JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer
Is Hollywood in the mood to party?
On Sunday, the movie industry will gather for the Golden Globes, which are regularly one of the most freewheeling and frothiest award shows of the year. Champagne will flow. Punchlines will fly.
But the tone of this year’s ceremony may be different, and not just because it will be the first time in nearly a decade that someone other than Ricky Gervais or the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler duo is hosting.
Jimmy Fallon will emcee this year’s show, to be broadcast live from Beverly Hills, Calif., by NBC at 8 p.m. EST Sunday. But the transition on the minds of Hollywood is the one taking place in Washington on January 20. The election of Donald Trump has loomed over this year’s awards season, where the movie industry’s usual self-congratulatory toasting has been mixed with a foreboding sense of dread.
“We are living in very troubled times,” Kenneth Lonergan, writer and director of one of the season’s favorites, “Manchester by the Sea,” said Wednesday at the National Board of Review Awards. “How troubled, we don’t know yet. It’s going to be a lot of trouble, or it might be bad trouble like we’ve never seen.”
Such speeches have been commonplace throughout the litany of awards that lead up, ultimately, to the Feb. 26 Academy Awards.
At Tuesday’s New York Film Critics Circle Awards, “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah compared the lauded “O.J.: Made in America” to the election: “another bad decision based on fame and race.” At the Gotham Film Independent Film Awards in November, Damian Lewis archly intoned, “The film that receives the most votes … is the winner. It’s a brilliant idea,” referring to Trump’s loss of the popular vote.
Barry Jenkins, the writer-director of the tender coming-of-age tale “Moonlight,” said at the National Board of Review Awards: “As we make America great again, let’s remember some inconsiderable things in our legacy, because there was a time when someone like me was just not considered.”
Fallon, who was criticized for what was considered a soft-ball interview of Trump on the “Tonight Show” during the campaign, isn’t likely to set a very political tone for the evening. But speaking to The Hollywood Reporter , Fallon promised Trump jokes at what he called “the first and maybe the last party that we’ll have in 2017.”
The late-night host will also be trying to turn ratings back in a positive direction. Last year’s ceremony, hosted by Gervais, drew 18.5 million viewers, down about 4 percent from the year before. Among the presenters on tap for the show, put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press, are Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Stone, Ben and Casey Affleck, Viola Davis, Amy Schumer, Sting and Matt Damon.
Award show TV audiences have generally been slumping, but the Golden Globes have certain advantages. Aside from their generally boisterous vibe, the Globes are distinct in honoring both film and television. Its TV awards have long been second to the movie honors, which have more significance coming shortly before Oscar nominations. But the TV awards are increasingly on equal footing at the ceremony.
This year’s categories are full of recent shows that weren’t eligible for September’s Emmy Awards, including “The Night Of,” ”Westworld,” ”Atlanta,” ”This Is Us” and “Insecure.”
On the film side, Damien Chazelle’s Los Angeles musical “La La Land” leads all nominees with seven nods, including best picture, comedy or musical. Its primary Oscar competition, “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea,” will be separated by the Globes’ split between drama and comedy.
And surely many attendees will be thinking of those absent. After a year full of notable deaths, the back-to-back passing over the holidays of Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher, was felt particularly in a Hollywood that revered them both. Reynolds and Fisher were to be laid to rest Friday in Los Angeles.
Sunday night’s biggest question may between whether to let loose or sober up.
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