Golden Globes Recap: He's So Dull

Ricky Gervais bombs while 'The Artist,' 'The Descendants,' 'Homeland' win top awards

Golden Globe, Ricky Gervais
Paul Drinkwater/NBC via Getty Images
Ricky Gervais onstage during the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom in Beverly Hills.
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Maybe the third time isn't the charm. After teasing for weeks that his latest hosting gig would feature plenty of unapologetic, sharp-tongued swipes at celebrities, Ricky Gervais' opening monologue during the 69th Annual Golden Globes came off as awkward and sophomoric. As he swaggered toward the podium, the British comedian glared at his audience of Hollywood power players and breezily asked, "Nervous? Don't be. This isn't about you." He wasn't kidding.

Instead of poking fun at Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg, Gervais immediately bit the hand that fed him by launching into a series of NBC-related jokes, referring to it as a "nonprofit organization" and "America's third-biggest network," only to then correct himself: "fourth." A weak analogy of the Golden Globes being Kim Kardashian to the Academy Awards' Kate Middleton soon followed. By the time Gervais was reduced to reading a list of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's restrictions on his monologue – including a bizarre comment about "Jodie Foster's beaver" – we were all just as bored as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Fey looked so uncomfortable that it wouldn't be surprising if she was actually thinking, "I could joke circles around you, Office boy – and I've got a Mark Twain Prize to prove it." How about a Fey-Poehler-hosted Golden Globes for 2013, NBC? You know where they work.

Gervais' banter improved slightly as the evening wore on, but for all his hype that the 2012 Golden Globes would be just as controversial as 2011's, he simply wasn't funny. And when it comes to awards shows, that's a much a bigger crime than being mildly offensive.

Regardless, the presenters came prepared for Ricky's wrath, and the winner of the Robert Downey Jr. award for best retort goes to Madonna, who parried Gervais' "She's just like a virgin" – followed by a "bullshit"-esque cough – with "If I'm still just like a virgin, Ricky, why don't you come over here and do something about it. I haven't kissed a girl in a few years. On TV." Almost 30 years after bursting onto the international scene, the original Material Girl proved she's still got the biggest set of balls in the room. The pop icon took home a Best Original Song Globe for the song "Masterpiece" from her directorial debut, W.E.

Seth Rogen gets an honorable mention for scoring more laughs with one joke than Gervais did during the entire three-hour telecast. While presenting the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, the 50/50 actor said, "Hello, I'm Seth Rogen and I'm currently trying to conceal a massive erection." The target was Rogen's co-presenter, Kate Beckinsale, oozing sex appeal in a pale blush Roberto Cavalli gown. Rogen elicited more giggles when he ribbed the HFPA for its perplexing categorization practices: "Michelle Williams in the hysterical My Week With Marilyn." Williams took home the Globe for her dramatic portrayal of Marilyn Monroe.

In the television categories, there were no clear-cut sweeps, although Modern Family followed in its Emmy footsteps by taking home the Globe for Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical. Showtime's critically acclaimed Homeland was denied a Best Actor-Actress-Series hat trick thanks to a head-scratching Best Actor win by Kelsey Grammer for the low-rated Starz series Boss. Claire Danes, upon picking up her third Golden Globe, this time for her portrayal of a bipolar CIA agent on Homeland, used the opportunity to right a 17-year wrong: She recounted how, upon winning her first Globe for her role as angsty teen Angela Chase on My So-Called Life (yes, you read that correctly – MSCL was 17 years ago), she neglected to thank her parents.

Other TV awards included Peter Dinklage's Supporting Actor victory for Game of Thrones, which took a somber turn as he closed out his acceptance speech with a plea that the audience Google the name Martin Henderson. A quick search revealed that Dinklage was paying tribute to a man in England who, like the Thrones actor, is a dwarf, and is now facing life in a wheelchair following a brutal attack.

While the cult hit American Horror Story lost out to Homeland for the top honor for a TV drama, the show got some of its due with a Supporting Actress Globe for Jessica Lange's deliciously disturbing portrayal of Constance Langdon. And the Downton Abbey lovefest continued with that show's win for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.

When it came to the film awards, there were few surprises, setting the stage for a close Academy Awards race between The Artist and The Descendants – and for Meryl Streep to finally win a third Oscar. In a shock to no one, Streep was awarded the Globe for Best Actress – Drama for impeccably channeling British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The silent-film homage The Artist took home the honor as Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, along with a Best Actor award for French actor Jean Dujardin. (No disrespect to M. Dujardin, but he needs to share his award with Uggie the dog.) The Descendants, starring George Clooney playing against type as an absentee father desperately trying to reconnect with his two daughters in the wake of a family tragedy, walked away with the Best Motion Picture – Drama award, while Clooney snagged the corresponding Best Actor Globe.