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Hollywood lauds its best at Golden Globes

Cassie Belek | Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When camera shutters hushed and nominees and friends polished off the last glasses of champagne, Monday night’s Golden Globes were remembered for indicating the year’s potential Oscar winners.

While the Hollywood Foreign Press awards honors in both the film and television categories, television is melted by the heat of the Oscar race. The Globes may not be able to predict who will win the Emmy in the fall, but they can predict wins for the upcoming Academy Awards – the most prestigious honor in Hollywood.

One guaranteed Oscar winner is the timeless Helen Mirren, who won both Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie and Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for portraying Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II, respectively.

The Best Actress race is clearly cemented, with Mirren’s only competition coming from Meryl Streep, nominated as the Best Actress in Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for “The Devil Wears Prada.” The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tends to award dramatic performances over comedic ones, and with Streep’s 13 nominations and two wins, it may be Mirren’s year to shine.

Despite Mirren’s impending glory, Streep stole the evening with the best acceptance speech. No music cut off this acting powerhouse as she observed, “I think I’ve worked with everybody in the room,” and complimented her fellow female nominees by saying, “I just want you to know, all of you, that this has been such a fun year to watch movies because of you gals, and it makes you want to cry with gratitude, until next year.”

In fact, the year’s best actress crop was rather ripe compared to recent years that struggled to find worthy nominees. Other females to shine during the evening included Jennifer Hudson, the “American Idol” reject turned movie star in “Dreamgirls” and America Ferrera, who has made ugly beautiful in ABC’s new comedy “Ugly Betty.”

Hudson won Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of diva Effie White in the musical inspired by the Supremes. In a tearful speech, the Hollywood newcomer expressed thanks in being welcomed to the Hollywood community and said, “You do not know how much this does for my confidence,” only to realize her words made her sound just like her character Effie.

Ferrera brought the audience to tears as she accepted her award for Best Actress in a Comedy TV Series. Looking anything but ugly in a beautiful purple gown she helped design, Ferrera said, “It’s such an honor to play a role that I hear from young girls on a daily basis how it makes them feel worthy and lovable and that they have more to offer the world than they thought.” “Ugly Betty” also won Best Musical or Comedy TV Series in just its freshman year.

On the movies side, Sacha Baron Cohen won Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for “Borat,” and Forest Whitaker won Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for “The Last King of Scotland,” beating Leonardo DiCaprio, who was twice-nominated in the category. Whitaker was literally speechless despite the critical acclaim that indicated his positive chances at taking home the Golden Globe that evening.

“Dreamgirls” garnered two more awards with Eddie Murphy’s win for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture and the movie’s win for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. “Babel” won Best Motion Picture Drama without winning any other awards during the evening.

In perhaps another Oscar prediction, Martin Scorsese won Best Director for “The Departed,” beating Clint Eastwood’s two nominations in the category. Scorsese is the Susan Lucci of the Academy Awards having never won an Oscar in his six nominations, but the Academy may finally be ready to give him his proper recognition especially since Eastwood already won the category for “Million Dollar Baby” two years ago.

Upsets during the evening were few and far between. The revenge win of the night went to Hugh Laurie of “House” for winning Best Actor in a Drama Series. Laurie beat FOX’s “24” star Kiefer Sutherland who won the Emmy just a few months ago. In one of the worst snubs in recent Emmy history, Laurie was not even nominated for his role despite having won last year’s Golden Globe in the same category.

Movie star-turned-television actor Alec Baldwin won Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series for his role in “30 Rock,” beating last year’s winner Steve Carell.

In a show of strength, all four of NBC’s leading men from its Thursday night comedy block – Baldwin, Carell, Jason Lee and Zach Braff – were nominated in the Best Actor category, demonstrating a major sign of improvement for the struggling network that is attempting to recreate Must See TV.

On the drama side, Kyra Sedgwick won Best Actress for “The Closer” after losing to an un-nominated Mariska Hargitay at the Emmys, and primetime medical soap “Grey’s Anatomy” took home the Best Drama TV Series despite being shut out in every acting category.

Even with an open bar and bottles of champagne on every table, the evening continued without any drunken mishaps of Danny DeVito proportions. Annette Benning was never seen without a glass of champagne in her hand and Baron Cohen’s co-star Ken Davitian was seen drinking directly from a bottle of wine after the man behind “Borat” relived the haunting memories of their nude wrestling match on stage.

Prince failed to show to accept his award for Best Original Song for “Song of the Heart” from “Happy Feet,” leaving presenter Justin Timberlake to fumble around before crouching down to Prince’s height and accepting the award for him.

Prince mysteriously appeared on camera later in the ceremony only to block the camera with his hand. However, presenters Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore finally revealed that the musician had previously been stuck in traffic and then gave him the time to stand up and take a bow for receiving the award.

Despite the lack of on-screen scandal, the Globes remain more fast-paced and even more entertaining than the Academy Awards. The Golden Globes are less predictable than the Oscars, which come at the end of Awards season, and they offer a unique mix of movie and television stars not present at most other award shows.

Oscar nominees will soon be announced, and Globe winners are ensured of a nomination and in most cases, a win. As the first major award show of the season, the Globes set the tone for what is to come.