'The Artist,' 'Descendants' Top Golden Globe Film Winners; 'Homeland,' 'Modern Family' Lead TV

69th Golden Globes Best Comdey/Musical The Artist - H 2012
Paul Drinkwater/NBC

69th Golden Globes Best Comdey/Musical The Artist - H 2012

UPDATED: George Clooney, Martin Scorsese and Michelle Williams were among the winners Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

There were a lot of French accents at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday night as The Artist, written and directed by France's Michel Hazanavicius, was proclaimed best comedy/musical. With two other awards -- one for its star Jean Dujardin and another for Ludovic Bource's score -- the silent movie, which is in the process of taking awards season by storm, was the evening's big film winner.

The ceremonies, hosted with his usual irreverance by Ricky Gervais, also elevated the Hawaii-set The Descendants. The Fox Searchlight release claimed the final award of the evening when it was named best dramatic film, and its star George Clooney took the prize for best dramatic actor for his performance as a dad under seige.

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The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes the awards, also rewarded Meryl Streep, best dramatic actress for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and Michelle Williams, best comedy actress for My Life With Marilyn. The best director nod went to Martin Scorsese for his 3D fantasy film Hugo.

On the TV side, awards were scattered across the landscape. While HBO and Showtime both notched three prizes, no one show was especially dominant. ABC's Modern Family took comedy honors, while Showtime's Homeland was deemed best drama, and PBS' Downton Abbey took the prize for miniseries.

But the night's really big winner could be said to be the Weinstein Co.'s Harvey Weinstein, whose company had a hand in six of the 14 film awards that went to The Artist, The Iron Lady, Marilyn and W.E. Early in the evening, when she shared in the award for best song, Madonna dubbed Weinstein "the punisher," and the nickname stuck, with others, like Streep, picking up the refrain.

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In accepting for The Descendants team, producer Jim Burke dubbed Clooney "our quarterback ... a generous actor who helped everyone do their very best," and said that if the movie becomes a timeless film, it will be because of the talent of writer/director Alexander Payne.

In his own acceptance, Clooney, picking up the third Globe of his career, was his usual, charming self, acknowledging his fellow actors like Brad Pitt (for both his films and his humanitarian efforts) and Michael Fassbender (for going full-frontal on screen). 

In her appearance on stage for Iron Lady, Streep, racking up her eighth Globe win, also offered lavish praise to the actresses in her category. "This is such a thrill, but really, really embarrassing in a year that saw so many extraoridinary performances by women in leading roles," she said.

For his part, Dujardin, celebrated as best actor in a comedy for his turn as a silent film star in The Artist, silently mouthed some of the words in his acceptance speech.

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Williams won her first Globe for My Week With Marilyn, in which she plays Marilyn Monroe, who herself won in the same category in 1960 for Some Like It Hot. After first thanking her daughter because, as she explained, "I consider myself a mother first and an actress second," Williams also acknowledged her predecessor, by thanking the HFPA "for putting my my hands this same award that Marilyn Monroe herself won over 50 years ago."  

For playing a widower who comes out late in life, Christopher Plummer captured his first-ever Golden Globe, a supporting actor trophy for Beginners. He offered a shout-out to the movie's star Ewan McGregor, "that wiley Scot," and offered thanks to the movie's writer-director Mike Mills "whose talent and wisdom made Beginners such an enchantingly human story."

Octavia Spencer, who received the supporting film actress award for The Help, in which she plays a maid, came equipped with the words of Martin Luther King, whom the nation remembers on Monday. "With regard to domestics in this country, now and then, I think Dr. King said it best," she said. "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignifty and importance."

The prize for best screenplay went to Woody Allen for his bubbly Midnight in Paris. Since Allen maintains his distance from awards ceremony, presenter Nicole Kidman accepted on his behalf.

Although he wasn't nominated for directing War Horse, Steven Spielberg still scored an award when The Adventures of Tintin was named best animated film. Among his thank-yous, he hailed his producer and partner on the film Peter Jackson, expressed thanks to both Sony and Paramount for backing the movie, and gave a shout-out "to the man of a thousand digital faces Andy Serkis."

The award for foreign film went to Iran's A Separation, directed by Asghar Farhadi, who took the opportunity to say of his fellow countrymen, "they are a truly loving people."

The first suggestion that The Artist was on a roll came during the evening's first hour when Bource was named best composer. "Right now, If I were to write a song, it would be a tap-dance number," he said.

For best song, Madonna -- who was nominated against the likes of Elton John and Glenn Close -- secured the win for her tune "Masterpiece," which she wrote, along with Julie Frost and Jimmy Harry, for the movie she directed W.E. She thanked her manager Guy Oseary for insisting she write the song, which she initially resisted doing.

In the anticipated showdown between PBS' Downton Abbey and HBO's Mildred Pierce, Downton's upstairs/downstairs drama took home the prize for best miniseries. Julian Fellowes, the show's very English creator, offered up thanks to "the audience, because it's the audience that makes a success."

But Mildred had its moment in the spotlight, when Kate Winslet, who took home two Globes in 2009 for her movie work in Revolutionary Road and The Reader, picked up her third Globe for playing the self-sacrificing heroine of the Depression-set drama. "Mildred Pierce was the definition of a team effort, and I want to share this with our team leader, our brilliant director Todd Haynes," she said.

Luther, the British police drama aired by BBC America, brought a summons to the stage for Idris Elba when he was named best actor in a miniseries.

Showtime's freshman series Homeland, about the battle against terrorism, claimed the award for best dramatic TV series. The show also earned Claire Danes, who won a Globe last year for Temple Grandin, a back-to-back win as she was voted best drama series actress for her portrayal of a slightly unhinged intelligence officer. Noting that she won the same award 15 years ago for My So-Called Life and then promptly burst into tears because on that night she forgot to thank her parents, she used the opportunity to rectify that omission  by paying tribute to her mother, who accompanied her to the awards.

Kelsey Grammer, who collected two Globes during the run of Frasier, was another of the evening's three-time winners as he was awarded a new Globe as best dramatic TV series actor for his turn as a Chicago mayor in Starz's Boss. He acknowledged Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht "for his insight and balls and money actually for going ahead and ordered all eight episodes without a pilot."

Series creator Steve Levitan and one of the show's stars Sofia Vergara turned Modern Family's win for best comedy series into something of a comedy routine in its own right, as they delivered the requisite thank yous in both English and Spanish, and Vergara urged the actresses in the room to search out the show's writers who, Levitan claimed she said, "are the greatest lovers I have ever had."

Laura Dern has a long history with the Globes: Back in 1982, as a daughter of celebrities, she handed out the trophies as a Miss Golden Globes. This year, she picked up her third personal Globe, earning the trophy for best actress in a television comedy series for her performance in HBO's Enlightened as a woman who undergoes a spiritual awakening.

Playing a version of himself in Showtime's Episodes brought Matt LeBlanc his first Globe, perhaps because, he claimed, his on-screen persona "is way more interesting and fun than the real thing."

Jessica Lange is no stranger at the Globes. She's previously won four of the awards, for her work in both film and TV, and Sunday night she took home her fifth as TV supporting actress for her monstrous mom in FX's American Horror Story. She offered special praise for the show's writers "because I find it more and more rare, or rarer, every year to find a piece of work that is beautifully written."

Even though his mother predected that Mildred Pierce's Guy Pearce would win in the supporting actor category, Peter Dinklage proved the victor for playing Tyrion Lannister in the fantasy series Game of Thrones. "I just love our moms because they keep us humble," he observed.

Sidney Poitier made an appearance, and was greeted with a standing ovation, to testify on behalf of Morgan Freeman, this year's winner of the HFPA's Cecille B. DeMille Award, "You become the character, the character becomes you, and so begins a process that captivates the audience," he said. "In my humble opinion, sir, you are indeed a prince in the profession you have chosen."

Helen Mirren, who starred with Freeman, in Red, followed him to introduce a clip package of Morgan's films.

"I can't really tell you how it feels to be up here to be touted by a woman I love so much," Freeman responded once he took the stage. "And Sidney, Mr. Poitier, being up here receiving this award, this tribute that you yourself received, getting it from you, makes it clear to me that though they call it the Cecil B. DeMille Award, in my house it will also be known as the Sidney Poiter Award."

The night's tally:

The Artist - 3
The Descendants - 2
The Help - 1
The Iron Lady - 1
Beginners - 1
W.E. - 1
A Separation - 1
The Adventures of Tintin - 1
Midnight in Paris - 1
My Week With Marilyn - 1
Hugo - 1

Homeland - 2
Mildred Pierce - 1
Downton Abbey - 1
Enlightened - 1
Boss - 1
Episodes - 1
Luther - 1
Game of Thrones - 1
American Horror Story - 1
Modern Family - 1