The Golden Globes might not be Hollywood's most important awards show, but no one doubts that it's Hollywood's biggest party -- and nowhere is that more apparent than backstage.
Unlike other award shows, the stars get to sit at tables where they can drink. And there are ample opportunities to raise a glass. The Globes honor both TV and film, and, in most categories, there are separate prizes for dramas, so that comedies and musicals -- often ignored by Oscar voters -- are never shut out.
George Clooney, who won the first award of the evening, made no secret of the revelry when he came to the podium to accept honors as best supporting actor in a drama for his work in "Syriana."
"This is early," Clooney told the audience. "I haven't had a drink yet."
Once they win, stars greet the media backstage, even while other awards are being handed out. But reporters were unsure if Clooney would make an early appearance because he was also up for writing and directing honors for "Good Night, and Good Luck."
But only minutes later, Clooney was amiable and charming, no matter what question was put to him, even when asked if he'd consider starring with Heath Ledger if there were to be a sequel to "Brokeback Mountain."
"Heath is awfully handsome, so probably," Clooney responded.
Clooney is often outspoken on political matters and made an off-color joke onstage about disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But he said "Syriana" should not be taken as an indictment of President Bush's Middle East policies. When a foreign reporter asked if the president should be impeached, he even grew a bit uneasy.
"I don't really think it's the spot to talk about that kind of issue," Clooney said. "This [film] wasn't an attack on the Bush administration. This was an attack of 60 years of failed policies in the Middle East."
The evening's festivities seemed decidedly political when the next big winner was Rachel Weisz, who won best supporting actress in a drama for her work in "The Constant Gardener." In the film, she plays a humanitarian worker whose husband is drawn into a murder investigation tied to international espionage.
But Weisz lightened things up, talking about her pregnancy. She joked about bumping into Gwyneth Paltrow in the ladies room and comparing belly sizes. "She's a little ahead of me," she said.
A hyperventilating Sandra Oh of "Grey's Anatomy" could hardly contain herself after winning the prize as TV's best supporting actress. "I feel like someone set me on fire!" the bubbly star said onstage. She was just as bubbly backstage. "I'm so elated, I'm shaking," she told reporters.
When asked about how her "Grey's Anatomy" character -- the decidedly cynical Dr. Cristina Yang -- would react to winning an award, Oh noted that it would be another story.
"Cristina wouldn't show up," she said, "but would gloat about it later."
As a TV president on "Commander in Chief," Geena Davis has had some practice at the bully pulpit, and she got off one of the best lines of the evening after winning best actress in a TV drama.
"As I was coming in I felt a little tug at my skirt and I looked and there was a little girl maybe 8 or 10 in her first party dress, and she said, 'Because of you I want to be president someday,'" Davis said, as if making a stump speech.
"And ... well ... that didn't actually happen," she quickly added, "Oh, but it could have …"