What else to say, really? The 2009 Golden Globes ceremony -- well, it was better than last year's. Of course, that wasn't too hard considering that last year the writers strike kept everyone away and the awards were announced in a monotone roll call by such luminaries as Mary Hart.
So the sight of all those pretty people in their pretty clothes filling the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton offered some reassurance in an otherwise confusing time (although the proliferation of Brian Grazer hair -- Colin Farrell, Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Bacon -- was a bit alarming). Not that anyone mentioned the writers strike or the still possible actors strike, or the economy, or virtually anything else outside the confines of the Hollywood bubble. Sacha Baron Cohen got stink eye and murmurs of disapproval just for making a Guy Ritchie joke. (Sacha, just be thankful Sean Penn wasn't there to wrist-slap you as he did Oscar host Chris Rock for his infamous Jude Law jest.)
Still, the evening was not without its Moments of Significance. In danger of becoming the Susan Lucci of award season, Kate Winslet actually won! Twice! And then, in perhaps the very best moment of the evening, she forgot Angelina Jolie's name!
Heath Ledger took best supporting film actor for "The Dark Knight" and for the first and only time during the three hours, the champagne-swilling, chattering-through-acceptance-speeches audience joined in silence and applause.
Oh, and Tracy Morgan announced that Tina Fey promised him that if Barack Obama won, he, Morgan, would become the new spokesman for the multiple-award-winning "30 Rock."
Otherwise, the ceremony did what it always does -- bring TV and movie people together under the same roof ("We're TV actors," Rainn Wilson announced to high hilarity just before he and Hayden Panettiere presented the best television drama award to "Mad Men") and act as the ultimate Oscar prognosticator. Odds look good for " Slumdog Millionaire," Winslet and Rourke (the shout-out to his dogs may have sealed the deal).
Watching the three hours creep by, one is struck by the major difference between the Oscars and the Golden Globes. No, it's is not just the breadth and value of the respective judges (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vs. a handful of Hollywood-based foreign journalists), it's that the Oscars attempts to be a television show and the Golden Globes does not.
Get breaking news alerts delivered to your mobile phone. Text BREAKING to 52669. You will receive up to 30 msgs/mo. Msg&data rates may apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.
No host, no opening monologue, no breakaway skits, no musical numbers, no huge evocative and ever-changing stage -- the Golden Globes is a televised awards presentation that relies totally on the apparently worldwide desire to see movie and television stars wearing fancy clothes, making a few jokes, saying nice things about each other and occasionally breaking down in tears. (Really, between Hawkins and Winslet you have to wonder what happened to that famous British stoicism. Did it end with Thompson, who once made it a point to tell everyone she kept her Oscars in the loo?)
On the one hand, this is the best thing about the Globes: It is what it is, no frills. Ricky Gervais (is it really too late to ask him to host the Oscars?) can stroll out on stage, take a sip of beer and lecture the audience -- "Shush. How rude are you lot? Just because you're a bunch of famous film stars . . . " Don Cheadle can rib the Coen brothers for never casting him in one of their films, and winners get more than 75 seconds to make their acceptance speeches.
This last, of course, is both a blessing and a curse, leading this year to the strange yet undeniable dignity of Rourke's gratitude to those who took a chance on him and also an irritating second round of tears and gasps from Winslet, who seemed to have left her sense of humor in the loo. (Yes, darling, we know this is the first time you've won Globes but it's not as if you were previously doomed to a life of quiet desperation.)
But then you catch those camera sweeps of the room and you realize that no one at the party is paying much attention anyway. So really, why should we?