Golden Globes Led By George Clooney, ‘The Artist’

Host Ricky Gervais returns, as 'Modern Family,' Michelle Williams and Meryl Streep also take home statues on Sunday night.

On Sunday night (January 15), George Clooney and “The Artist” continued their awards-season domination while Ricky Gervais giddily piled on the humiliation as the 69th annual Golden Globes went down in Hollywood.

The returning host kept his most pointed barbs confined to the monologue, while the Hollywood Foreign Press Association spread the love a bit more evenly than some predicted , with Globes for stars like Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams . Expected winners also took home statues, with Clooney nabbing Best Actor and “The Artist” winning Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical; the actor and film, like Best Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer and Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer have been cleaning up this month.

“Cheers. So, where was I?” Gervais began, in an appropriately devilish red suit.

The awards show itself was the comedian’s first major target (“the Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton”), followed by the Oscars (“when the man who said ‘yes’ to ‘Norbit,’ says ‘no’ to you, you know you’re in trouble”), the HFPA, Jodie Foster (Elton John looked unimpressed), Kim Kardashian (“I’ve sat through longer James Cameron acceptance speeches than [her marriage]“), Justin Bieber (“the only way that he could have impregnated a girl is if he borrowed one of Martha Stewart’s old turkey basters”) and more.

Gervais introduced the first presenter of the night, Johnny Depp, with a plug for his own forthcoming HBO series, “Life’s Too Short,” which in one episode’s fit of “meta” casting features Depp as himself grilling Gervais about last year’s Golden Globes. Depp sipped from Gervais’ glass of beer before the comedian asked him if he’d seen “The Tourist” yet. “No,” Depp responded, as he stifled a laugh. (Depp went on to introduce a short clip about Martin Scorsese’s 3-D picture “Hugo,” which was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama.)

Gerard Butler and Mila Kunis presented the award for Best Supporting Actor to Plummer for his role as a gay man who comes out late in life in “Beginners.”

“What a wonderful welcome back to the home of King Kong, Rin-Tin Tin and all our youthful fantasies,” the 82-year-old screen legend said. “I must praise my distinguished competitors for whom I have the greatest admiration and to whom I apologize most profusely. And I want to salute my partner, Ewan, that wily Scot; Ewan ‘My Heart’s in the Highlands’ McGregor.” His last bit of thanks was reserved for his wife of 43 years, Elaine. “[Her] bravery and beauty haunts me still.”

“Two and a Half Men” star Ashton Kutcher and supermodel Elle Macpherson were up next to present Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical. The Globe went to Laura Dern for “Enlightened,” marking her third win overall at the event.

Teleprompter problems plagued Rob Lowe and Julianne Moore as they introduced this year’s Miss Golden Globe (Rainey Qualley, daughter of actress Andy MacDowell). The pair went on to present the award for Best Mini-Series or TV Movie to “Downton Abbey.” Fans of the hit PBS series include Patton Oswalt, who once tweeted that the show is “Star Trek for tea drinkers!”

“We’re already five minutes over,” Gervais chided when he returned to the stage, digging into overly long acceptance speeches. “You don’t need to thank everyone you’ve ever met … just do the main two, your agent and God.” The self-described atheist added that both had an “equal amount” of input into his career. From there, he brought up the scene in “Bridesmaids” where Melissa McCarthy’s character moves her bowels in a sink. “Amazingly, that’s still less demeaning than what most of you have done to make it in show business,” he told the audience.

McCarthy and Paula Patton gave the Best Actor in a Comedy Series Globe to Kelsey Grammer for “Boss” (prompting viewers like @mindykaling to reminisce about the actor’s semi-legendary fall from a stage) and Best TV Series – Drama to “Homeland.”

Jimmy Fallon broke out his Mick Jagger moves before presenting the award for Best Song and Best Score with Maroon Five’s Adam Levine to “The Artist” composer Ludovic Bource. Madonna and Elton John had earlier engaged in some red-carpet cattiness about the Best Original Song – Motion Picture category, in which they were both nominated. Ultimately, it was Madge who triumphed : Her win for the song she wrote for directorial effort “W.E.” followed a previous Golden Globe for her starring performance in 1996′s “Evita.”

Seth Rogen and a typically stunning Kate Beckinsale soon followed. “Hello, I’m Seth Rogen, and I am currently trying to conceal a massive erection,” he said, which kept Beckinsale laughing as they introduced the nominees for Best Actress in a Comedy.

Michelle Williams won for “My Week with Marilyn,” a film Rogen dryly called a “hysterical comedy” (the movie is arguably more of a drama, despite its categorization). “I consider myself a mother first and an actress second, so the person that I most want to thank is my daughter,” Williams said, speaking about Matilda Rose, her child with late actor Heath Ledger. She also thanked the HFPA “for putting in my hands this same award that Marilyn Monroe herself won over 50 years ago. Thank you, I’m honored.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Piper Parabo presented Best Supporting Actor in a TV Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie to Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones.”

“I was talking to my mother in Jersey before I came out and she said, ‘Have fun but, ‘Have you seen Mildred Pierce? Guy Pearce is so good, he’s going to win!’. … I just love our moms, ’cause they keep us humble,” Dinklage said. He then drew attention to the story of Martin Henderson, a dwarf who suffered a serious injury reportedly inspired by a cruel “dwarf-tossing” competition.

Ricky’s punch line when he introduced Madonna was little more than a well-placed clearing of his throat, which followed this: “Our next presenter is the Queen of Pop — not you, Elton, sit down. She’s all woman. I’ll give you some clues: She’s always vogue. She’s a material girl. And she’s just like a virgin … ahem.” The Queen of Pop was ready with a quick retort: “If I’m still just like a virgin, then why don’t you come over here and do something about it?” she challenged. “I haven’t kissed a girl in a few years — on TV.”

“Seriously nuts… Seriously,” Spencer said after Bradley Cooper introduced Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. “The Help” star has been stacking up awards this month for her part in the breakout hit. “With regard to domestics in this country, now and then I think Dr. King said it best: ‘All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.’ ” She then sped through her thank-you’s in a comedic nod to the show’s habit of playing off winners mid-speech. “Table 10, thank you again!” she concluded.

Reese Witherspoon introduced “The Descendants,” which she noted was directed by “my friend, Alexander Payne,” with whom she made the classic dark comedy, “Election.” Later in the show, Robert Downey Jr. introduced the film “The Artist.”

Morgan Freeman is only the second African American actor to receive the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award; he accepted it 30 years after Sidney Poitier was similarly honored in 1982. The 84-year-old Poitier received a standing ovation when he came out to introduce Freeman. “In my humble opinion, sir, you are indeed a prince in the profession you have chosen. We thank you, Mr. Freeman, for raising the level of excellence yet another notch. Welcome aboard, Morgan Freeman,” he said. The 74-year-old Freeman was honored for a career that includes iconic roles in movies like “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Glory,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Million Dollar Baby.”

Angelina Jolie gave Martin Scorsese Best Director – Motion Picture for “Hugo.” “Sit down, sit down, everybody!” he commanded. He thanked the HFPA for all of the work they do to help ensure the preservation and restoration of cinema, which tied directly into “Hugo.”

Gervais joked about Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas’ accents when he introduced them, prompting a long, non-English response from Banderas. “Ricky, I don’t understand [Banderas] either,” Hayek teased. The pair gave the Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical to “Modern Family,” with Columbian castmember Sofia Vergara accepting with a short speech in Spanish that one of the show’s producers comically mistranslated.

Michelle Pfeiffer introduced Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse.” Presenters Jessica Biel and Mark Wahlberg were up next. Wahlberg complimented Biel’s pronunciation of Jean Dujardin (Best Actor winner for Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical), before Queen Latifah introduced “The Help.” Then Gervais was back onstage. “Nearly there, nearly there,” he said at the two-and-a-half-hour mark.

“Our next presenter is British, like me. But unlike me, he’s won an Oscar, for his brilliant portrayal in ‘The King’s Speech.’ He’s also swooned over by women,” Gervais went on, also noting Colin Firth’s high profile with critics. “What you don’t know about him is he’s very racist. I’ve also seen him punch a little blind kitten. Please welcome the evil Colin Firth!”

Firth pretended to kick Gervais when he came out, but the actor was smiling. “As I was on my way in, I noticed some very angry religious people outside threatening us all with brimstone … for our sins. … What they don’t realize is we have Ricky.”

“When Ricky Gervais’ deal fell through and they came to me to play Margret Thatcher,” Meryl Streep began as she accepted Best Actress, Motion Picture for “The Iron Lady.” Clooney helped pass her glasses to the stage so she could better read her speech, but she stayed off her notes and offered heartfelt appreciation for all of the women nominated in the category alongside her. “I just want to thank my agent and God — Harvey Weinstein, the punisher,” she added to much laughter and applause.

Jane Fonda presented Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical to “The Artist,” as even the dog from the film took the stage.

Natalie Portman, Best Actress for “Black Swan” at last year’s Globe’s, was the next presenter. Gervais pointed out that she’s nominated for nothing this year, seeing how she took time off to have her baby. “She’s learned that valuable lesson that all of you knew: never put family first!” Portman gave the Golden Globe for Best Actor, Motion Picture – Drama to Clooney for “The Descendants.” The star first gave a shout-out to Brad Pitt, followed by a “thank you” to Michael Fassbender “for taking over the frontal nudity responsibility that I had,” before making an off-color joke that involved golf. Alexander Payne accepted the Best Picture, Drama award from Harrison Ford shortly afterward.

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