Tuesday, January 10, 2017

LIZ SMITH: GGs' Good, Bad and Ugly

“La La Land” was the big winner.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Meryl Streep Polishes The Golden Globes and Dares NOT to Speak that name! Also — the rest of the GGs' Good, Bad and Ugly (Sorry About That Dress, Nicole, and Your Speech, Tom Hiddleston, etc ...)

“I TOOK all the pictures, I went to the luncheon ...”

That was likely the line of Golden Globes night, delivered with a wry shrug by Viola Davis, as she finally stood at the GG podium, a winner for “Fences” after five nominations.  She was throwing a little shade on the networking and publicity chores required of all actors in awards season.  But, at last she was clutching her Globe.  She added, “This came right on time!”

“This came right on time!”
I love Ms. Davis, and have admired her even more since reading John Lahr’s wonderful profile on the star in The New Yorker several weeks back.  She wore a gorgeous yellow one-shoulder number and was hands down one of the most attractive and glamorous women at the event.  Her competition, in the Supporting Actress category was uniformly excellent, but I had no issues with Viola up there.

(Perhaps because I find the competitive nature of acting to be somewhat mysterious and often unfair even under the best of circumstances; as with the Globes, which at least separates “comedy and “drama” films and performances. Although missteps can be made there, too. Matt Damon is still making hay out of his “comedy” win for “The Martian” last year.)

The show itself was a kind of half-and-half hybrid thing, best expressed by The Daily Beast writer Kevin Fallon, who observed, in part: “Award shows should have silliness. They should have grand moments, like a sporadic-seeming Rocky tribute, and levity and bits. But they should also have a pulse and a narrative and a direction — and the wisdom, most of all, to read a room.

Given the sheer number of tone-deaf moments, this award show failed in that regard.”  (I suggest reading all of this excellent piece, which ticks off expertly the fumbles and the triumphs of the show.)

Perhaps the sense of things being a bit off was an enduring hangover from what most everybody — certainly people of a particular political affiliation — agree was a brutal year.
To be honest, I’d hoped to get through the three hours without any mention of the president-elect. None. That hope was dashed after the witty “La La Land” opening homage. Host Jimmy Fallon fired off four or five not-terribly-funny jokes. Why go there, why provide ammunition, why give egomaniacs their bread and butter? I clutched my head in frustration.
Then, at last, Meryl Streep got up to accept her Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award — an accolade I was surprised to learn several months back, that she hadn’t already won! 
Then she spoke — her words more impactful for a hoarse throat.  As much as I did not want to be reminded of the person who takes charge on January 20th — please, please, just amuse me! — I had to admit, if it had to be done, if somebody had to have that job, I’m glad it was Miss Streep.  She did not trash talk, she didn’t attack, she didn’t mention the name.  She went for the heart of the matter — dignity, empathy, freedom of the press and the intelligent responsibility of the press. (The latter which has, and continues to, go down the drain as the 20th approaches.)  It was her fabled “cerulean blue” monologue in “The Devil Wears Prada” given vitally urgent, human, real-life flesh and blood.   
The final quote by Carrie Fisher was the incisive cherry on the sundae of our discontent. (“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”)

If by some bizarre chance Meryl Streep had called me up and said, “Honey, I’m gonna get a little political Sunday night,” I’m sure I would advised her against it.  

I’m so glad Miss Streep doesn’t call me.
Yoo-hoo, Liz ...
THIS N’ THAT:  Random GG thoughts:

... The Debbie Reynolds/Carrie Fisher tribute. Really? I could have done better on my home computer, drunk. Could they have spared that 47 seconds?  And, as 2016 seemed unusually heavy-handed in celebrity losses (perhaps not, but it sure seemed that way) shouldn’t there have been a general In Memoriam?
... The three Stallone girls in funereal black.  In between their Miss Golden Globe duties I was expecting them to sadly announce that Sly had passed on to that big boxing ring in the sky.
... Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn.  Whatever they were going for, it didn’t go.  Cringy!
... One brief shot of Colin Farrell blew me away. Sobriety really suits this wonderful actor and lovely guy.
... On the red carpet we were told “deep vees and liquid metallic’s” were the big trend.  Heard someone screaming about Sarah Jessica Parker’s “sleeve drama.”  It was just an ugly dress.

... ”Moonlight” actress Janelle Monae looked like a dramatic head-to-toe dessert.
... Nicole Kidman, so terrific in “Lion” wore something that appeared to have been ripped it off the body of Belle Watling. (And if you don’t get that reference, you are reading the wrong column!)

... Timothy Olyphant obviously thought he had leapt ahead in time and was already at the casual, beachy Spirit Awards.
... Marvelous acceptance speeches by Sarah Paulson, Viola Davis, Ryan Gosling.
... The onstage pairing of Naomi Campbell and Matt Bomer hurt my eyes — too much beauty! 
... Memo to Tom Hiddleston: Edit, edit, edit.  And after editing, do not tell that awful, self-serving story!
... ”Thank you for shaving”:  Jon Hamm to Laura Dern. It was a joke, but I’ve rarely seen so much fur on so many beautiful male faces. (Including Hamm, whose handsome mug was well-matted. To be fair, Hamm has an unusually heavy beard. Even clean-shaven he features a five, six, seven o’clock shadow.)
... Brad Pitt has been looking a decade younger in recent months, and I don’t think he’s had any work.  The happy burst of applause that greeted him could be interpreted as Hollywood saying, “Finally, man, we didn’t think it would take you this long!”  (In high places, Pitt’s soon-to-be ex is known as “St. Jolie.” It’s not intended as a compliment.)
AS TO the award giving itself.  “La La Land” is a truly charming film that has, in my opinion, been ridiculously over-praised.

... Sorry that “Hell or High Water” wasn’t recognized. A little-seen, classic in the western genre.

... Somewhat painful to watch Emma Stone take her “La La Land” GG (in the “musical or comedy category”) with the divine Annette Bening sitting there, Annette having given a stunning performance in “20th Century Women.” (Bening, a genius, has yet to win an Oscar!!)
... Ryan Gosling is a sweetheart and wonderful in “La La Land” but I would have preferred Hugh Grant for his career best in “Florence Foster Jenkins.
 ... Totally on board with Isabelle Hubert’s win for “Elle.” This is an extraordinarily bold and original performance, in a film, directed by Paul Verhoeven that is guaranteed to lead to screaming fights at dinner tables.  (Natalie Portman is brilliant, fascinating, in “Jackie.” But she already has an Oscar for playing another black swan.  Yet why do I feel come Oscar time, it’ll be Emma Stone, swept along in a “La La” landslide?)
... As I’ve said, still not sure Casey Affleck is really an actor, but what he did in “Manchester By the Sea” was certainly what the role needed, so I wasn’t surprised by the Globe win, and possibly Oscar.  
The wins, the losses, the dresses, the cleavages are already old news.  But I think what will live on from this evening will be Streep.  Online, somebody wrote, “Tonight, the Resistance began!” a likely overstatement. Others penned excoriating condemnations. Life will go on.

But I think we should close with a bit of Meryl’s speech, whatever it does or does not lead to:  

“Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”

Wise!  And this goes not just for the people in power right now, who some of us see as “the enemy.”  This applies to the frantic, disappointed, still scrambling and sometimes dissembling losers. Wipe your tears, accept the loss however it came about, gird your loins, disagree passionately, truthfully, consistently.  Learn from your mistakes and step into the light.

To paraphrase Carrie Fisher, we all need to feel very sane about how crazy we feel, and deal with it.
Contact Liz here.