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The Hollywood Foreign Press was happy to open Pandora's box.
Avatar, James Cameron's years-in-the-making vision of the possibility of performance-capture technology, was named Best Motion Picture, Drama, at the 67th Annual Golden Globes, triumphing over the seemingly unstoppable Hurt Locker.
"We have the best job in the world, we really do," the filmmaker said in accepting Sunday's top prize. "I just want you to give it up for yourself. What we do is, we make entertainment for a global audience, and that's what the Golden Globes mean. Give it up for yourselves," he encouraged his fellow Hollywood players.
Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock, winners for Best Actor and Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama, were prepared to do just that.
"Please don't let Ricky Gervais be right. Do I need to thank whoever bought this for me?" began Bullock, long America's sweetheart but never a critics' darling before starring in The Blind Side, referencing one of the host's opening jokes. "Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press, after all these years."
Bridges, too, joked about his sudden ascendance to the upper echelons since playing a washed-up country singer in Crazy Heart.
"You're really throwing my underappreciated status here," he mock-complained, before thanking his late dad, Lloyd Bridges, and mom for encouraging their kids to go into show business.
And while the critical favorite, Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow (aka the third Mrs. James Cameron), could still get the Oscar in the divorce, Cameron got the Globe.
"I'm absolutely not well-prepared," the filmmaker said after claiming his award from next-door neighbor Mel Gibson. "Frankly, I thought Kathryn was going to get this. She richly deserves it."
The on-again king of the world also thanked his performance-capture troop and visual production facility. "We're family, guys, whether you like it or not," he said.
Meanwhile, in another surprise, The Hangover was named Best Musical/Comedy, beating a field that included Nine, which came in with a whopping five nominations but was completely shut out.
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"Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms, said the Sherlock Holmes star, quoting Arthur Conan Doyle. "That is why I would like to thank also, or not thank, the HFP, because they are a strange bunch, and now I'm one of them."
But we're mainly glad he won because of this: "Thank who? [Producer] Joel Silver, the guy who's only restarted my career 12 times since I began 25 years ago? I mean, I really don't want to thank my wife, because I could be busing tables at the Daily Grill right now if not for her. Jeez, what a gig that'd be."
Meryl Streep didn't have to share with Bullock tonight, standing solo on the podium to accept Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy, for channeling Julia Child in Julie & Julia.
And Streep, no matter how many times she gets to go up there, always thinks of something apropos to say.
"I come to Golden Globes weekend and I am really honestly conflicted how to have my happy movie self in the face of everything that I'm aware of in the real world," she said after humorously informing everyone that she wants to change her name to T-Bone, as in Best Original Song winner Burnett, winner for Crazy Heart's theme song "The Weary Kind."
"And I want to say," Streep continued, "that's when I hear my mother's voice, saying, 'Give some cash to Partners in Health, put the dress on, put on a smile, and be damn grateful that you have the dollars to help and the next day, and the next day...' "
Mo'Nique, a comedian who's left audiences floored by her portrayal of an abusive mom in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire, heads into the Oscar homestretch with a Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, which tends to be the category most hospitable to breakout performances overall.
"First, let me say, thank you, God, for this amazing ride that you're allowing me to go on," she said, ultimately concluding with the pointed message, "I celebrate this award with all the Preciouses and the Marys, with all the people who've ever been touched...It's now time to tell, and it's OK."
Also continuing his goosestep waltz toward Oscar was Austrian Christoph Waltz, who's been the subject of Oscar buzz since Cannes and tonight was a Best Supporting Actor winner for playing Nazi nut Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds.
Quentin Tarantino, who lost Best Screenplay to Up in the Air scribes Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, finally had a reason to smile.
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But instead of sticking with 30 Rock, too, the HFP was instead charmed by Fox's new musical show, Glee, which was named Best TV Series, Comedy.
"'This show is about a lot of things," gleeful cocreator Ryan Murphy said. "It's about the importance of arts education, and this is for anybody and everybody who got a wedgie in high school."
Very appreciative of Mo'Nique's message was screen veteran and acceptance-speech newcomer Drew Barrymore, who snagged the Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for Grey Gardens.
"I've been meeting with the Hollywood Foreign Press for, like, 97 years and I've been in this room since I was 7 years old," the charmingly befuddled and self-deprecating thesp said in appreciation. "I could be Jeff Spicoli's girlfriend with the lisp and the paralysis, so thank you for taking a chance on me...I have grown up here and I would like to say that this is for all the people nice enough to love me and wish the best for me along the way."
Other first-time winners despite their incredibly familiar faces include Chloë Sevigny, a Best Supporting Actress winner for Big Love, and Kevin Bacon, Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie for Taking Chance.
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"It's really a hell of a thing to go to work at a place where everyone gives a damn," a smooth-faced Hall, wearing a black head wrap over his bald pate, said upon accepting his first Globe in four nominations. "This is a dream job, and I am so grateful."
It was an emotional moment for the whole Dexter clan, including a teary John Lithgow, earlier a winner for Best Supporting Actor in any TV genre whatsoever (there's only one supporting win per sex at the Globes). He said he had a great time "creeping out America for six months" as the gruesome Trinity Killer.
Showtime reached its own personal best with three statues tonight, including United States of Tara star Toni Collette's win for Best Actress in a TV Comedy. Though, of course, HBO was the top network with four wins, as tends to be the case.
Julianna Margulies, star of CBS hit The Good Wife, beat out Emmy winner Glenn Close and defending champ Anna Paquin for Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama.
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"All right, I better get on with it before they replace me with Jay Leno," Gervais quipped.
Whether it was Gervais' golden touch or not, the Globes' entire writing staff seemed to have kicked it up a notch this year.
Paul McCartney got two gems in ("Hello, I'm Paul McCartney, or as I'm now known, 'that guy from Rock Band,' " and "Animation is not just for children. It's also for adults who take drugs") before presenting the Best Animated Feature Film award to Up, which despite the late buzz surrounding Fantastic Mr. Fox still looks to be the front-runner for Oscar gold in the animated category, if it's not an overall Best Picture nominee.
"By any measure, a substantial move up," Tom Hanks described Meryl Streep's chance to bed Stanley Tucci in Julie & Julia as opposed to Alec Baldwin in It's Complicated.
In comparing himself and Cecil B. DeMille Award recipient Martin Scorsese to an old married couple," Robert De Niro explained, "We built a life together. We have great memories. We just don't sleep together anymore."
"I've collaborated with a lot of people," Scorsese said during his signaturely rapid-fire acceptance. "Many of them are here tonight, and I want to thank them all—but not individually. That would make this show longer than the Globes and the Oscars put together."