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JAN
16
3 YEARS

Golden Globe Upset: Paul Giamatti Whomps Johnny Depp

Barney's Version
Courtesty of Serendipity Point Films

The HFPA purges its guilt over nominating The Tourist's Johnny Depp for comedy by honoring another not-at-all comic performance.

After everybody blew rasperries at the HFPA for nominating Depp for best comedy/musical in The Tourist, and then making themselves look desperate by nominating him again for Alice in Wonderland, at least one HFPA voter denied to journos that he himself had done this. With mission accomplished and Depp in attendance (unlike winner Laura Linney, absent because her father, the revered genius playwright Romulus Linney, had died the day before the show), voters decided to redeem themselves by voting for a struggling little Oscar hopeful without much hope: the adaptation of Mordecai Richler's sardonic, mournful last novel, Barney's Version.

As they read off the nominees, you could see the despair on the face of Giamatti, who started out on the penniless indie stages of Seattle's theater scene, made it big in the little film that could Sideways and sort of reprises that sozzled role in Barney's Version, complete with a rolling-down-the-hill-drunk-and-angry scene. Clearly, he could not believe he was about to beat Depp twice at once. Guess the HFPA reconsidered, having spurned his breakout performance in Sideways. But they caught up with him by giving him a Globe for John Adams, the first proof of King's Speech director Tom Hooper's genius.

I still doubt this means Giamatti has Oscar mojo, but more folks will see the film, and even if they wonder how anybody could consider its spectral, restrospective study of a man's decay a comedy, they'll have an eye and heart-opening experience. And Giamatti's career just took a big bounce up.

He still couldn't believe he'd won when Halle Berry handed him the award. He went into a fugue state, muttering, "Jesus Christ, Halle Berry. Jesus Christ!"