Monday, January 12, 2009

Not so Golden

While many of my film geek friends are gearing up for the Golden Globes -- or perhaps already watching -- I am sitting here writing this blog posting. I'll likely spend my evening catching up on network TV or possibly watching my third movie of the day.

Why no love for the Golden Globes? Well, countless others have said it better than I. Outside of a handful of members of the Hollywood Foreign Press, there isn't a person who actually likes these awards better than the Oscars. Even with how many totally legitimate complaints there are about the Oscars.

But you'd think that a professional film critic would have enough interest to at least tune in to the second-most-important film awards show, wouldn't you? We're not talking getting together with friends, filling out pool sheets or making a bunch of hors d'oeuvres -- just at least tuning in and giving it 30 percent of my attention?


I can't really explain why I've been such an Oscar loyalist all my life. I mean, many times I've disagreed with the Oscar verdict -- sharply enough that you'd think it would embitter me. One prominent example came three years ago, when the Golden Globes got it right, honoring Brokeback Mountain, where Oscar somehow flaked out and picked Crash. Can anyone remember a best picture winner that has soured in our collective mouths so quickly after its selection as Crash? Talk to anybody these days, and almost no one is willing to support that movie. The Golden Globes also smartly picked The Aviator over Million Dollar Baby, and even though I would have given it to There Will Be Blood last year, at least their pick of Atonement sat better with me than Oscar's selection of the vastly overrated No Country for Old Men.

Yet I've continued to stick with the Oscars even through such travesties.

Why? Well, let's examine some of my concerns about the Globes:

1) The nominations come out too early. This obviously needs to be the case in order to meet a January 11 air date, but I feel like it's a very abrupt push into awards season to learn who's being nominated for the year's best pictures when half the movies haven't even had their theatrical release yet. It's like being told what the zeitgeist will be, rather than letting the zeitgeist wash over you like the zeitgeist always does.

2) There are too many categories. And I'm not talking about the fact that TV is included in these awards as well, though that undoubtedly waters down the focus. No, it's that we've got two genres of movie nominees: Drama and Musical/Comedy, which divides up not only the best picture nominees, but also the best actor/actress nominees. There are some benefits to it -- two great war-themed movies that many people feel were robbed for best picture, Born on the Fourth of July and Saving Private Ryan, were recognized by the Globes as best drama because the movies that beat them for the Oscar, Driving Miss Daisy and Shakespeare in Love, were busy winning best musical/comedy. I also take great pleasure in knowing that my favorite movie of 2003, Lost in Translation, was feted by the Globes as best musical/comedy (even if it seriously stretches that categorization). But just as often this results in total goofiness, like the much-reviled Sweeney Todd winning last year's best musical/comedy award. I haven't seen it, but I don't know anyone who even likes it, lets alone considers it the best of anything from 2007.

3) Who decides this stuff? The Hollywood Foreign Press, that's who. There has been much written about the nebulous identity of this group, who have much more power than any group that hazily defined every should. And while there was some quibbling about their judgments in the previous paragraph, I'll include a little more here: Emilio Estevez' ridiculous would-be epic Bobby getting nominated for best drama two years ago? And what's up with them randomly boosting the number of nominees in a given category? Last year, seven films were nominated for best drama -- and this is with five more nominated in the musical/comedy category, lest you forget.

I could go on, but you know this stuff. I just figured I should chime in to let you know I agree with it.

Now, excuse me while I go watch this week's Kath & Kim. (And yes, that was an intentional parting shot.)

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