2012 Golden Globe Analysis

Since yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday, I thought it was more important to post something specific about race in the United States than an analysis of the Golden Globes. However, it turns out there’s still a lot to say about race with regards to the awards. More about that–and my picks for highlights and lowlights of the cerermony–after a quick rundown of the night’s winners.

Motion Picture
Best Picture – Drama: The Descendents
Best Performance by an Actress – Drama: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady
Best Performance by an Actor – Drama: George Clooney for The Descendents
Best Picture – Comedy or Musical: The Artist
Best Performance by an Actress – Comedy or Musical: Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn
Best Performance by an Actor – Comedy or Musical: Jean Dujardin for The Artist
Best Animated Feature Film: The Adventures of Tintin
Best Foreign Language Film: Asghar Farhadi for A Separation
Best Director: Martin Scorsese for Hugo
Best Screenplay: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer for The Help
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer for Beginners
Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource for The Artist
Best Original Song: “Masterpiece” by Madonna, Julie Frost & Jimmy Harry for W.E.

Best Series – Drama: Homeland
Best Performance by an Actress – Drama Series: Claire Danes for Homeland
Best Performance by an Actor  – Drama Series : Kelsey Grammer for Boss
Best Series – Comedy or Musical: Modern Family
Best Performance by an Actress – Comedy or Musical Series: Laura Dern for Enlightened
Best Performance by an Actor – Comedy or Musical Series: Matt LeBlanc for Episodes
Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture: Downton Abbey
Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture: Kate Winslet for Mildred Pierce
Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture: Idris Elba for Luther
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Jessica Lange for American Horror Story
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Peter Dinklage for Game of Thrones

Cecil B. DeMille Award: Morgan Freeman

A few brief thoughts about the nominees and winners:

  • No women were nominated in the score, screenplay, best picture, or directing categories.
  • The only woman to win an award outside of acting was Madonna, for best original song.
  • Two people of color won acting awards–Octavia Spencer & Idris Elba–which seems better than previous years, though perhaps still not good enough. 
  • Modern Family won yet another award, this time in a category that did not include Parks and Recreation, which I would argue is the best comedy on television.
  • Matt LeBlanc & Kelsey Grammer?! I didn’t realize the 1990s were experiencing such a resurgence, and these were some of the biggest surprises of the night for me.

Meryl “I can’t believe I said shit on TV” Streep
Meryl Streep
Her acceptance speech was exuberant and funny. She forgot her glasses, was possibly drunk, swore, and was censored. She then proceeded to deliver the best speech of the night. She mentioned not only the other women nominated in her category, but gave a shout-out to Pariah star Adepero Oduye and Jane Eyre star Mia Wasikowska. She is lovely, classy, funny (with two references to host Gervais), intelligent, and willing to step out of her comfort zone to take on challenging roles (like this one). 
Here’s a clip of the speech from YouTube, which will probably be taken down soon:

Tina Fey & Jane Lynch
Tina Fey and Jane Lynch
Two very funny women presented an award and proceeded to joke about how little they resemble the characters they play on television. But the best moment came at the end, when they not only got in that penis joke,* but highlighted the “triumph” with an in-unison “penis joke!”
Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy sing
Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy
Another favorite moment involved the presentation of an award, rather than an acceptance speech or anything the host said. The duo sang their teleprompter speech, giving us all a pleasant surprise. In a show that can be–and often is–boring and too serious (which is why a host like Gervais is brought in at all), their moment was fun, light-hearted, and playful. If only there were more moments like this in the 3-hour ceremony…
Ricky Gervais being…funny?
Ricky Gervais
Gervais tells sexist, homophobic jokes and thinks (?) it’s funny to say he “can’t fucking understand” native Spanish speakers (who also speak perfectly clear English) Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas. However, he also skewers  celebrities during the very awards ceremonies that laud them and treat them like royalty. I like this dynamic very much, and think it captures the way many of us feel about movie stars: we simultaneously adore them and find them utterly ridiculous. The Golden Globes needs a host who is funny and irreverent if the show is to be of any interest to average viewers. I’m convinced this person exists, and I’m also convinced that Gervais is not this person.

Meltem Cumbul on the red carpet

Meltem Cumbul

Ordinarily I’d be pleased to see an international film star who isn’t from the United States appear at the Golden Globes. However, I was puzzled by the appearance of Meltem Cumbul, who made a brief statement and then left the stage. She didn’t present an award, and she didn’t introduce a presenter. While it was wonderful for the Globes to acknowledge that films are made outside of Hollywood, it struck me as a cynical move–to have us believe that the organization is more progressive and inclusive than it actually is. Perhaps I’d be more convinced if she’d have served a purpose on stage, or if the HFPA had more than one category recognizing filmmaking around the world.
Queen Latifah introduces Best Picture nominee The Help
Queen Latifah introduces The Help
Queen Latifah is a talented, confident, and beautiful Black woman, and it was good to see her on stage. That the Globes brought her on stage to introduce the only Best Picture nominee that remotely deals with the experience of Black people…well, that looks like the same kind of cynical move I saw with Cumbul’s appearance. I also can’t help but think that this was the HFPA’s way to avoid or sidestep the real backlash against this movie. Octavia Spencer won for her performance in The Help–and, as I tweeted during the ceremony, I’m glad she won–but it would be nice to see a Black woman win an award for playing something other than a maid, and it would also be nice to see a Black woman introduce a Best Picture nominee that isn’t an extremely problematic story mainly about a White Savior.
Dishonorable Mentions
Penis Jokes*
As seems more and more the norm on television today, we can’t seem to get through a program without implicit or explicit penis jokes. I actually liked Fey and Lynch’s ironic joke, as I mentioned above, but because it was done in the spirit of acknowledging and ironically commenting on the comic trend. Whether you’re watching The Daily Show or the Golden Globes, you’re going to hear about penises. Sunday night, Seth Rogen sexually harassed his co-presenter Kate Beckinsale with a “joke” about having a “massive erection.” Later, George Clooney “joked” (though this seems timid compared to Rogen’s offense) that Michael Fassbender could play golf with his hands tied behind his back. All I can say about this is ENOUGH ALREADY.
Miss Golden Globe
Why oh why oh why oh why do we STILL have to have a lovely young woman stand on stage to occasionally usher off a confused star? Why? WHY?
That’s it from me. What are some of your favorite and least favorite moments from the 2012 Golden Globes?


  • Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Completely agree about Parks & Rec. Why no love for the best comedy on TV? I also agree that the appearance of Meltem Cumbul was confusing. And I could not agree more about the penis jokes–sick to death of them–but I do think that everyone has to give them up (even Fey and Lynch). It’s not even that they’re offensive. It’s that they’re childish and stupid. It’s the equivalent of farting to make people laugh. So dumb. And yes, yes, yes, you’re right about Miss Golden Globe. They need to get rid of that tradition soon.

  • Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    I saw about five minutes of the Globes, but I appreciate your overview/commentary. Brilliant as always! – Kelcey