That was it. The end. Kaput.
Awards season is unofficially over two days after it began. There will be a Screen Actors Guild Awards worth seeing Jan. 27 before the grand but now hopelessly maimed Oscar climax Feb. 24. But for dramatic power, nothing could possibly top Jodie Foster’s acceptance of a Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday night’s Golden Globes.
It’s the sort of moment that justifies forever that whole bastard TV genre, The Award Show.
To the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, as well as to everyone who, for years, lobbed spitballs at her because she refused to come out ceremonially, she said, “I already did my coming out a thousand years ago in the Stone Age. Those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to her friends and family and co-workers, then gradually to everyone who knew her, everyone she actually met. But now, apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show. You guys might be surprised but I’m not Honey Boo-Boo child. …
“If you have been a public figure from the time you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you, too, would value privacy above all else. I have given everything up there [on the screen] since I was 3 years old. That’s reality show enough, don’t you think?”
Personally, I do. But then as a critic for this newspaper I reviewed Jodie Foster’s first movie in 1972, a little Disney animal thing with Michael Douglas called “Napoleon and Samantha” – as well as every major performance she has given on film since (not to mention the six films she has directed). And what I’ve been saying since she was a child is that there is never really a moment onscreen when you can catch Jodie Foster being fake. She just doesn’t seem to know how, no matter how ridiculous and fourth-rate the circumstances.
What she did on Sunday night was bring more raw and profoundly moving truth to an award show than any Hollywood figure I’ve ever seen – so much so that she may have temporarily turned show business from trivial frippery into a profound subject, even among those yokels who have difficulty measuring human affairs in any way other than power and wealth.
Foster toyed with the idea of her entirely unnecessary coming out (a “secret” even more open than Rock Hudson’s had always been) and then said she was nervous but serious about revealing that she’s … single. (In other words, she and her partner, co-parents to two sons, had split.) And then she addressed her 84-year-old mother now suffering from dementia:
“Mom, I know you are inside those blue eyes somewhere. I know there are some things you can’t understand from tonight. I love you, I love you, I love you. And I hope that if I say this three times, you will magically and perfectly enter your soul, and it will fill you with grace and the joy of knowing that you did good in this life. You’re a great mom. Please take that with you when you’re finally ready to go.”
That’s the Jodie Foster who has, remained as admirable as any public figure in our time despite crazy John Hinckley Jr.’s dedicating a presidential assassination attempt to her fame and despite all the spitballers scoffing that her privacy was ruining the cause.
And then, without clarifying it, as she ended one of the most moving public moments any celebrity has given us, this celebrity from babyhood seemed to say she wouldn’t be acting anymore, but when she went public again would be carrying a different kind of “talking stick” (I’m guessing as a writer or even a poet, and not even a small indie filmmaker, a gig her beloved friend Mel Gibson wounded grievously when their impressively wacked-out film “The Beaver” was buried underneath public horror at Gibson’s screaming bloody telephone rants that seem to have been intended as coffin nails for his already supine movie career).
Even without Foster’s literally incomparable way of distinguishing the event, Sunday’s Golden Globes show was on a formidable roll from the opening seconds when hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler proved to be even more wicked in their humor than legendary cockney bombardier Ricky Gervais (who, said Fey with typical smiling acid, “couldn’t be here tonight because technically he is no longer in show business”).
In the wisecrack of awards season, Poehler referred to the idiot Oscar snub of “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow by saying, “I haven’t followed the controversy, but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.” The audience exploded in laughter. (First runner-up: Sacha Baron Cohen raising a snifter of booze-colored liquid to us all and talking about being in “Les Misérables”: “Russell Crowe had four months of singing lessons.” Long pause. “That was money well spent.”)
Nor were the two deadly accurate snipers from “Saturday Night Live” and prime time the only ones to sling memorable lines around.
When Jennifer Lawrence won a Best Actress Golden Globe for “Silver Linings Playbook,” she gloated, rather unappealingly, “I beat Meryl,” but then redeemed herself 20 times over by thanking mogul and award show shaman Harvey Weinstein “for killing whoever you had to kill to get me up here today.” (The degree, in fact, to which Weinstein’s films “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Django Unchained” have brutally shoved around other, better 2012 films will, when the Hollywood histories are written, prove to be an amazing subject, if not one emblematic of the entire Hollywood year.)
Quentin Tarantino was suitably obnoxious accepting a writer’s Golden Globe and expressing gratitude to friends who are discouraged from comment when he reads new scenes to them. Anne Hathaway was suitably graceful picking up a Best Supporting Actress (Comedy/Musical) Globe for “Les Misérables” and paying tribute to “Lincoln’s” Sally Field for defeating typecasting and proving to the world that the former “Flying Nun” could morph into Norma Rae and Mama Gump.
It was all prime award show sass and sauce.
But the main course was Jodie Foster accepting a lifetime achievement award for keeping it astonishingly real and giving all of us more truth and reality than we probably deserved.
Any fool who didn’t know the difference between reality and “reality television” before Sunday evening’s Golden Globes, certainly knows it now.