I suppose that's always going to the fine line one crosses with off-color humor, if it flies, and all is laughing, the offensive nature is easier to sit through, yet when it drags, you just come off an offensive jerk. That, I think, is the reason there so ado about the trailer a couple of months regarding the Ron Howard film The Dilemma, which featured a gay joke that sparked media outrage and allegations of homophobia from several gay rights advocacy groups. It's not so the joke was truly offensive, I believe it was merely lazy, it's that it wasn't all that funny-- again if you get a laugh, it eases the discomfort, otherwise there's trouble. And in truth, the Hollywood Foreign Press has a bad reputation, rightfully or wrongfully, it's a laughing stock in and out of the industry 364 days a year, yet the day of the ceremony all parties come together to admire this strange group, seemingly more interested in taking pictures with the famous, then actually having a thoughtful discussion of the cinema. There is in fact a real life lawsuit occurring backstage of the perhaps salacious doings with the HFPA. It was also reported that Sony flew the members out to attend Cher's Vegas show; surprisingly, he film, the flop Burlesque was nominated for two awards, winning Best Song. Even Cecil B. DeMille recipient Robert De Niro couldn't resist fanning the fire of mean-spirited anti-Globes sentiment, then again he accepted their lifetime achievement award at the same time; if he felt so disdainful about the group at large, why bother showing up at all?
From my perspective, I find it awfully difficult to truly sympathize with the celebrities who were quoted as feeling uncomfortable through the ceremony, or the Hollywood Foreign Press, who seemed less than thrilled with Gervais' ungracious emceeing (suffice to say, he will not return next year.) That's part of the nature of the industry, and while it may appear unseemly, that's also a part of the unattractiveness that can come along in any awards season. And this is the time, post-Golden Globes, all leading up to magical Oscars, where the gloves come off and the politicking kicks into overdrive. Yet to my eyes, was Gervais more or less obscene while poking fun at Robert Downey, Jr's past troubles, than Downey, Jr. was while objectifying the leading ladies he was presenting the award to (including making a reference to young nominee Emma Stone about starring in a project that would be an age-inappropriate Blue Valentine)? The difference was that Downey, Jr. was funny in his snarky charming delivery.
What I choose to think about is the lovely fact the a film like The Social Network, a talky, invaluable piece of American filmmaking was the big winner of the night, and that this dense, powerful, difficult movie really must be considered an unbeatable force at this point. Statistically speaking, and I know it's irritating and disgusting to think of an Oscar race as a quantified math equation, it would take something extraordinary to shift it from first place.
Awards Daily made a great chart of the great sweeps in the last year years, and noticed that no film is modern awards history has done what The Social Network has this year:
And with the exception of a few minor critics groups, it won everything. Lots of prognosticators, including myself, have noted that The King's Speech has the emotion and crowd-pleasing accessibility of a bona-fide Academy Award winner, perhaps a la Rocky win it won the Oscar versus more complex films like Network and All the President's Men, but at the same time barring some kind of crazy unforeseeable event, and it would have to be extreme, something like a photo of David Fincher eating a baby or something, one must confess that 2010 is nothing but the year of The Social Network, and all the belly-aching about the films generational gap, or lack of a violin-stringed emotional vibe should be put to bay, especially since it likely has the Producers Guild and Directors Guild awards in the bag; if an upset were going arise, it would have already started to show it's face, and The King's Speech headlining the BAFTA's likely won't be enough. The biggest hurdle for The Social Network will come in the form of the upcoming Screen Actors Guild awards, which one may assume The King's Speech has the advantage, or even The Fighter, especially since the acting in The Social Network, while great and nominated has never really been it's awards focal point. But then again, the SAG awards aren't the Oscar bellwether many like to claim it is...I made a chart to explain:
SAG gets it right about half the time in their short awards history, let's remember last year when Inglourious Basterds won the SAG, even though it didn't have a chance in hell with the Oscars. Some like to call the anomalous Crash victory due it's win at the Screen Actors Guild, but since that's the only major award the Paul Haggis diatribe won, over the more widely awarded Brokeback Mountain, one must call attention to the argument that perhaps the 2005 Oscar race was shrouded in certain parties discomfort to a particular subject matter, something in which The Social Network won't suffer from.