Rightwing Film Geek

I can fantasize, can’t I?

“Academy Award Nominee Borat”?

Too much to hope for? Maybe not after last night, when Sacha Baron Cohen won the Golden Globe for Best Actor. Admittedly it was the comedy/musical category and Academy voters are notorious for insensitivity to comedy, particularly of a style as aggressively and determinedly lowbrow as BORAT. While the Golden Globe win is not nothing, I’m only 50-50 that Cohen will even get nominated (and he has no chance of winning … I’m no Alex Fung, circa 2000, but Forrest Whitaker looks to be in a “Dead Girl or Live Boy” situation).

Cohen might get completely passed over, partly as I say because BORAT is a comedy, but also partly because the aesthetically-conservative Academy voters might not even consider BORAT a movie, but rather a gonzo reality-TV episode or a kind of documentary; JACKASS with a fake foreign accent. Admittedly, BORAT does resemble a very long (and very very funny) CANDID CAMERA episode and is one more example of the disintegrating division between documentary and fiction. But I don’t there can be any real question that what Cohen does in it should be called “acting.” He’s not a Kazakh journalist. If Cohen “breaks character” as Borat onscreen, the whole schtick becomes an offensive effort at giving offense (I now realize this is largely why I so despised the first JACKASS movie). In my opinion, BORAT didn’t even feature Cohen’s best 2006 performance — that would be his scene-stealing supporting performance in TALLADEGA NIGHTS, though I plan on voting for both performances in a certain movie-nerd poll. Still, no matter what … Cohen stole the whole Golden Globes show with his acceptance speech here.

I was listening closely, trying to write down the best quote lines live for our paper’s Golden Globes story, while trying to keep a straight face while mentally censoring for “what can be printed in a daily newspaper,” while Cohen is bringing down the house, both in Hollywood and in Washington. My favorite line not in the paper: his walkoff when he thanks every American who hasn’t sued him.

On reflection, I also think that part of the reason for the Golden Globe is admiration for everything that happened during the fall runup to the release of BORAT, which all that became part of the movie. With the exception of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, I can’t think of a movie that wasn’t obviously a commercial hit but was so successfully “sold” by the single-handed efforts of one man. DA ALI G SHOW was a cult-hit at best, but Cohen did a superb job of “building buzz” (the premiere at Toronto, Cohen staying in character for interviews for months, visiting the White House, baiting the Kazakh government, and so on — creating buzz for his own movie. It was the classic “little film that could,” entirely on Cohen’s back.

January 16, 2007 - Posted by | Actors, Golden Globes, Sacha Baron Cohen

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