Some of the strongest impressions after a night of watching Hollywood let its hair down at the Golden Globes:
The Ricky Gervais report: The Globes have lost some of their informality since the ceremony moved to NBC and became more widely hyped as an Oscar predictor, and that meant relatively little time for host Gervais, whose opening monologue was only about five minutes long. But he managed to score in his brief opportunities, though he may have been a bigger hit in the ballroom than with the television audience. While the monologue was too disjointed to really hit home, Gervais delivered two classic lines later on. Referring to the Globes' history of petty corruption, he zinged "one thing that can't be bought is a Golden Globe ... officially." Later on, Gervais had a beer with him at the podium as he introduced the next presenter: "I like a drink as much as the next man ... unless the next man is Mel Gibson." Verdict: Gervais should be brought back, but he also needs to be given some room to stretch.
Best overall night: James Cameron, obviously. Oscar nominations have yet to be revealed, but the best drama Globe for Avatar and his own best director prize appear to have ended any suspense over whether he's going to have a second Best Picture in his future -- not bad for a guy who works the blockbuster side of Hollywood's street (to put this in perspective, Steven Spielberg has directed only one Best Picture in his career). Cameron had one big task Sunday, which was to erase any lingering image of him as a tool stemming from his "I'm the king of the world!" antics at the Oscar ceremony twelve years ago. This he did sufficiently, going so far as to say that he thought that his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow would probably win for directing The Hurt Locker. His films may lack something in the screenplay department, but no one else can come close to making them, so he deserves all the recognition he can get.
How the mighty have fallen: Harrison Ford has never been the most dynamic presence outside of Indiana Jones regalia, but his small part in the ceremony (introducing the clip of Up in the Air) seemed to sap his very life force. I know they're talking about another Indy picture, but it can't be a good thing when the popular Google search term today regarding your proposed star is Harrison Ford stroke.
Least convincing modesty: Mad Men executive producer Matthew Weiner claimed he was surprised that his show won the award for best drama. Considering that Mad Men has now won that Globe in all three years of its existence, I suppose he can drop the pose of shock anytime now.
First time anyone has ever won an acting prize for appearing in a Guy Ritchie movie: The comedy/musical acting categories are always less competitive than the drama side, but still, who could have guessed that Sherlock Holmes would spawn a Golden Globe winner? Robert Downey Jr. began his clever speech by saying he wasn't going to thank anyone, before he went on to pay tribute to the people who have pulled his career out of the gutter.
Good night to be a psychopath: In its four seasons, Dexter has always been one of those shows that is good enough to score some nominations here and there, but not considered prestigious enough to win. But this time around, John Lithgow grabbed the award for best supporting actor in a television series for his powerhouse portrayal of the Trinity Killer; and he may have had enough clout to pull star Michael C. Hall across the finish line as best lead actor. Hall's win was probably the night's biggest surprise (Jon Hamm of Mad Men had been considered the prohibitive favorite), but it was a welcome one, given his current battle with lymphoma.
Best impression of Rasputin: A quick glimpse of William Hurt, nominated for his role in Damages, revealed someone who has come a long way since those heady Body Heat days. The actor was sporting a huge gray beard last seen on the guy collecting aluminum cans behind the corner Kroger. Yeah, the chin shrubbery must be job-oriented, but had the presenter not stated it was Hurt, I doubt one viewer in a hundred would have recognized him.
Least prepared married couple: William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman. Macy was sporting a week's growth of beard and generally looked like he had taste-tested the entire bar. Huffman's job was simply to introduce the head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which she finally managed to do after wandering down several blind verbal alleys, sounding like Sarah Palin trying to name her favorite existential philosopher. Did the prompter blink out on Huffman or something?
Hope the wait was worth it: Julianna Margulies won best actress in a television drama for The Good Wife -- her first Globe win after seven nominations. Margulies had the night's most pointed tweak of NBC, as she thanked CBS execs Les Moonves and Nina Tassler "for believing in the ten o' clock drama."
Really hope the wait was worth it: Drew Barrymore won the best actress in a movie or miniseries Globe for Grey Gardens, after co-star Jessica Lange won the corresponding Emmy last fall. Barrymore's first Globe win came 25 years after her first nomination, which was for the movie Irreconcilable Differences. She was nine at the time.
Most welcome Globe: Jeff Bridges. The man has been doing great work for a long long time, but finally seems to reached the age where everyone sits up and goes "Hey! This guy has never won anything! Shouldn't we be doing something about that?" However, coming after Mickey Rourke's win for The Wrestler, this is the second straight year that the general plotline "aging small-time performer finds redemption" has produced the best dramatic actor. My advice to Colin Firth and George Clooney: wait ten more years until you can get these geezer parts yourselves. Tobey Maguire will have to wait until 2045.
Presenting pair that half got it right: Christina Aguilera, who has spent the last several years trying to keep the Tammy Faye makeup aesthetic alive in Hollywood all by herself, had a relatively restrained look by her standards. It was the first time I can recall her looking truly pretty. But her co-presenter and future co-star Cher, now 63, was even more Madame Tussauds-y than ever. How do you cast someone in a film when they no longer really look human? Maybe I should ask William Hurt.
When you're worth a billion dollars, you can afford to make jokes like this: On hand to give out the award for best animated film, Paul McCartney stated "Animation is not just for children. It is also for adults who take drugs." Me and my pal Sponge Bob take exception to that.