Best eccentric at an awards show goes to ...

Once again the season of Hollywood awards shows — the kind we like to both jeer and ogle — has kicked off with the Golden Globes. The show is a concoction of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — winner Christian Bale was brazen enough to quip that he left press junkets asking "Who were those awful characters?" — and has only become a big deal because the public's appetite for celebrity watching has become so insatiable. Its place in the pantheon of awards shows is not as an arbiter of art. It's an opportunity to glimpse a full red carpet of TV and movie stars, a raunchy host and some off-kilter behavior. Because it's also a dinner, the Globes likes to promote itself as the show in which the nominees have been sitting at tables drinking all night so who knows what they'll say. If that were true, it would be a delicious start to Hollywood's season of self-promotion.

But in an age when celebrities are molded by public relations experts, managers, stylists and dermatologists wielding syringes full of Botox and Restylane, even the Globes have lost a lot of their spontaneity. Does anyone really think that any celebrity with a chance of being caught on camera is knocking back more than half a glass of all that Champagne chilling in glass buckets on their tables? Even the provocative host, Ricky Gervais, told the audience he had worked out his jokes with his lawyer. (We kind of believe him.)

Still, there were a few signs that the show hadn't lost all of its refreshing wackiness, such as Natalie Portman giddily noting that choreographer Benjamin Millepied, the father of her unborn child, really does like sleeping with her. And then there was Helena Bonham Carter. She wore two different colored shoes. Red and green. Bonham Carter, the respected actress who was nominated for her performance in "The King's Speech," often arrives at gala events dressed and coiffed as if she had tumbled in a clothes dryer just before she got there. But two different colored shoes is a new level of eccentricity even for her. Not since Bjork slung a fake swan around her neck and went to the Oscars has there been that high-profile a display of goofiness.

And what a relief — no, delight! — it was. The only reason to watch shows of ridiculously highly paid actors sashaying on and off stage, wearing clothes that designers personally fitted on them, thanking their agents and managers, is to see them exhibit a little of the creativity and edginess that got them to the show in the first place. (That and the remote possibility that Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston will one day confront each other on the red carpet.) We can only hope that Bonham Carter will be equally inspired at the Oscars next month.

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