The members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. work for overseas publications, many based in Europe, but in deciding which film to honor with Golden Globes this year, they opted for a Silicon Valley story over one from England.
The distinctly American, high-tech biography "The Social Network" won four Globes on Sunday night — the most of any film — including best drama. It beat out the British historical tale "The King's Speech," which had entered the awards ceremony with the most nominations yet collected only one prize.
Adapted from an unauthorized book about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his personal and entrepreneurial life, "The Social Network" also took home Globes for best director ( David Fincher), screenplay ( Aaron Sorkin) and score (for alternative rock musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross).
"I want to thank everybody at Facebook," the film's producer, Scott Rudin, said in picking up the best drama honor, a somewhat surprising comment given that the social networking website refused to cooperate in the film's making and that Zuckerberg has said it misstated his motives in creating the company. Rudin said backstage that Facebook now feels "really good about" the movie. "It's been a great thing for the company."
While the Golden Globes, voted on by roughly 80 journalists working for overseas news outlets (some of them obscure), are not always a bellwether for the Academy Awards, the ceremony did accelerate the momentum for several other films and performances, particularly "The Kids Are All Right," which won two trophies.
In notable television wins, "Glee" took home three Golden Globes, including best comedy or musical series. There were upset wins in several of the TV categories, including "Sons of Anarchy's" Katey Sagal for drama series actress, "Boardwalk Empire" as top drama series and top drama actor for Steve Buscemi and "Carlos" for best TV miniseries or movie.
But in the best musical or comedy movie category, the predicted winner did in fact triumph — director Lisa Cholodenko's independently financed "The Kids Are All Right." Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, one of the film's producers, said it was "a little film made out of pure love and dedication."
Annette Bening was named best actress in a comedy or musical for her lead role in that film, in which the actress plays a high-strung lesbian doctor fighting to hold her family together. Natalie Portman, who plays a tormented ballet dancer in "Black Swan," won for best actress in a drama. (Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes offer several top film prizes in two categories, drama and musical or comedy.)
In a mild upset, Paul Giamatti was honored as best musical or comedy movie actor — beating out Johnny Depp who was nominated twice in the category — for the little-seen Canadian film "Barney's Version." "I always think a mistake has been made," Giamatti said on the stage, "because the other men in this category are my superiors in every regard."
Although it entered the ceremony with seven nominations, "The King's Speech," a look at the relationship between King George VI and his speech therapist, went home with just one Golden Globe, with Colin Firth named best dramatic actor. He thanked his director, Tom Hooper, and his costar Geoffrey Rush, for their "surprisingly robust triangle of man love."
"The Fighter," a boxing drama inspired by the real-life travails of Micky Ward, captured the evening's first two acting awards: best supporting actor for Christian Bale, who plays a drug-addled has-been pugilist, and Melissa Leo, who costars as the matriarch of a divided family. "This is thrilling," Leo said. "I'm beside myself."
Robert De Niro received the honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award, but his forced attempts at comedy did not play well in the room, including a groan-inducing line about waiters at the Beverly Hilton Hotel being deported.
In what is a likely preview of the same Academy Awards category, "Toy Story 3" took the trophy for best animated film. Denmark's "In a Better World" took the Golden Globe for best foreign-language film.
Comedian Ricky Gervais, who was hosting the awards ceremony for the second time, proved to be a polarizing MC. He not only ridiculed the HFPA and its president, Philip Berk, but also took shots at a number of Hollywood personalities, including Charlie Sheen, Bruce Willis, Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jr.
After the show, Gervais acknowledged he might have some making-up to do.
"The HFPA doesn't want me, NBC doesn't want me. Scientologists are out to get me," he said. "Johnny Depp is going to beat me up in the parking lot. And America won't want me anymore after my atheist comment."
The HFPA has long been criticized as a group without strong journalistic or critical credentials, and its picks are often ridiculed as blatant attempts to lure the biggest celebrities to the awards show. This year, the organization nominated two of 2010's biggest critical and commercial bombs, "The Tourist" (starring Jolie and Depp) and "Burlesque," for Golden Globes, with "Burlesque" actually winning for best original song.
On Thursday, the HFPA's longtime publicist, Michael Russell, filed a $2-million breach of contract and wrongful termination lawsuit against the HPFA. In his complaint, Russell alleged that voters accept lavish vacations and money in exchange for "support or votes" and that Berk had acknowledged that the HFPA "was a corrupt organization" and that its members "use the organization to generate income for themselves."
The HFPA said in a
statement that the complaint is "completely without merit" and that Russell was a disgruntled former employee.
Times staff writers Geoff Boucher, Nicole Sperling and Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.