Loosey goosey speeches - Mary Louise Parker thanking her newborn son for making her low-cut dress work - overdressed stars, prizes for The Lord of the Rings, Mystic River, Lost in Translation and Fox TV's 24 and HBO's Angels in America, for which Parker won her trophy. And a lot of plugs for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Welcome to the 2004 Golden Globes, the New Hampshire Primary of the movie awards season. Like New Hampshire, the Globes, awarded last night in Beverly Hills, Calif., are a quirky and unrepresentative poll of the best movies and TV shows of the previous year. Like New Hampshire, they're a ritual of the awards season, one that the stars and studios suffer through to market their films.
And, like New Hampshire, they're often a little off. At least in terms of predicting the Oscars. Despite having twice as many movie acting categories to honor films and performances in - the Globes separate musicals and comedies from dramas - the show often misses the mark in predicting who will carry home Oscar.
But there's a party, a TV show, and very nice little statuettes to hand out.
Lost in Translation, a story of two lonely Americans who find friendship in a Tokyo hotel and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King each collected three Golden Globe awards last night.
Bill Murray won best comedy actor for Lost in Translation, which also won best comedy film and best screenplay for Sofia Coppola, who wrote, produced and directed the film. Meanwhile, Peter Jackson won best director for the final installment of his fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Among TV nominees, HBO's adaptation of playwright Tony Kushner's Angels in America won five trophies, including best miniseries or TV movie.
But movies gathered most of the attention as Sean Penn collected best movie drama actor for playing an emotionally ravaged father seeking revenge for his daughter's murder in Mystic River, and Charlize Theron won the drama actress honor for Monster, the story of a prostitute serial killer. Murray and Diane Keaton (Something's Gotta Give) were recognized for best lead comedy film stars.
So much of Hollywood was there to see Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) and Tim Robbins (Mystic River) and Keaton and Murray and Brit newcomer Ricky Gervais (two-time winner for TV's The Office) collect a statue a say a few words:
"Let's face it, getting to play a woman-to-love at 57, is like reaching for the stars on a stepladder." - Keaton, best actress, musical or comedy.
"Jude and the wonderful Nicole, it was a privilege to shovel out the barn with you." - Zell- weger, best supporting actress.
"I would thank the people at Universal and Focus [Features], except there's so many of them trying to take credit for this, I wouldn't know where to begin." - Murray.
"I've just realized you can see completely through my dress. So now I'm standing with them [her legs] together." - Meryl Streep, best actress, mini-series, Angels in America.
One of the many reasons this year's Oscars were moved up a month was to allow the 5,000-plus members of the working or retired motion picture community to mute the impact of the Globes. Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow, taking much of the wind out of the Globes' power of "building buzz."
The Globes are awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, many of whose 90 or so members are neither press nor foreign, and given legitimacy by an NBC contract.
But the Globes have their place. Longer acceptance speeches, few if any rehearsed - Keaton read off what looked like a napkin. Even Streep cut up, and cut loose at President Bush for singling out gay marriage and "steroids in sports" as two of the biggest problems in America. She had, after all, starred in Angels in America, about AIDS, love and courage.
And stripped of the self-congratulatory moments that make the Oscars the Oscars, the Globes are positively brisk. Last night's show had given out three major awards within the first seven minutes. "Wow," Robbins gushed, grabbing his best supporting actor Globe at 8:03 p.m. "We just sat down!"
All this and J.Lo, too. Just days after her breakup with fiance Ben Affleck, award presenter Jennifer Lopez made a surprise appearance on the red carpet. She strolled by fans appearing effortlessly chic in a tangerine goddess gown with silver straps, her hair pulled up in a loose ponytail.
The honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award went to Michael Douglas, whose actor father, Kirk Douglas, received the honor in 1968. "My father couldn't make it here tonight, but if Kirk was here I would acknowledge him for his stamina, for his endurance and for his great sense of material," Douglas said.
Douglas, 59, also thanked another acting veteran, his co-star on the 1970s TV series The Streets of San Francisco, for teaching him about the business. "I will be eternally grateful to Karl Malden for showing me what a work ethic is about."
The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.
And the winners are ...
Here are the winners of the 61st annual Golden Globes:
Best dramatic film: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best dramatic actress: Charlize Theron, Monster
Best dramatic actor: Sean Penn, Mystic River
Best director: Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best screenplay: Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation
Best actress musical or comedy: Diane Keaton, Something's Gotta Give
Best actor in musical or comedy: Bill Murray, Lost in Translation
Best musical or comedy film: Lost in Translation
Best Foreign Language film: Osama, Afghanistan
Best supporting actress: Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain
Best supporting actor: Tim Robbins, Mystic River
Best original score, motion picture: Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best original song, motion picture: "Into the West," The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Cecil B. DeMille Award:Michael Douglas
Best TV drama: 24
Best TV drama actress: Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under
Best TV drama actor: Anthony LaPaglia, Without a Trace
Best TV musical or comedy series: The Office
Best TV actress in musical or comedy series: Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City
Best TV actor in musical or comedy series: Ricky Gervais, The Office
Best miniseries or TV movie: Angels in America
Best actress in a miniseries or TV movie: Meryl Streep, Angels in America
Best actor in a miniseries or TV movie: Al Pacino, Angels in America
Best supporting actress in a series, miniseries or TV movie: Mary Louise Parker, Angels in America
Best supporting actor in a series, miniseries or TV movie: Jeffrey Wright, Angels in America