NEW YORK (AP) — Was it really the time for Hollywood to party? A rising tide of dread has swept much of show biz, as with much of the nation beyond: A divided body politic; racial turmoil. Real life is intruding on the manufactured fantasies as it seldom has before.
But Sunday’s Globesfest, with Jimmy Fallon hosting, understood the show must go on. And it did, with high spirits, rare efficiency and, out of sight but seldom out of mind, a certain former-TV-star-turned-president-elect.
Things started with a bang. Fallon led a star-studded song-and-dance spoof of the opening musical number from “La La Land.” But instead of a traffic jam on an LA freeway, the production number staged gridlock by limos backed up for the Globes at the Beverly Hilton.
A little preferential treatment? Before a single trophy had been given out, the multi-nominated (and soon-to-be-richly-rewarded) “La La Land” scored a special honor.
Then, as a reminder how the Globes can instantly go haywire, Fallon’s TelePrompTer briefly blacked out once he took the stage.
“Already you have your Golden Globes moment,” he said, making the most of the flub as he stalled for time.
Back online, Fallon fired off a fusillade of jokes, most of them barbed and several aimed at President-elect Donald Trump.
Fallon saluted the Globes as “one of the few places where America still honors the popular vote.”
Then, noting that “Game of Thrones” was among this year’s nominated series, he said some fans had wondered how that show would have unfolded had the childish, villainous King Joffrey survived, and not died, a while back.
“Well, in 12 days,” Fallon cracked, “we’re gonna find out.”
Perhaps he summed things up best by pointing to the notably bleak nominated film “Manchester by the Sea” — “the only thing from 2016,” he said, “that was more depressing than 2016.”
A bit later, Hugh Laurie, winning best supporting actor in a limited series for “The Night Manager,” kept the mordant party going with his acceptance remarks.
He began by voicing thanks to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for his win at “the last-ever Golden Globes.
“I don’t mean to be gloomy,” he went on, “it’s just that it has the words ‘Hollywood,’ ‘foreign’ and ‘press’ in the title.” Cheers rang out. “I also think that, to some Republicans, even the word ‘association’ is slightly sketchy.”
The night’s most inspired comic moment: Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig, presenting the award for best animated feature, shared recollections of their first times ever seeing an animated film. Carell said he was amazed seeing “Fantasia” as a kid with his dad. But then, he recalled, in a darkening mood, his mom met them in the lobby and asked his dad for a divorce.
“I never saw my dad again,” he said.
For Wiig, it was “Bambi” — which she said she saw the same day her pet dogs were put down.
“I didn’t speak for two years,” she confided with a haunted look.
Perfectly performed, with impeccable pacing, the exchanges reduced Carell and Wiig to staring, stricken, into space, as if these preposterously awful memories had swallowed them up.
But nothing during the long night upstaged the remarks by Meryl Streep, who, humbly and defiantly brought many in the room — and perhaps in many living rooms — to tears as she accepted this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Speaking in a hoarse voice (“I’ve been screaming in lamentations this week”), she spoke of the Hollywood community, currently “vilified” by the balance of the nation’s leaders, and listed how so many branded who are branded Hollywood insiders are outsiders, breaking into show business from all over the nation and the world.
“If you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts — which aren’t the arts,” she declared.
Among so many notable performances in the past year, she singled out one that “stunned” her, she said, “not because it was good — there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.”
That performance: the one by about-to-be-president Trump mocking a disabled reporter at a campaign appearance.
“I still can’t get it out of my head,” said Streep, “because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. … When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Hers were powerful words from perhaps the night’s biggest winner.