1. 1. The Stuffy Factor
There was a time when Hollywood could pull off formality. Back when it was a city of grown-ups who felt more at home in formal wear then they did in pajamas and looked believable at an affair built on dignity and prestige. That ship, to put it mildly, has sailed. The Hollywood of today is in the business mainly of making films for children and teenagers — and it shows.
Each year the Academy takes another run at “updating” the concept of a stuffy awards ceremony, and each year, because it insists on holding onto that stuffy when its time has passed, it fails.
Forcing the people is of Hollywood to put on formal wear, sit up straight, listen to three hours of speeches and clap politely is cruel and unusual. The Globes, on the other hand, makes no claims of importance and is just there to have fun. Those who dive into sanctimony on the Globes stage do so at their own peril.
2. 2. Whose Prize Is It Anyway?
The case is often made that the Oscars are the “real” awards show while the Globes are just some “fake” event thrown together by a collection of 90 foreigners of dubious journalism credentials trying to get their hands on a little TV ad money.
The motives ascribed to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association may be entirely true, but one asks, what are the Oscars? The Oscar reception was thrown together in 1929 as a way for the entertainment industry to honor and promote itself. All well and good, but why does the public need to accept that the industry is best qualified to judge what’s best about itself? If you look at Hollywood’s output lately, you might think industry professionals are the last people who should be judging what’s a great film or performance. So why not let 90 foreign journalists be the judges?
3. 3. Booze Schmooze
Makes everything better and everyone cheerier. Forcing Academy members to sit still parched and hungry for three-plus hours has its appeal in a Fear Factor sort of way. But letting the stars eat — and get drunk — is both humane and makes for a happier show. And why would you ever not want moments like this?.
4. 4. Host Busters
For the past two decades, the impossible task of trying to insert a bit of humor into a ceremony as self-serious and stuffy as the Oscars has been a suicide mission for comedians from David Letterman to Jon Stewart and Chris Rock, who have seen their stars plummet after their hosting stints. It only got worse when the Academy took the chance at letting non-comedians try their luck — as the ill-fated Anne Hathaway/James Franco pairing proved.
Stepping in as the Globes’ first front man to the previously un-hosted show, Ricky Gervais may have been hit or miss in his one-liners, but he set a tone of enforced irreverence that served the show well. This year, the Globes seem to have hit pay dirt with the most zeitgeisty pairing imaginable of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Oscar, on the other hand, with the wild card of Seth MacFarlane, still seems to be grasping at straws.
5. 5. No Set Pieces
The tedium of Oscar night is largely due to the groan-inducing set pieces and giant musical numbers that every year chew up hours of screen time while making the show appear even more awkward and clunky. The Globes dealt with the conundrum by not having any of those. Problem solved.
6. 6. Giving Comedy a Chance
In keeping with the tone of self-seriousness that defines the Oscars, comedy has long reigned as the Academy’s least favorite genre. No pure comedy has won the Best Picture trophy since Annie Hall in 1977, and in the past decade only three have been nominated. The Globes has an entire category for comedy and musical films, allowing comic films ranging from The Kids Are All Right, The Hangover and Vicky Christina Barcelona to take home a bit of gold.
7. 7. The Television Age
TV is no longer a poor step-child at the Globes table. These days, when the creativity on the airwaves often far exceeds that at the multiplex, and when TV has become a medium where artists can take many more chances than they do in studio filmmaking, it’s the TV people who bring credibility to the Globes, rather than vice versa.
8. 8. Taking Chances
Whatever spontaneity the Oscars had in its system was drained away years ago.These days, Oscar sees it as his job to more or less confirm the conventional wisdom and make the consensus choice official. Even the lamest of pundits can generally get 7 of the 8 big categories right on awards night.
The Globes, on the other hand, takes chances. Offbeat choices like Babel and The Kids Are All Right can take home trophies on Globes night. There are far fewer “he’s owed one” picks. Even Burlesque got three nominations!
These movies may not be to everyone’s taste but I’d rather have even wrong-headed quirkiness than establishment groupthink. A month out, Lincoln seems certain to win Oscar’s Best Picture prize. But who will win the Globe on Sunday night is anybody’s guess.