And just the spectacle of hundreds of Us magazine coverfolk milling around the same room, running from table to table hugging and air-kissing and trying to catch producer Scott Rudin's attention.
The event, organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - a band of 90-odd movie-biz journos and junketeers writing for publications in our planet's far-flung corners - has taken on an aura of artistic integrity and credibility over the years. The annual kudofest hands out a Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award to distinguished figures of the silver screen (last year: Martin Scorsese; this year: Scorsese go-to guy Robert De Niro), with earnest testimonials from colleagues and a nifty clip reel. And truly exceptional movies, and exceptional talents, do get recognized with nominations and statuettes. Julie Christie (Away From Her) and Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) - 2007's actor-in-a-drama awards, yessir! Or 2006's best picture (drama) to Brokeback Mountain. Hard to argue.
But happily, the HFPA has a way of shooting itself in the collective foot, hoisting itself with its own collective petard, throwing its collective baby out with the collective bathwater - well, you get the idea. Just when everybody's set to take the Golden Globes seriously again, they do something to remind us that they can be, if not bought, then certainly swayed.
Everyone knows about the 1982 Pia Zadora scandal (unknown ingenue wins a Globe for a performance in a movie produced by her billionaire husband that no one had seen), and in 1992 there was a big flap when Scent of a Woman was named best drama. Universal had treated HFPA members to a luxury Paris weekend, where they had occasion to schmooze with eventual best-actor winner Al Pacino.
As for this year's controversies, when Cher and Christina Aguilera's campy Burlesque found itself among the best-picture (comedy or musical) nominees last month, Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein reported that Sony had sponsored a trip to Las Vegas for the HFPA's voting members to see Cher in concert - just days before they cast their votes.
As for the appearance of the widely panned The Tourist on this year's best-picture (comedy or musical) list, and its nominations for Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in their respective thespian categories, the thinking is simply this: The HFPA saluted the mega-celebs as a way to ensure their attendance at the Golden Globes event. Star power = ratings. (Depp is competing against himself in the best actor/comedy-or-musical category: He's also nominated for his work as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.)
Jolie, upon hearing she was nominated as best actress in a comedy or musical, told the Associated Press that she didn't know what to think. "It's the first time that I've been in the comedic category," she said, "so it's new for me." Sony, it turns out, had submitted the film as a drama. HFPA president Phil Berk told the Hollywood Reporter that the suggestion to categorize it as a comedy came from The Tourist's Golden Globe-nominated director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
Maybe that was his idea of a joke.
As for the omission of the critically lauded box office hit True Grit and its cast (Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) from any of the Globes' categories this year, well, that has fans of the Coen Brothers' western mighty steamed. There's even a Facebook page: Support True Grit and boycott the Golden Globes.
But let's forget about the snubs, the ire, the scandals.
To be sure, there will be several grateful acknowledgments made to the Almighty over the course of the evening. Gervais, in his quest to blithely offend the attendant throng, is likely to make some lesbian sex jokes when the subject of Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Black Swan comes up. Michael Douglas, said to be on the mend after intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer, has told friends he plans to be there - he is nominated for supporting actor, reprising his Gordon Gekko role in Oliver Stone's Great Recession cautionary tale, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
And that'll be a good thing. Expect a standing O.
Philly Roommate, Part 2. In last Sunday's column, it was noted that at exactly 1 minute, 22 seconds into the trailer for The Roommate, a college-coed stalker flick opening Feb. 4 (and unlikely to garner any Golden Globes next year, but you never know!), the image of Philadelphia's City Hall appears.
After deadline, Roommate director Christian E. Christiansen responded via Facebook to a query about what our city's landmark was doing in a film that was shot in Southern California.
"No, unfortunately, it's just used for the trailer and not a part of the film. The Roommate only takes place in the L.A. area."
Which, it's suggested to the director, is a little odd - kind of like cutting to an image of the Chrysler Building in a trailer for a thriller set in Seattle.
"Very odd," Christiansen agreed. "I have no idea what exactly goes through the head of marketing people."
He ended his missive with a :) .
2011 Golden Globe Awards
8 p.m. Sunday on NBC10
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.