Fourteen categories, 11 winners. Like a pre-K teacher who wants all the kids to feel a sense of achievement, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association spread the love around at last night's 71st Golden Globe awards show.
Only American Hustle, which took Best Comedy or Musical, Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical (Amy Adams) and Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), and Dallas Buyers Club, a winner for Actor-in-a-Drama Matthew McConaughey and Supporting Actor Jared Leto, copped more than one statuette. Gravity's Alfonso Cuarón was named Best Director, her's Spike Jonze Best Screenwriter. The glowiest stars in the room won too: Leonardo Di Caprio was Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Cate Blanchett was Best Actress, Drama — this year we're calling it the Cate Blanchett award — for Blue Jasmine. There now, is everybody happy?
But wait, there's more: one last party favor. Just when it seemed that the HFPA was hinting to Oscar voters that it would be socially acceptable not to cast ballots for the heavily favored 12 Years a Slave, director Steve McQueen's whiplash epic of indictment picked up the final prize of the evening: Best Drama. No matter that the Foreign Press didn't deem Slave the best directed or written or acted film of the year. It was the best lesson movie. As co-host Amy Poehler deadpanned, "I can honestly say that after seeing that film I will never look at slavery the same way again."
What I just wrote, but in list form:
Drama: 12 Years a Slave
Musical or Comedy: American Hustle
Actor in a Drama: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Actress in a Drama: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Actor in a Musical or Comedy: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Actress in a Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams, American Hustle
Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Screenplay: Spike Jonze, her
Original Score: Alex Ebert, All Is Lost
Original Song: "Ordinary Love" by U2 and Danger Mouse (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
Animated Film: Frozen
Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
In a three-hour-plus blast/ordeal whose livelier moments played like a reunion of the Saturday Night Live cast — from Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (1982-85) to more recent grads Will Forte, Andy Samberg and TIME cover-boy Seth Meyers — SNL Weekend Update vets Poehler and Tiny Fey pulled a solid B-plus for an opening monologue that skewed feminist-bitchy. "A very good evening to everyone here in the room and to all the women and gay men watching at home." Tina on McConaughey: "For his role in Dallas Buyers Club he lost 45 pounds, or what actresses call Being in a Movie." And, reaping the evening's heartiest laugh, Fey said that Gravity was "the story of how George Clooney would rather float into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age."
(READ: Isaac Guzman on the Fey-Poehler monologue)
Otherwise, this was a ragged installment of an awards event whose high glamour-and-fun quotient usually makes the Oscar show seem like a town council meeting on C-SPAN (but with the commercials as snooze alarms). The view of winners' speeches would wander to the left, as if the camera operator had lost motor control. Presenter Drew Barrymore made two entrances for the same introduction. And if you and your friends had a drinking game in which you'd swig a slug each time winners took more than a minute from the announcement of their names to the first word of their acceptance speeches, then you'd be as soused as some of the recipients seemed. (Jacqueline Bisset's interminable 90 seconds from table to stage may be a Guinness Book record.) Note to the winners: Wait till the after-party to hug all your friends. And to the HFPA: Have an attendant at the table of each nominee, ready to lead the laureate up to the mic. Dead air is bad air.
Once the winners did open their mouths, gibberish often came out. Stars stammered their rote thanks — my director, my team, my agent, my sister, my mother — as if they had been addled by all the free booze. You'd never know the actors' only job is to speak and behave naturally in front of a camera. On a show like this, they are speaking to more viewers than have seen most of their movies. If they haven't rehearsed their speech six times that day, and can't deliver it with the the grace of... I want to say, any British actor (except for Bisset) ... then they're not professionals. From this moment on, Method acting is forbidden at the Golden Globes.
Lawrence, who outpolled Lupita Nyong'o of 12 Years a Slave for Supporting Actress, set the tone with the first award of the evening. "I don't know why it's so terrifying, it's obviously a good thing, I don't know why I'm so scared," she rattled on in a startled tone, as if just collared for jaywalking. "I'm sorry I'm shaking so much." And, finally, either reprimanding herself or warning other voting bodies: "Don't ever do this again!" They will, because she's JLaw; even her flustered f---ups are adorable.
(READ: Lily Rothman on the 7 Most Endearing JLaw Moments at the Globes)
The parade of bumblers continued, interrupted only by clever remarks from presenters Jim Carrey and Robert Downey, Jr., and graceful acceptances by Cuarón, DiCaprio and McConaughey, who said he was glad the long-gestating Dallas project "got passed on so many times, or it wouldn't have come to me." By this point, simple rhetorical competence could bring tears of gratitude to the home viewer. Samberg, a winner for the sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, got laughs with a deadpan delivery of the boilerplate speeches so many of his predecessors had flailed through. Blanchett managed to apply her regal presence to an improv on the show's abiding theme — alcohol — by thanking Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, Blue Jasmine's sponsors at Sony Pictures Classics, for "plying me with vodka the way Judy Garland was probably plied with barbiturates."
Soon, the Globe-goers' bleary eyes will turn toward the Oscars — the nominations are announced Thursday morning — and find that last night's show changed nothing. The Academy shortlist will include all the Globe winners, include two of the most deserving: The Great Beauty for Foreign Language Film and Frozen for Animated Feature. When the HFPA's Drama and Comedy/Musical categories are squeezed into one called Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle will still be the most prominent contenders.
The difference is that on Mar. 2, only one can triumph; Oscar is a relatively ruthless host. The Globes are more like Oprah on Free Car Day.