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Did the Golden Globes really happen this year?

Last updated on: January 14, 2008 16:18 IST

Glitz, glamour and... a press conference?

Thanks to the ongoing Writers Guild strike -- which today entered Week 10 -- the 65th annual Golden Globe awards were reduced from a highly televised red carpet event to a press announcement with the winner's list being read out.

And it's a decidedly odd list.

Images: The 2008 Winners

The 0'Eight Globes have steered clear of controversy at almost every level, backing the critical favourites, and overlooking the rebel underdogs. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has come up with a relatively cowardly list, a list that -- in a year brimming to the top with violent masterpieces -- is too scared to pick up the gun.

The Best Picture award (apparently the 'Drama' category is the only one taken seriously) is a clear sign. All the seven nominees (that's right, seven for this one particular category. Why? It hasn't happened in other years, and the second Best Picture award, which we'll get to in a couple of minutes, also has the standard five names on the ballot) have plots connected with crime, the pick is for the least graphic of the lot, Joe Wright's Atonement.

The critical favourites, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood and the Coen brothers' No Country For Old Men obviously made the voters queasy, and they picked Joe Wright's adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel instead, giving the other two films Globes for Best Actor Drama to Daniel Day-Lewis for Blood (the year's most popular choice) and Best Supporting Actor to Javier Bardem (decidedly the lead in No Country, honestly.)

Johnny Depp in Sweeney ToddNow, about that awful Musical/Comedy generalisation. This is a weird mix, as if it means all films fitting in this bracket are frivolous and that musicals must be funny. As a rule, comedies win this category, but once in a while if a bonafide critically successful musical comes around (this is rare, as one can imagine) Globes are positively hurled at it.

So there goes one to Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd and one to leading man Johnny Depp, saving the Globes the trouble of having to shut them out -- like they normally would have -- in the serious Best Of show categories above. The Musical/Comedy category also lets them give something to Marion Cotillard's dramatic turn as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, while Julie Christie gets the Best Actress Drama prize. Ah, how convenient not having to choose.

Ratatouille got Best Animated Film. Yawn. Obviously the HFPA wasn't smitten by the far-more cerebral Simpsons Movie or Persepolis, and preferred instead the Disney blockbuster about a mouse. Rat. Whatever.

Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell And The ButterflyNot just did Best Foreign Film go to artist Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (left), beating out Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, Cristian Mungiu's Cannes-conquering 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, and Marc Forster's Kite Runner, the HFPA underscored their love for Butterfly by giving Schnabel the Best Director prize -- a superbly stirring, very well-intentioned effort, but enough to beat Joel and Ethan Coen and Tim Burton?

Fans of the uber-clever Juno should feel proud the film was completely shut out. Jason Reitman's hilarious indie is in fine company; David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises didn't get anything either.

This year, the awards have been completely irrelevant. They could have stood out and made a statement with a strong decision or two, but then the motto is 'guns don't kill people, violent films kill people.' To sum it all up, I paraphrase a Hollywood marketing blog which explains that this year the Globe-winners shouldn't even advertise their wins in the press.

''Winner of four Golden Globes' will just make people think, 'What? So the Golden Globes did happen this year?''

Raja Sen