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Golden Globes vs. SAGs; Hollywood’s annual Super Bowl of Absurdity

You probably didn’t know Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” is a comedy. I didn’t either. Odds are that the film’s venerable director hasn’t been told yet. But that’s the way the Hollywood Foreign Press Association scores it. That’s the Golden Globe category “The Martian” was nominated in this week.

Unless, of course, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thinks it’s a musical. That’s also part of the category – “Best Comedy or Musical.”

Just when you think that the association may have gotten its act together and transformed itself into a logical step on the way up to the Oscars in Corporate Narcissism Season, they come through with a nomination slate full of howlers, peculiarities and perplexities by the bushel.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” nominated for best drama but not “Brooklyn”? Say what?

No nomination for Jacob Tremblay, the utterly astonishing child actor whose performance in “Room” is assuredly one of the great performances in motion picture history?

At least the Golden Globe nominations remembered to include Tremblay’s adult co-star Brie Larson and their film “Room” in the contest for Best Drama. But then Larson and Tremblay also were recognized in the Screen Actors Guild award nominations this week which makes “Room” the 2015 Little Movie That Could so far. Watching it chug uphill chanting “I think I can, I think I can” is to be utterly amazed – almost as much as actually seeing the film itself for those who have a clue what they’re looking at.

I haven’t seen Sarah Silverman in “I Smile Back” yet but from what I know about it I can understand why the Hollywood Foreign Press wants to get off the crowded Jennifer Lawrence train (as good as she is in “Joy”) and to forget too about Johnny Depp in “Black Mass.”

But Helen Mirren for “Woman in Gold?” And “Trumbo?” Ridiculous, as Golden Globe nominations go. That may be taking the privilege of being “foreign” just a bit too far in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, over at the Screen Actor’s Guild, there was no love for “The Martian” at all to speak of, whatever category the movie belongs in. Poor Matt Damon didn’t make the Best Actor cut. Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass?” Sure. Michael Fassbender for his devotion to Steve Jobs’ unpleasantness? Yeah, he too. Nor was there any love for Sylvester Stallone, whom the Globes nominated for “Creed.” Not Benicio Del Toro for “Sicario” either. But then it isn’t easy making room for nine-year olds in Best Supporting Actor categories. The SAGS had to leave someone out.

Actors are no fools, generally. They knew how incredibly good Tremblay was in “Room.” They knew how very good Christian Bale is in “The Big Short” – as well as the rest of the cast which was nominated as an ensemble in the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Rachel McAdams was the only individual actor in “Spotlight” nominated for a SAG Award – Best Supporting Actress, of course – but if ever there were a movie that can stand forever as a textbook example of a great ensemble film, it’s “Spotlight.” It belongs to no single actor – not in any single solitary moment of screen time.

The SAG’s and the Golden Globes may be as different as chalk and cheese but they’re both individually smart enough to know that Romi Malek’s performance in the lead role of TV’s “Mr. Robot” is as strange and as profoundly different from everything else on the air as anything seen on TV in a very long time.

The two obvious things to say about The Golden Globes in the current weirdness that rivals some past years: they are, after all, foreign you know. These are the people who are responsible for explaining Hollywood movies and folkways to the folks back home in Africa and the Philippines. And they may not exactly look at our movies in Manila the way people do in Buffalo or Council Bluffs.

Then there’s the GG’s grand history of hilarious corruption and absurdity. Never forget that Pia Zadora won a 1982 “New Star of the Year” for “Butterfly” over Elizabeth McGovern, Howard Rollins and, get this now, Kathleen Turner for her sensational, electrifying turn in “Body Heat.”

It went like this: Zadora was married to producer Meshulam Riklis who was also a part owner of Las Vegas’ Riviera. He flew members of the press to watch Pia’s nightclub act there and see “Butterfly,” a movie based on a novel by James M. Cain but also directed by Matt Cimber, the soft-core schlock farmer who was the final husband of Jayne Mansfield.

Pia’s first role in movies was in “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” at age 9. Her final movie role was a gag cameo singing “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” (Get it? New star of the year, remember?) in “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.”

In between was a movie career of no distinction whatsoever. She’s said to be a passable nightclub singing and dancing act if watchers have had a lot to eat and drink and are sitting at a table with some of their favorite easily pleased people. But as a “Best New Star” of 1982 in “Butterfly” over Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat” and Howard Rollins in “Ragtime” she’s a symbol of the Golden Globes eternal ability to befuddle everyone who actually knows a thing or two about movies.

The Golden Globes aren’t very big, but the actual planet they’re modeled on is very large indeed. And when its inhabitants find their way to Hollywood, they seem to be capable of just about anything.

Like, say, finding a movie about an astronaut stranded alone on Mars and wondering if he’ll ever see Earth again to be a comedy.

I wonder if they saw the version of that Jerry Lewis once tried to make.


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