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Comedy hosts shine at Golden Globes

Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler prove a winning combo at the Golden Globes, keeping the night light and getting the gags right.

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IF THE Oscars are film's night of nights and the Emmys television's night of nights, where does that leave the Golden Globes?

They are widely held to be a preview of the Academy Awards, though their accuracy in predicting Oscar winners has been blunted somewhat since a sweet spot from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.

Only twice since then - Slumdog Millionaire in 2009 and The Artist in 2012 - have they accurately foreshadowed the winner of the best-picture Oscar. But that statistical reality does little to dampen the red-carpet fantasy.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the 70th Annual Golden Globes.

Fun duo: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler got the gags right. Photo: Getty Images

Hollywood is superficial, even when navel-gazing. And when it comes to television awards nights, the tone is set in the first five minutes. That's why the Oscars and the Emmys live and die on their host. And why even our own Logies have, for decades, been paying for the sins of a series of opening dance numbers from the 1980s.

This year's Golden Globe awards - the 70th - were hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who lit up the screen from the moment they stepped onto the stage. They were sharp, hilarious and courageously upheld the grand tradition of mocking the night's organisers, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

''[Last year's host] Ricky Gervais could not be here tonight because he is no longer technically in show business,'' Fey said. Poehler replied: ''We want to assure you that we have no intention of being edgy or offensive tonight because, as Ricky learned the hard way, when you run afoul of the Hollywood Foreign Press they make you host this show two more times.''

Indeed, many of the perceived weaknesses of the Golden Globes are, in fact, its greatest strengths. Instead of being strapped in, auditorium-style, guests are seated at tables, fed and watered, resulting in an uneasy sense of chaos. In a close-up, Mel Gibson looked glassy-eyed and perhaps even a little lonely. Others were captured in animated conversation.

The anachronistic categories - such as ''film, comedy or musical'' - mean a bleak tragedy such as Les Miserables is up against whimsical comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Madness? No, just the Globes.

The big gamble is that, in an attempt to be looser and more shambolic than their cousins, the Globes risk looking a little too loose and shambolic. Letting comedians off the leash is always a risk. Usually it pays off, but sometimes it doesn't. Fey and Poehler soared. Sacha Baron Cohen, trying really hard to look like an English wanker, simply wasn't funny. Perhaps he should stick to character work.

Perhaps the Golden Globes are something of a bastard child of the Oscars and the Emmys, somehow not quite the equal of either, and saddled with some of the worst qualities of both.

Next up, the Screen Actors Guild's ''SAG'' awards, awards from the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild and others, Britain's BAFTAs, Australia's AACTAs and, of course, the Oscars on February 24. It's a long red carpet. But that, as they say, is show business.