Ten reasons last night's Golden Globes was the best kind of awards show

As awards shows go, it was a night of surprising self-awareness, when almost everyone seemed in on the joke of their own ridiculousness.

This article first appeared on newrepublic.com

The 2014 Golden Globes made for thoroughly entertaining TV. Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, unsurprisingly, struck the perfect tone, at once sharp-edged and good-natured. But on the whole – as awards shows go – it was a night of surprising self-awareness, when almost everyone seemed in on the joke of their own ridiculousness. So here are the ten highlights of a very meta, very enjoyable show:

1. Fey and Poehler's sneaky you-go-girl humor, i.e:

  • Fey: "Gravity is the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age."
  • Poehler, after labeling Jennifer Lawrence's face with her own name: "It's hard to believe she's a 42 year-old mother of two." 
  • Fey: "August Osage County [proves] that there are still great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60."

2. Fey and Poehler parodying the idea of intra-Hollywood female cattiness: the recurring joke of their fake feud with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, their introduction of Emma Stone ("Our next presenter told us earlier that she isn't looking for new friends.")

3. Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie from The Wolf of Wall Street ad-libbing their way through a teleprompter mistake in which they were showed the wrong script. Said Hill: "Let's be real about it, that was not for us."

4. This wink from Robert Downey Jr.:

5. The charming jitteriness of Spike Jonze's acceptance speech for best screenplay ("...my agent, who gives me advice when I'm being anxious, like right now.") 

6. Jim Carrey: "Dying is easy, comedy is hard. I believe it was Shia LaBeouf who said that."

7. The dumbfounded spoof of an acceptance speech that resulted from Andy Sandberg's genuine shock at his win for Brooklyn Nine Nine: "The crew's really good. The writers kick A. Everyone on my 'team'."  

8. The bit in which Fey introduced her "adult son from a previous relationship" – Poehler in drag, who wandered through the crowd in search of a father, alighting on Idris Elba and Harvey Weinstein.

9. Cate Blanchett's grateful, unaffected speech after winning best actress in a drama: "Can people at home hear this music, or do they just think you are suddenly having a panic attack?"

10. The cowboy swagger of Matthew McConaughey after his Dallas Buyers Club win: "This film was never about dyin' it was always about livin' and with that I say just keep." 

This article first appeared on newrepublic.com

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, hosts of the 2014 Golden Globes. Photo: Getty
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Broken and The Trial: From Sean Bean playing a priest to real life lawyers

A surprisingly involving depiction of a clergyman provides the saintly contrast to the sinner being judged by a real jury.

I was all set to scoff at Broken, Jimmy McGovern’s new series for BBC1 (30 May, 9pm). A drama about a Catholic priest and his impoverished parish in a “major northern city”, it sounded so hilariously McGovern-by-numbers (“Eh, lad, give us the collection bowl – the leccy wants paying”) that on paper it could pass for a spoof. Even funnier, Sean Bean, late of Game of Thrones, was to play the clergyman in question.

Naturally, I adore Bean, who comes from the major northern city that is Sheffield, as I do, and who is so terribly . . . virile (though when I interviewed him in a car park behind King’s Cross Station a few years ago, and a security guard in a high-vis jacket approached us furiously shouting the odds, he ran and hid in his trailer, leaving yours truly to face the music). But let’s face it: he’s not exactly versatile, is he? The idea of him in a cassock, or even just a mud-coloured cardigan, made me laugh out loud.

Settling down to watch the series, however, I soon realised that no scoffing would be taking place. For one thing, Broken is hugely involving, its Dickensian plot (no spoilers here) as plausible as it is macabre. For another, in the present circumstances, its script seems to be rather daring. Not only is Father Michael Kerrigan shown – cover my eyes with the collected works of Richard Dawkins! – to be a good and conscientious priest, but his faith is depicted as a fine and useful thing. If he brings his besieged parishioners solace, he is sure to be carrying vouchers for the food bank as well.

The flashbacks from which he suffers – in which his mammy can be heard calling him a “dirty, filthy beast” and a spiteful old priest is seen applying a cane to his hand – are undoubtedly clichéd. But they are also a device. Forty years on, he is happy to nurse his dying mother, and his love for God is undimmed: two facts that are not, of course, unrelated. How weirdly bold for a television series to set its face against the consensus that denigrates all things Christian as it never would any other faith.

I don’t for a minute buy Anna Friel as Christina, the gobby, broke single mother Kerrigan is determined to help. Even when covered in bruises – a bust-up at the betting shop – Friel manages to look glossy, and she never, ever quits acting (with a capital A), which is a drag. But Bean is such a revelation, I was able to ignore the voice in my head which kept insisting that a Catholic priest as young as he is – in this realm, “young” is a couple of years shy of 60 – would surely be Polish or African (I’m not a Catholic but I am married to one, for which reason I occasionally go to Mass).

He plays Kerrigan, whose overwhelming desire to be kind sometimes makes him cack-handed, with great gentleness, but also with an uninflected ordinariness that is completely convincing. Part of the problem (my problem, at least) with Communion is the lack of rhetorical passion in most priests’ voices, something he captures perfectly. One other thing: Line of Duty fans need to know that Adrian Dunbar – aka Ted Hastings – can also be seen here wearing a dog collar, and that he looks almost as good in it as he does in police uniform.

On Channel 4 The Trial: A Murder in the Family was an experiment in the shape of a murder trial in which the defendant – a university lecturer accused of strangling his estranged wife – and all the witnesses were actors but the lawyers and “jury” were real. Over five consecutive nights (21-25 May, 9pm), I found it pretty tiresome listening to jury members tell the camera what they made of this or that bit of evidence.

Get on with it, I thought, longing again for the return of Peter Moffat’s Silk. But I adored the lawyers, particularly the lead ­defence barrister, John Ryder, QC. What an actor. Sentences left his mouth fully formed, as smooth as they were savage, his charm only just veiling his mighty ruthlessness. Drooling at this performance – which was not, in one sense, a performance at all – I found myself thinking that if more priests came over like barristers, our dying churches might be standing room only.

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.

This article first appeared in the 25 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Why Islamic State targets Britain

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