Having already conquered the box office, Fox’s “Avatar” also conquered the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. on Sunday night, winning the Golden Globes for best picture drama and director for James Cameron at the org’s 67th annual awards ceremony.
It was a good night for populist fare on the comedy side as well, as Warner Bros.’ summer hit “The Hangover” nabbed the top musical or comedy prize, besting “500 Days of Summer,” “It’s Complicated,” “Julie and Julia” and “Nine.”
“Avatar” prevailed over “Inglourious Basterds,” “Precious,” “Up in the Air” and “The Hurt Locker” — which, despite having dominated the awards season thus far, was the only dramatic picture contender to go home empty-handed from the Globes ceremony, which was broadcast live from the Beverly Hilton.
Cameron himself paid tribute to his fellow nominee and ex-spouse, Kathryn Bigelow, who had been a strong candidate for “The Hurt Locker,” gauging by early critics and guild prizes. “Frankly, I thought Kathryn was gonna get this,” said Cameron, who picked up his second directing Globe after 1997’s “Titanic.” “But make no mistake, I’m very grateful.”
With the exception of 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” which won the Globe for drama and the Academy Award for best picture, the HFPA has had a spotty track record in recent years in forecasting the eventual Oscar winner (albeit with five Oscar nominees, as opposed to this year’s expanded field of 10).
The evening’s two double-nominated actresses, Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock, each went home with a trophy: In an interesting reversal of their usual genre territory, Bullock won the Globe for dramatic actress for “The Blind Side” (she was also nommed for comedy actress for “The Proposal”), while Streep made HFPA history with her seventh career Globe win, nabbing actress in a musical or comedy for “Julie and Julia” (and beating out her own perf in “It’s Complicated”). Their wins amounted to a sort of replay of Friday’s Critics’ Choice Awards ceremony, where the two thesps tied for actress.
Jeff Bridges drew the Globe for actor in a drama — and a standing ovation — for his turn as a washed-up country musician in “Crazy Heart,” which also took original song honors for T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham’s “The Weary Kind.”
Robert Downey Jr. topped the comedy actor category for his reinterpretation of the title role in “Sherlock Holmes,” and made no secret of his surprise in one of the night’s liveliest speeches: “First of all, I’d like to thank (wife) Susan Downey for telling me that Matt Damon is going win, so don’t bother to prepare a speech. That was at about 10 a.m. I don’t have anybody to thank. I’m sorry.”
Streep, who previously had been tied with Jack Nicholson for most wins (six), began her speech on a comical note — “I want to change my name to T-Bone. T-Bone Streep” — and later humbly acknowledged, “I have played so many extraordinary women that, basically, I’m getting mistaken for one.”
Crowned supporting actress for her work in “Precious,” a teary-eyed Mo’Nique achieved one of the evening’s emotional high points early on, closing her acceptance speech with a dedication to victims of abuse. “I celebrate this award with every person that’s ever been touched. It’s now time to tell, and it’s OK,” she said.
Christoph Waltz, who, like Mo’Nique, had already scooped up multiple kudos beforehand, added the Golden Globe for supporting actor to his collection of prizes for “Inglourious Basterds.”
“Quentin (Tarantino) made a big bang of a movie, and I wouldn’t have dared to dream that my little world, my globe, would be part of that constellation. And now you’ve made it golden,” he told the crowd.
“Up in the Air” scribes Sheldon Turner and Jason Reitman won screenplay honors for their adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel, while foreign-language film honors went to Michael Haneke’s German period drama “The White Ribbon.”
Besides “Avatar” and “Crazy Heart,” “Up” was the only film to win two awards. Pic was named top animated feature film, extending Disney/Pixar’s winning streak since the category’s inception in 2006, and also received the original-score kudo for composer Michael Giacchino.
Martin Scorsese was feted with the Cecil B. DeMille award, presented by Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.
“If the times were different, I’d be surprised if Cecil B. DeMille wouldn’t have been honored with a Martin Scorsese award,” De Niro said, introducing a montage of clips from the helmer’s work that included the upcoming “Shutter Island.”