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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Golden Globes

Oscar predictions: 'The Artist' to take picture, director races

February 25, 2012 |  7:00 am

The Artist

The Envelope's Gold Standard columnist Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, predicting the winners. Check previous posts for tips on marking your Oscar pool ballots for the music categories; short films; sound races; animation, documentary and foreign films; visual crafts; and the screenplay and editing races.

Here, a look at the final two categories -- picture and director -- which will likely bring some serious noise for “The Artist.”

PICTURE

The nominees:

“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
“The Help”
“Hugo”
“Midnight in Paris”
“Moneyball”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

And the winner is … “The Artist.” It became ridiculously popular to compare this year’s best picture race to the Republican presidential primary, casting “The Artist” as the middling Mitt Romney-like candidate that nobody particularly loves but who will somehow end up winning, much to the consternation of True Believers across the land.

The problem with this analogy is that while you might be hard-pressed to find a passionate Romney enthusiast outside his own immediate family, quite a few people truly love “The Artist,” among them folks who aren’t easily won over by nostalgia or charming trifles. The New York Film Critics Circle gave it best picture, as did numerous other critics groups. Those Cannes snobs nominated it for the Palme d’Or and gave the dog, Uggie, a special prize. Yes, the movie’s box-office has been slight, unless you consider that it’s a silent movie imported from France! Given those peculiarities, it has practically put up “Harry Potter” numbers.

The Producers Guild win all but sealed the deal. Back-to-back best picture winners for Harvey Weinstein. And he has Paul Thomas Anderson, David O. Russell and Quentin Tarantino lined up this coming fall. Let the backlash begin!

Unless … The backlash swings into action early. Then maybe enough voters thought that the pitch-perfect, contemporary family dynamics at the heart of “The Descendants” merited a win. Hey, it is the only nominee not set in the past.

DIRECTOR

The nominees:

“The Artist,” Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants,” Alexander Payne
“Hugo,” Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life,” Terrence Malick

And the winner is … Since the Directors Guild winner has taken this Oscar 57 times in its 63-year history, relative newcomer Hazanavicius (he’s practically a toddler compared with most of the rest of this field) wins over the worthier likes of Scorsese and Malick. Too bad last year’s bridesmaid, David Fincher, won’t be at the bar to offer consolation.

Unless … Voters name “The Artist” best picture, but decide there’s room enough to honor that other nostalgic love letter to Hollywood’s past, "Hugo."

RELATED:

New York critics name 'The Artist' best film of the year

DGA names 'The Artist's' Michel Hazanavicius best director

Oscars 2012: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist." Credit: Weinstein Co.


The Oscar Senti-meter: Your Tweets on Meryl Streep vs. Michelle Williams

February 7, 2012 |  7:10 am

Merylstreep

Welcome to the Oscar Senti-meter –- an interactive tool developed by the L.A. Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab to analyze opinions about the Academy Awards race shared in millions of public messages on Twitter.

Focused on the best actor, best actress and best picture categories, the Senti-meter combs through a high volume of tweets daily and uses language-recognition technology, developed in collaboration with USC’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab, to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages. It also tracks the number of tweets. Cataloging these tweets over time gives insight into the vox pop surrounding Hollywood’s award season and gives a voice to average fans who may endorse -– or abhor –- the selections made by Tinseltown’s elite.

Check out our interactive tool: For example, you can compare volume and tone of tweets about the best actress contest on two days, Saturday, Jan. 14, the day before the Golden Globes, and Sunday, Jan. 15, the day of the awards.

As you’d expect, the volume of tweets about the actresses shot up sharply on Golden Globes day. Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams, winners of the best actress statuettes for drama and musical/comedy, respectively, saw the most chatter.

On Saturday, Streep and her awards prospects were the subject of 3,774 tweets registered and rated by the Senti-meter. She saw her volume rise tenfold to 37,583 tweets on awards day, but the overall tone of those tweets was more negative than it had been on the eve of the Globes. The drop in sentiment seemed to be due to some displeasure about her awards speech, and catty comments about her dress. 

For instance, one tweet read: "Being ‘surprised’ at her Golden Globe win is probably the worst acting Meryl Streep has ever done. Come on! You're MERYL STREEP.” While another commenter said: “Does Meryl Streep get her outfits from Chico's or Talbots?”                      

Other comments included:

  •  “Meryl Streep won because she's Meryl Streep, yawn, boring. I heard that movie was unbearable too. Just saying.”  
  • “I hate meryl streep and her false humility.”
  • “Was Meryl Streep wearing a cow girl shirt that they just extended into a horrible dress?”

On Saturday, Williams’ awards prospects were the subject of just 115 tweets registered by the Senti-meter, but 4,394 messages about her were logged on awards night. And along with her volume rising 38-fold, the overall tone of the messages on Globes evening was more positive, driven by her speech and her choice of dress.

Among the messages about Williams that night:

  • “Nice speech by Michelle Williams, but strange category for #MyweekwithMarilyn” 
  •  “Loving Michelle Williams' dress and win for My Week With Marilyn. Toast her in style with a Norma Jean punch!!” 
  • "Best speech ever, Michelle Williams. She said she's a mother first, an actress 2nd. Thanked her daughter first."
  • “Michelle Williams wins for acceptance speech for my week with Marilyn!”

Have fun exploring the Senti-meter, and who knows, if you tweet about your favorite Oscar movie, actor or actress, your messages might just be highlighted in our sample tweets section.

ALSO:

Oscar Ballot: Play-at-home

Heatmeter: Who's hot this awards season?

Cheat Sheet: Your guide to the Oscar nominees

-- Julie Makinen, Emily Rome, Rebecca Keegan and Oliver Gettell

Image: Oscar Senti-meter on the day of the Golden Globes. Credit: L.A. Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab


DGA names 'The Artist's' Michel Hazanavicius best director

January 28, 2012 | 11:17 pm

Scorsese payne hazanavicius fincher dga

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

The Directors Guild of America on Saturday evening named Michel Hazanavicius best film director of 2011 for “The Artist,” the nostalgic black-and-white, nearly silent movie that hearkens back to the time of transition in Hollywood from silents to talkies. It is the first guild win for the 44-year-old French filmmaker.

"It's maybe the highest recognition I could hope. I really love directors, I over-respect directors. This is very moving and touching to me," he said, receiving a standing ovation. "Best director -- I really don't know what that means. All movies are different, so it's a strange thing to try to compare them and say which is best, but I'm very happy to get this. Thank you."

The other nominees were Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), David Fincher ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Alexander Payne ("The Descendants").

PHOTOS: Directors Guild of America Awards

The DGA feature film awards are considered one of the most dependable bellwethers for the Academy Awards for best director. Over the past 63 years, the DGA and academy have disagreed on their choices only six times. The last time was nine years ago when Rob Marshall won the DGA award for “Chicago” and Roman Polanski was named best director by the academy for “The Pianist.”

Hazanavicius had already been named best director by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Critics Choice Movie Awards. He was in contention for a Golden Globe and is nominated for a BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award for best director.

Last week, “The Artist” won the Producers Guild of America award, which is one of the indicators for the best film Oscar. On Tuesday, “The Artist” earned 10 Oscar nominations, one less than the top nominee “Hugo.” Hazanavicius is up for three of those Oscars for director, screenplay and editing.

The 64th annual DGA Awards were held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland. Recent Golden Globe winner Kelsey Grammer was the host of the evening, succeeding Carl Reiner, who had become an institution at the event, hosting 24 times. Reiner agreed to host for a final time at the 2011 ceremony.

"Welcome to what will be a glorious night....for some of you. Last year we celebrated the DGA awards of biblical length -- it was so long, the Mayans could not predict an end," he said. "The director's cut was two hours shorter. Even James Cameron said, 'it was too long.'"

Before being named the night's big winner, Hazanavicius was presented with his nominee medallion by his two stars, Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin. Upon taking it, he said: "It's a thrill to be here and to be among these wonderful directors. I'm honored," he said in accepting the medallion. "Maybe you haven't noticed but I'm French. I have an accent and I have a name that is very difficult to pronounce. I'm not American and I'm not French, actually. I'm a filmmaker. And I made a film about my love for Hollywood. We create stories that tell people they are not alone. We separate life from shadows. Hollywood helped me grow up. I believed in values like courage, perseverance and integrity."

"I made this film as a love letter to Hollywood. I feel like I am being accepted by you -- not you as Americans but as filmmakers. So thank you." And he added:  "For my wife Berenice, I'm so glad we shared this together and I love you."

The guild gave James Marsh the award for feature documentary for "Project Nim."

The DGA award for best directing in a TV comedy series went to Robert B. Weide, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("Palestinian Chicken").

In accepting, Weide said: "I have very mixed feelings about this because this means that I just lost a $300 bet to my wife, Linda. Why do they call this a medallion? It's a plate. I understand when you go to Don Mischer's house for dinner, you actually eat off of these."

Other awards handed out Saturday night:

Movies for Television and Mini-series: Jon Cassar, "The Kennedys"

Dramatic TV series: Patty Jenkins, for the pilot of "The Killing"

Musical variety TV: Glenn Weiss, for the 65th annual Tony Awards 

Reality TV programs: Neil P. Degroot, for "Biggest Loser"

Daytime TV serials: William Ludell, for "General Hospital" ("Intervention")

Children’s programs: Amy Schatz, for "A Child's Garden of Poetry" 

Commercials: Noam Murro

Three special awards were also presented. Ed Sherin was named an Honorary Life Member; Katy Garretson received the Frank Capra Achievement Award; and Dennis Mazzocco recieved the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.

[For the record, 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29: A previous version of this post misspelled the last name of "Project Nim" director James Marsh as March.]

RELATED:

Oscar nominations: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese top list for best director

Oscar nominations: Who's been hottest so far this awards season?

'The Descendants' expands rapdily, 'The Artist' slowly

-- Jasmine Elist and Susan King

Photo: Directors Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Michel Hazanavicius and David Fincher attend the 64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards Meet the Nominees Breakfast held at the DGA on Saturday.Credit: Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA 

  


Heat Meter: Is ‘Descendants’ hotter than ‘The Artist’?

January 16, 2012 |  8:10 pm

Descendants
By now the race for best picture is unequivocally a two-horse field, with “The Descendants” and “The Artist” winning the top two awards at the Golden Globes Sunday night. (Last time a pair of legit front-runners split the Globes’ drama and comedy awards? In 2003, when “The Hours” and “Chicago” walked away with the honors.)

But which film has the bigger head of steam? The Los Angeles Times’ Heat Meter system, which Times data editor Doug Smith has helped us devise and which uses a set of algorithms to tally points based on nominations, awards and critics groups throughout the season (for more detail on the scoring, please see this key) shows that “Descendants” has actually pulled slightly ahead. Slightly. 

Within the best picture category, “The Descendants” has accumulated 84.3 points while “The Artist” has rung up 81. 

The Clooney-fest and the study-in-silence have of course also been nabbing other prizes, from acting to score. Though those don’t figure directly into the best picture category, they matter for a movie’s prestige--and also give a film momentum and  a sense of inevitability--so we roll them up into a movie’s total score.

So which has accumulated more overall awards points?

That race, too, is more competitive than an overachieving child at a spelling be :  "Descendants" is now ahead of “The Artist”--but barely, 253-237. (For those following the bronze-medal competition, the race for third has gotten even more bunched up: “The Help” has 132 points and "Hugo" 131.)

The intense battle between Fox Searchlight’s “The Descendants” and the Weinstein Co.’s “The Artist” (next up: Oscar nominations on Jan. 24, with ballots already in) is reminiscent of last year’s face-off between Sony’s “The Social Network” and Weinstein’s “The King’s Speech.” Each also emerged ahead of the pack.

Last year at this time, that race wasn’t nearly as tight. “Network” had a sizable lead over “Speech,” 364-285, when it came to overall points. But that was a very different battle that followed a much clearer trajectory.  “The Social Network” was an early favorite when it came out on the first day of October after premiering just days earlier. Then it steadily began to lose momentum. By Oscar night, “Speech” had overtaken it.

The fight between “Artist” and “Descendants” has been a more complicated thing. “The Artist” made a splash at Cannes then went, well, silent for a few months. In the meantime,  “The Descendants” debuted at  late-summer festivals and was considered a solid contender. Then it faded a bit as “Artist” took center stage. And now it’s re-emerged again. On any given week, one film  has been stronger than the other, which is why their Heat Meter scores are as close they are.

Trying to figure out categories of relative strength has been tricky too—“Artist” may be slightly stronger on the director side, but Clooney has emerged as the man to beat on the actor side.

The only thing that’s clear is that when this season wraps up, one of these films will emerge as the big winner. Or maybe it’s the other one.

RELATED:

Golden Globes winners

Complete Golden Globes coverage

Golden Globes: Ricky Gervais takes his shots

Golden Globes: Ryan Gosling's absence and other mysteries

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight


Golden Globes: Irrelevant? Maybe. But not the speeches

January 16, 2012 |  3:32 pm

Meryl Streep
In the most obvious of ways, the Golden Globes have absolutely no bearing upon the Oscars. No academy member suddenly thought last night, "By Jove, that 'Artist' sure seems to be a favorite of the Hollywood Foreign Press. I'd best check it out." If anything, given the reputation of the people voting for the Globes, you could see academy members wanting to go the opposite way.

But that's not how it works either. At this juncture of the award season, with nomination ballots already in, Oscar contenders can only help (or hurt) their chances by the way they conduct themselves when in the spotlight at public events. So how did this year's crop of Oscar contenders do last night at the Globes? Let's go to the tape:

MERYL STREEP

She's human. Forget for a moment the forgetting of the glasses. Did you see the kiss she gave her husband of 33 years, Don Gummer? Or the smooch she planted on Colin Firth's lips? Mamma Mia! Meryl was bursting with love last night! And then, yes, this master thespian can apparently be reduced to fits of profane yammering without her pair of trusty reading glasses. Granted, her speech went on a bit too long, but the standing ovation that greeted her and the charming humanity she displayed from the stage can only enhance her chances with academy voters. Which brings us to ...

DAVID FINCHER

When Streep did that cute little distress signal at the podium, miming a pair of spectacles with her hands, the call went forth to Hollywood: Get this woman her glasses! A specialized unit immediately sprang into action, an A-list A-Team that had Harvey Weinstein handing off the glasses to George Clooney who then made it almost all the way to the target before (in his words) "chickening out" and giving the final baton to David Fincher who ... started for the podium and then sat back down.

First, let us just remark how odd it is to see Fincher occupying the Mayor of Hollywood front-and-center table spot usually reserved for the likes of Jack Nicholson or Tom Hanks. But more to the fatal Clooney gaffe: There's no way the publicity-shy Fincher makes that final handoff in the spotlight. Clooney might as well have picked up his phone and called Ryan Gosling in Thailand for all the good he did in giving the glasses to Fincher. And viewers would have delighted in seeing him on stage with Streep.

GEORGE CLOONEY

On all other counts, Clooney acquitted himself nicely, displaying his trademark blend of graciousness and charm. His acceptance speech mixed an affable shout-out to friend Brad Pitt's humanitarian work with a profane thank-you to Michael Fassbender to "taking over the frontal nudity responsibility that I had." His remarks were short and sweet and few would mind hearing a variation of them come Oscar night.

OCTAVIA SPENCER

Tears? Check. Surprise? Check. "Seriously nuts" and "trembling ... gonna fall off these high-heel shoes"? Endearing. Quoting Dr. King? Priceless. The shot of Melissa McCarthy crying says it all. This woman will be hard to beat, even in a year dominated by her "Help" costar Jessica Chastain.

JEAN DUJARDIN

Even though (from the look on his face) Mark Wahlberg has no idea how to pronounce his name (nice save, Jessica Biel!), Dujardin enjoyed a nice introduction to Middle America last night, delivering a clever speech that played up his nationality without resorting to Benigni-level antics. The bad news: He's still being upstaged by the dog.

RELATED:

Complete Golden Globes coverage

— Glenn Whipp

Photo: Meryl Streep hoists her Golden Globe for lead actress in a motion picture drama, which she won for her performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." Credit: European Pressphoto Agency


Pixar’s awards hopes may lie with its short film, not ‘Cars 2’

January 16, 2012 |  1:50 pm

'Cars 2' and 'La Luna'

When Pixar's "Cars 2" lost the Golden Globe award for animated feature to Steven Spielberg's 3-D performance-capture film "The Adventures of Tintin" at Sunday's 69th ceremony, it marked the first time in the history of the Globes' category that a movie from the beloved animation house failed to capture the top prize.

That doesn't bode well for the John Lasseter-directed sequel to the 2006 film about race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and the friends he makes in the little burg of Radiator Springs, given that the Golden Globe winner for animated feature has been repeated at the Academy Awards for the past four years (with all Pixar films).

If the trend holds, that means “Tintin” will take home Oscar gold.

“Sequels, I think, have a harder time [winning awards]," Lasseter told 24 Frames on the red carpet at the Golden Globes on Sunday. "But every sequel at Pixar is something totally different, and it’s as good or better than the original.”

That certainly was true with “Toy Story 3,” which last year earned an Oscar and a Golden Globe for  animated feature, in addition to a best picture Oscar nomination. But “Cars 2” — which has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 39% fresh — hasn’t won over audiences and critics as easily as the 2010 threequel.

This time around, Pixar's best Oscar hopes might lie in the animated shorts category, where its seven-minute film “La Luna” has made the shortlist. (Nominations will be announced Jan. 24.) Lasseter said when the short’s director, Enrico Casarosa, pitched him the idea for the mystical coming-of-age story, “It had this magic to it. I knew it would be so special.”

“We love making short films at Pixar,” he added. “They're these labors of love, these artists’ little visions, and they’re these beautiful little things. It’s not corporate filmmaking. It’s an artist really bringing something to life at Pixar.”

Casarosa felt similarly about Pixar shorts, as he told 24 Frames last month that the “La Luna” production “felt like a small studio inside a bigger one.”

“La Luna” qualified for Oscar consideration during its festival run and will screen in front of Pixar’s 2012 feature film “Brave,” which hits theaters June 22.

The animation studio chose “La Luna” over its two 2011 shorts featuring “Toy Story” characters to submit for academy consideration. But that doesn’t mean Pixar has outgrown Buzz and Woody — Lasseter told 24 Frames that more shorts with the beloved characters are on the horizon.

“We got some more in the works. We love those characters. We just want to keep bringing them to life,” he said.

RELATED:

Oscar shorts: Pixar takes on new poetic tone with ‘La Luna’

The Oscar race for animated short is down to 10, puddy tat

Golden Globes: Steven Spielberg says 'Tintin' is an animated 'buddy movie'

— Emily Rome

twitter.com/emilynrome

Photo: Pixar films "Cars 2," left, and "La Luna." Credit: Disney / Pixar


Golden Globes: Censors have no problem with penis jokes

January 16, 2012 |  1:12 pm

ClooneygoGolden Globes viewers didn't hear a bleeped four-letter word that Meryl Streep let slip from the awards stage. But they had no trouble making out another off-color reference: the one to the male anatomy.

The evening featured at least four invocations of the most private of masculine parts. Ricky Gervais cited the size of his own, or lack thereof. Seth Rogen described his unit’s public engorgement at its proximity to Kate Beckinsale. Tina Fey and Jane Lynch high-fived to a joke about one.

And George Clooney conjured up an  image of Michael Fassbender golfing in what was arguably the best of the frontally focused jokes. (The female anatomy got some, if not equal, time as Ricky Gervais made his Jodie Foster "Beaver" joke.)

No censor came in to mute the presenters as they made these quips because, while  profanity like s--- is considered verboten by the FCC, "penis" and references thereto are not regarded as expletives. So the speakers made them with impunity.

Still, it was an odd spectacle, as though the all the presenters had gotten together and decided to make this the year of the male member. (They didn't.)

Penis references didn’t begin with the Globes, of course. Once considered the last taboo for mainstream movies, the unspoken ban on male full-frontal was unzipped four years ago when Jason Segel flashed his package in  “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Sacha Baron Cohen would soon up the ante, as it were, in “Bruno.” And this season, Fassbender’s prodigiousness was on full display in the admittedly NC-17-rated shame

Citing penises isn’t just a clever way to avoid broadcast-television censors--It’s a way to seem subversive without actually undermining any holy grail. Fey and Lynch almost seemed to acknowledge it when they made their joke, about Thomas Jane being hung in “Hung,” then exclaimed “penis joke” to each other and slapped hands.

All of that ensures the jokes will keep going. In the age of the Gervaised Globes and the restless media that covers them, you never know what kind of coverage to expect. But one thing is certain: There will always be exposure.

RELATED:

Golden Globes winners

Complete Golden Globes coverage

Golden Globes: Ricky Gervais takes his shots

Golden Globes: Ryan Gosling's absence and other mysteries

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: George Clooney at the Golden Globes. Credit: Paul Buck/EPA


Golden Globes: Was Ricky Gervais too tame?

January 16, 2012 |  8:00 am

 

Ricky Gervais and Jane Fallon

 

Perhaps the most telling moment of Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globes hosting duties Sunday came as he was finishing them.

Last year, as the assembled began filing out of the Beverly Hilton ballroom, the host made a provocative crack about atheism. This year he tried a considerably more benign joke, about the gold on the table distracting attendees from the recession, a mild dig at the one-percenters of Hollywood.

As he flashed his arsenal of one-liners Sunday night, Gervais certainly didn’t refrain from biting the hand that feeds him. "The Golden Globes are just like the Oscars but without all that esteem," he zinged, offering that the show is Kim Kardashian to the Oscars' Kate Middleton — "a bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker and more easily bought. Allegedly. Nothing’s been proved."

PHOTOS: Quotes from the Golden Globes

He then knocked the group’s principles with a line that “The Hollywood Foreign Press have warned me if I insult any of you they’ll … definitely invite me back next year."

And he took a page out of the “30 Rock” playbook by getting in some shots at NBC, which broadcasts the awards.

But overall Gervais took a lot less aim at individuals, and it felt a lot less mean even when he did. A joke about Colin Firth as a huge racist, for instance, was clearly tongue-in-cheek.

 PHOTOS: Golden Globes red carpet

Last year, Johnny Depp was on the receiving end of jokes about the improbable nominations for “The Tourist.” This year, Depp was in on the joke, coming out to good-humoredly banter with Gervais about it (Host: “Have you seen ‘The Tourist?’" Depp: “No.”)

Even Robert Downey Jr., who last year called Gervais’ performance “mean-spirited and mildly sinister” and was a bellwether for Gervais’ obnoxiousness level, was a non-factor; the actor didn’t say anything about Gervais when he came out to present an award. This was a night for (relatively) good behavior.

Michael Fassbender summed up the feeling of many in the audience about Gervais when he told my colleague Nicole Sperling "He was great last year. Why is he being so tame tonight?"

PHOTOS: Golden Globes winners

Gervais’ performance — which, like last year, had him disappearing for chunks of the show — wasn’t entirely devoid of personal jokes. A dirty double entendre about “The Beaver” and Jodie Foster seemed crass if not harsh, and there was a sideways jab at Kate Winslet’s gushy acceptance speech.

But Gervais’ ironic coughing about Madonna as a virgin was about safe as you can get (though the icon didn’t seem entirely cool with it, retorting that “If I’m just like a virgin, Ricky, then why don’t you come over and do something about it. I haven’t kissed a girl in a few years — on TV.”).

In a way Gervais was in a no-win position: to try to top his act from last year was to risk people saying he went too far; to try a more generous direction was to solicit criticism that he pulled his punches. There’s no reason Gervais wouldn’t be asked back next year, though as the comedian himself might say, in the topsy-turvy world of the Golden Globes, he might not have been offensive enough to earn the invitation.

RELATED:

Golden Globes winners

Complete Golden Globes coverage

Golden Globes: Ricky Gervais takes his shots

Golden Globes: Ryan Gosling's absence and other mysteries

— Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Ricky Gervais and Jane Fallon at the Golden Globes. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


Golden Globes: Reading the tea leaves for the Oscars

January 16, 2012 |  6:30 am

The Artist
There are better prophets of the Academy Awards than the Golden Globes — last year, the voters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. gave their top drama award to “The Social Network,” not eventual best picture Oscar winner “The King’s Speech” — so everything that the HFPA does (and should) be taken with a grain of salt.

That’s especially true in the top categories, where Globes are presented in drama and musical or comedy categories, the latter inexplicably including the not-really-funny “My Week With Marilyn.” That gives the HFPA doubly good odds of aligning with the Oscar winners, yet even that wide net often misses the mark — five years ago, “Dreamgirls” won the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical and wasn’t even nominated for best picture.

Because Oscar nomination polls closed Friday, with nominations to be announced Jan. 24, the Globes results cannot affect the shortlist from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That said, Sunday’s 69th annual Golden Globes did help clarify several Oscar races, while confusing a number of others.

PHOTOS: Golden Globes red carpet arrivals

Here’s one way to read the HFPA tea leaves:

PICTURE
The top winners at the Golden Globes — “The Descendants” as the best drama, “The Artist” as the best comedy or musical — are now very much the leading ponies in what is looking like a two-horse race. While it’s apparent that “The Help,” “Hugo” and “Midnight in Paris” will be nominated for best picture (under new rules, the nominee roster could be as few as five movies and as many as 10 this year), it’s hard to imagine anything besides “The Descendants” or “The Artist” winning the most important Oscar.

DIRECTOR
The HFPA picked Martin Scorsese for directing “Hugo,” marking the fourth award the veteran filmmaker has received from the organization, but gave the best drama movie trophy to “The Descendants,” directed by Alexander Payne. It’s certain Scorsese will be nominated, as will Payne, Michel Hazanavicius, who directed “The Artist,” and Woody Allen, who directed (and won a Golden Globe for writing) “Midnight in Paris.” But if the directing Oscar goes to the maker of the best picture, Scorsese's name may not be called.

ACTOR
The Golden Globes went to George Clooney for lead actor from a drama for “The Descendants,” and Jean Dujardin for lead actor in a comedy or musical for “The Artist.” Exactly like the best picture race, it’s apt to be an Academy Award race between those two actors, and nobody else.

ACTRESS
Michelle Williams wasn’t in a strong Golden Globe category, winning for lead actress in a comedy or musical, a field so weak that not one but two stars (Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet) from the immediately forgotten “Carnage” were nominated. Meryl Streep won the dramatic actress trophy for “The Iron Lady,” and that seems more obvious than inspired. Viola Davis from “The Help,” who was nominated but didn't win against Streep, is still running strong in the Oscar predictions.

ANIMATION
For the last four years, the Golden Globe winner in this category has repeated at the Kodak Theatre — “Toy Story 3,” “Up,” “Wall-E,” “Ratatouille” — and that’s not good news for Pixar Animation Studios, which made those four winner but did not make Sunday’s Golden Globe winner, “Tintin,” from Paramount. While the conventional wisdom still favors Paramount’s “Rango” for the Oscar, the momentum is shifting toward “Tintin.”

FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Iran’s “A Separation” already has collected any number of critics prizes, and while the Golden Globes rules don’t mirror the academy’s, there’s little doubt the drama about a troubled marriage is the heavy favorite to not only be nominated for the foreign language Oscar but also to take the trophy.

SUPPORTING ACTOR AND SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The Golden Globes don’t separate these categories between dramas and comedies or musicals, but no matter. Both of Sunday’s winners — Octavia Spencer in “The Help” and Christopher Plummer in “Beginners” — will be nominated when the Oscars finalists are announced in a little more than a week, and Spencer and especially Plummer are likely to take home a statuette Feb. 26.

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Photo: Director Michel Hazanavicius, left, and actors Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin of "The Artist." Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.

— John Horn and Steven Zeitchik


Golden Globes: Octavia Spencer kicks off her heels

January 15, 2012 |  9:40 pm

Octavia Spencer at the Golden Globes
Octavia Spencer bounced between humor and solemnity quite a few times backstage on Sunday after her Golden Globes win for supporting actress in “The Help.”

At one moment she assured members of the press that she was “not sleeping with Brad Pitt,” and that she wouldn’t because she was afraid of Angelina Jolie. “I saw 'Salt.' Did you see 'Salt'? She can take me.”

She became serious when asked how uncomfortable she thought people were confronting the difficult question of racism in American history. “While the characters are fictitious, the narrative itself is a part of our fabric, and it’s important that we keep the younger generation abreast of where we’ve come from because it’s so foreign to them.” 

PHOTOS: Golden Globes red carpet arrivals

After some tough talk about getting past the pain of racism and moving forward with healing, the buoyant actress was suddenly struck by a moment of joy and levity and was moved to take off her high heels.

“I’m sorry ya’all, I love you but I have to kick these shoes off. This is the ultimate party and I’m living the dream of so many young actors and actresses out there and I’m having my Diet Pepsi alongside Hollywood’s best and brightest.”

And that’s why she feels so good tonight—so beautiful, she said. “I’m happy in my own skin…. It’s living in your own skin and being proud of who you are.”

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--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Octavia Spencer at the 69th Golden Globe Awards. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times


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