Golden Globes 2014: Tina, Amy, Leonardo let us in on the fun

Director Steve McQueen, with his Golden Globe for "12 Years a Slave," thanked his wife for bringing the book to his attention.
Director Steve McQueen, with his Golden Globe for “12 Years a Slave,” thanked his wife for bringing the book to his attention.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Remember who won supporting actor Sunday night at the Golden Globes? Or screenplay? Or score? Best movie — well there are two of those, so it’s confusing before they even get to the envelope.

Who cares?

What stays with you is the intimacy, the ease, the unfiltered fun of the night. Like a big family gathering, egos are checked at the door, grudges are set aside. The mood swings between effervescent (the endless bubbly helps) and electric. Newcomers, old-timers, nearly everyone let their nerves get the best of them. Let me just say — Jacqueline Bisset, Jon Voight, Alfonso Cuarón, Spike Jonze — never has a stammer been more endearing.

Golden Globes 2014: Full coverage | Show highlights | Best & Worst | Top winners/nominees


If you are Meryl Streep, prepare to be a punch line. If you are Matt Damon, get ready to have Melissa McCarthy channeling your good guyness. And if you are lucky enough to be Jared Leto, with a remarkable turn in “Dallas Buyers Club,” maybe the audience will shout out your name before presenter Christoph Waltz has a chance. Rowdiness is encouraged, applauded.

It’s good to win, always, but what the Golden Globes has made verboten are bad sports and bad losers. How nice for a town that has made an art form out of bad behavior.

And the Globes themselves. After so many years of not mattering in so many ways, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. awards show has become the party you wouldn’t miss for the world. Yes, there is the sheer lunacy of co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, back for a second year and setting the irreverent tone, frequently with a glass of vino in hand. Yes, there are those strange golden statuettes, which, by the way, have gone from being dubious years ago to highly prized today, thanks to much more astute choices by the Foreign Press’ infamous 80-or-so voting members.

But the show’s clever cachet is the way it has no cachet at all. The Globes is the one awards show that we, the people, are invited to. We are never made to feel like outsiders, unwelcome guests. All those familiar faces you’ve watched, on big screen and small, whose exploits have filled the pages of Us and People magazines, whose tweets have amused and incensed, come to vibrant life right in front of us. There’s an inclusive vibe about the entire evening that is refreshing.

And forgiving. So what if Leonardo DiCaprio mispronounced nearly every word that came out of his mouth, absolutely butchering “Philomena.” He was very much in the free-floating spirit of the show. It is one of those crazy nights that definitely suits some actors better than others — Emma Thompson, her Louboutins slung over her shoulder, then tossed, in presenting the screenplay award; Matthew McConaughey doing his Texas stoner best, peace out brother; Cate Blanchett giving a nod to Judy Garland, vodka and pills.... It lent a kind of appealing reality.

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The thin line between film and TV is one of the night’s charms. There is so much line-crossing these days that it became one of the best running jokes thanks to Fey, Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The actress was nominated in both mediums. Snooty and sporting sunglasses when she was on the film side for her “Enough Said” performance, then chowing down on a sub when she switched to the TV side for her star turn in HBO’s “Veep.”

Being game, like Dreyfus and so many others, brings a kind of humanity to the event that cuts through the veneer that usually separates Hollywood from the rest of us. The winners tossed their notes, lost their lists and let their emotions flood the stage.

Voices quivered, like “All Is Lost” composer Alex Ebert’s, and broke, as did Bisset’s for her “Dancing on the Edge” win. Tears welled as Amy Adams gripped her Globe for “American Hustle.” There was Jennifer Lawrence, another “American Hustle” winner, gushing, “Parks and Recreation’s Poehler screaming, “ I never win anything!” and “Gravity” director Cuarón explaining that, when he told his star Sandra Bullock he was going to get her “herpes,” he meant an “earpiece.” It felt spontaneous rather than scripted, and it worked.

Humility ruled the day — highlights were Bono’s tribute to Nelson Mandela captured in U2’s winning song and Steve McQueen, director of the best dramatic movie, thanking his wife for putting Solomon Northup’s book, “12 Years a Slave,” in his hands.

Even the fumbles were fun. When all else — or the teleprompter — fails, try the truth, like “The Wolf of Wall Street’s” Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie, who made their personal disaster on stage a delight. Robbie conceded she didn’t want to improvise, and blushed charmingly; Hill vamped famously.

So Oscar beware, you’re in danger of being outshined and outplayed by the group that handles Hollywood sans the kid gloves. For one brief and shining moment, at the Golden Globes, the stars do indeed feel like us. Real people, only better dressed.