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Hank Stuever, Washington Post, Published January 13 2013

Golden Globes: Tina and Amy made it bearable; Jodie made it bizarre (video)

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should be allowed to do whatever they want: star in funny TV shows (despite meh ratings), make movies, write books, act as spokeswomen for the modern-day feminist movement. Heck, they could even run for office. They are, right now, America's best gal pals, the two women we'd rather watch awards shows with (in sweatpants) than watch them endure the indignity of having to host the Golden Globes.

The best and oddest part of Sunday night's show came more than two hours in, when a radiant but extremely nervous Jodie Foster came out of the closet. And announced her retirement from show business. Or something like that.

Foster, accepting a Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the ripe old age of 50, gave a rambling but heartfelt acceptance speech about everything under the sun: being in show business all her life, guarding her privacy, being a mother, being a daughter. It was very moving — and utterly baffling. It will take many days for a full exegesis of the text, so everyone get to work on that.

Oh, and the awards? Big wins in the film categories went to “Argo” for best picture (drama) and to Daniel Day-Lewis for his portrayal of the 16th president in “Lincoln.” Also, a few awards for (hold your applause, haters) “Les Miserables” for best picture (musical/comedy) and acting awards to its stars Hugh Jackman (best actor) and Anne Hathaway (best supporting actress). Ben Affleck won directing “Argo”; Quentin Tarantino got the screenwriting award for “Django Unchained”; Jessica Chastain won a best actress (drama) prize for “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Amid all the Golden Globes's noisy chatter, bungled cues and awkward technical glitches (real-life “Argo” agent Tony Mendez couldn't be heard during his moment onstage) that have come to define this opening rite of the awards season, Fey and Poehler administered the requisite stage slaps at Hollywood with fairly tame jokes that came at completely affordable expense to James Cameron and James Franco, as well as Meryl Streep, who, Poehler said, “is not here tonight. She has the flu — I hear she's amaaaaayzing in it.”

And, of course, there was a joke about the host of the previous three Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais, who “could not be here tonight because he is no longer technically in show business,” Fey said.

“We have no intention of being edgy or offensive tonight,” Poehler added, “because, as Ricky learned the hard way, when you run afoul of the Hollywood Foreign Press [Association], they make you host [the Golden Globes] two more times.”

Perish the thought, ladies. You've done your duty.

In television categories, winners included the stars and makers of Showtime's hit “Homeland,” which, in an echo of the Emmys, won best drama, as well as best actor (Damian Lewis) and actress (Claire Danes). Yes, even with all that implausible nonsense fans suffered near the end of Season 2. Go figure.

HBO's uncomfy but often brilliant show “Girls” won best TV comedy (because sometimes “Girls” is funny). Its creator/writer/star, Lena Dunham, also won a best actress prize. “It took a village to raise this very demented child,” Dunham said, about herself. (Or about her show?) That upbringing seems unfinished; Dunham, in a charming way, is a woman who really does come across as a girl.

HBO's campaign psychodrama about the 2008 Republican presidential ticket, “Game Change,” picked up three awards: best TV movie or miniseries; a supporting-actor award for Ed Harris's performance as Sen. John McCain; and a best actress award for star Julianne Moore's take on Sarah Palin. Director Jay Roach commended Moore with one more swipe at the former politician-turned-pundit: “Now with you and Tina Fey, we have three of the most incredible impersonations of Sarah Palin — counting Sarah Palin.”

To a standing ovation and sustained applause, former President Bill Clinton came onstage to introduce “Lincoln” as one of the best picture (drama) nominees, and he showed once more that he can enliven just about any telecast, even when he only gets a couple of minutes to speak. (It can be done!)

Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell pulled off the best comedy riff of the night, while presenting the award for best actress (musical/comedy) and pretending to have seen each of the nominees’ performances. (Jennifer Lawrence won, for “Silver Linings Playbook.”)

Adele won the original song for “Skyfall” and seemed genuinely overjoyed. “We've been [lovely but unprintable British substitute for ‘wetting’] ourselves laughing over there,” said the singer, calling the evening out a rare treat for a new mum.

Kevin Costner accepted a Golden Globe for his performance in the History Channel's “Hatfields & McCoys,” and used the opportunity to get nostalgic about the 1980s and the entire film and television industries. “It's been a great ride,” he said, as if it's the last we'll ever hear him. Saying such cryptic things will from now on be known as “Jodie Fostering.”

Later on, Sacha Baron Cohen stumbled onstage, drink in hand, faux-blotto, in an attempt to do an impression of what everyone keeps hoping the Golden Globes will be: drunk and unhinged. The consistently irritating Aziz Ansari (“Parks and Recreation”) tried that shtick, too, with similarly unimpressive results, except that one really can believe he was blitzed out of his mind. After all that, Fey and Poehler did better drinky-winky bitter banter as the show headed into that inevitable downhill tumble in its final hour.

Making this event look glamorous is one of Hollywood's most stunning achievements in special effects. And every year it seems to get a little better by just getting sloppier. It's the awards show our culture most deserves.