Are you excited, Hyphenites? I know I am, because it’s awards season! In just a few short weeks you’ll turn on the television and see shiny statues, shiny dresses, and when the best director category comes up, big shiny white foreheads. While the much anticipated Oscar nominees have yet to be announced, I’m going to take an opportunity to talk about Hollywood’s less evolved, younger Baldwin brother of an awards show -- The Golden Globes.
The system is rigged, people. The Golden Globes have a fatal flaw -- the musical/comedy category makes it nearly impossible for great comedic performances to be recognized. Why? Because every odd year there is a juggernaut tragic musical with an all-star cast that sweeps the awards. So this year a fantastic performance by Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook is likely to take a backseat to Hugh Jackman from Les Miserables. I have nothing against Hugh Jackman, but does anybody think this is an apples to apples comparison? Yes, they’re both stories of redemption – but a quirky bipolar Philadelphia Eagles fan, versus one of the most epic tragic heroes of all time? I mean, the TRAILER for Les Miserables makes me cry. It’s tough enough for comedies to get recognized during awards season, why must we make it even harder by wantonly sprinkling dying French prostitutes and valiant ex-cons into every category? And as a side note, must they, when no good musical exists, nominate movies like Burlesque and Nine?
Frankly, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, I’ve had it up to my eyeballs. This year you mostly managed to escape grievous errors in the acting category, but here are my mixed feelings about the rest of your shenanigans:
Oh Look! People of Color!
As per usual there are very few nominees of color, and the three nominees in main categories (Archie Punjabi, Actor; Ang Lee, Director; and Denzel Washington, Extremely Handsome Man) are all well established and have won multiple awards in the past. To me it feels like old news, but I’m still going to take a minute and applaud the fact that they’re at the party at all. I can’t comment on Ang Lee or Denzel Washington’s contributions this year because I have yet to see Life of Pi or Flight, but I’m always happy with Archie Punjabi’s performance, even though the most recent season of The Good Wife has her in some really puzzling, and ultimately boring, food-throwing, soft-core BDSM scenes. Does her character want sex? Does she want someone to throw eggs and oatmeal at her? Is she hungry for a complete and balanced breakfast, or horny? Someone choose, please.
Of the folks who didn’t get any nods I’d love to note Mindy Kaling, (too soon for her to get a nod, but I'm giving her a shout anyways) for crafting a show that has proven to be both charming and laugh-out-loud funny, as well as Retta and Aziz Ansari’s contributions to an excellent ensemble cast in Parks and Recreation.
Retta and Aziz Ansari as Donna and Tom | Photo courtesy of NBC
The entertainment industry is a tough place for the ladies, both in front of and behind the camera. So I’m going to give a shout out to Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman nominated for best director this year. Bigelow was the first woman to receive a directing Oscar for The Hurt Locker, and is now interestingly nominated for another war movie, Zero Dark Thirty. Having only one woman nominee (and a repeat nominee at that) seems pretty bad, but think about this: only 13 percent of movies eligible for an Oscar this year were directed by women. So it’s not just that women need to be better recognized for the stories they tell, but Hollywood needs to do a better job of giving them the helm of great projects in the first place.
What Were You People Thinking!?
The Newsroom v. Mad Men:
I cannot handle the fact that The Newsroom received a nomination for best drama, and Mad Men didn’t. Mad Men had one of the most creative seasons thus far -- every atom and molecule of the show, from plot and character development to editing and soundtrack, flawlessly tied itself to the tumultuous decade that it portrayed. And Christina Hendricks (who also didn’t receive a nomination) gave a performance that was a captivating commentary on the links between female sexuality, power, and commodification -- showing us that a period piece can raise questions about gender that we still don’t have easy answers to today. The Newsroom, on the other hand, is a pedantic, half-baked period piece of another kind that uses hindsight about news issues from two years ago to pretend that its vision is 20/20. I wrote about the show in a previous post and can’t say that it’s gotten a whole lot better, though I will say that the acting has been consistently fantastic.
SMASH v. Parks and Recreation:
Here’s another victim of the musical/comedy category. Parks and Recreation deserved a nomination. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is a justice loving, passionately dedicated parks department official, who has faced everything from the wrath of religious nuts for marrying two male penguins at the zoo, to negotiating with a city council member who once tried to RE-SEGREGATE BASEBALL. The show has no shortage of sharp, tongue-in-cheek messages about government, gender, and race. Yes, Amy Poehler received a well-deserved nomination, and since she’s the creator of this show I’m encouraged. But the show itself, including the ensemble cast, needs to be recognized as well. And the fact that SMASH was nominated instead kills me. First of all, it is a musical DRAMA, not a comedy. And in a nutshell, it’s a watered down attempt to capture the success of GLEE!, with form instead of substance, in the same way that failures like The Playboy Club and Pan Am tried to capture the success of Mad Men by replicating its anachronisms.
Hostesses with the Mostesses – The (Partial) Redemption:
This will be brief. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are awesome. They are witty, brutally funny, and are my two favorite people on television.
So yes, Golden Globes, I’ll watch your show. I’ll be excited because of your hosts, and I will laugh. But don’t think this means I approve of you.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!