Real moments spice Golden Globes

[12 January 2009]

By Maureen Ryan

Chicago Tribune (MCT)

We’re supposed to bash awards shows for being fakey ceremonies that traffic in false emotions, but there were a fair number of moments at Sunday’s Golden Globes that felt genuine and even touching.

Foremost among those moving moments in the ceremony, which was broadcast on NBC, was the best actor win for actor Heath Ledger, who passed away earlier this year. Ledger won for his galvanizing and widely acclaimed performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

“Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan said the enthusiastic reception that Ledger’s performance received had helped him come to terms with the “hole” that the actor’s death left in the film world.

“I, for one, start to be able to look a bit less at that gap in the future and a little bit more at the incredible place in the history of cinema he built for himself, with his talent and his incredible artistry,” Nolan said.

“He will be eternally missed but he will never be forgotten.”

Kate Winslet, a constant nominee who has famously not won any major acting awards, made up for lost time Sunday’s Globes ceremony. She picked up a best actress award for “Revolutionary Road” and a best supporting actress award for “The Reader.”

Winslet was clearly overcome with emotion both times she took the stage, especially the second time, when she looked shocked to be getting another statue from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Globes.

“Is this really happening?” she said.

When someone offstage signaled for her to wrap it up, she responded, “You have no idea how much I’m not wrapping up.”

She fought back tears when thanking and professing her love for Leonardo DiCaprio, her “Road” co-star, and Sam Mendes, who is both her husband and her director on “Revolutionary Road.”

Also heartening were the multiple wins for the underdog film “Slumdog Millionaire,” which boosted its Oscar chances with its surprise win as best picture. The low-budget “Slumdog” certainly looks to be shaping up as this year’s “Juno,” a tiny indie film that is picking up quite a few statues as awards season gathers steam. “Slumdog” also garnered awards for director Danny Boyle and for its screenplay and soundtrack.

During Sunday’s three-hour telecast, there was a fairly constant parade of British and Irish actors, writers and directors who were overcome with emotion: Danny Boyle, Kate Winslet, Sally Hawkins. Even Colin Farrell, who won an acting award for “In Bruges,” took the opportunity to muse aloud on the subject of love. The Americans, who managed to pick up a few awards here and there, stayed mostly dry-eyed.

British actress Hawkins could barely get through her acceptance speech after winning a best comedy actress award for “Happy Go Lucky.” Fellow actress Emma Thompson gave the overcome winner encouragement from the audience, which Hawkins tearfully acknowledged. “I’m OK,” she said. “Hanging on.”

“I really should have shut up a long time ago but this really is extraordinary,” she said after her long list of thank-yous.

In the TV realm, “30 Rock” added to its ever-lengthening list of awards-show wins. Alec Baldwin, who plays NBC executive Jack Donaghy on the show, won as best comedy actor and Tina Fey picked up a statue for her performance as harried writer Liz Lemon.

“I really know how very lucky I am to have the year that I have had this year. And if you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the Internet, and you can find a lot of people there who don’t like you. I’d like to address some of them now,” Fey said, adding a few salty (and joking) insults to her online critics.

Earlier, when the show won its best comedy award, Tracy Morgan, who plays “30 Rock” wild card Tracy Jordan, he said he and Tina Fey had reached an agreement: If Barack Obama won the presidential contest, Morgan would speak for the show.

“I’m the face of post-racial America,” Morgan said. “Deal with it, Cate Blanchett!”

“30 Rock’s” win was not surprisingly, but several on Sunday night were, not least Mickey Rourke’s win for his role in “The Wrestler.”

Another surprised winner, Colin Farrell, who won for his role in “In Bruges,” joked that “they must have done the counting in Florida.”

When he accepted the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, Steven Spielberg gave an earnest and heartfelt acceptance speech in which he paid tribute to those who had mentored him and to those whom he had mentored in some way. Fostering new talents and seeing them blossom, he said, was the best part of his job.

“Those are the honors that I value beyond all else,” Spielberg said.

HBO picked up awards for two dramas that debuted on the network in 2007. A surprised and effusive Anna Paquin won for her role as a vampire-loving waitress in “True Blood” and Gabriel Byrne, who wasn’t on hand for the ceremony, won for his role as a troubled but effective therapist at the center of “In Treatment.”

HBO’s “John Adams” also won big, with stars Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson picking up statues; the period drama also won a best miniseries award. Another HBO winner was Laura Dern, who donned a truckload of makeup for her performance as Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris in the TV movie “Recount.”

As he has at previous awards ceremonies, Ricky Gervais turned up to poke fun at the pretensions and conventions of the glittery event.

“Well done, Winslet,” he said to the actress, who got one Globe for her work in “The Reader,” a Holocaust drama. “I told you - do a Holocaust movie, (and) the awards come, didn’t I?” The in-joke for fans of Gervais’ work is that a few years ago, Winslet appeared in the writer/actor’s entertainment business satire “Extras.” Her story line in “Extras,” in which she played a comedic version of herself, had her playing a nun in a big-budget Holocaust film in order to get an acting award.

He went on to complain about not getting a nomination for his film “Ghost Town,” despite (and presumably this was a joke) having had intimate relations with the entire membership of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

“Europeans with wispy beards,” he muttered. “The men were worse.”

“Borat” star Sasha Baron Cohen won’t be invited to host an awards show any time soon. Before he presented an award, he made a few cracks about celebrities having to cut back in these times of austerity.

“This recession is affecting everyone, even celebrities. Victoria Beckham hasn’t eaten in three weeks,” he said. “Charlie Sheen has been forced to have sex without paying for it. And even Madonna has had to get rid of one of her personal assistants. Our thoughts go out to you, Guy Ritchie.”

That last remark got an audible groan from the assembled stars in the Beverly Hilton ballroom.

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