Populism Fails To Make Globes More Popular
Following years of declining awards-show ratings often blamed on the fact that movies that few people see turn out to be the winners, the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Sunday awarded its top prize for dramatic film to a film that everyone has seen, 20th Century Fox's Avatar. Many film writers had indicated that, judging from the group's past selections, The Hurt Locker would probably be chosen. But that film earned just $12.67 million during its entire domestic run. Avatar earned more than that just on the day of the Golden Globes ($13.6 million), which last year, when it picked Slumdog Millionaire as the top film, saw its ratings drop to the lowest level since 1986. (Things didn't improve Sunday. The telecast attracted 14.1 million viewers between 8 00 p.m. and 11 00 p.m. versus 4.6 million a year ago.) "It was a good night for populist fare," commented Daily Variety. "Populism was the theme at this year's Golden Globes -- success at the box office translated to gold statuettes," commented CNBC correspondent Julia Boorstin. And although he writes for The Australian, which is also owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and is therefore a corporate sibling of 20th Century Fox, Michael Body wrote on the newspaper's website today (Monday) that the awards ceremony proved itself to be "big on flaky, populist choices and small on consequence ... at odds with many of the critics and industry association awards." Even James Cameron, who received the best director award Sunday night, expressed surprise at the win. His ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, was the director of The Hurt Locker , and in accepting his Golden Globe statuette, he remarked, "Frankly, I though Kathryn was going to get this." Sandra Bullock won the best dramatic actress award for The Blind Side , another film that proved to be enormously popular at the box office, earning more money than any other film with a woman as the top star. Likewise the award for best comedy film of the year went to The Hangover , the year's biggest comedy success at the box office. Indeed, not a single major award went to a film that performed poorly. (The jury's still out on Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges the award for best actor in a drama; it's still playing in limited release.) Other top awards went to Robert Downey Jr. for best actor in a comedy ( Sherlock Holmes ); Meryl Streep for best actress in a comedy ( Julie & Julia ); Up for best animated film; and Sheldon Turner and Jason Reitman for best screenplay ( Up in the Air ). A complete list of winners can be found at www.goldenglobes.org/nominations.