Sony’s “The Social Network” updated its status Sunday night, picking up additional awards-season momentum by winning the Golden Globes for best picture in the drama category and director for David Fincher at the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s 68th annual awards ceremony.
“I’m personally loath to acknowledge the kind of wonderful response that this film has received, for fear of becoming addicted to it. So suffice it to say, it’s been really nice,” said Fincher, who was previously nominated for 2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
Focus Features’ pic “The Kids Are All Right” topped the field for musical or comedy, besting “Alice in Wonderland,” “Burlesque,” “Red” and “The Tourist,” and also scoring comedy actress honors for Annette Bening.
While it came into the evening with six nominations, one less than “The King’s Speech,” “Social Network” dominated with four awards overall, including screenplay for Aaron Sorkin and original score for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. In the drama picture race, the film prevailed over “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception” and “The King’s Speech,” though with the exception of “Inception,” the other contenders came away with at least one acting award apiece.
Colin Firth and Natalie Portman were honored for their lead turns in “Speech” and “Swan,” respectively, while “The Fighter” handily scooped both supporting actor prizes for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo — all of whom, like “Social Network,” essentially repeated their victories from the Critics’ Choice Awards on Friday.
The multiple wins for “The Social Network” would seem to solidify its awards-season foothold, even taking into account that the HFPA hasn’t had the best track record as a predictor of Oscar winners. Last year the org gave its top prize to “Avatar” while the Academy went on to honor “The Hurt Locker.”
Drawing at least as much attention as the winners list was the scabrous humor of second-time host Ricky Gervais, who drew shocked gasps and laughs from the crowd assembled at the Beverly Hilton in a noticeably punchier performance than last year’s. Whether delivering an extended rant about the multiple nominations for “The Tourist,” using “The Walking Dead” to aim a jab at Hugh Hefner, or mocking embattled HFPA head Phil Berk, Gervais was so unrelenting in his comments that presenter Robert Downey Jr. (whom the host introduced with a predictable quip about the Betty Ford Clinic) felt moved to remark: “Aside from the fact that it’s been hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the vibe of the show is pretty good so far, wouldn’t you?”
Gervais’ remarks set the tone for one of the livelier Globes telecasts in recent memory, a throwback to the days when heavily liquored presenters and honorees could be counted on to cut loose and make the kudofest a less predictable, more entertaining affair than the Oscars. Dispensing with the decorum that attends most lifetime-achievement acceptance speeches, Cecil B. DeMille honoree Robert De Niro rattled off a string of wry one-liners, many of them at the expense of the HFPA in a year when the journalists’ org found itself embroiled in controversy on multiple fronts.
It fell to actor winner Firth to strike one of the evening’s few forgiving notes, tendering sympathetic remarks to the HFPA. “Getting through the midstage of your life with your dignity and your judgment intact can be somewhat precarious. … I don’t know if this qualifies as gentle reassurance, but right now, this (award) is all that stands between me and a Harley Davidson, so I owe you a very great debt.”
Furthering the evening’s trend of spontaneous speeches, drama actress winner Natalie Portman humorously addressed the hot topic of her pregnancy and engagement to “Black Swan” choreographer/co-thesp Benjamin Millepied. Referencing the moment in the Fox Searchlight pic when Millepied’s character intimates that he wouldn’t have sex with her, Portman said, “It’s not true. He totally wants to sleep with me!” She proceeded to thank “Black Swan’s” cast and crew, including a shoutout to co-star “Mila ‘Sweet Lips’ Kunis.”
The prize for musical or comedy actor went to Paul Giamatti for his turn as the title character in “Barney’s Version,” topping a field that included double nominee Johnny Depp (“Alice in Wonderland,” “The Tourist”). “I’m a little jacked up because I ate five boxes of the free Godiva chocolates,” the actor said, going on to say that fellow nominees Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Spacey and Johnny Depp “are my superiors in every regard, as men and actors.”
Pointedly, a number of “Social Network” winners singled out Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for thanks. Producer Scott Rudin expressed gratitude to the youthful mogul “for his willingness to let us use his life and work as a metaphor through which to tell a story about communication and the way we relate to each other,” while Sorkin said, “Rooney Mara’s character makes a prediction at the beginning of the movie. She was wrong. You turned out to be a great entrepreneur, a visionary and an incredible altruist.”
Accepting her trophy for “The Kids Are All Right,” Bening saluted her co-star and fellow nominee Julianne Moore. “It was a labor of love for all of us. To be able to unite that with a moment like this is truly phenomenal,” said the actress, who previously topped the category for 2004’s “Being Julia.”
Leo and Bale both paid tribute to their “Fighter” co-star and producer, actor nominee Mark Wahlberg, whom Bale described in his speech as “a quiet anchor” and Leo called “a prince.”
The foreign-language film race saw a mild upset as the award went to Danish director Susanne Bier’s drama “In a Better World,” which Sony Classics will release in the U.S. this year. Pic beat out Mexican-Spanish co-production “Biutiful,” France’s “The Concert,” Russia’s “The Edge” and Italy’s “I Am Love.”
Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” was named top animated feature, extending the studio’s winning streak since the category was initiated in 2006. Helmer Lee Unkrich accepted the honors from presenters Hailee Steinfeld and Justin Bieber, quipping, “Were you two even alive when the first ‘Toy Story’ came out?”
“Burlesque” picked up the original-song prize for Diane Warren’s “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” performed in the pic by Cher.
Warren, scoring her first win in five nominations, dedicated the honor “to somebody a lot of you knew and all of us loved — to Ronni Chasen. This is for her.”