I annually complain about the Golden Globe awards, but this year was rather different.
The list of winners was definitely drawn up colouring within the critical lines, staying really safe as if to win the Hollywood Foreign Press Association some award show-cred, but the show itself -- hosted by a vicious Ricky Gervais -- took on the HFPA and whacked it squarely on the nose. I can't complain because Hollywood did already.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a peculiar body of journalists nobody really knows or recognises, a group frequently accused of corruption, favouritism and sycophancy.
The Golden Globes, then, are a pretty meaningless award show -- one blatantly roompleasing enough to have different sets of awards for drama and comedy/musical categories -- that gets all its publicity from doing its schtick before the Oscars and the Emmys come out.
So it was quite the treat watching the organisers of this silly shindig get bandied about by the people they put on stage. Right from Robert De Niro accepting the Cecil B DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award and talking about how half the HFPA is busy posing for pictures with celebrities while the other half has been deported ("just like the waiters... and Javier Bardem") to Gervais taking a dig at the HFPA President to Christian Bale accepting his Best Supporting Actor trophy for The Fighter and wondering "just who in the world those guys are." Fun.
Gervais stayed as mean as he promised to be throughout the show, mocking everyone in sight, especially actors taking the stage to present awards. This vitriol, though often obvious, and the way it raised Hollywood's shackles -- 'how dare this Brit mock us?', they said, stuffing themselves with Godiva chocolates and holding in their collective stomach -- were the only things making this show watchable.
That and the warm cutaways of stars whooping it up, drinking, laughing and letting their hair down. Angelina fixing Brad's tie was possibly the highlight of the evening. That, and January Jones' sensational scarlet dress. Whoo boy.
The line of the night, however, came from Michael Douglas. Drowned by applause when he came to present the Best Picture trophy at the end of the night, the 66-year-old cancer-survivor looked around the room and smirked. "Boy, there's gotta be an easier way to get a standing ovation."
With the exception of TV hit Glee beating out far superior Modern Family and perennial Globe-favourite 30 Rock, the show mostly got it right, really.
Best Original Score saw Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch win for their superlative work in The Social Network, justifiably trumping Hans Zimmer's Inception and AR Rahman's 127 Hours -- and this is the way it deserves to be at the Oscars as well.
That set the trend for the rest of the night, with The Social Network sweeping awards for Best Picture (Drama) and Best Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin (this one's an Oscar-lock) while Christopher Nolan's Inception was just, well, nominated. Shouldn't be afraid to dream a little smarter, darling?
Natalie Portman, fast becoming the Oscar-frontrunner, won Best Actress (Drama) for Black Swan, while the 'serious' Best Actor award went to Colin Firth for The King's Speech.
Despite Johnny Depp being nominated for two of his most boring performances (The Tourist and Alice In Wonderland), the Best Actor (Comedy/Musical) Globe went to Paul Giamatti for Barney's Version. Steve Buscemi and Boardwalk Empire -- last year most stunning new television series -- won Globes, while Oliver Assayas' Carlos picked up the trophy for Best TV Movie/Miniseries.
It was, then, a safe awards show. So what if the host called Bruce Willis Ashton Kutcher's father?
Photographs: Danny Moloshok/Reuters (Ricky Gervais) and Mario Anzuoni/Reuters (January Jones)