The Golden Globes gave top honors to James Cameron s Avatar and took its cue from the film s celebration of humanity, with winners ranging from the gritty child-abuse drama Precious to freewheeling comedy The Hangover.
Sunday s awards ceremony also opened wide to embrace the long-admired Jeff Bridges, who took best dramatic-acting honors for the country-music film Crazy Heart, and a sitcom actress, Mo Nique, who emerged as a fierce screen presence in Precious.
Fox s spunky new TV musical comedy series Glee was honored, while the best TV drama award went to AMC s 1960s Madison Avenue saga Mad Men for the third year in a row.
Cameron was the big winner on the movie side, claiming best drama and best director for his science-fiction blockbuster and setting him for a possible awards sequel to 1997 s Titanic. Cameron s epic about the doomed oceanliner won the same prizes and went on to dominate the Academy Awards.
This time, though, instead of being king of the world, as Cameron declared at the Oscar ceremony, he has become king of a computer-generated distant moon that made critics gush and sent box-office receipts soaring. The film has grossed $1.6 billion worldwide, second only to Titanic with $1.8 billion.
Accepting the best director award earlier, a delighted Cameron said he had been expecting to lose out to ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, who had been nominated for her powerful Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker.
I m unprepared. Frankly I thought Kathryn was going to get this, Cameron told a star-studded audience at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. But make no mistake I m very grateful.
Part of Cameron s speech was also made in Na vi – the language spoken by the blue-skinned peace-loving alien heroes of Avatar, which was invented for the film by a University of Southern California linguistics expert.
Avatar asks us to see that everything is connected, all human beings to each other, and us to the Earth. And if you have to go four and a half light years to another, made-up planet to appreciate this miracle of the world that we have right here, well, you know what, that s the wonder of cinema right there, that s the magic, Cameron said.
Other film acting prizes went to Sandra Bullock for the football tale The Blind Side, Meryl Streep for the Julia Child story Julie & Julia, Robert Downey Jr. for the crime romp Sherlock Holmes and Austrian actor Christoph Waltz as a gleefully bloodthirsty Nazi in Inglourious Basterds.
Sunday s winners could get a last-minute boost for the Oscars, whose nominations balloting closes Saturday. Last year s big Globe winner, Slumdog Millionaire, went on to garner Oscar glory.
Michael C. Hall won for best actor in a TV drama for Showtime s Dexter, in which he plays a serial killer with a code of ethics, targeting only other murderers. Hall s publicists said last week that Hall is being treated for Hodgkin s lymphoma and that the cancer is in remission.
Dexter also won the supporting-actor TV honor for John Lithgow. Other TV winners included Juliana Margulies as best actress in a drama for CBS The Good Wife and Toni Collette as best comedy actress for Showtime s The United States of Tara.
Bridges, a beloved veteran generally overlooked for key Hollywood honors, got a standing ovation at the ceremony hosted by British comedian Ricky Gervais.
You re really screwing up my underappreciated status here, Bridges said.
The son of late actor Lloyd Bridges, Bridges thanked his father for encouraging him to go into show business.
Me being a young kid, you know, you don t want to do what your parents want you to do. … So glad I listened to you, dad. I finally paid attention, he said.
Bullock cited Michael Oher, the Baltimore Ravens rookie lineman whose life is the subject of The Blind Side. She plays a wealthy Memphis woman whose family took the teenage Oher and gave him shelter after discovering he was homeless.
If I may steal from Michael Oher, I may not be the most talented, but I ve been given opportunity, Bullock said.
The Vegas bachelor bash The Hangover won for best musical or comedy, bringing uncharacteristic awards attention for broad comedy, a genre that often gets overlooked at Hollywood honors.
The Globes marked a dramatic turning point for Mo Nique, who was mainly known for lowbrow comedy but startled audiences with her brutal performance in Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire, directed by Lee Daniels and starring newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, who was a Globe nominee.
Streep s competition for best actress in a musical or comedy included herself. She also was nominated for the romance It s Complicated.
I just want to say that in my long career, I ve played so many extraordinary woman that I m getting mistaken for one, Streep said. I m very clear that I m the vessel for other people s stories and other people s lives.
The blockbuster Up came away with the award for animated film. Pixar Animation, the Disney outfit that made Up, has won all four prizes for animated movies since the Globes introduced the category in 2006. Past Pixar winners are WALL-E, Ratatouille and Cars.
Up features the voice of Ed Asner in a tale of a lonely, bitter widower who renews his zest for adventure by flying his house off under helium balloons to South America, where he encounters his childhood hero and a hilarious gang of talking canines.
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner won the screenplay honor for Up in the Air, which Reitman also directed. The foreign-language honor went to The White Ribbon, a stark drama of guilt and suspicion set in a German town on the eve of World War I.
Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award here Sunday for his outstanding contribution to the entertainment field.
In presenting Scorsese with the award, his longtime friend and collaborator Robert De Niro found a new way to describe the director s famous, obsessive love of cinema.
Marty sleeps, drinks and eats film, De Niro said. I hear there are videos on the internet of Marty having sex with film.
He continued the joke in a husky voice: A hot reel of 35 mm stock …
Such honors have become somewhat old hat for Scorsese and De Niro. De Niro joked that after 20 years making movies together, they ve spent the last 10 presenting each other with awards.
We re like an old married couple, said De Niro. We built a life together, we have great memories – we just don t sleep together anymore.
Taking the stage to a standing ovation, Scorsese thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes, for its continued support and contributions to film preservation.
As William Faulkner said, The past is never dead, it is not even past, said Scorsese. As far as I m concerned, making films and preserving them are the same thing.
Although the Globes are one of Hollywood s biggest parties, the ceremony included somber reminders of tragedy in the real world, many stars wearing ribbons in support of earthquake victims in Haiti.
The Globes, which aired on NBC, are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 90 reporters covering show business for overseas outlets. -Agencies