In general, this was a pretty lackluster show. The awards themselves are either so predictable or ridiculous that it's hard to get too worked up about who does or doesn't win, and the Globes' role as an Oscar prognosticator has lessened in recent years as awards season gets ever lengthened. So the real appeal of this show is to see who says what once they've had a few drinks, and hope the host gets in a few good zingers.
After all the hubbub last year when Ricky Gervais dared to tweak the sensibilities of some of Hollywood's finest (but then, it turns out, he didn't really), it was kind of a big deal when he was asked back to host again this year, but he was pretty tame throughout. He certainly had some good lines, but there wasn't anything terribly "Gervais-ian" about his schtick this year. Whether asked to rein it in or choosing to do so himself, his biggest sin was being unmemorable.
And while most of Gervais schtick was safe but funny enough, his introduction of Madonna was just awful. "Not at all like a virgin?" Ugh (also, Madonna? Get over yourself.).
I know some people (like Alan Sepinwall) would like to see the trailers for the best picture nominees cut in favor of giving the winners more time for their acceptance speeches, but I'd rather the trailers cut in favor of getting a clip of each nominated performer. That said, it was pretty lame that they played off The Descendants producers. I mean, it was the last award of the night! You were on time (as though running long is the worst thing that could happen), let them finish!
The whole Comedy or Musical/Drama split remains dubious, with Michelle William winning Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for playing Marilyn Monroe in a movie that I understand is fairly far removed from being either a comedy or a musical (I haven't seen it yet), while Laura Dern won Best Actress in a Comedy for Enlightened, a show which I also understand to be more dramatic than comedic (then again, the Emmys have a similar problem in that regard).
Similarly, someone needs to tell these awarding bodies that just because a show is British doesn't mean it's automatically a miniseries. It's pretty sad that they're calling Downton Abbey a miniseries when at almost the exact same time an episode from its second season is airing...
Best laugh of the night goes to Seth Rogen, who came out to present alongside Kate Beckinsale, and introduced himself saying, "I'm Seth Rogen, and I'm trying to conceal a massive erection." Indeed.
Best presenters of the night were married couple Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, who sang their remarks introducing the best supporting actress award. I hope those two never split up.
TV at the Globes has always been an afterthought, but it was interesting that other than Modern Family's expected Best Comedy Series win, every single TV award went to a non-network (cable or PBS) show, continuing a recent awards show trend of cable dominance and network decline.
Speaking of Modern Family, co-creator and writer Steve Levitan gave the best acceptance speech of the night, in which he loosely translated Sophia Vergara's Spanish remarks into things like, "ladies, give our writers your phone numbers. They may look pasty but they are the best lovers I’ve ever had." It was a nice break from the largely monotonous and repetitive speeches (most of which had me heading to Twitter to kill some time), especially considering the predictability of the win.
Easily the best moment of the night came when George Clooney, accepting the Best Actor award for The Descendants, thanked Michael Fassbender for taking up the mantle of frontal nudity and made a joke about how Fassbender could play golf with his penis (complete with a little swing of his pelvis). That's right, George Clooney made a penis joke. There's nothing he can't do!
In terms of Oscar prognostication, both The Artist and The Descendants likely cemented their status as Oscar frontrunners and the respective films to beat, while George Clooney and Jean Dujardin's Best Actor wins (in Drama and Musical or Comedy, respectively) should make for an interesting best actor race.