Golden Globes TV Review: Andy Samberg & Sandra Oh Succeed By Playing Nice

Paul Drinkwater/NBC

With the clock ticking and options looking thinner every passing day, the Oscars may have just found themselves a couple of hosts tonight at the Golden Globes to replace the still scrapped Kevin Hart.

That short but near perfect mock marriage proposal and Emmys homage from Maya Rudolph to Amy Poehler put the two Saturday Night Live alums at the top of the list if the solidly middle of the road Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg say no.

Sure, nothing remarkably Earth shattering was offered up by Samberg and history making Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama winner Oh in their inaugural stint fronting the first major awards show of the season. Yet, while more than a couple of set ups stumbled over the more than three hour show, the sure on their feet duo proved that simply playing nice can actually end up being quite enough on what is once again one of the more fluid trophy ceremonies, to put it mildly.

Carol Burnett

On a pleasantly playful night that saw a spattering of politics, Donald Trump side swipes and big honors for the legendary Carol Burnett and the Cecil B. DeMille award winning Jeff Bridges, Samberg and Oh solidly checked off all the boxes the struggling Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences require for their still open host position. Coming off an slew of dreary awards shows soaked in pedantic, Sunday also saw big wins for The Americans, bleeped out Patricia Arquette and Christian Bale of Escape from Dannemora and Vice, The Kominsky Method, Green Book, a passionate Glenn Close, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, and Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Entering strong from the beginning with a nudge in AMPAS’ ribs that at least “one lucky audience member” among the star studded attendees at the Beverly Hilton “will host the Oscars,” Samberg and Oh bounced into their duel hosting duties with a sense of fun that Hollywood award shows haven’t seen in a while. Avoiding trying to replicate the bare knuckles approach of Ricky Gervais and staying well away from the canned antics of the past two years from Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, the two let slip a greater truth of Tinseltown today when they quipped that they got the gig because they are “the only two people left in Hollywood who haven’t gotten in trouble for saying something offensive.”

The perpetually smiling and inoffensive Oh and Samberg then made tongue in cheek tough guy promises to roast the crowd that turned immediately into flood of compliments, “non-crap” one-liners and Bradley Cooper verbal kisses.

If Samberg and Oh aren’t offered the Oscar gig, the quick levity that Vice star Sam Rockwell and Oscar winner Allison Janney displayed when presenting the Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture category proved a pretty good live audition too. With his admission that everyone at the Globes were as drunk as they appeared, Vice’s Tyler Perry also made a pretty strong case for consideration too in an on-stage stint almost as short as his role as Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Adam McKay helmed Globes winner.

Overall, the key to past and current Golden Globe winners Samberg and Oh’s success tonight was to keep it effervescent – well, as effervescent as you can by offering the room of vaccine reluctant Hollywood free flu shots in 2019. Certainly Oh’s parents in the rear seats of the icy and boozy ballroom were in on the overall liveliness with a cameo of their own and an Asians flush shout-out from Oh and to the Crazy Rich Asians cast landed perfectly and truly inclusively in the venue when Oh told the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star that the “joke’s not for you.”

Things got even a bit meta with Kidding’s Jim Carey being hoisted out of the film section and supposedly over to the small screens seats early in the wacky show. In some of his funniest moments in a while, Carey bellowed back at the hosts as security removed him and his dinner. The fact that the Kidding star was actually sitting at the Showtime table as essentially a seat warmer for Who Is America? star and Golden Globes nominee Sacha Baron Cohen made the staged moment somehow all the wittier, oddly.

Weirder than weird did not make a crash landing this year’s Globes as former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin seemingly declined Cohen’s invite to be his date tonight after cutting her from his premium cable satire. Also absent for the first time in years was now ex-CBS CEO Les Moonves, who resigned in disgrace in September after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and apparent corporate subterfuge. Though, unlike, the one time VP candidate, the once powerful exec did make a verbal emergence when Samberg sarcastically promised an “unrehearsed takedown of Les Moonves” by Big Bang Theory cast members.

In fact, in contrast to last year’s earnest HFPA shindig, politics were on the back burner for the most part on the NBC broadcast this evening. Yes, HFPA president Meher Tatna came out in the first hour to applause to offer $1 million in grants to strengthen journalism around the world, but it was more a rote affair than a rousing call to the barricade.

Though mentions of President Donald Trump were absent for once at a Hollywood gathering, the politics of the industry and America sporadically popped up throughout the night. Roma’s Alfonso Cuaron’s statement during his Best Director acceptance speech that “cinema at its best tears down walls and builds bridges to other cultures” was squarely aimed at the policies of the current administration. While not actually saying Trump’s name, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story EP Brad Simpson made it very, very clear who he was talking about when he urged the room and viewers at home to “resist” the forces of hate that he saw dividing America.

If Beale Street Could Talk winner Regina King’s Time’s Up inspired “vow” to fight for gender parity on every project she’s works on the next two years and The Assassination of Gianni Versace Darren Criss’ statement about it being a “marvelous year for representation in Hollywood” hit the right note politically in a town that always warms to good optics.

Patricia Clarkson turned a spotlight on the revelations of harassment and assault that have captured Hollywood the past year when she thanked her Sharp Objects director Jean-Marc Vallée on-stage after winning Best Supporting Actress in a limited series or TV movie “You demanded everything of me except sex, which is exactly how it should be in our industry,” Clarkson said to applause.

Having played Dick Cheney in political satire Vice, it should have been no surprise that Christian Bale brought the dirty business of governance to the Globes with his Best Actor Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Thanking the former Vice President as “Satan” and joking about “cornering the market on the charisma-free assholes,” the ex-Dark Knight then floated the idea of playing Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell in the future. “That could be good, wouldn’t it?” Bale added with a smile as Vice director McKay cheered from the audience.

What was good for NBC, hoping to rebound from the six-year ratings low of 2017 was that the Globes came on the heels of a likely to be very well watched NFL game earlier today.

In fact, for a while on Sunday it looked like the Globes themselves might not even make their 8 PM ET starting mark. A tense and tight Wild Card match-up appeared on more than one occasion to lean into going into overtime before current Super Bowl champs the Philadelphia Eagles triumphed 16-15 over the Chicago Bears with minutes to spare before the ceremony started at the Beverly Hilton.

Perhaps, a little bit of overtime would have been the unintended answer to NBC’s prayers to get those adults 18-49 numbers up. Yet, denied by the football gods, what the Comcast net ended up with was a celebration of some of the big and small screen’s best that was hard pressed to rub anyone the wrong way – and nowadays that’s a win unto itself.

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