Dear Kameron, Amy, and Mark,
I meant to spend this morning writing up a quick wrap-up post for this year’s wonderful Club, maybe something in a lighthearted, goofy mode, like the poem that served as 2015’s final entry. But after watching the Golden Globes on Sunday night, my mood is different—reflective, a little uneasy. So instead of racking my brain for a good rhyme for “Chalamet,” I want to spend a moment thinking about Sunday night’s alternately somber and exultant ceremony and where the entertainment industry is at as we plunge into the murky waters of 2018 without so much as a Shape of Water–style fish-monster boyfriend to show us how to breathe.
As Mark put it in his write-up of the telecast, the Golden Globe is an award devoid of significance even in the generally meaning-free landscape of awards season: “Eighty foreign journalists handing out two dozen Ferrero Rocher–looking statuettes to every movie and TV star they can get to show up.” The results of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s vote have virtually zero predictive value for the Oscars, and the evening has traditionally been appreciated more for the chance to watch celebrities get tipsy and accidentally drop F-bombs at the mic than as a platform for rousing oratory.
But then there was Oprah—and, before and after her astonishing, possibly history-making speech, many other female speakers who dedicated their time at the podium not just to pious #MeToo lip service but to thoughtful, heartfelt reflections on how gendered power struggles have affected their lives and careers. Meanwhile, in a contrast as stark as the one between Natalie Portman’s deep-black velvet gown and her vanilla-ice-cream complexion, the men who took the stage to accept awards, their lapels adorned with “Time’s Up” buttons, stepped proudly to the mic and said … virtually nothing. The degree to which women performed all the rhetorical heavy lifting at this event was both depressing and, in the I-can’t-go-on-I’ll-go-on spirit that’s kept us slogging through a difficult year, oddly heartening. That double standard was built right into in the all-black dress code, which required of the female stars that they devise infinite variations within this raven-hued palette in order to project the required degree of individualized style, sexiness, and glamor and required of the men that they … wear a tuxedo as usual, maybe with a button and a black shirt instead of the usual white to signify extra wokeness. Sisters, it’s clear, will be doing it for ourselves in 2018. But that’s OK. To judge by the reaction to Oprah’s speech from the women on my Twitter feed, we’re more than up to the task, whether she ends up running or not.
I ended my previous entry on words of praise for James Franco’s performance in The Disaster Artist, calling his portrayal of the cult director Tommy Wiseau “beautifully detailed” and “compassionate.” And boom: As Franco took the stage to accept his award for best actor in a comedy or musical, not only did he strong-arm Wiseau out of the way to take the mic, but a series of (since deleted) tweets by one of my teenage ego ideals, Ally Sheedy, seemed to hint that sexual misconduct on Franco’s part had a role in her withdrawal from show business. I’m still a fan of The Disaster Artist—and from what I’ve seen of Wiseau’s lack of boundaries when it comes to the showbiz spotlight, I can even understand the strong-arming—but I’m now embarrassed by my words of support just a few days ago for Franco’s performance and film. (As of this writing, Franco hasn’t publicly responded to Sheedy’s statements.)
That’s just one example of the awkward place we occupy as critics in this destabilizing season of cascading revelations. The ground underneath us is shifting fast—tectonically, as Frances McDormand observed in her much-bleeped acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Drama in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri—and yesterday’s critical thumbs-up all too quickly gives way to this morning’s sinking stomach. I wish all three of you a 2018 of movies you can keep on loving in good conscience the morning after.