Let us say this first: The Golden Globes are Hollywood culture at its most purely self-perpetuating. Given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a small group of journalists so gleefully obscure that there is usually a joke about how gleefully obscure they are, the Globes lack the gravitas of the Oscars, which is really saying something, given the fact that the Oscars lack the gravitas of the Tonys and the Tonys lack the gravitas of a halfway decent episode of Law & Order: SVU.
That’s why having Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host works out so well. They don’t feel the need to stake a claim to being legitimately edgy in a situation that so clearly doesn’t call for it, and they have the most important hosting skill one can possess: They know how to come on stage, make some good jokes and leave. (Their best, for my money: the assertion that Gravity was about the fact that George Clooney would rather float off and die in space than hang around a woman his own age. That is a good joke.)
As for the actual winners, well, Sunday night spread the love around pretty generously. David O. Russell’s American Hustle picked up three, and a few other projects picked up two, but 12 Years a Slave, which took the evening-ending prize for the best dramatic movie, didn’t get anything else all night. (You can read all about more of the winners here.)
There were wins for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club, Spike Jonze for the screenplay of Her, Robin Wright for House of Cards, Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad (which was also the drama series winner), Michael Douglas for Behind the Candelabra, Jacqueline Bisset for Dancing on the Edge — it wasn’t a show dominated by anything in particular. Given the fact that the HFPA has an only so-so history of matching Oscar voting (past Globes have seen The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, No Country for Old Men, The Departed, Million Dollar Baby, Crash and other Best Picture winners lose out), it would be a mistake to take very much away from it as far as prognostication.
That doesn’t mean there are no takeaways at all: The Saturday Night Live alumni association had a very big evening, not only because Poehler and Fey hosted, but because Andy Samberg was a surprising winner for his lead role on the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Poehler delightfully and finally won for Parks and Recreation, and both Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers presented as they prepare to become the two NBC late-night hosts upon the (supposed) (alleged) peaceful departure of Jay Leno in late February.
But, look: the Golden Globes are dumb. That’s why Ricky Gervais was such a weird host for them; he wanted it to be daring, and it’s never going to be daring. It’s always going to be a bunch of sloshed people climbing over each other in an overcrowded ballroom to accept awards that were voted on by a bunch of people they never heard of. It’s a pure, distilled, awards-season cow-pasture souvenir, which is why when they give it to somebody you don’t like, you throw popcorn at the screen, and when they give it to somebody you like, you yell “YAAAAY!” And then you laugh at Leonardo DiCaprio calling Philomena “Philomania” like it was a Phil Collins cover band, and then you go to bed and you never think about the Golden Globes ever again, with the exception of the jokes.
Oh, and you delight in Emma Thompson walking on stage with her shoes in one hand and her drink in the other, because she could not be more delightful, in any way, ever.
In a way, this is the secret weapon of the Globes. They’re kind of the big, lovable lunkhead in a high-school class full of pretentious strivers. You can sit back and look at the pretty dresses and wait for somebody to make a really unbalanced speech — or for McConaughey to make a speech that so perfectly captures his essence that he could probably now retire — because this ceremony asks for nothing more. It does not ask for respect, and doesn’t get any. For a show like Brooklyn Nine-Nine that’s good but not yet great, it’s a boost that might give it more space to grow, and it’s one more chance to cheer for Breaking Bad, and it’s a really good thing that 12 Years a Slave won that last award, because up until then, it was starting to look like the HFPA didn’t actually see it.
But even for an awards show, this is a goof parade. And Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the goof drum majorettes, and, quite frankly, that works out just fine.