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‘Social Network’ is tops at Globes

Portman, Firth, ‘Glee’ also win

Golden Globe winner Natalie Portman holds her award last night in Los Angeles. Golden Globe winner Natalie Portman holds her award last night in Los Angeles. (Photos By Paul Drinkwater/Nbc; Lucy Nicholson/Reuters (Top Right))
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / January 17, 2011

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It was not a big surprise at last night’s 68th Golden Globe Awards that “The Social Network’’ won four statues.

Nor was it a shock when spiky-haired Annette Bening won for best actress in a movie comedy or musical for “The Kids Are All Right.’’ The category favorite, Bening forcefully delivered her heartfelt thanks, especially to her costar, Julianne Moore. Many expect to hear her gratitude again, slightly revised and amped up, at the Oscars.

Likewise, Colin Firth’s win for “The King’s Speech.’’ We’ll probably hear his elegant thank yous again — and want to hear them again, they were that elegant — at next month’s more prestigious ceremony.

When Aaron Sorkin won best screenplay and David Fincher won best director for “The Social Network,’’ when “The Social Network’’ won for best drama, when Natalie Portman won for best actress in a drama for “Black Swan,’’ when “Toy Story 3’’ won for best animated film, and when Christian Bale stepped up to take the statue for best supporting actor for “The Fighter,’’ the night’s movie awards continued to proceed as expected.

Bale delivered his fiery acceptance speech — also due for an Oscar encore — and paid a special compliment to the star of “The Fighter,’’ Mark Wahlberg, saying, “You can only give a loud performance like the one I gave when you have a quiet anchor.’’ Melissa Leo, another favorite, also heaped praise on Wahlberg when she won best supporting actress for “The Fighter’’: “You are a prince,’’ she said during her effusive speech.

Only one winner — Paul Giamatti for best actor in a comedy or musical for “Barney’s Version’’ — was a little bit of a movie shocker.

But on the TV front, everything was rather left-fieldy indeed. Seemingly from out of nowhere, HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire’’ got a huge vote of confidence. The show won for best drama against more critically acclaimed favorites such as “Mad Men’’ and “Dexter,’’ and Steve Buscemi took the prize for best actor in a dramatic series over Emmy favorite Bryan Cranston and last year’s winner, Michael C. Hall. (Mark Wahlberg was on stage to accept the “Boardwalk’’ prize; is there an HBO show on which he doesn’t have a producer credit?)

Katey Sagal won for her tough mama in “Sons of Anarchy,’’ another surprise considering her competitors were beloved stars Kyra Sedgwick and Julianna Margulies. Add a dash of “The Big Bang Theory’’ as Jim Parsons won best actor, add a sprinkling of “Glee’’ — Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch won the TV supporting acting prizes, and the show took the award for best comedy or musical series — and you have an eclectic TV night indeed.

The biggest TV surprise was when the miniseries “Carlos,’’ which aired on the Sundance Channel, won the award for best TV movie or miniseries over heavy-hitters “The Pacific,’’ “Temple Grandin,’’ and “You Don’t Know Jack,’’ three HBO productions. That was a stunner. HBO, however, did take two important TV movie acting prizes, with Al Pacino winning best actor for “You Don’t Know Jack’’ and Claire Danes taking best actress for “Temple Grandin.’’

Danes’s win, by the way, led to one of the sweetest moments of the night, as the real Temple Grandin stood hugging Danes enthusiastically when her name was announced. Another sweet moment: When presenter Michael Douglas came to the stage. “There’s gotta be an easier way to get a standing ovation,’’ he said, referring to his struggle with cancer. Also sweet: When Colfer, who dedicated his win to bullied kids like the one he plays on “Glee,’’ said, “I just dropped my heart somewhere between Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore.’’

Laura Linney’s win for best actress in a comedy or musical for “The Big C’’ had some unspoken poignancy; Linney’s father, the playwright Romulus Linney, died on Saturday. She was not present to accept her statue.

Would Gervais win a prize for best host? Unfortunately, no. The list of the Hollywood types whom he teased from the stage of the Golden Globes was long. It included the porn-actress-lovin’ Charlie Sheen, a few nameless not-gay Scientologists, “Ashton Kutcher’s dad’’ Bruce Willis, elderly sex personality Hugh Hefner, rehab veteran Robert Downey Jr., the end of “Lost’’ (about which he said, “The fat one ate them all’’), and the strange folks who make up the Globes’ Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The list was long, but, alas, all too familiar. Gervais’s material was pretty stale. Standing at the podium with a glass of beer, he delivered his one-liners with typical sly glee. He was loose and likable and irreverent and unfailingly ironic. But his jokes didn’t feel any more special than a nightly monologue by a nighttime talk-show host such as Chelsea Handler or Craig Ferguson. And they didn’t seem to go over very well with the audience at the Beverly Hilton Hotel — although I don’t think he was the reason Angelina Jolie was pouting. Is it me, or does she always seems to be working on an attitude?

Oddly enough, Robert De Niro tried to do a little stand-up shtick from the stage, as he accepted his Cecil B. DeMille Award from Matt Damon. He goofed on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, as well as some of the less-seen movies in his oeuvre. He wasn’t especially funny, but his ineptitude was kind of endearing.

As for the red carpet portion of the evening, I don’t envy any actor who has to face questions such as, “How are you like your character?’’ Even leering NBC red-carpet interviewer Carson Daly had to admit to Sandra Bullock that he was only pretending to care about who the stars were wearing.

But still: Total UN-kudos to Mark Salling from “Glee,’’ who got awfully sullen with Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet. Dude, there’s an art to rising above the infotainment pit — something Alec Baldwin knows, as he teased Seacrest about his name. Brattiness is passé, at least until it’s back in. Even Justin Bieber wasn’t a little devil: When Seacrest asked him why he was at the Golden Globes, he answered with disarming honesty: “They put it on my schedule, and I just showed up.’’

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com.