How it should be

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The economy might be in the toilet and the country on the edge of collapse, but it's heartening to know that at least the Golden Globe Awards are back in top form. Maybe there's hope for us after all.

After last year's WGA strike-fueled press conference that subbed for the Globes and left everyone feeling that calling the whole thing off would have been a far more prudent course, the 66th annual Globes delivered with heart, soul and even a little political incorrectitude, proving to be the rare kudofest that left viewers feeling almost satisfied.

And you've got to believe that Fox Searchlight's party is still going strong as you read this, having cleaned up with "Slumdog Millionaire" and the stirring best actor win of "The Wrestler" star Mickey Rourke. Anyone who takes time to thank his dogs in his acceptance speech has to be America's new hero.

The show also represented an increasingly rare winning moment for NBC, which seems determined to become the analog alternative in a digital world. It put on a seamless telecast that was noteworthy for its lack of bells and whistles — a welcome thing at a time when having camera shots emerge from the rafters seems to be a virtue.

What the Globes show has over the Oscars telecast, and pretty much any of the other major awards ceremonies, is its dogged focus on the winners. It is gloriously dressed down: no live renderings of the best song nominees, no interminable clip packages, no self-flagellating monologues or self-serving quips from a smug host. In fact, there's no host.

This, to me, feels like the wave of the future. The victors get to speak as long as they desire without being played off by an intrusive orchestra, and bravo for that. And the only special honor of the night, presented to Steven Spielberg, turned out to be one of the highlights, with the guest of honor's graceful and classy acceptance.

There were a few times toward the end when the music did pipe up, but that was because the witching hour was near. But earlier, even the mega-long-winded Colin Farrell got to yammer on as long as he wanted. And that was just fine. A few of the winners alluded to the teleprompter's instructing them to "wrap it up," then went on to ignore or defiantly dismiss it.

The celebrated "party atmosphere" of the Globes often is cited as a refreshing side note, but it happens to be true. In the main, those who took the stage to accept their statuettes Sunday were far more excited than blase, the most fervent examples being Kate Winslet, Sally Hawkins and just about everyone involved with "Slumdog." The sheer enthusiasm was infectious. (partialdiff)
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