Television: Best way to watch Golden Globes is on DVR – The Delaware County Daily Times

In writing about the Golden Globe Awards a couple of weeks back, I mentioned that I missed the camera commentary I remember from earlier broadcasts.

Shots, for instance, would show famous attendees, at their various tables, yawning or toasting raucously as the ceremony was proceeding on stage.

This year, my deep-seated love of nostalgia was gratified when NBC cameras surveyed the audience while host Ricky Gervais was making intentionally, raucous, irreverent, and sometimes obnoxious statements as part of his opening monologue.

I had to prevent myself from doing a good old Danny Thomas spit take, you know when you take a sip of tea and have to spit it back in the cup in reaction to something someone says, during some of the crowd shots.

The sour, disbelieving, disapproving expressions on Tom Hanks’s face were as priceless as anything Gervais had to say. Especially when they were compared with the glee with which the often picked-on Martin Scorsese greeted Gervais’s disparaging salvos.

My review of Gervais is mixed. I enjoy people who go too far, so I loved both how honest and bad Gervais could be. At times, I thought his bite was misplaced and, at other times, I thought he went too far, to the point of forcing a laugh or being naughtier than expected.

One thing he said should be repeated, or printed, at every award ceremony from now until actors are content to be glamorous celebrities rather than political commentators. That’s the admonition that they, actors, are expert in nothing, that in fact they know nothing, and should not make declarations about issues they at best dabble in and, at worst, make their mouthpieces for activists no one would listen to on their own.

I found the perfect antidote to political speeches at award shows.

Actually, my cousin found it. To accommodate everyone’s schedule and make time for a leisurely dinner, she taped the awards for us to begin watching about 75 minutes after they began.

Because we were seeing the ceremony was on tape, we could fast forward through commercials and found ourselves doing the same when a celebrity started whining about a cause.

Take that, Patricia Arquette. I love you an actress and you deserve your accolades, but I was thrilled to breeze past whatever you had to say about whatever atrocity you chose to mention this year. It gave me goosebumps to shut you up.

You too, Joaquin Phoenix and Michelle Williams.

Arquette, Phoenix, and Williams practiced what I call “mike abuse,” the taking advantage of having a microphone in front to you to use it in a way it was clearly not intended.

I did not mind Sam Mendes mentioning how his grandfather’s stories inspired “1917,” the producer of “Chernobyl” citing the aftermath of that disaster, or even Sacha Baron Cohen making a joke about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg while introducing scenes from “Jojo Rabbit.”

Their remarks were in keeping with the films they were on stage for making. Cohen’s was particularly witty, citing Zuckerberg after mentioning a boy who was taken up by a movement and had only imaginary friends.

I also took no objection to presenters and recipients expressing support for the people of Australia. The devastating fires in the bush was an ongoing current event. It warranted comment, particularly from Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman, natives of Australia.

Something I might have preferred is someone taking the time to do something symbolic rather than being sentimental or pontificating. Something like leading the audience in an impromptu version of “Waltzing Matilda,” a Peter Allen song, or some other musical passage that evoked Australia but didn’t involve making a speech.

In terms of the awards themselves, I thought the voters from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did a generally fine job.

There were surprises. “The Irishman” has been getting most of the awards for 2019 Best Picture.

The Golden Globe went to “1917,” a worthy contender but that had not taken any previous major prizes.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and “Fleabag” outpolled Rachel Brosnahan and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” for Best Actress in a Comedy and Best Comedy, as they did at the Emmys. The two actresses and two series may spend seasons trading the award.

Wouldn’t that be grand?

I would say the biggest shock of the night was Ramy Youssef taking honors for Best Actor in a Comedy over Bill Hader, Michael Douglas, or the person I though might be the dark horse, Ben Platt.

Youssef is sweetly offhand as the young Egyptian American who tries to balance his family’s, and his, Muslim traditions with an average American life. One particularly wonderful episode of his show, “Ramy,” has him taking out a Muslim woman his parents, at his request, arranged for him to meet. It turns out that while she believes in traditions, she is all-American when it comes to wanting a date to include some romance.

This scene, and the funny, confused way Youssef played it, explains his award. So do moments from a trip Ramy takes to Cairo about mid-series, which is seen on Hulu.

A new star rises

You never know where you will find a TV star.

Especially if that TV star is not American.

When the tour of the 2018 Tony Award-winning “The Band’s Visit” was en route to Philadelphia, it was clear the male lead would be the same actor, Sasson Gabay, who played the role in the 2007 Israeli movie about an Egyptian band that arrives in the wrong town for a concert date.

What may have been also clear, but I didn’t realize, was Gabay’s son, Adam Gabay, would be joining his Dad, playing a character role of a Israeli youth who would like to have to a date but is awkward with girls (until one of the Egyptians builds his confidence).

Adam Gabay is one of the leads in an Israeli mini-series, “Our Boys,” that ran on HBO in 2019.

His is one of the more complex roles, one of a quiet but dissatisfied Yeshiva scholar who contemplates shedding the life of studying the Torah and its commentaries for something more secular and who becomes involved in the kidnapping of an Arab boy taken, and killed, in retaliation for the deaths of three kidnapped Israeli boys.

“Our Boys” is controversial in both Israel and the Palestine Territory.

The twin kidnapping incidents underscored tensions in Jerusalem and in Israel in general.

Many in Israel thought the focus on the Arab youth, Muhammed, minimized, or gave short shrift to, the capturing, treatment, and killing of the three Israeli boys taken before him.

That is a legitimate sentiment, but in wider scope, “Our Boys” depicts the human side of an ages-old political, cultural, and religious struggle that seems destined for no solution.

Retaliation for retaliation, action for action, an eye for an eye becomes the overarching story of all world chaos. It is a sad and constant part of humankind’s history.

Bringing that pattern to light in a personal way seems to be the intention of “Our Boys.” Concentrating on one story is dramatically more powerful than dealing with four. It allows for a deeper examination. It also emphasizes both the passion of a moment and the nature of retaliation, even one that is spontaneous and unplanned. The attention given to Muhammed’s fate asks the question about whether it would not have been wiser to control anger and mourn the three Israeli boys whose lives were willfully and senselessly taken without committing the same act in revenge.

The world is getting tired of calms being ignited by storms imposed by rash leaders and activists. By showing the mothers of all four murdered boys and going deeply in the judicial upshot of Muhammed’s killing, “Our Boys” often asks, “Why?,” in terms of why did the second kidnapping have to take place, while relating its story.

It isn’t only “Our Boys” that raises this theme. You see the questioning of conflict, war, and man’s inhumanity to man in several acclaimed movies of this season – “1917,” “Jojo Rabbit,” and “Harriet” in particular. The recently passed 100th anniversary of World War I, an unnecessary battle that could and should have been prevented, also provoked thought about taking militant or military action.

Adam Gabay displays his mettle as an actor in “Our Boys,” portraying the least likely of politicos while, if you look from the beginning, showing something looks like teenage confusion but could be rage simmering beneath his placid Yeshiva boy innocence.

He demonstrates his range when you compare his work in “Our Boys” to the lovably oafish and fairly unkempt young man, nervous around girls, he portrays so entertainingly in “The Band’s Visit.”

Coming this week

Two items to look for on television this morning.

I will be making my second appearance on “PHL17’s Morning News,” giving an overview of theater offerings in the region, with a review of the current tour of “The Band’s Visit” at the Academy of Music as the focus.

The segment was recorded at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center and covers various shows coming to the area, from Princeton to Malvern, including opera and orchestral concerts.

“PHL17 Morning News” airs from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Channel 17.

The other item is a tad more global. It’s the early-morning announcement for the Oscar nominations for 2019.

Yes, I said “2019.”

It’s one of my bugaboos that Wikipedia and other Google-accessible sites change tradition by assigning Oscars to the years they were distributed instead of the years the movies represented were released. Those outlets will refer to today’s nominations and the February 9 – It gets earlier and earlier! – ceremony as the 2020 Academy Awards.

The purist in me finds that wrong and misleading to future scholars studying films by the year of their distribution. In any case, the latest class of nominees, those of 2019, will be revealed, an event that for me, personally, is equivalent to other people’s anticipation of the NFL draft.

Neal Zoren’s television column appears every Monday.