The mad science of the Golden Globes

It is comforting to know that even people who aren’t obsessed with Battlestar Galactica have been affected by the writer’s strike. Take that People Magazine’s target market!

I think a fair amount of people will agree with me when I say that I was more than slightly relieved that the Golden Globes were downgraded to a press conference this year due to the Writers Guild strike.* Not that I anticipate the ol’ Globes with as passionate of a love/hate fervor as I do the Oscars, but I still do a lot of pacing while Jessica Alba (beautifully) takes forever to rip open an envelope, and I have been known to throw an item or two when the wrong name, according to me, is called.*

Of course, the panel of voters for the Globes is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – i.e. people from all over the world who report on, assess, and otherwise critique films. The Academy, on the other hand, is an often infuriating pack of industry folk. What’s the difference, you say, if you haven’t yet dozed off? Well, to put it bluntly, the industry would be responsible for movies like Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties and the press would be responsible for letting the rest of us know to avoid it. So the Globes are more likely to give credit where it’s due and less likely to mistake a best-seller for a best-picture.

It’s not an exact science, though. Last year, the HFPA dutifully followed the Biopic Formula, which is an equation where you put in Jamie Foxx and come out with an award for “best impression of a famous and preferably dead person.”* Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Dreamgirls, The Queen … all were given praise that was of course echoed at the more predictable Oscars ceremony the next month. But in 2006, more creative films like Transamerica and Brokeback Mountain were showered with Globes, whereas the Oscars goofily handed Best Picture to Crash. I’ve gotten to where I can get my Oscar picks together before nominations are even published, but who knows what those crazy Golden Globes are going to do? Will they blunder around predictably like the Oscars, or will they hone in on educated, deserving choices? Will it be a year of feast or a year of famine? What does that even mean?

Heave your sigh of relief. I know I did when I saw the results, which took me three minutes to experience instead of the usual three hours. You may set your queue by the Golden Globes in 2008. It’s official. Atonement (Best Drama and Best Original Score) is a fantastic achievement, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about Julie Christie‘s win for Best Actress in a Drama — anyone that has talked to me in the past few months*** has probably heard me mistily gush about Away from Her. Even thinking about it makes me want to burst into tears and hug everyone. Sweeney Todd (Best Comedy/Musical) is probably the closest thing to an exact opposite of Juno, so it’s difficult to compare them, but I can’t find it in myself to deny Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (who also won Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical) anything. Also, a successful horror film that is also a musical and a comedy may be a more impressive feat than just another deadpan, offbeat comedy,even if that comedy was done perfectly. Likewise, I loved Ellen Page in Juno, but Marion Cotillard’ s Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose was astounding, and don’t give me any of that “Ohhh! What about your loathing for the Biopic Formula!” You obviously give me too much credit if you think I have any idea what Edith Piaf was really like in real life. She could have been a fictional character, for all I care. Cotillard’s performance was worth several awards, no matter how close a copy she was to Piaf.

And, naturally, the icing on the cake for me was the award for Best Original Song, which went to a little ditty from Into the Wild by a guy you may have heard of…Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. I’ve got another formula that I’m dying to test out, and I call it “The Nineties Will Be Back Any Minute,” in which Soundgarden is multiplied by black fingernail polish and the outcome is free tickets to the Stone Temple Pilots reunion tour.

We dodged some bullets with American Gangster and (my spine turns to ice to recall this film) Across the Universe, but my hopes are high that maybe, just maybe, the Oscars will square its shoulders, throw caution to the wind, and make nothing but excellent choices this year. And if so, at least the Writers Guild strike will ensure that all the beautiful people won’t get swallowed up by the earth cracking open in surprise.

*Hey, you guys have your football, I have my cinematic achievement award ceremonies.
**Hey, you guys have your periodic table, I have my Jamie Foxx.
***Hey, you guys have your “conversation skills,” I have my “incessant chatter about movies.”

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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