"The Aviator" soared -- sort of. "Million Dollar Baby" decked the competition -- but wasn't a knockout. "Sideways" uncorked a couple of winners -- although it wasn't drunk with success. And "Closer," a dark film about love and betrayal, whose award chances even its own studio had begun to doubt, walked off with two acting awards Sunday night at the 62nd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s annual awards extravaganza was an equal-opportunity benefactor -- but bestowed little clarity on the Oscar race, for which it is traditionally a bellwether. If anything, with no films dominating, this year's winners only muddied the picture for next month's Academy Awards.
"The Aviator," Martin Scorsese's epic biography of playboy filmmaker and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes won three Golden Globes, the most of any film. It captured statuettes for best dramatic film, best actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and best score.
Clint Eastwood's somber boxing drama, "Million Dollar Baby," won two Globes: best director for Eastwood and best actress for Hilary Swank. As did "Sideways," Alexander Payne's quirky buddy movie, which picked up statuettes for best comedy and best screenplay.
In television, the season's most-watched prime-time soap opera, ABC's "Desperate Housewives," won best comedy series and best actress for Teri Hatcher.
Another water-cooler show, "Nip/Tuck," the FX cable series about two Los Angeles plastic surgeons, was awarded best TV drama series -- beating out such favorites as "The Sopranos," "24" and "Lost."
Despite its glitz and glamour and a worldwide television audience, the Golden Globes are still seeking respectability after six decades. Although the association annually throws one of the entertainment world's biggest parties, even five-time Golden Globe winner Robin Williams, who received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for life achievement, tossed a few barbs its way when he recalled being named "best newcomer" by the group 26 years ago for the TV comedy series "Mork & Mindy" and "was humbled" when Pia Zadora won a couple of years later.
But for the most part, the stars seemed thrilled to be recognized.
Accepting his award, DiCaprio said that growing up in show business, he always wanted to be part of the world of film and that now he was "truly a privileged person" to be working alongside director Scorsese, not only in Miramax's "The Aviator" but also two years ago in "Gangs of New York."
Jamie Foxx, who was nominated for three Golden Globes, won best actor in a comedy or musical for "Ray," in which he played the late R&B; singer Ray Charles. Foxx, a former stand-up comedian, accepted the award, giving a shout-out to Charles' memory, then saying: "Can I just tell you that I am having the ride of my life right now?" He also made a tearful thank you to his grandmother, Esther, and Terrell, Texas, the small town in which he was born and later raised by his grandparents. Backstage, he said he used to watch people get emotional at award shows and thought it was silly: "Until it happens to you, you think it's corny."
Swank, who shot to stardom five years ago when the then 25-year-old unknown actress captured a Golden Globe and an Oscar for "Boys Don't Cry," made a triumphant return to the Beverly Hilton ballroom stage Sunday night. In "Million Dollar Baby," she plays a down-on-her-luck country girl with dreams of becoming a champion boxer. Swank said she spent weeks in training and thanked "all the boxers at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn" as well as "all the women who took those amazing knockouts who made me look like a champ."
The ceremony, which aired on NBC, had no host or traditional award-show monologues but offered its own share of comic moments. Actor Will Ferrell drew laughs, for instance, when he walked onstage wearing a patch over his right eye and deadpanned: "Rest assured, the boating accident was not as bad as was reported. I didn't actually lose my eye. I just have to wear this for a couple of months."
As he slipped reading glasses over the eye patch, one of those in the audience who laughed was Annette Bening, the star of the independent romantic comedy "Being Julia."
Seconds later, Ferrell read her name as the winner of best actress in a comedy for her performance as an aging British stage star in the 1930s. Actor Warren Beatty, Bening's husband and the father of their four children, kissed her on both cheeks. She later thanked him from the stage, noting "the lunch at the pizza joint was delicious." Backstage, she explained that when she'd pulled on her ear as the camera panned the nominees, it was a signal to her children watching at home. Two stars from the adult relationship drama "Closer" captured Golden Globes for supporting roles: British actor Clive Owen as the brooding, sexually adventuresome dermatologist, and Natalie Portman as a free-spirited American who becomes a stripper in London, where she tantalizes Owen's character.
Owen and Portman were outwardly stunned by their wins. Going into the ceremony, most handicappers had expected Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen, whose performances in "Sideways" were critically acclaimed, to be on the podium accepting awards.
"Wow!" Owen said as he arrived onstage. He gave a bow to his costars Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Portman, noting: "Any actor knows you're only as good as the scene you are in."
In an interview backstage, Owen said: "The unique appeal of the movie was the script with four fantastic parts. It was graphic, but not shocking for shocking's sake. [Director Mike] Nichols has impeccable taste and creates a platform for actors. You feel secure he won't let you down."
Portman apologized repeatedly for being so giddy, saying she wasn't used to speaking in public forums. Was she drawn to the darkness of the material? "It's part of the classic mythology-type thing. Eastern religion too says there is a balance in the world between good and evil, and this is an extension of that."
Eastwood's win for "Million Dollar Baby" was his third in this category, after "Unforgiven" and "Bird."
"I thought I was done when they gave me one of the 10 best tuxes out in the [red-carpet press] line," Eastwood joked.
Best foreign language film went to Spain's "The Sea Inside." Director Alejandro Amenabar's film was based on the real-life story of Spaniard Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic who waged a 30-year fight to win the right to die.
Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and David A. Stewart, half of the '80s pop duo the Eurythmics, won for their tune "Old Habits Die Hard" from the movie "Alfie." Jagger, in one of the night's funniest moments, thanked the foreign press for taking an obscure song and putting it in the limelight, quipping that it was like "a push-up bra for us."
One of the evening's big attractions was the appearance of the five female stars of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" accompanying the show's creator, Marc Cherry, to the stage. Cherry said that a few years back, he was unemployed and his agent was under arrest for embezzlement. "This is kind of amazing," he told the crowd. "Everyone in this room has had ups and downs in their career. Very few were as down as I was three or four years ago."
Geoffrey Rush captured the award for best actor in the HBO movie "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers," in which he portrayed the British comedy legend who was best known for his "Pink Panther" comedy films. The production also won for best TV movie. The late Sellers won the Golden Globe a quarter-century ago as best actor in "Being There."
Glenn Close, another veteran of stage, screen and television, won best actress for the Showtime drama "The Lion in Winter," in which she played Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Mariska Hargitay, daughter of 1950s sex symbol Jayne Mansfield and bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, won best actress in a drama series for NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Ian McShane, who plays a ruthless kingpin in HBO's revisionist western "Deadwood," won for best actor in a drama series.
Jason Bateman, who plays the sane member of a dysfunctional family in the Fox comedy "Arrested Development," won best actor in a TV comedy. In accepting the award, Bateman took a moment to thank Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns the Fox network.
Anjelica Huston won best supporting actress for her HBO movie "Iron Jawed Angels," and William Shatner won best supporting actor for the ABC dramatic series "Boston Legal."
Outside the Beverly Hilton, the paparazzi were out in force. It being January, several of the actors and actresses looked quite pale. One notable exception was Wayne Newton, whose pompadour and orange hue made him visible a mile away.
Tattoos were big -- visible on shoulders and shoulder blades were roses, mermaids and little fish.
There were also big fish -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created the greatest stir when he and his wife, Maria Shriver, arrived for the festivities.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Motion Picture, Drama
Musical or Comedy
"Million Dollar Baby"
Actress, Musical or Comedy
Actor, Musical or Comedy
"Million Dollar Baby"
The rest of the winners
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"The Sea Inside"
& Jim Taylor,
"Old Habits Die Hard"
from "Alfie" by Mick Jagger
and David A. Stewart
"Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit"
MUSICAL OR COMEDY SERIES
ACTRESS, MUSICAL OR COMEDY SERIES
ACTOR, MUSICAL OR COMEDY SERIES
MINISERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
"The Life and Death of Peter Sellers"
ACTRESS, MINISERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
"The Lion in Winter"
ACTOR, MINISERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
"The Life and Death
of Peter Sellers"
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, SERIES, MINISERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
"Iron Jawed Angels"
SUPPORTING ACTOR, SERIES, MINISERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Times staff writers Elaine Dutka and Mary McNamara contributed to this report.