The 68th Golden Globes arrive amidst so much controversy that the fuss might actually affect the voting
Lawsuits. Contract disputes. Allegations of payola and corruption. Nominations that have made them a laughingstock.
Is this any way to run an awards show?
For the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, it's the only way they know. And as the 68th Golden Globes approach under a cloud of suspicion and derision, Hollywood is looking the other way and treating the Globes the way it always does: as an excuse to throw a lot of parties, and as a looser, livelier tryout for those speeches folks might have to deliver six weeks from now, when the pressure will be higher and the gratitude more heartfelt.
TheWrap has recently detailed many of the controversies swirling around the Globes, from its battle with Dick Clark Productions over its television contract to the blockbuster allegations made against the HFPA and its president, Philip Berk, in a lawsuit filed by the group's longtime publicist, Michael Russell.
Among its charges: that HFPA members accepted money, vacations and gifts from studios in exchange for nominations; that they sold media credentials and red carpet access for profit; and that Berk sought kickbacks from sponsors on the Globes telecast.
Does all of this undermine the credibility of the awards that'll be handed out at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday night?
Here's a more cogent question: did the Globes have any credibility to begin with?
After all, Ricky Gervais only said what everybody in the room thought with his best line from his first stint hosting the show last year: "One thing that can't be bought is a Golden Globe." Pause. "Officially."
Gervais is back for a second time this year, and one hopes that he'll feel even more emboldened and ready to mock his hosts – who, after all, provided him with ample comic fodder by bestowing three nominations each on two of the most widely-dismissed films of the last few months, "Burlesque" and "The Tourist."
If the controversies swirling around this year's Globes have much effect on what transpired onstage Sunday night, it'll likely be as a result of those nominations, not the late-breaking lawsuit.
That's because "The King's Speech" has always seemed to be a tailor-made winner in the Globes' Best Motion Picture – Drama category, an exemplary case of the kind of mainstream, emotionally-satisfying film that HFPA voters have always loved.
But the widespread derision that came when they gave those nominations to "The Tourist" and "Burlesque," or handed two separate noms to Johnny Depp in the Best Actor – Comedy or Musical category, has the potential to push HFPA voters toward a film that reports say many of them didn’t quite get: "The Social Network."
Handing the top prize to the David Fincher drama, after all, would be a way of saying that these 80-odd reporters have the same good taste as every other critics group. "They don't understand it, but they know they're supposed to like it," said one awards consultant who keeps tabs on the group.
If the voters are feeling that their credibility is at stake, then, "The Social Network" could be an irresistible vote. If they’re unconcerned – and let's face it, they’ve been mocked for many years without apparent effect – then they'll go with their hearts and reward "The King's Speech."
(This theory, by the way, is not meant as a reflection on the quality of those two films, either of which is an eminently defensible choice.)
I'm guessing that the king will win out over the Facebook guy, but it could just as easily go the other direction.
As for the other races, "The Kids Are All Right" seems to be a near lock for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, while the HFPA practice of splitting the lead acting categories by genre means they'll have room to honor both Natalie Portman and Annette Bening, and both Colin Firth and … well, who?
Would they dare give the Best Actor – Comedy or Musical award to Johnny Depp after drawing scorn for nominating him twice in the category? I can't see it happening, but none of the other choices – Kevin Spacey in "Casino Jack," Paul Giamatti in "Barney's Version" and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Love and Other Drugs" – have much heat. (I'll take a stab and say Spacey.)
There will, no doubt, be upsets; there always are at the Globes. And in the end, the TV ratings will matter to NBC and the HFPA, and the lawsuits will move through the court system with the possibility of bringing serious repercussions … and around the time that the Oscar nominations are announced in a week and a half, who won what at the Globes won't really matter much anymore.