If I can’t say enough nice things about the Golden Globes' pairing of Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 76th annual awards show, that’s only because Oh and Samberg cornered the market on niceness on Sunday night.
Zigging on the stage in which so many others have zagged, they threatened to roast the stars, Ricky Gervais-style, and instead treated them to a warm-water bath.
“Bradley Cooper,” Oh said, mock-ominously. “You are hot.”
To Michael B. Jordan, she said: “Your character’s name in Creed is Adonis. And it is apt.”
Samberg to Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Jeff Bridges: “Hey, Jeff. I wish you were my dad.”
Oh did refer to double-nominee Amy Adams (Vice, Sharp Objects) as “you mega-talented pile of dog crap,” but in these uncivil times, that’s practically a hymn of praise.
Other nice moments included Idris Elba introducing his daughter, Isan, as the Golden Globes “ambassador” (the title “Miss Golden Globes” has, mercifully, been retired), and, of course, Oh’s extremely excited acceptance speech for her win as the title character in BBC America’s Killing Eve, including her “Oh, Daddy!” and her deep bow to her parents in the audience.
It couldn’t have been a better night for Carol Burnett to receive the HFPA’s first-ever award for lifetime achievement in television. Which, in a particularly nice touch, was named for her.
“He is as nice as he is talented,” Burnett said of Steve Carell, who had introduced her, describing herself, adorably, as “completely gobsmacked by this.”
She had the audience in the Beverly Hilton’s ballroom in the palm of her hand, as she described the magic of The Carol Burnett Show, a magic she acknowledged was too expensive to be replicated today.
Not everyone got the play-nice memo, of course. The first F-bomb of the evening was dropped at 8:46 p.m., with Patricia Arquette, star of Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora, getting bleeped during her acceptance speech for the award for actress in a TV series, limited series, or movie.
And Carell, in his introduction of Burnett, managed to get bleeped, too.
Also bleeped: Christian Bale, winner for the lead role of Dick Cheney in Vice, not long after he affectionately referred to the movie’s writer and director, Malvern’s Adam McKay, as an “old geezer.” Bale also thanked “Satan” for inspiring him.
McKay, as well as Jenkintown’s Cooper (A Star Is Born), lost the directing Golden Globe to Roma’s Alfonso Cuarón, and Cooper lost the race for actor in a motion picture, drama, to Rami Malek, star of Bohemian Rhapsody, which also won for motion picture, drama.
In the spirit of the show, I will try not to harp on the essential meaningless of the awards themselves, because although the members of the HFPA might not be any more qualified than you or I or your Uncle Ralph are to judge these things, they showcased plenty of deserving work.
Not only did they choose FX’s The Americans as the best TV drama, they don’t make us sit through elaborate production numbers. The Globes, traditionally the most relaxed (or most raucous) of the televised awards shows, is at its best when it lacks polish, as when multiple presenters have trouble with the teleprompter and don’t bother to hide it
For those who complain, unceasingly, that awards-show winners thrust their politics in viewers' faces, Regina King, winner as a supporting actress, motion picture, for If Beale Street Could Talk, tried, in the nicest possible way, to explain that "the reason that we do this is that we understand our microphones are big” and that they speak for others.
And then King, who was also nominated for her Netflix series Seven Seconds, vowed to make sure that “everything that I produce, that it is 50 percent women,” and challenged the industry to join her.
Mahershala Ali, winning as a supporting actor, motion picture, for Green Book, which also won for best picture — comedy or musical, managed to make his multiple thank-yous sound personal, rather than the quick list of names that acceptance speeches have too often become.
Olivia Coleman, star of The Favourite, gave a frenetic and charming speech that referenced sandwiches and, a private jet.
Glenn Close, winner for The Wife, seemed convincingly surprised, and even more convincingly sincere as she said, “We should all be up here together. That’s all I can say,” to her “category sisters,” Lady Gaga, Melissa McCarthy, Nicole Kidman, and Rosamund Pike.
The closest the show got to being overtly political came during American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace producer Brad Simpson’s acceptance speech. Simpson noted that the murder of Versace, who was out as a gay man at a time when many public figures weren’t, occurred during “a time of intense fear and hate,” circumstances, he said, that still exist, adding, “We must resist.”
Other winners included: Rachel Brosnahan, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, actress, TV series, musical or comedy; Netflix’s The Kominsky Method, television series, musical or comedy; Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method, actor, television series, musical or comedy; Darren Criss, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, actor, TV limited series or movie; Roma, foreign-language film, and screenplay; Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, animated film; Richard Madden, of Netflix’s Bodyguard, actor in a TV series, drama; Ben Whishaw, Amazon’s (and the BBC’s) A Very English Scandal, supporting actor, TV series, limited series, or movie; Justin Hurwitz, First Man, original score, motion picture; “Shallow,” A Star Is Born, original song, motion picture; and Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, writers of Green Book, screenplay, motion picture.
As always, there were a few achievements not covered by even the idiosyncratic categories of the Golden Globes:
Scripted deep-thoughts sound bite: Oh, explaining what the industry should have learned from the runaway success of Black Panther. “People want more movies where the characters ride around on rhinoceroses like horses. I have been saying this for years, Hollywood.”
Red carpet deep-thoughts sound bite: Lady Gaga telling E! host Ryan Seacrest that on A Star Is Born she’d learned about “going to the nectar of your being.”
Red-carpet historical perspective: Mary Poppins Returns favorite Dick Van Dyke, 93, who was nominated in 1965 for his role in the original Mary Poppins, noted that he’d “never seen so much security. I’ve been wanded and groped about five times.”
One #MeToo joke too many: Samberg’s weak attempt at tying CBS’s Les Moonves scandal to the title The Big Bang Theory — not even Gervais could have made it work.