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Now that the tinsel and inflatable Santas have been stored away and the New Year’s hats and streamers have been collected into orange recycling bags it can only mean the start of the movie awards season, which as always got underway with the Golden Globes on Sunday 10th January (technically early Monday morning for us in the UK). It’s an awards show often criticised for being indulgent and basically an excuse for famous people to stroke their own egos and even though it wasn’t the most entertaining of three hour programming at the very least the winners, for once, weren’t so easy to predict.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the night wasn’t who walked away with a globe statue instead it was how poor Ricky Gervais was as a host. The British comedian returned for his fourth stint helming the show, after declaring he’d never do it again, promising a night filled with offence and outrage something he absolutely failed to deliver. His opening monologue was if anything rather dull, the most risqué joke focusing around implying the Golden Globes were awarded based on brides, and he continued this woefully poor streak throughout taking stabs at Bill Cosby and Caitlyn Jenner among other predictable fair. It was all very tame and you’re likely to find more creative comedy at a local open mic night than what was delivered by a seemingly tipsy Gervais. He wasn’t a bad host but seeing as he was billed as a shock MC, by both the network and himself on twitter, it was hard not to feel disappointed in the lack of bite shown.
The Golden Globes don’t just celebrate the best in movies they also award the best television programmes of the year. The big winner here was perhaps Amazon with their original series Mozart in the Jungle winning Best Series Musical or Comedy and Mr. Robot (which premiered on Amazon Instant Video before being broadcast on a traditional network) winning Best Series Drama, as well as Best Supporting Actor for Christian Slater as the titular character. Critical darling The Affair took home Best Supporting Actress for Maura Tierney and Jon Hamm left with Best Actor for his performances as Don Draper in Mad Man which finished its highly successful run last year. The strangest television related moment of the night was Lady Gaga winning Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Series for American Horror Story: Hotel, Gaga’s speech was mushy and her out of breath delivery resulted in the whole thing feeling almost like a sketch show parody of an over emotional acceptance speech.
Now onto the main event, the awards for the best in cinema. I’ve been highly critical of the quality of movies released in 2015 but even I cannot deny how excellent the last two months of the year have been, with a slew of incredible pictures being released. This has resulted in an unexpectedly open field and there was a sense that any of the nominees could win the nights big prizes, Best Picture Drama and Best Picture Comedy and Musical. Well anything except Mad Max: Fury Road because that film is just lucky to be nominated it’s so opposite to the usual type of films that are deemed suitable for awards consideration.
The only winner that I’d deem flat out unworthy would be Sam Smith’s victory in the Best Original Song category for his dreary and uninspired tune “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre. Best Original Score went to the frustratingly underwhelming The Hateful Eight while Steve Jobs rightful took home Best Screenplay. Alejandro González Iñárritu was named Best Director for the second year in a row, this time for his borderline masterpiece The Revenant, which he was more than deserving of. Could Iñárritu do the double at the Oscars next month as well?
The acting categories were fiercely competitive, except for Best Actress Drama cause mark my words Brie Larson is going to swept the board for her powerful performance in Room. Kate Winslet was named Best Supporting Actress for her role in Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, and in a touching moment Sylvester Stallone won Best Supporting Actor for his return to the Rocky franchise in Creed, though I’d argue Mark Rylance and Idris Elba were more deserving of the honour. Much was made of films like Spy and Trainwreck being nominated, though they have zero chance of similar treatment at any other awards show, however they proved unable to topple the beloved darling that is Jennifer Lawrence who won Best Actress Musical or Comedy, the male counterpart went to Matt Damon for his turn as Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded on Mars, in The Martian.
As already noted Brie Larson took home the biggest acting prize in the form of Best Actress Drama for her part in Room, which is a remarkable film that demands to be experienced and Larson is absolutely phenomenal in it. Leonardo DiCaprio received a standing ovation as he went up to the stage to collect his globe for Best Actor Drama for his portrayal of a fur trapper left for dead in The Revenant. This is Leo’s third globe but it is no secret that it’s the Oscar statue that he really craves, could this be his year? Quite possibility, it’s certainly the strongest chance he’s had yet of finally gaining Oscar glory.
There was much controversy over The Martian being classified as a comedy, criticism that was reignited when the film was named Best Picture Musical or Comedy. Awards worthy as it may be it’s hardly a comedy film and it further highlights how flawed the Golden Globes’ decision to split films into two categories is. The top prize went to The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu took to the stage again to accept the Best Picture Drama award. It’s a film more than worthy of such plaudits and it’ll be interesting to see if it can clean up in similar fashion at the Academy Awards.
The big losers of the night were unquestionable The Big Short, Carol and Spotlight. Adam McKay’s comedic look at the financial crisis, The Big Short, was probably just thankful to receive so many nods, however the latter two were expected to be big contenders but both walked away empty handed. I’d be surprised if a similar thing happens in the rest of the awards season, not least of which because Spotlight is a wonderful film that deserves awards recognition, however these two critical smashes leaving empty handed shows just how wide open this awards race really is.
The Golden Globes are really just a starter, both in terms of the quality of the show itself and the significance of the accolades given out, when compared to the real deal that will take place on 28th February. Though Ricky Gervais was a bit of a lame host, the 73rd annual Golden Globes were still a reasonably enjoyable way to spend three hours as several excellent films were recognised for their brilliance.