our culture — and our fictional stories about our true selves — are at least ready to move in almost any direction, thanks to great performances, such as Jeffrey Tambor’s in “Transparent.” He won best actor in a TV comedy and dedicated it to the transgender community. (Here’s the requisite disclosure that Amazon and The Washington Post share an owner.)
More truths about the year in TV at last emerged, courtesy of Sunday’s awards: That Maggie Gyllenhaal miniseries “The Honorable Woman” (for which she got the best actress award) deserves to be exhumed out of the depths of your DVR queue (it aired on SundanceTV) and actually, finally watched.
And CW’s “Jane the Virgin” also deserves more viewers than it has, thanks in no small part to Gina Rodriguez, who won best actress in a TV comedy series — beating out boutique premium cable and streaming service stars Lena Dunham, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Edie Falco and Taylor Schilling.
Good for Joanne Froggatt (“Downton Abbey,” best supporting actress in a TV drama)! Good for Matt Bomer (best supporting actor in HBO’s movie “The Normal Heart”)! There were so many surprise awards in the TV categories (“The Affair’s” Ruth Wilson for best actress in a drama?!) that the recipients and the viewers probably wouldn’t be surprised if someone announces Monday that there’s going to be a recount.
Don’t worry — it’s all legit. I think.
Movie awards included some crowd-pleasers, among them Golden Globes for best picture for “Boyhood” and its director, Richard Linklater, and supporting actress Patricia Arquette. (Arquette’s work in the movie, which was filmed off and on over a 12-year period, was the subject of one of Fey’s more memorable opening quips: “She’s proved that there are still great roles for women over 40 as long as you get hired when you’re under 40.”)
As the night wore on, the slight surprises stacked up: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” won best picture (musical or comedy); Eddie Redmayne won best actor (drama) for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”; Julianne Moore won best actress (drama) for “Still Alice.” Amy Adams won best actress (comedy) for “Big Eyes”; J.K. Simmons won best supporting actor for “Whiplash.”
Buried within the telecast, it was perhaps Clooney who said the words that ought to be engraved at the entrance of the Beverly Hilton and the Dolby Theatre and anywhere award shows are annually held: “If you are in this room, you’ve caught the brass ring.”