The only thing I can figure about last night's Golden Globes TV show is that those Hollywood Foreign Press jerks called a last-minute meeting and, like a whore picked up by the cops with a john's pants already unzipped, tried to get respectable fast. It wasn't just the media, including me, ragging on them mercilessly last week: It was their former publicist Michael Russell suing them for $2 million because he had objected over the years to "unethical and potentially unlawful" deals under which members of the so-called nonprofit association profit by taking payments from studios or producers to lobby fellow members for votes. Hey, hasn't that been an open secret for decades?
My theory is the HFPA called an emergency confab, changed their ballots and picked winners that would jibe with the critics and the Oscars. They showered The Social Network with awards they didn't mean. How could an organization that nominates The Tourist and Burlesque for Best Movie have a genuine urge to honor anything "smart"?
Still, while the results were boring by being unobjectionable, the show still held interest for being what presenter Robert Downey Jr. termed "hugely mean-spirited and mildly sinister." For that, we mostly have to thank host Ricky Gervais, who broke the rule that governs any occasion in which Hollywood congratulates itself, by actually speaking his mind.
Gervais let insults drop like mortar fire. Noting the presence of undeserved Tourist acting nominees Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in the audience, Gervais denied the HFPA chose them merely as glam ratings grabbers for its awards telecast. "Rubbish," Gervais joked. "That was not the only reason. They also accepted bribes."
The comedian also laughed off rumors that a free trip to Vegas to see Cher constituted conduct unbecoming: "Now how was that a bribe, really? It's not, because it's not 1975 Choice stuff."
To commemorate an evening of priceless sham and disgrace, here are the Top Ten moments at the 2011 Golden Dildos:
1. Ricky Gervais claiming he had to pull HFPA president Philip Berk off the toilet and "pop in his teeth" to get him onstage for welcoming remarks. Berk wasn't laughing. "Ricky, next time you want me to help qualify your movies, go to another guy," said the pissed-off Prez, not even seeing the irony of his responding to anyone's special pleading.
2. Christian Bale, justifiably winning Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter, and referring to the Hollywood Foreign Press who gave it to him as "those awful characters."
3. Robert De Niro accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award by mocking his own bad films, including Little Fockers, and moving on to the HFPA voters who insisted on posing for photos with him.
4. The face of Johnny Depp in the audience, looking increasingly uncomfortable every time Gervais took another dig at The Tourist. Gervais claimed he hadn't even seen The Tourist, asking, "Who has?"
5. Gervais claiming surprise that the Globes hadn't nominated the widely panned Sex and the City 2—I was surprised too; those girls are ratings magnets. Then came the crack on age: "I was sure the Golden Globe for special effects would go to the team that airbrushed that poster. Girls, we know how old you are. I saw one of you in an episode of Bonanza." Ouch.
6. Pregnant winner Natalie Portman ignoring the sham and radiating mischief in accepting the Best Actress Globe for Black Swan. She reminded the audience that her baby daddy, the film's choreographer Benjamin Millepied, played the cameo role of the dancer who said he wouldn't sleep with her. "He lied," she grinned.
7. Steve Buscemi winning Best TV Actor for Boardwalk Empire. His enthused response repped one of the rare displays of genuine pleasure all night.
8. Aaron Sorkin took home the prize for writing the screenplay for The Social Network (the best script of the decade in my opinion) and thanked the women present for proving to his daughter that "elite is not a bad word, it's an aspirational one." Did he mean the Kardashians or Megan Fox?
9. I never appreciated Gervais more than when Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, the moral voices of Woody and Buzz in the Toy Story series, ragged on the host: Hanks said he remembered when Ricky "was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian." To which Allen seconded, "Neither of which he is now." Come on, guys. To infinity and beyond, kindness is not what the Globes call for.
10. Michael Douglas entered to cheers, successful so far in his battle against throat cancer. "There's got to be an easier way to get a standing ovation," said a smiling Douglas, an acting nominee for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and the evening's one indisputable class act. He entered three minutes before the show ended. But, hey, this is the Golden Globes. We'll take class where and when we can get it.