Even though Beyonce wasn’t there, her hit song, “Run the World (Girls)” could have been the theme of Golden Globes night.
Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made sure of that, packing their opening monologue with quips and quibbles from a pointedly female point of view. They ribbed Hollywood’s dashing everyman, George Clooney, for dating younger women, describing his character in “Gravity” as someone who “would rather float into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”
They also commented that Matthew McConaughey’s 45-pound weight loss in preparation for “Dallas Buyers Club” was “what actresses call ‘being in a movie.’”
And they mocked Meryl Streep for her high-flying career, noting that her turn in “August Osage County” proves, “there are still great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60.”
Even in light of their own enviable and enduring success, navigating high-powered Hollywood as they married (and divorced) and became mothers, the joke highlighted the persistent anxiety that great roles for women are the exception, not the rule.
But in their second round hosting one of Hollywood’s most-watched award shows -- and doing well at it -- Fey and Poehler proved the old adage that rules were made to be broken.
The loosey-goosey style of the Globes is part of what makes it so fun to watch. The opposite of the stiff formality of the Academy Awards, the Globes have the carefree flow of a cocktail party. And as usual, cocktails there were: streaming into glasses and spoken about from the stage, the intoxicating spell of alcohol left room for the uninhibited and unscripted, tempting actresses from Emma Thompson, who tossed her shoes and brought a martini on stage, to Cate Blanchett, who accepted the award for best actress for “Blue Jasmine” with “a few vodkas under my belt.”
Fey and Poehler weren’t afraid to show their juiced-up catty side, either. Several times during the telecast, they layed into their colleague, Julia Louis Dreyfus, for making the difficult transition from TV to film (Louis-Dreyfus was doubly nominated for her role on HBO’s “Veep” and for her debut as lead actress in the film, “Enough Said”). But proving that even the most ambitious women have a sense of humor, Louis-Dreyfus played along as the imperious movie star, donning big, black sunglasses and dismissively blowing cigarette smoke into Reese Witherspoon’s face.
Only when Fey and Poehler tried to act "like guys" did their routine fall flat. Genital jokes about Jonah Hill’s prosthetic penis and Leonardo DiCaprio’s penchant for supermodel vaginas came off as forced and a little mean.
But overall, the tactic worked, demonstrating that the strictly male-dominated days that have characterized Hollywood for the last century are over.
Even the evening’s fashions reflected an increasingly "gender-bending" aesthetic, as New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley noted: Jennifer Lawrence wore her hair blonde and boy-cut short; Diane Keaton wore a femme-fitting tuxedo; Jared Leto wrapped his hair in a messy knot – and won a supporting-actor award for dressing in drag to play a transgendered character in “Dallas Buyers Club.” In his speech, Leto bowed to the pains of beauty maintenance, noting that in order to play a woman he had to wax his entire body – “including my eyebrows.”
At times, the evening felt so female-centric it bordered on feminist.
Accepting the Cecil B. Demille award on behalf of her longtime friend, director Woody Allen, Diane Keaton offered eloquent, if ironic, remarks about Allen’s nuanced sense of female characters. “Woody’s women can’t be compartmentalized,” Keaton said. “They struggle, they love, they fall apart, they dominate, they’re funny, they’re flawed,” and “they are the hallmark of Woody’s work” -- to say nothing of his life, which has been littered with women who have not all been so la-di-da about his sordid sexual past.
Actress Robin Wright also credited director David Fincher for a career boost, saying he was the one who convinced her to play the calculating congressman’s wife on the Netflix hit, “House of Cards.” “You can create her,” Wright quoted Fincher as saying, “Let her come out of marble, if you want.”
It is telling that a ceremony that offers a female perspective is still perceived as “feminist” when really it was a show of variety and equality. Even the Hollywood Foreign Press Association distributed the evening’s big awards pretty evenly – honoring Alfonso Cuaron for directing “Gravity”; Spike Jonze for writing “Her”; Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Wolf of Wall Street”; “American Hustle” with acting honors for its actresses, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, as well as best comedy; and finally, “12 Years a Slave” with the top honor, best drama.
In the end, it was more than just gender equality that shone through the star-studded night: it was an industry coming into its own as the teller of the American tale – male, female, gay, straight, black, white and all the glorious shades of grey in between.