• James Cameron's epic takes best director and best drama
• The Hangover named best comedy
• Meryl Streep's acting win makes history
It's already swept all before it at the box office, but last night James Cameron's 3D tale of life on another planet established its popularity with the critics, too, winning the Golden Globe awards for best drama and best director at the 67th annual ceremony, voted for by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Cameron expressed surprise when picking up his best director award. "Frankly, I thought Kathryn was gonna get this," he said, referring to his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, hotly tipped for her work behind the camera on Iraq bomb-disposal drama The Hurt Locker. "But make no mistake," he continued, "I'm very grateful."
Avatar's best drama win was at the expense of fellow nominees Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker – all of whom lost out in other categories to James Cameron's epic. Though The Hurt Locker has to some extent dominated the awards season so far, it went home empty handed from the ceremony, broadcast live on US television from the Beverly Hilton.
Up in the Air, too, had been expected to perform better; it led the pack when nominations were announced with six nods, including for best actor for George Clooney. But in the end it won just one honour: best screenplay for Sheldon Turner and director Jason Reitman, for their work transferring Walter Kirn's novel to the big screen.
Precious and Inglourious Basterds also ended the evening with one award apiece. Crowned supporting actress for her work as a violent mother in Precious, Mo'Nique made an emotional speech in which she dedicated her win 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's best supporting actor win for his role as a sadistic Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds was one of the evening's more predictable victories, despite Waltz having been a virtual unknown until May last year, when the film premiered at Cannes. "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. And now you've made it golden," he told the crowd.
The evening's biggest shock was summer hit The Hangover's anointment as best musical/comedy, beating out 500 Days of Summer, It's Complicated, Julie & Julia and Nine. The film, which features three men trying to piece back together a drunken night in Las Vegas, has been criticised by many for misogynistic undertones.
Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock, both nominated for two acting awards, each went home with a trophy, though not necessarily in the fashion expected. Bullock won the prize for best dramatic actress for The Blind Side (her work on The Proposal had picked her up a nomination for best comedy actress), while Streep made history with her seventh career Globe win, winning best actress in a musical or comedy for Julie & Julia (she was also nominated in the same category for It's Complicated).
Another popular winner was Jeff Bridges, treated to a standing ovation as he picked up his award for best actor in a drama for his turn as a washed-up country musician in Crazy Heart. "You're really screwing up my underappreciated status here," he said as he picked up his gong. The film also took original song honors for T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham's The Weary Kind.
Robert Downey Jr made no secret of his surprise to be named best comedy actor for his oft-topless reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie's film of the same name. "First of all, I'd like to thank [his wife and the film's producer] Susan Downey for telling me that Matt Damon is going win."
These victories, however, represented a blow to British hopes, as Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Helen Mirren and the much-fancied Colin Firth went home empty-handed.
Best foreign language film honours went to Michael Haneke's parable of fascism The White Ribbon, winner of last year's Palme d'Or at Cannes.
The special Cecil B DeMille award was presented to Martin Scorsese 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 of Scorsese's work that included the upcoming Shutter Island.
The Golden Globes are traditionally rather a patchy forecaster of Oscar success, although last year's big winner, Slumdog Millionaire, bucked the trend to also win big on Oscars night. The Academy Awards take place this year on 7 March; voting for Academy members closes later this week.
In the TV awards Dexter star Michael C Hall picked up the best actor in a drama prize; while John Lithgow won the best supporting actor award for the same show. However, Dexter lost out to Mad Men for the best drama series award. The comedy or musical prize was won by Glee, which had been nominated for more awards than any other show.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017