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Golden Globes preview: Out with the snark, in with the Hollywood hokum

Michelle Williams, left, and Casey Affleck in a scene from “Manchester By the Sea.” (Roadside Attractions)
Michelle Williams, left, and Casey Affleck in a scene from “Manchester By the Sea.” (Roadside Attractions)
Glenn Whipp

When Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes for the fourth (and, hopefully, not final) time last year, he joked that the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association threatened to personally pull him off the stage if he said anything “offensive or crass” or resorted to innuendo.

Of course, the evening was filled with wall-to-wall offensive, crass innuendo, including jokes about Roman Polanski’s love for “Spotlight” (“best date movie ever”), Ben Affleck’s wayward eye (Gervais called Matt Damon the only person Affleck “hadn’t been unfaithful to”) and introducing Mel Gibson with a comic bit that had the NBC censor scrambling for the mute button.

It was all in keeping with Gervais’ mission of skewering Hollywood hokum and self-importance – the very things that Jimmy Fallon, this year’s Golden Globes host, wears as a badge of honor on his late-night talk show.

To put it another way: The censors and the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association can probably relax, unless a game of beer pong or beer shuffleboard gets out of hand. (Though, if presenter Amy Schumer was involved, it’d probably be one of the night’s most memorable moments.)

Other than a level of obsequiousness unseen in the last seven years with hosts Gervais and the beloved tag team of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (who once joked that George Clooney would rather “float away in space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his age”), what else can we expect from this year’s Golden Globes? Five burning questions and their answers.

Q: Some people are predicting “Hacksaw Ridge” is going to win top motion picture drama. If so, can Gervais present the award to Mel Gibson?

A: Probably not. But more than a few Hollywood Foreign Press Association members have told us over the last few months how much the group loved Gibson’s bloody war movie about Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in combat.

“Hacksaw Ridge” taking this Globe over “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight” would be surprising on many levels, none more so than the startling comeback it would represent for Gibson, who was openly mocked at this show just last year. Let’s just hope he combs out the bread crumbs from his beard before he takes the stage.

Q: Wait. Did you say “Manchester by the Sea” or “Moonlight” might not win the best picture drama Globe? Wouldn’t that cripple their Oscar chances?

A: No. “Spotlight” didn’t win the Globe last year. Neither did “Birdman” the year before. And both movies went on to win the Oscar for best picture.

We won’t go so far as to completely agree with Gervais’ contention that a Golden Globe is a “bit of metal some nice old confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie.”

But that’s pretty close.

There’s no overlap between the 85 selfie-loving members who vote on the Globes and the motion picture academy’s 6,687 voters. But there is one difference this year: Oscar ballots went out Thursday, so the Golden Globes falls within the academy’s voting window. Anything a contender does or says at the show could make a lasting impression with Oscar voters. No pressure! Just maybe pass on the refills when the waiter brings around the wine.

Q: OK. We get it. No overlap. But is there any Oscar favorite with a lot to lose Sunday night?

A: Because the Globes split movies into drama and comedy/musical categories, Damien Chazelle’s lovely musical “La La Land” is pretty much out by its lonesome in the latter group, fending off the feeble likes of “Florence Foster Jenkins,” “Sing Street” and (ahem) “Deadpool” for the title of best picture, musical or comedy.

“La La Land” is not going to lose. How could it, right? Right? But if it somehow did lose and its stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling don’t wind up holding trophies (at least one of them needs to win, preferably Stone), then a few academy voters might look at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s verdict and think, “Yeah. ‘La La Land’ really isn’t all that great.” (Even though, having seen it three times, we’re here to tell you it is. So watch it again and get your mind right.)

Q: Will the show pay tribute to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds?

A: Normally, the Globes telecast doesn’t include an “In Memoriam” segment. But these aren’t normal times that we’re living – and dying – in. So, yes, according to Globes producer Barry Adelman, there will be some sort of appreciation for the lives of mother and daughter, Reynolds and Fisher, who died within a day of each other in December. Other celebrities may also be included. Have your tissues at the ready.

Q: Who will give the night’s most memorable speech?

A: Memorable as in weird? Billy Bob Thornton for “Goliath.” Memorable as in shocked and life-changing? Issa Rae for “Insecure.” Memorable as in eloquent and empowering? Viola Davis for “Fences.”

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