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Every Reason Why the Golden Globes Are Still the Best Awards Show
Though it may lack the credibility of an Oscars, The Golden Globes have always been more my cup of tea. Part of it is the revolutionary mixture of television and film. Part of it is the inscrutability of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a shadowy cabal who seem to react to press campaigns as much as actual quality. Most of it is that there’s an open bar. It’s nothing but a good time, a night to celebrate what people actually watch and enjoy, while staying just this side of going full People’s Choice Awards.
Let’s take a look at what makes the Globes so special.
Two Categories For Movies, Just As All The TV Awards Shows Have Always Done
Separating comedy from drama is a genius move. For decades, it’s allowed the Emmys to celebrate what they feel television can be (awarding Bryan Cranston Best Actor for Breaking Bad in 2014) while acknowledging what television is (giving Jim Parsons the comedy version of the award for The Big Bang Theory the same year). Giving us Best Picture: Drama and Best Picture: Musical or Comedy allows actual popular American movies like Airplane!, Midnight Run, and Trainwreck to get Best Picture nominations. It allows a movie like Mrs. Doubtfire to win. It allows Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan both to take home Best Picture, as they should have, and Crocodile Dundee’s Paul Hogan to take home a Best Actor award. It’s delicious.
It also creates a situation in which Green Card beats Pretty Woman, Home Alone, and Ghost for Best Picture: Comedy or Musical in 1991, which is just funny.
This category was created in a time when musical films were abundant. They’re not anymore, but because the word is there, the HFPA feels compelled to use it. For the last 30 years, if you made a musical, that musical got a Best Picture: Musical or Comedy nomination. Behold Burlesque in ’11, or Nine in ’10. Behold Evita actually winning the award, and Madonna beating Frances McDormand for Best Actress: Musical or Comedy in 1997, then both going on to get shut out of the Oscar nominations.
This year’s token musical is The Greatest Showman, which, while perfectly fine, simply does not merit award consideration. But fear not: because this category basically serves as a clearinghouse for genres the Oscars refuses take seriously, it will lose to this year’s best horror film, Get Out.
Still, if this weird category creates buzz for a film like last year’s brilliant nominee Sing Street, I’ll take it.
New Star of the Year
This vague, bewildering category has been gone for decades and really needs to be reinstated. It was the one moment in the broadcast dedicated entirely to the future, a category devoted to newly-minted starlets, fresh hunks, and children. It’s gone to both Paul Newman and Ricky Schroeder. It feels like the kind of award an innocent young character wins the moment before they try cocaine in a poorly written movie about Hollywood, and if an awards show can’t serve up these moments, I don’t even know why we have them.
Perhaps the most infamous Best New Star Golden Globe was taken home by Pia Zadora in 1982, for her performance in a movie called Butterfly that I guess existed. She won the award over Kathleen Turner and Elizabeth Montgomery, which had nothing at all to do with her Israeli billionaire husband having flown members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to Las Vegas for a private screening of the film, which wouldn’t be released until two weeks after the ceremony. Other weird winners include Sandahl Bergman for Conan the Barbarian over Annie’s Aileen Quinn, Ben Kingsley as Gandhi over Eddie Murphy as the literal face of movie comedy for the rest of the ’80s, and the year there was a four-way tie (Omar Sharif, Keir Dullea, Peter O’Toole, and Terence Stamp) in a five-man race (sorry, Paul Wallace; let me walk you to the open bar).
What did it even mean? Were they awarding the best performance by a new star, or was it a prediction as to how good the winner would prove to be at the art of stardom? Either way, in 2018 this would have been an easy win for Tiffany Haddish, whose inexplicable Globes shut-out is reason enough to bring the category back.
Best Foreign Film
Until the late 1980s, the category was Best Foreign Film, so any film that was made and/or financed outside of the United States was eligible. It separated the awards bait from the crowd-pleasers; films like Chariots of Fire and Gandhi could have their moment in the sun, then get out of the way so American classics like On Golden Pond and E.T. could win Best Picture: Drama. Since 1986, the category has been Best Foreign Language Film, which means at least 51% of the film’s dialogue must be in a language other than English. The result is that movies that beg for awards (like The Artist, which doesn’t have any dialogue at all) get into the big categories like Best Picture: Musical or Comedy, and squeeze out actual popular comedies (like Bridesmaids). I say go back to the way it used to be. We already have an Oscars.
Those NBC Intro Songs
They don’t do this anymore either, and the world is poorer for it. While ABC has always had its endless, fawning pre-Oscars red carpet special, NBC used to reach right for the cheese. They’d rewrite a popular song of the moment, and make the lyrics all about the show; The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” became “Don’t cha think Brad looks hot tonight? Don’t cha think Reese has a shot tonight? Don’t cha? Don’t cha?” The next year, Jennifer Lopez, who had previously been “Waiting for Tonight,” was “Waiting for the Globes.”
It was corny. But it’s supposed to be corny; it’s a night of millionaire strangers in gowns getting drunk as they wait to hear their name. I salute NBC for giving us what we truly need here, and if needed, I am available to write a Globes-themed “Despacito” for Sunday.