Like many pop culture writers, I force-fed myself the Golden Globes telecast last night. And like most awards shows, it was largely interminable, punctuated with occasional moments of genuine joy and spontaneity. Do we even need to bring up the pointlessness of the Globes themselves? That they’ve long been accused of being a corrupt organization with an obscure membership and the only time they made news this past year outside of the awards ceremony was with a bizarre/offensive profile of Drew Barrymore that they ended up apologizing for?
For the most part, we assume that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is corrupt and no one cares because they throw a good party. It’s like Scientology; every time it comes up, you feel a duty to bring up Shelly Miscavige not being seen in public since 2007, but there’s only so many times you can do that before becoming the “well, actually” guy. Better to assume everyone already knows the Golden Globes are dumb. Better to just pretend that this small group of foreign film junketeers just genuinely did think BOHEMIAN F*CKING RHAPSODY was the best movie of the year and go on with your day.
Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh hosted last night’s telecast, and they were… fine. Not that I blame them, they’re both likable and talented, but to be an awards show host is to risk career suicide. Everything about the awards process is thoroughly ridicule-worthy — think Jared Leto winning an Oscar for playing a trans woman and then dedicating his victory to the people of Ukraine — but to make fun of some of the tools in the audience is to risk one of those tools not hiring you. That’s a lot to ask of two people with already thriving careers. Sandra Oh won an acting award on her own telecast! Better to just make the inoffensive, maybe slightly lame jokes and live to act another day, I get that. No one really expects these shows to be entertaining anyway.
The speeches ranged from delightful and touching — Regina Hall, Glenn Close, Christian Bale — to Chuck Lorre, collecting best TV comedy for The Kominsky Method (I know there’s a lot of TV out there now but has anyone actually seen this show?), who managed to combine the fewest actual words spoken with the longest on-stage time. “I’d like to thank… um… wow… my wife…. gosh… okay… uh, my pal, Dave… wow… um… my kids… our make up guy… um … wow…”
Hey, aren’t you a sitcom writer? Maybe trying saying more than one word every seven seconds.
The most unfortunate aspect of the telecast was that seemingly every moment of genuine spontaneity got bleeped. Can we go back to a simple bleep over the swear word instead of the thing where you drop out the entire audio for five seconds? I think Patricia Arquette said something about having “f*cked up teeth” and Escape from Dannemora‘s make up people not having to work so hard, and that Steve Carell said Carol Burnett “makes Tom Hanks look like an asshole,” but the excessive bleeping ruined both of those jokes. Alas.
Which brings us to the real highlight of the evening: Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph presenting the awards for best-supporting actor and best original screenplay. Up until that point, I’d assumed that the only two options for a host were a gleeful prick like Ricky Gervais or someone sweet and charming but safe like Samberg and Oh. It’s hard to poke even gentle fun at Hollywood liberals without sounding like a MAGAtroll these days, and Ricky Gervais stopped being funny years ago. And so, I assumed, we’d just have to accept always being a little bored.
I didn’t realize that maybe there was another option. Not until Rudolph and Poehler introduced the best supporting actor award, beginning with a bit about the types of lines supporting actors get to say. They returned after Mahershala Ali collected his award to stage a fake proposal. “Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re doing this, are we stealing focus away from the next award?”
“Don’t worry, it’s just screenplay.”
It gave me genuine giggles, and I was so thankful for it. It wasn’t even about anything they said so much as the perfect combination of natural chemistry, impeccable timing, and genuine silliness. Silliness! That’s the ticket, I thought, chomping my imaginary cigar. I’d forgotten how much I’d missed silliness for silliness’s sake — jokes without a timely peg or a moral.
The Golden Globes are essentially the Iowa caucus of entertainment. A seemingly meaningless little contest decided by a tiny cabal of esoteric weirdos that nonetheless gains outsize importance as a harbinger for future contests.
So as long as we’re looking for Oscars takeaways, maybe I could suggest Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph as hosts? They took the world’s most contrived format and made it look breezy, spontaneous, silly, and fun.