The Golden Globes have become popularity contest

Peterson Hill

I don’t watch much TV. The Golden Globes for me have always been, and probably always will be, about film. Of course I was rooting for “Mad Men” and “Entourage,” which by my estimations are the best shows on television.

But, in the end, film is what the night is about. So, I can’t stop asking myself, “Why does a film like “Avatar” take home the biggest prize of the night?” Of the five films nominated in the category of Best Motion Picture: Drama, it is the least dramatic.

It is a nice film, but does it pierce you as deeply as “Precious?” Does it startle and terrify you as much as Kathryn Bigelow’s masterpiece “The Hurt Locker?”

It surely doesn’t feature the heart and commentary that “Up in the Air” gives about our lives. How does a film like “Inglorious Basterds” with the perfection of dialogue and characters as rich as the direction lose to “Avatar?”

It is an easy question to answer, particularly with Sandra Bullock winning for “The Blind Side.” The Golden Globes have succumbed to popularity this year. Just like the Grammys have succumbed to mainstream music, the Golden Globes have succumbed to dollar signs.

With the second highest prize of the night going to “The Hangover,” it is almost certain that the Globes were out to please this year. To be fair, I thought “The Hangover” was a dark and sharp voyage into the seedy underworld of Las Vegas.

It wasn’t a perfect film by any means, but I certainly prefer it to “Avatar.” Like the best comedies, it has something to say about the way we live now. It is there, but I don’t think most audiences are looking for that.

But, even now, I’m trying to justify the statue that “Avatar” brought home. It was a technological breakthrough and a film that is certain to be remembered as the movie that changed the way CGI and 3-D technology are incorporated into storytelling.

Yet, there was an emptiness to the emotion. It tries so hard to make us care, and it almost succeeds. It is still a good film, but by no means a great one.

Perhaps the most blatant and blasphemous of all wins this year was Sandra Bullock’s for “The Blind Side.” To start, the movie was a modern-day retelling of Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden.”

It takes the central character of Michael Oher and shoves him to the back of the movie. It paints two portraits of black people in America: the type that will be able to move up in life if helped by prosperous white people, or the drug-addicted members of slums.

The central character of Michael Oher has a lot in common with Precious Jones from Precious. The only difference is that the character of Oher is pushed to the side while Precious is put in the forefront.

The fact that Bullock won against Gabourey Sidibe is an absolute travesty. Sidibe gives one of the most honest and gut-wrenching performances in years. Even the presenter, Mickey Rourke, looked distraught that Bullock had just won.

There were some wonderful wins of the night, however. To see the brilliant and underrated actor Jeff Bridges win for his performance in “Crazy Heart” was a highlight.

He is poised to win at the Oscars for this role. This will be his fifth nomination. His first was 38 years ago for Peter Bogdanovich’s great “The Last Picture Show.”

Mo’Nique won for her devastating and monstrous role as Mary Jones in “Precious.” It is one of the most powerful performances that doesn’t strike a false note, and more importantly doesn’t strike one moment of judgment.

Of course it was nice to see that darling Meryl Streep win again. With her pedigree, it seems that we are bound to see her nominated every year.

It was interesting to see Robert Downey, Jr. win. It may have been more from the past few years than his performance in “Sherlock Holmes.”

In the end, though, it was a frustrating night. For every win like Christoph Waltz there was a win like “Avatar.” My only hope is that the Oscars don’t fall prey to the same popularity contest.

The film awards season is meant to honor films that the public won’t. Let’s just hope the Oscars return to prestige a film that merits the title as the best film of the year.