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Avatar, Glee win Golden Globes

The Golden Globes - the awards show known for the fact that it often points toward the Oscars - has anointed Avatar as the Academy Award favourite.

At the 67th Globe ceremony Sunday night, the special-effects blockbuster, which is on track to set the all-time box office record, was named best drama.

In addition, Avatar director James Cameron - a Canadian who was born in Kapuskasing, Ont. - was named best director for the motion-capture sci-fi adventure whose technical innovations may have changed moviemaking.

"Thank you my brother and my sister," Cameron said in Na'vi, the language that was invented for the tribe of natives that lives on Pandora, the planet where the film is set.

The Hangover, an R-rated comedy about a group of bachelors misbehaving in Las Vegas on the eve of a wedding, won the Globe for best comedy or musical. The movie is unlikely to make much of a splash at the Oscars, but it has grossed some $450 million worldwide.

Canadian director Jason Reitman, a native of Montreal, shared the award for best adapted screenplay for Up in the Air, the only Golden Globe won by the movie, which led all films with six nominations. He paid tribute to his father, director Ivan Reitman, and to the film's star George Clooney, "one of the greatest men I've ever met in my life."

Clooney is planning a telethon Jan. 22 to raise money for victims of the Haitian earthquake, an event that lent a note of sobriety to what is traditionally a fairly alcoholic ceremony. Stars wore lapel ribbons in honour of the victims, and some noted that it felt strange to be enjoying something as frothy as an award ceremony at a time of such tragedy.

However Clooney - favoured for a Globe for his performance as a high-flying businessman in Up in the Air - went home empty-handed as Jeff Bridges was named best actor in a drama for his role as broken-down singer Bad Blake in the country music story Crazy Heart.

"You're really screwing up my under-appreciated status here," he said about the award, which will cement his chances of Oscar glory in March.

Robert Downey Jr. was named best actor in a comedy for his role as the legendary sleuth in Sherlock Holmes, an entertaining performance but unlikely to bring much Oscar consideration.

Likewise, Sandra Bullock pulled an upset by winning the award as best actress in a drama for her performance as a tough Southern woman who adopts a troubled black teenager in the football story The Blind Side. Best known for her romantic comedies, Bullock - who defeated Precious' Gabourey Sidibe and An Education's Carey Mulligan - is considered an outside chance at an Oscar.

Meryl Streep - named best actress in a comedy for her turn as chef Julia Child in the comic drama Julie & Julia (she was also nominated for the older-woman romance It's Complicated) - said: "In my long career, I've played so many extraordinary women that I'm getting mistaken for one."

But she got more emotional when she said, "I am really honestly conflicted about how to have my 'happy movie self' in the face of everything that I'm aware of in the real world." She said she thought of her mother, who would have advised her to be grateful that she has the money to donate to Partners in Health, an aid organization working Haiti.

Another serious problem, child sexual abuse, was the subtext of the award won by comedienne and talk show host (and Oscar front-runner) Mo'Nique, who was named best supporting actress for her role as the horrific mother of a sexually and emotionally abused teenage girl in Precious.

"I celebrate this award with every person who's ever been touched," she said. "It's now time to tell, and it's okay."

German actor Christoph Waltz was named best supporting actor for his role as the charming, sadistic quadrilingual Nazi villain in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, a performance almost guaranteed to bring an Oscar as well.

The German drama The White Ribbon, directed by Michael Haneke and also about the abuse of children, was named best foreign film. The Weary Kind, the tune sung by Jeff Bridges as an aging country star in Crazy Heart, was named best song.

For the first time in 15 years, the show had a host, Ricky Gervais. It was a move designed to increase viewership - which slipped to 15 million last year from 27 million viewers in 2004 - and his brand of offbeat humour (jokes about his small penis, for instance), as well as shots of him taking the occasional drink of what appeared to be beer, gave the show an air of what-the-hell informality that was at odds with the Haiti ribbons.

Aside from being an Oscar bellwether - Oscar nominations are to be announced Feb. 2, and the ceremony itself is on March 7 - the Globes are also known for the fact that they involve dinner and free drinks, which have resulted in a sometime shaggy atmosphere.

As Paul McCartney, presenting the Globe to Up as best animated movie, noted: "Animation is not just for children. It's also for adults who take drugs."

Up, a leading contender for the Academy Award in its category, also won the Golden Globe for best original score.

Martin Scorsese received the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement.

The Globes are awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 90 reporters - some of whom have other jobs, or are retired - who live in Los Angeles. There have been scandals in the past (in 1981, Pia Zadora won Most Promising Newcomer award after her rich husband flew association members to Las Vegas for a free junket at his hotel). As Gervais said: "One thing that can't be bought is a Golden Globe. Officially."

Winners of the TV awards were: Mad Men for best drama; Glee best musical; Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock best actor in a comedy; Chloe Sevigny of Big Love best supporting actress in a miniseries; Grey Gardens best movie; Michael C. Hall of Dexter best actor in a drama; Julianna Margulies of The Good Wife best actress in a drama; Kevin Bacon of Taking Chance best actor in a movie; John Lithgow of Dexter best supporting actor in a series; and Toni Collette of United States of Tara best actress in a musical or comedy.

Golden Globe winners:

Best Motion Picture: Avatar

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: The Hangover

Best TV Series, Comedy or Musical: Glee

Best Director: James Cameron, Avatar

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Christop Waltz, Inglorious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress, TV: Chloe Sevigny, Big Love

Best TV Series, Drama: Mad Men

Best Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon

Best Actor, TV Comedy or Musical: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie: Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie: Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Miniseries or TV Movie: Grey Gardens

Best Original Score in a Motion Picture: Up!

Best Original Song in a Motion Picture: "The Weary Kind," Crazy Heart

Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama: Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife

Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama: Michael C Hall, Dexter

Best Animated Feature Film: Up!

Best Supporting Actor, TV: John Lithgow, Dexter

Best Actress, TV Comedy: Toni Collette, The United States of Tara

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Mo'nique, Precious