Embracing the yin and yang of modern Hollywood, the Golden Globes honored a sprawling blockbuster in “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and an unconventional, two-character romantic comedy in “Lost in Translation” with its top film awards Sunday night.
But turning Golden Globes into Oscar gold -- traditional Hollywood alchemy -- is less certain in this year’s abbreviated awards season. Too late to influence Tuesday’s Academy Award nominations, for which balloting closed over the weekend, the Globes may yet prove a bellwether of what might happen at the Oscars on Feb. 29.
So, Sunday’s big winners -- Charlize Theron in “Monster,” Sean Penn in “Mystic River,” Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation” and Diane Keaton for “Something’s Gotta Give” -- could be considered front-runners for the Oscars.
Theron, who has already picked up key wins from various film critics groups for her electrifying performance against type as a serial killer in “Monster,” won for best actress in a motion picture drama.
“It’s so crazy!” shouted the blond star, who gained 30 pounds and de-glammed herself for the role. “I’m from a farm in South Africa. This is insane!”
With three Globes, “Lost in Translation” emerged as a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the awards season. The biggest winner, though, during NBC’s telecast of the 61st annual Golden Globe Awards was HBO’s ambitious adaptation of playwright Tony Kushner’s landmark AIDS drama, “Angels in America,” which won five awards, including best television miniseries or movie.
Often derided as more froth than substance, the Golden Globes are chosen by only 90-some members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. But what the awards lack in credibility, they make up in star presence and party atmosphere. The parade of stars along the red carpet attracts hundreds of paparazzi and fans to the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
But one notable no-show was Penn, a Hollywood iconoclast and critics’ darling who is often overlooked come Oscar time. When his name was announced for best actor in a motion picture drama for “Mystic River,” the film’s director, Clint Eastwood, accepted the award. Eastwood conceded that Penn is the kind of actor who is often taken for granted because “they are so good so often, so consistent, that we often expect great things from them.”
Penn’s costar, Tim Robbins, walked off with his first Golden Globe on Sunday night, for best supporting actor in a motion picture for his role as an emotionally damaged adult who was a victim of a child molestation, in “Mystic River.”
Robbins, who often uses awards shows as the bully pulpit for his political activism, gave a traditional acceptance speech. After hugging his son, Jack, he took the stage to thank his fellow cast members and singled out director Eastwood for special notice. Gripping the Golden Globe statuette, he exclaimed, “Clint, you are the man!”
In all, “The Lord of the Rings” was the evening’s big winner on the film side with four Golden Globes -- best picture, director, score and song.
“Lost in Translation” came in second with golden statuettes for best comedy or musical, screenplay and actor.
Left out in the cold, however, was the year’s most nominated film, “Cold Mountain,” which received eight nominations going in, and won only one, for supporting actress Renee Zellweger.
Zellweger, who has gained weight to star in the sequel to the 2001 comedy hit “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” captured her third Golden Globe as the gregarious, homespun farm girl Ruby Thewes in the Civil War epic.
Two of the evening’s most popular victors were Murray, who won best actor in a comedy or musical playing a burned-out Hollywood star, and Keaton, in the actress category, as a divorced middle-aged playwright who finds unexpected love with her daughter’s sixtysomething boyfriend.
Looking unusually dapper with his graying hair and beard, the laconic Murray nearly brought the house down several times, once when he said he didn’t know whom to thank, Universal Studios and Focus Features, which released the film, because “there are so many people trying to take credit for this, I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
Keaton, whose win was greeted with a wolf whistle by costar Jack Nicholson in the audience, described herself as a “rediscovered eccentric.” She even quipped at one point that the combined ages of herself and Nicholson are 125, to which Nicholson put his hands to his head in disbelief -- maybe since that milestone won’t be reached until he turns 67 in April.
Wearing a stark white outfit, including a long strand of pearls, stiletto-heeled boots and white gloves, Keaton looked worthy of Annie Hall, her memorable character of a generation ago in the movie of the same name.
“Let’s face it, getting to play a woman to love at 57 is like reaching for the stars with a stepladder,” said Keaton.
Backstage, she was asked about her daring decision to disrobe in the film, and was asked if she would consider doing it again in another film.
“Always,” she replied. “I’m going to insist on it in my contracts.”
Jackson, whose film trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” was seven years in the making and arguably one of the biggest risks Hollywood has ever taken, was finally rewarded on his third try when the foreign press association awarded him a Golden Globe for best director for “The Return of the King,” a film that has already amassed more than $840 million in worldwide box office since its release last month.
Jackson, looking like he stepped out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth with his shaggy mane, full beard and burly physique, said he was honored to be among his fellow nominees: Sofia Coppola, Eastwood, Anthony Minghella (“Cold Mountain”) and Peter Weir (“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”).
Coppola won for best motion picture screenplay for her offbeat comedy “Lost in Translation,” about two lost souls who become friends in Tokyo. The 32-year-old filmmaker’s father, Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola, won the Golden Globe in this category for 1972’s “The Godfather.”
Another Hollywood dynasty was honored when Michael Douglas, the son of Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas and a show business power player in his own right, received the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s Cecil B. DeMille Award, the same award his father received nearly four decades ago.
On the television side, the British import “The Office,” a wry, dark comedy set in a dysfunctional workplace, won two Globes -- best TV musical or comedy series and best actor for co-creator and star Ricky Gervais. The show airs on BBC America.
“Angels in America” was filled with Oscar winners. Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, who both captured Golden Globes for their roles in the drama, are both past Academy Award winners, and the director, Mike Nichols, has also captured the Oscar.
Streep, who plays multiple roles in the movie, picked up a Golden Globe for best actress in a miniseries or TV movie. Pacino, who plays AIDS victim Roy Cohn, a controversial New York attorney, was named best actor.
Also winning for “Angels in America” were Jeffrey Wright for best supporting actor and Mary-Louise Parker for best supporting actress.
Fox’s real-time thriller, “24,” won for best dramatic TV series.
Frances Conroy, who plays the mother of a dysfunctional family that owns a mortuary in HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” won best actress in a drama series.
Anthony LaPaglia, who plays a missing persons investigator in CBS’ whodunit “Without a Trace,” won best actor in a drama series.
Sarah Jessica Parker, the star of one of cable’s biggest hits, “Sex and the City,” which is ending its successful run on HBO this season, won best actress in a musical or comedy TV series.
Times staff writer Patrick Day contributed to this story.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Motion Picture, Drama
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
Musical or Comedy
“Lost in Translation”
Actress, Musical or Comedy
“Something’s Gotta Give”
Actor, Musical or Comedy
“Lost in Translation”
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
The rest of the winners. E2.