American audiences must already be bored by all the British award acceptance speeches

Be warned award ceremony audiences - us Brits are masters of the "humblebrag" and awards season provides ample opportunity for us to shine


With five shrieked iterations of “Oh my God” from Adele, and a speech from Jodie Foster so layered with meaning, and so open to interpretation, that it might one day be studied at A-level, the awards season that climaxes with the Oscars is under way.

The Golden Globes is the equivalent of football’s Capital One Cup – it’s a trophy, all right, but it’s not the big one that everyone remembers.

Nevertheless, it does give some indication of who will be doing a lap of honour come the end of the season. This being the case, it may be a difficult time for Americans. They have already had to withstand a Brit telling them what to do with their gun laws, and now, they may have to sit there in their tuxedos, smile indulgently – those whose features still move, that is – and listen to a succession of acceptance speeches delivered in British accents.

On Sunday night, there were leading-actor awards for the Lewis twins – Damian and Daniel Day- – plus a gong for Dame Maggie Smith, three prizes for the British-made Les Misérables, a best-song award for Adele, and even a characteristically on-the-edge cameo by Sacha Baron Cohen, who, just to make the point, presented an award in an over-the-top upper-class British accent.

What an audience of Hollywood’s finest made of Adele is anyone’s guess. On one level, her authentic, girl-of-the-people persona, and her speech full of glottal stops and unaffected observation – “I’ve literally just come for a night out with my friend Ida… we’re new mums…we’ve been p***ing ourselves laughing all night” – is a charming antidote to Hollywood artifice. On the other hand, it may have been a classic example of “humblebragging”, my favourite term of the moment, and defined as “subtly letting others know how fantastic your life is, while undercutting it with some self-effacing humour”.

It is a common phenomenon on Twitter – arch exponents are Stephen Fry and Alan Davies – and, with her speech, Adele may well have boarded that same train. Or maybe I’m just being mean. Either way, she was easier to listen to – and understand – than Jodie Foster, who, in receiving a lifetime-achievement award, chose the moment to give her equivalent of a State of the Union address.

I couldn’t make head or tail of it. Was she coming out publicly as a lesbian? Was she retiring as a lesbian? Was she quitting movies? Had she had a sherbet or two? She made a serious point about how the modern world disrespects privacy – “people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was” – but, in the world beyond, her words may have had a hollow ring. Of course, privacy is a basic human right, and human rights are indivisible, equally applicable to movie stars and road sweepers, but it was difficult to embrace the idea that we should feel sorry for a room full of gorgeous multimillionaires who had just spent all evening congratulating themselves. Next up, the Baftas. Can’t wait…

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