'Avatar' wins top award at Golden Globes

In accepting his best director Golden Globe for "Avatar," which was also named the best dramatic film of 2009, James Cameron expressed surprise that the honor did not go to his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, who helmed the critically acclaimed "The Hurt Locker."

But she could beat out her ex at the Oscars on March 7, as she did earlier this month when The Hurt Locker was named best picture and Bigelow best director by the Broadcast Film Critics Association in Hollywood. The film has also been named best picture by the National Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and critics groups in New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

While the Golden Globes are often promoted as an early indicator of who will win on Oscar night, 2008's Slumdog Millionaire is the only Golden Globe best picture winner that has gone on to win the best picture Academy Award in the past five years.

Since the Golden Globes adopted a split drama/music format in 1963, 67.4 percent of the films that ended up with best picture Academy Awards had first received a Golden Globe. The drama winner has gone on to win best picture only 25 of 46 times – 54.3 percent – while the musical or comedy winner has won six times at the Oscars.

Sunday night's best picture in the comedy/musical category is virtually certain to get nowhere near an Oscar this year. In fact, Todd Phillips, who directed the R-rated The Hangover, expressed surprise that his film was named best picture at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

"We didn't expect this," said Phillips, whose raucous comedy competed against It's Complicated, Julie & Julia, (500) Days of Summer, and Nine.

Among dramas, Cameron's visually stunning 3-D film, which has earned nearly $500 million at the domestic box office, prevailed over The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Up in the Air and Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire to claim the top prize at Sunday night's Beverly Hilton ceremony.

Cameron also took home the award for best director – a category in which Bigelow was a nominee – while Jeff Bridges was named best actor in a drama for Crazy Heart and Sandra Bullock – best known throughout her career for romantic comedies – won the Globe for best drama actress for The Blind Side.

"Frankly, I thought Kathryn was going to get this," Cameron said when he accepted his best director Golden Globe.

Bridges, who hails from a famed acting family – including father Lloyd Bridges – was named best actor for his portrayal of a tortured aging country singer dealing with his alcoholic demons and trying to revive his career and love life in Crazy Heart.

"I gotta thank my dad," Bridges said. "You know, he loved show biz so damned much he encouraged all his kids to go into show biz. Me being a young kid, you know, you don't want to do what your parents want you to do. ... So glad I listened to you, dad. I finally paid attention."

Bullock thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for recognizing her performance as southern housewife Leigh Anne Tuohy, who took in homeless black teen Michael Oher – now a member of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens – and helped foster his football career.

She also thanked the Tuohy family, "who allowed me into their homes, and their closets and their business. They reminded everyone that a family is not just who you are born to, or what color you are, it's who's got your back. I thank them for that."

Meryl Streep won the Globe for best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical for her spot-on portrayal of cooking legend Julia Child in Julie & Julia. It was the seventh career Golden Globe for Streep, who has been nominated a record 25 times and who was competing against herself Sunday night since she was also nominated for It's Complicated.

Robert Downey Jr. claimed the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy/musical film for Sherlock Holmes.

"Guy Ritchie had a great vision for this film and a lot of great people came together, and we worked our asses off," he said.

Mo'Nique earned extended applause with her win for best supporting film actress for her role as a monstrously abusive mother in the gritty drama Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire.

"Thank you God for this amazing ride that you're allowing me to go on," Mo'Nique said.

Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, an expected Oscar nominee, was named best supporting actor for his chilling turn as the Jew-hunting Nazi Col. Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

"A year and a half ago I was exposed to the gravitational forces of Quentin Tarantino," he said. "He took my modest little world, my globe, and with the power of his talent and his words and his vision he flung it into this orbit – a dizzying experience.

"... Quentin 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," he said. "And now you made it golden. Thank you very, very much."

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner were honored with the best screenplay award for Up in the Air, which had a leading six nominations heading into the ceremony but won only one Golden Globe.

Up was named best animated film, and the movie also won the prize for Michael Giacchino's original score.

Among the television honors, the offbeat Showtime series Dexter had a big night, with Michael C. Hall being named best actor in a drama series and co-star John Lithgow taking home the prize as best supporting actor. But Mad Men was again named best television drama.

"It's really a hell of a thing to go to work at a place where everybody gives a damn, and that's definitely the case at Dexter," said Hall, who made headlines last week when news broke that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Hall, whose character works for the Miami Metro police department by day but kills people he considers immoral at night, accepted his award shortly after Lithgow was named best supporting actor for his turn as serial killer Arthur Mitchell.

"Thank you so much, all of you for inviting me into the whole Dexter experience," Lithgow said. "I've had the most wonderful time creeping out the entire country for the last six months."

Matthew Weiner, the creator and executive producer of Mad Men, said he was surprised to be collecting his third consecutive prize for best drama series.

The wildly popular primetime musical series Glee was named best comedy/musical.

"This show is about a lot of things," creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy said. "It's about the importance of arts education." He went on to quip: "This is for anybody and everybody who got a wedgie in high school."

Julianna Margulies was named best actress in a drama series for her work as a lawyer – and wife of a disgraced district attorney – in The Good Wife.

Toni Collette won the Globe for best actress in a comedy series for United States of Tara, and Alec Baldwin – who skipped Sunday night's ceremony because he was attending a charity event, according to an announcer – won his third Golden Globe in four years for leading actor in a television comedy for his work on 30 Rock.

Chloe Sevigny was named best supporting television actress for playing one of Bill Paxton's three wives in the HBO series Big Love. To the producers of the show, she quipped, "I can't even imagine what inspired you to cast me as a Mormon fundamentalist polygamist."

Drew Barrymore won the Globe for best actress for her work in HBO's Grey Gardens, which also was honored as best mini-series or made-for-TV movie. Kevin Bacon earned the best actor award in a miniseries or TV movie for Taking Chance.

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