In what many think could be a foreshadowing of the Oscars, one of the first major movie acting prizes of Sunday night's Golden Globes went posthumously to Heath Ledger for his harrowing work as the Joker in "The Dark Knight."

Ledger, who died last January of an accidental overdose of prescription medication, triumphed over a field of Hollywood legends in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture category, besting such top billers as Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr., Ralph Fiennes and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Taking the stage as the star-studded audience rose to their feet, somber "Dark Knight" director Chris Nolan accepted on Ledger's behalf. "All of us who worked with Heath on 'The Dark Knight' accept this with an awful mixture of sadness but incredible pride," Nolan said with a drawn look on his face.

"After Heath passed on, you saw a hole ripped in the future of cinema — but with the extraordinary response to his work that we've seen all over the world, I, for one, start to be able to look a bit less at that gap in the future and a little bit more at the incredible place in the history of cinema that he built for himself with his talent and with his dedication to his artistry. For any of us lucky enough to work with him, I think for any of us lucky enough to have enjoyed his performances, he will be eternally missed. But he will never be forgotten."

It was a bittersweet moment in what had, to that point, been a typically breezy Globes evening. Earlier in the night — accepting a kiss from good friend and "Revolutionary Road" co-star Leonardo DiCaprio — the evening's first winner, Kate Winslet, accepted a Globe for her role in the World War II drama "The Reader." "You have to forgive me, because I have a habit of not winning things," said a clearly breathless Winslet, who thought better of putting the award down on the ground while reading her thank-yous.

First-time nominee Miley Cyrus can take some solace in the fact that she was in some amazing company in the Best Original Song category — losing in a category in which you're up against Peter Gabriel, Clint Eastwood, Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen is nothing to cry about. The Boss took the honors for his title song to the Mickey Rourke hard-luck flick "The Wrestler," quipping, "This is the only time I'm going to be in competition with Clint Eastwood. It felt pretty good, too." The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer added his first Golden Globe to a list of awards that includes 18 Grammys and an Oscar.

A former Miss Golden Globe (1982), Laura Dern won for her dead-on portrayal of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the HBO movie chronicling the disputed 2000 presidential election, "Recount." Celebrating with her husband, singer/songwriter Ben Harper, Dern said she would cherish the award "as a reminder of the extraordinary, incredible outpouring of people who demanded their voice be heard in this last election so that we can look forward to amazing change in this country."

The ranks of the presenters were filled with some of young Hollywood's finest, including Hayden Panettiere, Zac Efron, "Star Trek" actors Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, Jake Gyllenhaal, the Jonas Brothers ... oh, and Johnny Depp, who is seemingly ageless.

Setting the stage for what some think could be a run at a Best Picture Oscar bid, "WALL-E" won the award for Outstanding Animated Feature; and Anna Paquin, 26, already the second-youngest Oscar winner ever, added a Globe to her shelf, with a win over a raft of veteran actresses in the Best Actress in a TV Series Drama for her work in the spooky HBO series "True Blood." "This is awesome, I am so excited!" she said, giving a special shout-out to her costumers, while wearing a body-hugging dress that our fashion expert wasn't so sure about.

Here's a full list of the winners so far:

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
Best Original Song: Bruce Springsteen, "The Wrestler"
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Movie: Tom Wilkinson, "John Adams"
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Movie: Laura Dern, "Recount"
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama: Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment"
Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama: Anna Paquin, "True Blood"
Outstanding Animated Feature: "WALL-E"
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy: Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: "John Adams"
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"

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