Just how bleeping surreal were the Golden Globes?

Updated 10:44 AM EST, Mon January 11, 2016

Story highlights

Gene Seymour: "The Martian" won as a "comedy," Lady Gaga got a statue and Ricky Gervais offended many in a surreal Golden Globes show

He says wins for "The Revenant" and Sylvester Stallone may give a preview of what to expect for the Oscars

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. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

CNN —  

If Ricky Gervais is having another beer, then so am I. The Golden Globes were on last night and that meant, like it or not, he was, too.

This is the awards show put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, where you’re supposed to get a clearer idea as to who will win Oscars soon. And while some things were cleared up (Get ready for best dramatic movie winner “The Revenant” to rev up its engines), others were not. (Brie Larson as best actress for “Room”? Well, maybe…)

Too much information to easily assimilate, but here are 10 observations to explain what the night was like. Where to start? (And where’s my beer?).


The only reason to give a night of your life to watching a Golden Globes broadcast is to satisfy the suspicion that these decorative-people-in-makeup, sharing their tables with champagne buckets, are having a way better time than you are. Spoiler alert: They are. Decorum has never been a must-have-variable at the Globes, even when they used to be broadcast as part of the Andy Williams variety show in the 1960s. And yes, I see many quizzical frowns out there in Digital Land, so let’s keep moving along…


…which, by the way, seemed to be what Sunday night’s ceremony was most concerned about. As soon as the winners got their trophies, they were being shooed off the stage, with the next presenters getting on stage before the last ones were done. Also, one continues to wonder why all the winners from TV had to walk from so far back of that crowded room. Yeah, it’s all mostly about the movies and the big stars are down in front, but TV still has better ideas, richer stories and zippier buzz about its myriad product.


Also: Did anybody notice that there were many more people – Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence among them – having their words bleeped out on stage besides Ricky Gervais? Maybe the bit early on with Jonah Hill pretending to be the bear in “The Revenant” was a lot funnier than it came across, but the censors made sure you couldn’t hear everything he said. As if it would have made a difference…


You could, on the other hand, hear most of what Gervais had to say; that is, in those relatively rare moments he was on camera. People on Twitter were taking bets on how many seconds it would take for him to make a Sean Penn-El Chapo joke. (Fifteen seconds into the opening monologue, some figured, though as with everything else about the show, it seemed a lot longer.)

Yet Gervais’ trademark misanthropy, which was part of the advance hype, seemed, well, more trademarked and less scabrous than provocative … except for that one line introducing Globe winner Matt Damon as “the only person Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to.” Damon laughed so hard, he almost flubbed the introduction to “The Martian.” It’s a party. The bar’s still open.


Wait. You really want to hear the Sean Penn joke? (Sigh.) Fine. Gervais: “I want to do this monologue and then go into hiding, OK? Not even Sean Penn will find me.” Beat…Beat…”Snitch.”


But enough about Ricky (for now). How about Eva Longoria and America Ferrera applying the crisp smack down on Latin stereotyping by deliberately misidentifying themselves and other Latina stars for the benefit of those who insist on thinking of “ethnic’ performers as being more or less indistinguishable. (Sorry, Eva, but Ferrera’s new show is still better than yours.) They were among the few on stage or in the audience who seemed to know exactly what they wanted to say and how to say it. Otherwise presenters seemed to fumble and stumble through their assigned or prepared readings.


Even so, anyone needing more proof of Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Denzel Washington’s peerless ability to transcend even the least promising circumstances need only observe his compellingly unaffected effort to grope for his reading glasses to read a speech he couldn’t remember. Meanwhile, his family members who had joined him on stage as he accepted the award acted as if they were at home trying to get dad to focus on carving the turkey. Unexpected joy.


And speaking of “unexpected,” did anybody have Kate Winslet, “Mozart in the Jungle,” Lady Gaga, Gael Garcia Bernal or Christian Slater penciled in as winners in their respective categories? And did anybody expect “The Martian” to win for best comedy or musical? No. You know why? BECAUSE “THE MARTIAN” IS NOT A MUSICAL OR A COMEDY AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED FOR SOMETHING ELSE, THAT’S WHY? This was hardly a novel suggestion since other pundits said the same thing about Ridley Scott’s science fiction survival epic.

Gervais made several gibes about it throughout the evening; though none of those gibes will be remembered as vividly as his friendly-malicious give-and-take with Mel Gibson in which Gervais joked about Gibson’s alcohol problems and Gibson responded by claiming to regard his encounters with Gervais as reminders that he needs a colonoscopy.

As for what Gervais said in response, well, we didn’t hear it all because it was blanked out by the tape-delay wizards. Somehow, though, the censors missed that end-of-the-show crack by Gervais: “Mel Gibson and I wish everybody ‘Shalom.’”


Anybody who doesn’t think either winners Leonardo DiCaprio (best actor, drama, for “The Revenant”) or Sylvester Stallone (best supporting actor, for “Creed”) will win Oscars in another couple months is as dumb as Ricky Gervais thinks I am for having watched the whole show to the end. Why? Eleven words: Both got standing ovations in a room full of Academy members.


I wish I could say more, and I’m sorry to rush to the end, but the music’s forcing me to hurry the (blankety-blank) up. Bottoms up, fellow losers!

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.
Read CNNOpinion’s Flipboard magazine.