Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 01-16-12

Prince Charles and Martin Scorsese

Prince Charles and Martin Scorsese

Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, and Woody Allen in “Midnight in Paris”

Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, and Woody Allen in “Midnight in Paris”

Scene from “The Descendants” featuring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley – In theaters September 23rd

Scene from “The Descendants” featuring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley – In theaters September 23rd

Glittering Globes: In a perfect world there would be two Golden Globes evenings and double the fun!

Once again, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes were Hollywood’s best party night of the year. No other event on the movie awards radar screen is nearly as much fun to attend as the Globes, something I can attest to after years of making the awards rounds.

The Globes is famous for being a glittering champagne-driven dinner party where Hollywood’s biggest movie and TV stars populate the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s International Ballroom. Wherever you look the town’s most glamorous stars are sipping champagne at their tables or chatting on the sidelines as are most of Hollywood’s studio and network heads.

There’s great spirit at the Globes — much of it thanks to host Ricky Gervais’s sometimes mean-spirited but always funny jabs at Hollywood’s high and mighty. Gervais’s controversial comments last year turned out to be just what the TV ratings doctor ordered. So here he was back at it again with another Ricky’s Roast, despite all the talk that he’d never darken the Globes’ stage again. This time around Ricky seemed slightly de-fanged — approaching “the line” but not quite crossing it as he did a year earlier. Although his remarks about the naughty “Bridesmaids” ladies and Jodie Foster’s movie "The Beaver" did come close to line crossing.

The good news is that the Globes’ ratings are once again bringing smiles to NBC and the HFPA. Early ratings reports as I’m writing this column indicate that the telecast’s ratings were about the same as last year and may actually be up from 2011 when everything is tabulated. A lot of that is thanks to the Ricky Factor and viewers wanting to see him back in action.

There also were big smiles Sunday night at The Weinstein Company thanks to its black & white silent movie acquisition “The Artist” winning best picture - comedy or musical, best actor - comedy or musical (Jean Dujardin) and best original score (Ludovic Bource).

“The Artist’s” win in the comedy or musical race was widely anticipated. It’s a critically acclaimed film that’s already attracted numerous critics groups nominations as well as being a Producers Guild of America (PGA) best picture nominee and a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) best ensemble cast nominee. Clearly, “The Artist” is going to be a leading contender in Oscar’s best picture race.

“Bridesmaids” and “My Week With Marilyn” weren’t seen as strong competitors for best picture - comedy or musical. Just being nominated was a big deal for the raunchy girls-behaving-badly “Bridesmaids.” As for “Marilyn,” its strongest shot was Michelle Williams’ performance as Marilyn Monroe, which the HFPA recognized by giving her the best actress - comedy or musical Globe.

The strongest competition for “The Artist” was Woody Allen’s critically acclaimed “Midnight in Paris.” As an American film made in France, it’s really the mirror image of “The Artist,” which is a French film made in the U.S.

“Paris,” Woody’s most successful boxoffice film ever, has a lot going for it in the Oscar race. The HFPA probably points the way to what’s likely to happen with the Academy in giving its best screenplay Globe to Woody. The fact that Woody doesn’t campaign for awards won’t help him with Academy members who are targeted by every other Oscar hopeful. His best shot is probably an Oscar best original screenplay win — the safe assumption being that he’ll be nominated next Tuesday.

There also was no surprise in Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” winning the best picture - drama Globe and the best actor - drama Globe for George Clooney’s performance. The HFPA loves Payne and Clooney’s work in the film was widely praised. The film will be a high profile Oscar contender — an Oscar nod is a very safe bet — thanks to its Globe victory as well as being a PGA best picture nominee and a SAG best ensemble cast nominee.

“The Help” was “The Descendants” strongest competition and the HFPA recognized it by giving the best supporting actress Globe to Octavia Spencer. Her win came over Shailene Woodley, whose performance in “The Descendants” has brought her awards attention, including a best supporting actress win from the National Board of Review.

There wasn’t any Globes love for high profile nominees like Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” or “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt. But “Hugo” was honored with a best director win for Martin Scorsese, who’s a likely Oscar nominee and will now go into that race with added strength. It also helps that Scorsese is a Directors Guild of America (DGA) nominee for “Hugo.”

The night’s other big award was Meryl Streep’s best actress - drama win for playing Britain’s former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” That win sets Streep up as the front runner in Oscar’s best actress race, for which she’s a very safe bet to be nominated.

As is always the case, the Globes fun continues well into the night after the awards have been handed out. The after-parties are scattered throughout the Beverly Hilton Hotel, which makes them easy to get to quickly without having to drive. They provide hours of alcohol-fueled opportunities for catching up with old and new friends and comparing notes on the winners’ Oscar prospects.

HBO held forth in the hotel’s pool area, where it’s been based for years on Globes Night. This year, for the first time, HBO actually drained the pool and carpeted it to allow for additional tables and seating. The dinner buffets included excellent sushi and an extensive array of desserts that was entirely too tempting.

The Weinstein Company’s after-party was in the hotel’s old Trader Vic’s restaurant space. In past years, that meant trays of Trader Vic’s famous hors d’oeuvres to nibble on, but the restaurant’s long gone and so are its classic spare ribs and egg rolls. Drinks, however, flowed readily and it was a happy crowd.

Once again, Harvey Weinstein (and his co-chairman brother Bob Weinstein) had lots of Globes on display as TWC is the distributor for “The Artist,” “My Week With Marilyn” and “The Iron Lady” as well as “W.E.,” whose director, Madonna, won the Globe for best original song (“Masterpiece”).

Meanwhile, up on the Beverly Hilton’s garage roof under a tent — with the sound of some late night rain falling briefly — was NBC Universal’s after-party. Here, too, there was great sushi, an extensive spread of ingredients for creative salad makers to choose from, and a dessert buffet that included an ice cream sundae station that I admit to having found irresistible.

Bottom line: The Oscar nominations are coming Tue., Jan. 24 and will almost certainly include best picture nods for “The Artist” and “The Descendants.” As Golden Globe winners, they’ll be Oscar’s front runners, but unlike the Globes where drama and comedy are separate categories, in the Oscars the’ll be competing against each other.