Only 79 people, all members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and all unknown to the American public, decide who will receive Golden Globe awards. In the coming months, 4,632 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences--hundreds of them with names indelibly linked to Hollywood in the minds of moviegoers--will cast their votes for the coveted Oscars.
But the foreign press members seem to have an almost unerring instinct for signaling the films that go on to win Academy Awards. In the past 10 years, seven Golden Globe winners in the best drama category have subsequently won the best picture Oscar. An eighth Oscar winner, "Gandhi," first received a Golden Globe for best foreign picture.
If those results are any indication of what's in store for this year's Oscar race, "Rain Man" can now be tagged as the front runner. At Saturday night's Golden Globe ceremony, the film won in the best drama category and its star, Dustin Hoffman, was honored as best actor, as guests at the Beverly Hilton rose to a sustained standing ovation, the only time the room so honored a winner.
"Working Girl" won four Golden Globes, topping the best comedy or musical category and earning Melanie Griffith a best actress award. Sigourney Weaver, a favorite of the foreigners this year, earned a best supporting actress award for "Working Girl" and shared a best actress award in the dramatic category for her portrayal of anthropologist Dian Fossey in "Gorillas in the Mist." Weaver was part of a three-way tie with Jodie Foster ("The Accused") and Shirley MacLaine ("Madame Sousatzka").
"Working Girl" wasn't the only Fox comedy to do well at the awards: Tom Hanks won a best actor award in the musical or comedy category for his performance in "Big." The surprise of the evening was the total shutout of "Mississippi Burning" and its star, Gene Hackman, who sat just a couple tables away from his one-time roommate, Hoffman, during the two-hour ceremony. "Mississippi Burning" went into the evening with four nominations.
Other nominated films ignored by the foreign press association Saturday night included "The Accidental Tourist," "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "A Cry in the Dark." In the best-director category, the press group awarded Clint Eastwood--a favorite overseas for his "Dirty Harry" films--a Globe for "Bird." Alan Parker, who directed "Mississippi Burning," was not the only big name overlooked in that category.
Other nominees were Sidney Lumet for "Running on Empty," Mike Nichols for "Working Girl" and Fred Schepisi for "A Cry in the Dark."
In the TV categories, the foreign press handed out awards to Emmy winners "The Wonder Years" and "thirtysomething," as well as the mega-miniseries "War and Remembrance."
Candice Bergen got a boost for her first TV show, "Murphy Brown," when she picked up the evening's first Globe as best in a musical or comedy TV series. Her new TV series beat out two critics' favorites--Tracey Ullman and Roseanne Barr--as well as two stars of the "The Golden Girls" who are perennial favorites at awards ceremonies--Bea Arthur and Betty White. Backstage, Hoffman and "Rain Man" director Barry Levinson appeared genuinely surprised about the box-office success of the film. "After looking at the rushes, Barry said he didn't think it was going to be commercial," Hoffman said. "We were expecting a very small audience film."
What neither Hoffman nor Levinson mentioned during a lengthy exposition on the emotional appeal of the film's story line--which centers on an autistic savant--was the proven box-office draw of Hoffman's co-star, Tom Cruise. Cruise was notably absent from both the nomination list and the ceremony.
Considering the film's guileless humor, "Working Girl" seems to have attracted more than its share of controversy. Both Weaver and Griffith were questioned about that backstage Saturday night. "I'm quite upset about the sexism charges," Weaver said, when asked about the conniving corporate boss she portrays. "I couldn't find a Catherine during research on Wall Street. The character is just as much based on a man." And a baby-doll-voiced Melanie Griffith, still teary-eyed from her win, deflected questions about the portrayal of secretaries in the film as women in dead-end jobs.
The Golden Globes have long been considered a poor cousin to the Academy Awards. But what the ceremonies lack in respect, they make up in raw Hollywood glitz. Attendees at the awards dinner, which began with enough smoked salmon to supply all of New York on a Sunday morning, included Gregory Peck, Meryl Streep, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, Barbara Hershey, Teri Garr, Susan Dey, Tracey Ullman, as well as big-name winners like Hoffman. Griffith thrilled the paparazzi by showing up with once and future husband Don Johnson.
The ceremonies, broadcast live at 8 p.m. on Ted Turner's TBS superstation, began after bedtime for many East Coasters. But the foreign press association refused to start the ceremonies earlier because it didn't want to disturb the black-tie ambiance, said association president Yani Begakis. As a consolation prize, Easterners were offered a taped version on Sunday. In the past, when the show was syndicated for TV, the foreign press association often lost money on it. By selling the TV rights to TBS this year, Begakis said, the group is hoping to clear $100,000 on the event, which costs nearly $1 million to produce. After each award, the stars were shuttled backstage to be peppered with provocative questions from the press, such as "How does it feel?" and "Were you surprised?" ("Do I have to get these questions?" Bergen murmured five minutes into the tortuous process.) But there were a few entertaining backstage confessions: A blushing Fred Savage, young star of "The Wonder Years," on his kissing scenes with a 12-year-old girlfriend: "I haven't, um, like, had encounters like that."
Tom Hanks, who, after nine months of media questions, has his "Big" lines down pat: "When I was a kid, I was a geek, a spaz. I had Spam for brains and Jell-O for hands." Hanks again, this time on the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.: "I married a Greek babe, so I know what it means to have affection for foreigners." Sigourney Weaver, on her upcoming performance in "Ghostbusters II": "I don't get to be possessed this time. It's harder to be a straight person all the way through."
Shelley Long, wearing more fabric on her shoulders than on her legs: "I get a little utzy." (Translation: She misses the constant work of a TV series.)
Diane Lane: "I haven't seen my real hair color since I was 13."
Following is a list of Golden Globe Award winners:
Best Drama: "Rain Man"
Best Musical or Comedy: "Working Girl"
Best Actor in a Drama: Dustin Hoffman ("Rain Man")
Best Actress in a Drama: Jodie Foster ("The Accused"), Shirley MacLaine ("Madame Sousatzka"), Sigourney Weaver ("Gorillas in the Mist")
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy: Tom Hanks ("Big")
Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy: Melanie Griffith ("Working Girl")
Best Supporting Actor: Martin Landau ("Tucker: The Man and His Dream")
Best Supporting Actress: Sigourney Weaver ("Working Girl") Best Director: Clint Eastwood ("Bird")
Best Screenplay: Naomi Foner ("Running on Empty")
Best Foreign-Language Film: "Pelle the Conqueror" (Denmark).
Best Original Score: Maurice Jarre ("Gorillas in the Mist")
Best Original Song: "Let the River Run" ("Working Girl"), "Two Hearts" ("Buster") Cecil B. DeMille Award: Doris Day
Best Dramatic Series: "thirtysomething"
Best Musical or Comedy Series: "The Wonder Years"
Best Miniseries or movie: "War and Remembrance"
Best Actor in a Dramatic Series: Ron Perlman ("Beauty and the Beast")
Best Actress in a Dramatic Series: Jill Eikenberry ("L.A. Law")
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series: Michael J. Fox ("Family Ties"), Judd Hirsch ("Dear John"), Richard Mulligan ("Empty Nest")
Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy: Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown")
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Michael Caine ("Jack the Ripper"), Stacy Keach ("Hemingway")
Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Ann Jillian ("The Ann Jillian Story")
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or movie: Katherine Helmond ("Who's the Boss?")
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Movie: Sir John Gielgud, "War and Remembrance."