‘Avatar’ wins top Golden Globe

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The night belongs to “Avatar.”

The sci-fi blockbuster -- the most expensive movie ever made and on track to become the highest-grossing film ever made – won the Golden Globe tonight for best dramatic film and best director for James Cameron.

“Avatar” was Cameron’s first film since 1997’s phenomenon “Titanic,” which also won Globes in those same categories. “It’s sure an exciting evening,” Cameron said, looking at the crowd. “This is the best job in the world.” He echoed the message of the film about a planet of nature-loving blue people and remarked that “everything is connected, all human beings to each other, and us to the Earth” and urged everyone to “appreciate this miracle of the world we have right here.”

When he won the directing award earlier, Cameron said he was ill-prepared to give an acceptance speech because he thought ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow was going to win for “The Hurt Locker” and said she richly deserved it, “but make no mistake, I’m very grateful.” Cameron took full advantage of the free-wheeling spirit of the Hollywood Foreign Press awards – where celebrities sit at dinner tables, eating and imbibing spirits during the ceremony – when he added that he was keeping his speech short because he had to “pee something fierce.”


“Avatar” shared the spotlight at the 67th annual ceremony with “Up,” which won trophies for score and animated film, and the small independent drama “Crazy Heart,” which won best actor in a drama for Jeff Bridges and song.

Until tonight, Bridges has always been the bridesmaid but never the bride. In accepting the award for playing a washed-up country singer, Bridges, nominated three previous times for a Golden Globe, cracked, “You’re really screwing up my underappreciated status here.”

Among those he thanked was his late father, Lloyd Bridges, who he said “loved show business so damn much” that he encouraged his kids to come along. “I’m so glad I listened to you, Dad,” he said, looking up to the heavens. “Glad I paid attention.”

The Golden Globes were broadcast live on NBC from the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. Celebrities had to walk a soggy red carpet and suffer through frizzy hairdos, drenched evening gowns, designer shoes and tuxes. The night was hosted by acerbic British comic Ricky Gervais, and many wondered whether he would cross the line – and he did. At one point, he suggested that he’s rather be home, um, enjoying himself and his newly reduced penis. But audiences finally got a real zinger from Gervais, as he swigged a glass of beer that he kept at the podium and introduced the next presenter: “I like a drink as well as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson.”

Gibson, no stranger to a DUI, took it in stride, even briefly pretending to be drunk as he prepared to introduce the director nominees.

While there was a lot of levity to kick off the show, there was also a solemn moment at the start of the show. Actress Nicole Kidman – wearing a ribbon to recall the victims of the Haiti earthquake – urged audiences to donate money for disaster relief and to tune in for Friday’s Hope for Haiti telethon organized by actor George Clooney.

On the film front, it was elementary, my dear Watson, that Robert Downey Jr. won best actor in a comedy or musical tonight for playing famed super sleuth in “Sherlock Holmes.” In a self-deprecating speech, he said he had no one to thank and then proceeded to thank everybody, including producer Joel Silver who jumpstarted his career “at least 12 times,” and his wife, Susan, the film’s producer. If it wasn’t for her, Downey said, he would be bussing tables at the Daily Grill.

Sandra Bullock won her first Golden Globe, for best actress in a drama for “The Blind Side.” Known mostly for her comedic roles, Bullock thanked the HFPA for honoring her stepping over to “the other side” with this drama inspired by the true story of a wealthy white Southern family that adopts a homeless African American teenage boy who later becomes a pro football player. She said the film shows that a family is more than who you’re born to but who has your back. In an aside to her husband, Jesse James, she said it was no coincidence that her on-screen work improved after the two met. Because, she said, until then she didn’t know what it was like for someone to “have my back.”


The Globes also tossed taste out the window, honoring the raucous R-rated hit “The Hangover” with best comedy or musical motion picture.

The director, Todd Phillips, said he was shocked that the film – the highest-grossing comedy of all time, about a bachelor party that goes horribly awry in Las Vegas – beat out such fellow nominees as “Julie & Julia” and “It’s Complicated.” “We didn’t expect this,” he said of the film, which was filled with nudity, foul language, and even a cameo by brawler Mike Tyson.

Visionary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, who has directed such classics as “Taxi Driver,” “GoodFellas” and “The Departed,” was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille award, presented to him by two of his most frequent collaborators, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro.

Scorsese used the moment to talk about the need for film preservation. He praised the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for donating money to the Film Foundation to preserve movies, quoting William Faulkner saying, “The past is never dead,” and added that making films and preserving films are one and the same. “We are walking in the footsteps of the people who came before us,” he said.


As expected, Christoph Waltz won supporting actor for a motion picture as a nefarious Nazi in " Inglourious Basterds.” The actor has received the lion’s shares of accolades in that category this season, making him the front runner for an Academy Award. Though he was ruthless and brutal in the movie, onstage he was a soft-spoken pussy cat and seemed slightly nervous.

Other films awarded: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner won a screenplay trophy for “Up in the Air,” T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham won best song for “The Weary Kind (The Theme from ‘Crazy Heart’)” and an ultra-excited Michael Giacchino received the award for best score for the Disney / Pixar hit “Up,” which also won animated film. ( Sir Paul McCartney presented the award for animated film, saying the genre is not only for kids but also for “adults who take drugs.”) When Giacchino walked past McCartney on his way onstage, the legendary rock star wished him well.

“I can’t believe Paul McCartney said ‘Go, Michael!’ ” Giacchino exclaimed as he grabbed his Golden Globe, adding that after that highlight, there was nothing else to say.

Meryl Streep also beat out Meryl Streep for best actress in a comedy or musical for her luminous turn and dead-on embodiment of chef Julia Child in “Julie & Julia.” She was competing against herself – she was also nominated for “It’s Complicated.”


“I want to change my name to ‘T-Bone,’ ” Streep said, laughing, as she accepted the Golden Globe. “I think it sounds good.” Turning more serious, she told the audience that playing Julia Child allowed her to channel her late mother, who came from the same generation and “shared her verve” and shared her determination not to let anything get her down. “She had no patience for gloom and doom. I am not like that,” Streep said.

She added that she sometimes has trouble reconciling the charmed life she lives with the tragedies happening elsewhere in the world. At those times, she said, she channels her mother yet again, telling her to put a smile on her face, use her money for good by donating to Partners in Health and appreciating her success. “I am grateful, I am really grateful,” Streep said.

The first award of the night went to Mo ‘Nique for her role as a vicious mother in “Precious.” The stand-up comic and talk-show host has won the lion’s share of acting awards for “Precious.” Clutching the Globe, she said, “First, let me thank God for this amazing ride,” adding that “I’m in the midst of my dream.”

The ballroom might have been full of Hollywood’s brightest stars – but they all paled in comparison to Sophia Loren.


Samuel L. Jackson introduced her as a “real-life movie star,” and the legendary actress – gorgeous and glamorous at 75 -- earned a standing ovation as she walked on stage to hand out the foreign film award to Germany’s disturbing mystery “The White Ribbon,” directed by Michael Haneke.

On the TV front, the Globes, which always seem to champion new TV series, did not disappoint. Fox’s freshman musical comedy series “Glee” won best TV series, comedy or musical. And for the third year in a row, AMC’s stylish “Mad Men” took the trophy for dramatic TV series.

The Globes also had big love for Chloe Sevigny, who won her first Golden Globe for supporting actress in a TV series, mini-series or TV movie for playing a Mormon fundamentalist and plural wife on HBO’s series " Big Love.”

Sevigny’s acceptance speech stood out for two reasons. First, she said she wanted to “share the award with my sister wives, Jeanneane Tripplehorn and Ginnifer Goodwin.” And because – on a night where most winners were thanking their agents and other Hollywood muckity mucks -- she thanked “George,” her favorite production assistant, who goes over her lines with her each morning. “Without him, I would never remember anything.”


In other awards, Kevin Bacon and Drew Barrymore won their first Golden Globes – Bacon for actor in a TV movie or miniseries for HBO’s “Taking Chance” and Barrymore for actress in a TV movie or miniseries for HBO’s " Grey Gardens.” “Gardens” also won for TV movie or miniseries. Alec Baldwin won for actor in a TV comedy series or musical for " 30 Rock.” Julianna Margulies earned actress in a TV series drama for CBS’ freshman legal series for “The Good Wife,” while Toni Collette took home actress in a comedy series or musical for Showtime’s “The United States of Tara,” in which she plays a woman with multiple personalities.

It was also a good night for serial killers.

Michael C. Hall won actor in a TV series drama for Showtime’s “Dexter,” in which he plays a good-guy serial killer – yes, he’s a killer but (usually) kills bad guys. Wearing a knit cap to cover his head – it was recently revealed that the “Dexter” star is being treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma – Hall dedicated the honor to his colleagues on the show: “It’s amazing to go to work where everyone gives a damn.” He also thanked his wife, Jennifer Carpenter, who happens to play his sister on “Dexter,” whom cameras caught trembling in her seat.

John Lithgow also looked like he was on the verge of tears. Moments earlier, he won supporting actor for his startling turn as a cold-blooded serial killer who goes toe-to-toe with Dexter in the show, saying with glee: “I had the most wonderful time creeping out the entire country over the last six months.”