Jan. 18, 2010 -- The Golden Globes: Hollywood's first, fat fete of the year, set the tone for the awards show season that often feels about as long as the average red carpet.
They're usually free-wheeling and fun. This year was no exception, thanks to host Ricky Gervais.
The British comedian brought a bit of much needed levity to the annual Hollywood love-fest. He set the tone for the night, allowing (most) actors to laugh at themselves and take their frustrations out on a common target: NBC.
Gervais took full advantage of the Conan O'Brien/Jay Leno late night TV brouhaha to bash both Leno and the network on which his show airs -- conveniently, the same network that aired the Golden Globes.
"I will be making the most of this opportunity," he said at the top of the show. "I'm not used to these sort of viewing figures. Let's face it, neither is NBC."
Gervais went on to insult his audience:
"On a serious note, just looking at all these faces reminds me of all the great work done this year ... by cosmetic surgeons."
Then it was on to the action. MoNique scored the statue for best supporting actress for her stand out role in "Precious" and her heartfelt speech set the bar for the night.
John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall, who recently announced he's undergoing cancer treatments, both picked up Golden Globes for their work in Showtime's critically acclaimed thriller, "Dexter." After that, Julianna Margulies scored the best actress in a drama Globe for CBS' "The Good Wife." The ex-"E.R." star used her stint at the stand to throw a jab at her former network, thanking her producers for "believing in the ten o'clock drama." (Of course, NBC installed the failed "Jay Leno Show" in its 10 p.m. ET slot.)
Meryl Streep, Chloe Sevigny's Wins; Ricky Gervais' Jokes
Meryl Streep beat her own performance in "It's Complicated" to win a Golden Globe for "Julie and Julia." In a touching speech, Streep dedicated her award to her mother, who herself was a devotee of Julia Child, the cooking legend Streep brought back to life on screen.
Chloe Sevigny accepted her Golden Globe for her supporting role in HBO's "Big Love" with style, grace and a divine dress to boot. Rest of young Hollywood: take note.
Throughout the Globes, Gervais kept the momentum going with playful jabs at presenters. Some played along (Mel Gibson faked drunk freakishly well after the comedian, beer in hand, quipped, "I like a drink as much as the next man, unless the next man is Mel Gibson"). Some did not. Jennifer Aniston seemed none too pleased after Gervais introduced her as "Rachel from 'Friends."
Fox's hilarious song-and-dance hit "Glee" beat out category favorites "30 Rock" and "The Office" to win the Globe for best comedy or musical series. Fittingly, the show's cast and crew were jumping up and down with, well, glee. "This is for anybody and everybody who got a wedgie in high school," declared executive producer Ryan Murphy, clutching his statue.
Then came the "Avatar" portion of the evening. On stage, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took a swipe at both James Cameron, the multi-million-dollar director of the film, and the punching bag of the night, NBC.
"The only way [Cameron] can actually make more money than [he did from 'Avatar'] is by being hired by NBC ... or by being fired by NBC," Schwarzenegger joked.
Cameron ended up winning best director for that film, and "Avatar" itself won the Golden Globe for best motion picture, drama. But it was Robert Downey Jr.'s acceptance speech as best actor in a comedy or drama for his starring role in "Sherlock Holmes," which came in the middle of the Globes' "Avatar" affair, that won the award for best speech of the night.
"If you start playing violins, I will tear this joint apart," he started. "First of all, I'd like to thank Susan Downey [his wife] for telling me that Matt Damon was going to win, 'So don't bother to prepare a speech.'"
"I don't have anybody to thank," Downey continued. "I'm certainly not going to thank Warner Brothers ... they needed me! 'Avatar' was going to take us to the cleaners. If they didn't have me, we didn't have a shot, buddy."
Which brings us to the billion dollar question: does anyone have a shot against "Avatar" at the Oscars come March? Only time, and the Academy, will tell.