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Golden Globes crazy like a family wedding

By Gene Seymour
January 13, 2014 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the 71st Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday, January 12. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual event is often looked at as an Academy Awards predictor. It also honors the best in television. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the 71st Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday, January 12. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual event is often looked at as an Academy Awards predictor. It also honors the best in television.
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2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
2014 Golden Globes: The show
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gene Seymour: What did Golden Globes show? Actress + drinking = interesting speech
  • He says Blanchett, Bissett livened things up with frank remarks; hosts had less to do
  • He says even with two best picture awards, Globes are flawed predictor of Oscar winners
  • Seymour: Globes mostly flashy kickoff of awards season; critic awards better predictor

Editor's note: Gene Seymour is a film critic who has written about music, movies and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post.

(CNN) -- So what did we learn at Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards? First off, we learned that sketch comedians are so much better at giving acceptance speeches than rock stars, screenwriters and actors who've won Oscars and Emmys for dramatic roles. "Who knew?" as Andy Samberg put it when he delivered one of the evening's most compact acceptances, for best lead actor in a TV comedy or musical in Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (a surprise winner for best comedy series, by the way.)

We also learned that actresses say the darnedest things on TV when they're drinking a lot. (What was that Cate Blanchett said about Judy Garland and barbiturates when she got the Globe for best actress in a drama in "Blue Jasmine"?)

Gene Seymour
Gene Seymour

One trusts that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which sponsors the awards, has also learned that when you nominate somebody four times for a Golden Globe over four decades without giving her one, you'd better be prepared for retributive pain when you finally come through. Though I have to admit that as the ceremonies trudged along, part of me was hoping Jacqueline Bissett, who finally won a Globe for best supporting actress in a TV movie, miniseries or series as a lonely dowager in "Dancing on the Edge," would get called back for more ragged stream-of-consciousness and disregard for decorum.

The authenticity of her speech, which included a bleeped expletive, somehow burst through the ceremony's glitz -- and, at 69, she still made for a gorgeous-looking train wreck.

But did we learn for sure who's going to win the Academy Awards on March 2? Not really.

5 things we learned from the 2014 Golden Globes

It's true that Blanchett came away as big a favorite in her category as she was before the pipes burst earlier that night, flooding the red carpet. But nothing short of a tsunami will stop her appointment with the best actress Oscar for her rendering of a shattered socialite.

Bisset backstage at Golden Globes
Poehler-Bono kiss among top Globe scenes
Cranston: I'm going to 'Kanye' the stage

The rest are not so clear. "12 Years a Slave" won the best drama Globe, matching most advance expectations. But it didn't win as many Globes as the best comedy or musical winner, "American Hustle." Both Amy Adams' win for best actress in a comedy or musical (which was mildly unexpected) and Jennifer Lawrence's win for best supporting actress (which wasn't) seemed to boost "Hustle's" profile in the Oscar race. But both "Hustle's" director, David O. Russell, and "Slave's" director, Steve McQueen, lost the best director race to Alfonso Cuaron for his orchestration of the harrowing "Gravity."

Let's face facts: Though some insist on seeing the Globes as an Oscar tip sheet, you can't easily align awards that split their categories between comedy and drama with those that don't. Period.

There have been some years where a Globe drama winner gets the best picture Oscar (2001's "A Beautiful Mind") and the comedy-musical winner doesn't ("Moulin Rouge!"). Then there are those years when the opposite is true. (1998, when "Shakespeare in Love" won best picture while "Saving Private Ryan" didn't). And then, too, there are those years when neither of the Globe winners is in the best picture winner at the Oscars (1992, when "The Silence of the Lambs" bested both "Bugsy" and "Beauty and the Beast," and 1993, when both "Scent of a Woman" and "The Player" lost to "Unforgiven," and 1991, when ... and we could go on and on ...).

So as usual, we're left at the end of another Golden Globes show wondering, what exactly was the point? That is, besides the comedy factor, both intended (hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who didn't have nearly as much to do this year as last) and unintended.

Golden Globes: Best moments and GIFs

Maybe it's best to look at the Globes less as tea leaves or portents for future awards and more as shiny paper for the global village to unwrap every January as the true beginning of Hollywood's ritual of self-congratulation.

The various film critics awards are (for the most part, anyway) more measured and thoughtful signals as to what will be taken seriously between holiday openings and Oscar night. But the Globes are when the moms, mall rats and reality-show audiences begin noticing what the more serious and solemn movies are doing with themselves as their makers and actors campaign for support from the Academy voters.

You can downgrade their importance or dismiss their results as much as you like. But the Golden Globes are, like it or not, an Occasion-with-a-capital-O, much like weddings, Thanksgiving and other rituals that often provoke sentiment and warmth -- and slavishness and inappropriate behavior. So wait for the trade awards to get their results out and hope that whomever's in charge of these awards doesn't take anything Bissett says too seriously.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gene Seymour.

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