Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. Nobody wants to be mean to Renee Zellweger. It’s unthinkable, like kicking a bunny rabbit. Moreover, I’m not using ‘worst dressed’ just to be a dick, it’s – you know what? Let’s call it ‘least favourite’ and go from there, yes?
I didn’t hate this look right off the bat, or even necessarily dislike it. The periwinkle blue colour of her Armani Prive really worked on TV – better, even, than on the red carpet, I‘d say. It’s not in high demand right now, but I wasn’t thinking about how many people weren’t wearing that colour. Not at first, anyway.
What I thought right away, of course – what we all probably thought – was that it looked like the dresses Renee Zellweger might have worn when she was last at the Golden Globes a good while ago – but so what? Nobody loves vintage more than me, so no arguments here.
But when Renee won and began her speech, it sounded … kind of like an apology, maybe? Is it just me? First she said ‘it’s nice to see you… 17 years later’. Oooof. There’s no way to take the sting out of that sentence, is there? Am I hypersensitive?
She’s referring, I think, to the last time she won – in 2004 for Cold Mountain, though she was also nominated in 2005 and 2007 (Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason and Miss Potter, respectively). Which – okay, I can see how that’s a long time between wins, but – lots of people never get nominated, lots of people have large gaps between award-worthy roles. It was a strange thing to say – until I checked and realized she was nominated (or won) every year from 2001-2005, and again in 2007. After a streak like that I can see why the nearly two decades would feel like something that had to be commented upon… maybe?
And then it all snowballed, and everything seemed to be reminding us of how long it had been since Renee Zellweger was a regular here, and pointing to one another. There was the old school speech where she did start with all her agents’ names, then the part where she talked about how they told her ‘the top doesn’t matter’, and ‘just do the work, Renee’. I’m no therapist, but… didn’t it seem an awful lot like she was talking about how hard it was for all those years when she wasn’t in the mix? Like she was grateful to be back, or worse… apologizing for not having been better?
The thing is, I never thought of Renee Zellweger that way and I don’t know if anyone else did either. If anything, it was the arguably crueler truth that nobody was thinking that much about her at all. I mean, obviously some of the projects she did in the intervening years weren’t Oscar bait, and on some level, sure it was obvious she wasn’t being offered the same types of things… but the way she was speaking reminded me of a kid who’s promising to be good now that they’ve been let back in from Time Out. Which is wild, because – she’s Renee Zellweger! She was, and is, beloved, you know! But it was uncomfortably clear, in a way I didn’t enjoy, that she didn’t think so.
That, I think, is why I wound up feeling so negative toward the blue dress. It felt like she was wearing something in ‘the old style’, promising, in clothing form, that she’d be the ‘old’ Renee, just like she used to be. I know it sounds like I’m projecting, but the more I looked at it the more unshakable it became. It’s been 17 years, but her hairstyle, her body, her dress, all seemed like they hadn’t changed at all – like she was trying to trick us into thinking she’d never left, somehow? Except that instead of being comforting and familiar, the effect was unsettling. It’s actually more comfortable when someone has shown signs of change – like when Anna Chlumsky turned up on VEEP, and after a few moments of cognitive dissonance that Vada Sultenfuss was no longer 10 years old, My Girl became a part of her past rather than her defining characteristic.
I hope Renee Zellweger is ‘back’, in the sense that she was always an enjoyable performer, but I want the Renee of today, and I hope as awards season progresses – she has a SAG nomination and BAFTA and Oscar nominations are very possible -- that we get to see more of the person she’s become since we saw her last.