Here’s what we learned from the Golden Globes on Sunday night: Sylvester Stallone is going to win the Oscar, and 90 journalists for foreign publications prefer epic brutality to quieter, wordier pleasures.
Oh, and their tastes in television are so adventurous as to seem almost random.
Other than that, it’s hard to draw many conclusions from a night where the Hollywood Foreign Press Association seemed determined to spread the wealth to an almost pathological degree, until it switched gears in the final hour to give three of the big awards of the night to Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “The Revenant.”
Maybe they were making up for last year, when Inarritu’s “Birdman” lost the comedy globe to “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” but then went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Or maybe they really love the film and its star, Leonardo DiCaprio, who won his third Globe for his physically demanding performance.
Whatever the reason, the Mexican-born director and his tale of survival emerged as the night’s big winner, taking awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, only the last of which was expected going into the night.
The Globes divided their 14 film awards among 11 different films, but still managed to break a few hearts associated with “Spotlight” and “The Big Short,” which went into the evening expected to win the two best-picture awards.
“Spotlight” got the honor of being the first film mentioned in Ricky Gervais‘ monologue, but it was all downhill from there for Tom McCarthy’s critically-acclaimed journalism drama, which didn’t win a thing all night. And “The Big Short” didn’t even get a joke to make up for its 0-for-4 record.
Todd Haynes‘ “Carol” was another critical favorite that was blanked. Its shutout might have stung a little less because it wasn’t a favorite in any of its categories, even though its five nominations were the most of any film.
Another top Oscar contender, “The Martian,” did better: The film was named Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, a designation so odd that even director Ridley Scott made fun of it at the beginning of its speech. But Scott lost the Best Director award, which he had been expected to win, to Inarritu.
If there’s consolation for “Spotlight” and “The Big Short,” it’s this: Only three Globe drama winners in the last 11 years have gone on to win the Oscar: “12 Years a Slave,” “Argo” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” The Globes comedy or musical winners, meanwhile, have produced one Oscar winner in that time, “The Artist.”
In the acting categories, Brie Larson was expected to win for “Room,” and did; Jennifer Lawrence was thought to be at risk of losing the comedy-actress award to her bestie Amy Schumer, but didn’t; Matt Damon scored an expected comedy-actor win for “The Martian”; and Kate Winslet started the night with an upset victory in the supporting-actor race.
All of them delivered credible speeches on a night when the acceptance strategy quickly turned into “speak until they start the music, and then speak some more.” But none of them wowed the room or created water-cooler moments – except for Stallone, whose supporting-actor win was greeted with wild enthusiasm in the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s International Ballroom.
The 69-year-old actor may have spent much of his career as a much-mocked action star with a couple of big franchises on his resume, but he’s now a beloved icon. The luminaries who make up much of the Globes audience embraced his win for his touching performance in “Creed” as Rocky Balboa, the character he created in “Rocky” 40 years ago. After that win, it’s almost impossible to imagine that Academy won’t want an encore on their own stage.
Another takeaway from the show: Ridley Scott didn’t do himself many favors by reading a long list of names off a piece of paper. Oscar voters want his win, if it comes, to be a grand emotional moment for a guy who’s long overdue, not a roll call of agents and execs.
On the TV side, there’s nothing to do except tip your hat in admiration at how perverse the HFPA voters can be, and what a strange antidote they are to the Emmys’ predictability. They awarded “Wolf Hall” instead of “Fargo,” “Mozart in the Jungle” instead of “Transparent,” Gael Garcia Bernal instead of Jeffrey Tambor, Rachel Bloom instead of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christian Slater instead of Damian Lewis…
In fact, only two of the 11 television awards went to the pre-ceremony favorite, drama series “Mr. Robot” and drama actress Taraji P. Henson. And no shows other than “Mozart in the Jungle” and “Mr. Robot” won more than a single award. Don’t even try to look for trends or lessons from that.
Meanwhile, Ricky Gervais got in a few digs at his hosts – who he described as “some nice old confused journalists wanted to give you [awards] so they could meet you in person and get a selfie with you” – and mostly acted as if he didn’t want to be there, which is considerably less entertaining than acting as if you want to be there to say nasty things about the stars.
Oh, and if you had your money on Saoirse Ronan or David Oyelowo in the betting on whose name would be mispronounced on Sunday night, you lose: In yet another Globes upset, Mozart was the guy who had his name mangled. (To be fair, Quentin Tarantino got Mozart right, but presenter Terrence Howard didn’t.)
In conclusion, it’s probably best to quote the evening’s host: As Gervais kept insisting, it’s not all that important. Oscar nominations will be announced about 100 hours after the parties wind down at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. By that point, will anybody even remember what happened on this odd, confounding night?