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Can we all agree Ricky Gervais has pretty much exhausted his usefulness as a subverting presence on the Golden Globes Awards show? Even Gervais must agree with this judgment, since he spent the second half of the broadcast on Sunday night feigning bored exhaustion, moaning about what a slog it was. And usually, I’d agree with that sentiment when it comes to three-hour awards shows.
But this Golden Globes was quite briskly paced, actually. It had quite a few funny presenters, and not a few surprises. The first time he hosted the Globes, Gervais acted as our surrogate, making the kind of snarky remarks we make at home, saying from the stage that the proceedings were becoming tedious. By this fourth appearance, Gervais’s humor had turned into self-congratulation for being the most cynical man in the room. When he tried to insult us by jabbing at “your future President, Donald Trump,” it was probably the first time I’ve ever wanted to defend Trump. Jim Carrey and his gigantic beard made better Hollywood-is-so-vain jokes in a mere few minutes than Gervais did all evening. So put Gervais aside for now. Consider the winners.
Yes, it was a happy shock to see Sylvester Stallone win the Globe for drama supporting actor in Creed. The standing ovation he was given was for a lion in winter, a vet who’d battled back with that rare thing: a sequel that can stand with the original in quality.
Maybe I’m prejudiced in favor of the medium I cover, but as far as I could see, all the rest of the surprises of the night involved TV shows. Wonderful rookie Mr. Robot beating out big ol’ Game of Thrones and ratings-buster Empire? Rachel Bloom from tiny-rated Crazy Ex-Girlfriend winning comedy actress? Lady Gaga acing out Kirsten Dunst (Fargo) and Felicity Huffman (American Crime) for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel? Mozart in the Jungle winning best comedy and Gael García Bernal best comedy actor, beating out Transparent’s Jeffrey Tambor? Even Aziz Ansari (Master of None) expected Tambor to win, deploying a sight gag showing him reading a book about how to lose to Tambor with dignity.
In retrospect, it’s possible to understand Mozart’s wins in the context of the Hollywood Foreign Press’s fondness for rewarding movie folk who venture into TV, which in this case included Mozart producers Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola. Still, a mild shock.
So was Bloom’s win — the second year in a row that the CW nabbed this particular award with a first-year show starring a performer little-known before her series. (Gina Rodriguez took it last year for Jane the Virgin.)
Related: The 2016 Golden Globes Winners List
My favorite presenter of the night was Jamie Foxx, there to hand out the music-score award, and who insisted, Steve Harvey-like, that Straight Outta Compton was the winner. (It went, of course, to Ennio Morricone and his Hateful Eight music.) And it was Foxx who said admiringly that Quentin Tarantino was “ghetto” after the director of Hateful proclaimed Morricone the composing equal of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, and then left Foxx’s daughter Corinne, this year’s Miss Golden Globe, stranded onstage as he walked back to his table.
My second-favorites were America Ferrera and Eva Longoria, riffing wittily on how Latina actors are too often too easily confused with others.
My favorite TV winner was Taraji P. Henson, whose Empire actress win was well-deserved, and whose speech was a tough-minded, passionate delight.
The big movie winner of the night was The Revenant, copping best drama, best actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), and director (Alejandro Inárritu). Tom Hanks, fighting an almost debilitating cold, gave a lusty introduction to Denzel Washington in presenting the latter with the annual Cecil B. DeMille Award. (The film clips for this segment played like a trot through director Tony Scott’s greatest hits.)
At home, we viewers were treated to an ad for that third Kung Fu Panda movie that was rerun way too many times; learned that Robert De Niro’s career has now come to this: Dirty Grandpa; and were introduced to the notion that NBC is going to air something called You, Me and the Apocalypse later this month. Another NBC effort that doesn’t look likely to be nominated for a Golden Globe.
In the hours leading up to the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night, host Ricky Gervais tweeted, “Better get dressed and offend some humourless c—s I suppose.” That sort of says it all about Gervais’s hosting at this point: By now, it seems as though he’s been doing the “Aren’t I a naughty boy?” stuff longer than Don Rickles. To be fair to Gervais, he had a few good zingers and had the longest bleeped sections of the night, particularly when he tried to renew his old attacks on Mel Gibson, present to introduce a film clip from Mad Max: Fury Road. I have a feeling most people dozing at home have forgotten Gibson’s anti-Semitic sins, but I’m not sure Gervais performed a public service trying to remind us, and what Gervais and the producers were probably hoping would prove a viral-video moment — Gervais and Gibson, toe-to-toe — just turned into an opportunity for Gibson to make a colonoscopy joke.
At the very end, running overtime, the Globes wrapped up with the faint whine of Gervais bleating, “From myself and Mel Gibson, shalom.” It was one last stale burp of a joke in what was an otherwise bubbly, effervescent night.