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Last night, the Hollywood Foreign Press honored Woody Allen with the Cecil B. Demille lifetime achievement award. The writer/director/ actor’s longtime collaborator and friend Diane Keaton handled the mini-ceremony with her usual charm and an extended montage worked its way through all of the Oscar winner’s most beloved works. It should have been a touching opportunity for a Hollywood legend to receive a prolonged standing ovation, but Allen didn’t bother showing up to listen to his peers and admirers clap.
Instead, he went to the Broadway premiere of Beautiful. In fact, he sat right by Katie Couric and by all accounts had a damn good time. In the day or so since, most people have been far more concerned with talking about some very negative tweets Allen’s estranged family members fired off, but that bitter feud has been simmering for decades and will never go away. No, I’m far more interested in Allen’s no-show and why it’s indirectly one of the greatest compliments Allen has ever been given.
A celebrity skipping an award show is far from a strange occurrence. Christian Bale didn’t show up to the Globes last night despite receiving a nomination, and with little effort, I could rattle off a list of ten people who have done the same thing during the Grammys, Emmys or Oscars. The thing that makes this Allen snub unique, however, is that his no-show wasn’t a product of circumstance or in anyway unexpected. Beyond that, it was also for a lifetime achievement award. Ordinarily, the only thing that prevents older celebrities from showing up for a lifetime’s worth of applause is death, but Allen isn’t like any other celebrities and apparently, the Hollywood Foreign Press doesn’t care, which is remarkable.
Over the years, the Globes have been criticized for nominating some dreadful movies. Why? Well, the most common conspiracy theory involves a want of star power. After all, it’s easier to ask the average person to tune in and watch Johnny Depp on the Red Carpet than ask her to tune in for a random independent movie actor she’s never even heard of. That same logic has applied the past few decades to Cecil B Demille award winners, as well. You have to go all the way back to 1977 (Walter Mirisch) to find someone who doesn’t possess a name the average person is extremely familiar with. Clearly, the Hollywood Foreign Press is an organization that cares about prestige and glitz, and yet, in Allen’s case it apparently didn’t matter.
Let’s put this another way. The Hollywood Foreign Press could have cherry picked any single person from Hollywood to invite on stage and let speak for a few minutes. Out of all of these possible candidates, they picked a man who was overwhelmingly likely to throw up the middle finger and say thanks but no thanks to even showing up. And that says more about the career long brilliance of Woody Allen than any single piece of praise or award ever could.