Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

I can’t say I’m a fan of teevee awards shows. Overlooking their propensity for vapidity and fecklessness while acknowledging their complete commitment to style over substance, I agree with those who say that it is truly stupid to pit masterpieces against each other strictly because they were released within the same period of time.

Case in point: the nominees for Best Picture of 1939 – I’m talking the Academy Awards here – were Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Wizard of Oz, Of Mice and Men, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Ninotchka, Dark Victory and Love Affair. One’s own personal predilections aside, it’s hard to parse out a qualitative analysis of these films in order to determine a clear “best.” At least eight of these movies are among the very best Hollywood has had to offer, and the other two are no slouches.

(For the record, I would have voted for Stagecoach – and then shot myself for passing over Ninotchka and Of Mice and Men.)

However, I do enjoy a fun live teevee show. I enjoy watching the Oscars with my daughter because she keeps me in stitches with her faux-catty commentary. I love watching the Golden Globes because it’s more relaxed, it is largely bereft of stupid song-and-dance routines, it is comparatively un-overproduced… but, mostly, because Ricky Gervais may be the most honest and one of the most fearless comedians to ever walk the red carpet on the way to work. If I’m watching an awards show and the only person I’m cheering on is the host, I’m still having a good time. Gervais did not disappoint.

By and large most of the “winners” were worthy, in a non-comparative sense. The show was a celebration of the conflation of movies and television, with most of the nominees having come from the payrolls of Amazon, HBO and Netflix. Everybody genuflected before Martin Scorsese, which was appropriate despite his recent obnoxious manifestation of snobbery. However, he went home having seen his nearly four-hour movie The Irishman lose the awards for best picture, best screenplay, best supporting actor (twice), and best director. That’s a heap of hubris, Marty.

Worse still, he saw one of those theme park movies, Joker, win two trophies. By the way, well before he went on the rag about how “theme park” movies are not “cinema” he was supposed to be the producer of Joker. After dicking around for a year, he went on to do a different movie starring Robert DeNiro – who starred in both Joker and The Irishman but was nominated for neither. What comes around bites you in the ass, Marty. Still love your movies, though.

In this very space last year, I editorialized about how Joker isn’t The Joker, how Warner Bros avoids consistency in their theme park movies the way Donald Trump avoids the truth, and what a bitch it is that they have lost the ability to make a decent Batman movie that doesn’t star millions of small plastic bricks. This was before the movie was released; after release, it turns out many people think it was a very well-made movie that is worthy of even Scorsese’s notice.

And now, its star Joaquin Phoenix, he of David Letterman fame, copped the best dramatic actor Globe. Well, you gotta love that. Having the stick pulled out of my ass, I am now reversing myself and I will be seeing Joker.

If I don’t like it, maybe I’ll pick up some Legos and make my own damn movie.

I don’t know if Gervais will return – he says he won’t, but he’s hardly an authoritative source. A return appearance on the Golden Globes would supply him with a few pounds of hilarious, self-effacing humor. Maybe it won’t happen as the ratings were down a tad, but the broadcast managed to attract something close to twice as many viewers in its time slot than its competition on ABC, CBS, Fox and the CW combined.

Then again, as the Golden Globes show pointed out, the real action is not on NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and the CW. It’s on Amazon, HBO, and Netflix.

And we’re better off for it.