The cowboy romance “Brokeback Mountain” led the Golden Globes on Monday with four prizes, including best dramatic film and the directing honor for Ang Lee.
It was a triumphant night for films dealing with homosexuality and transsexuality. Along with the victories for “Brokeback Mountain,” acting honors went to Felicity Huffman in a gender-bending role as a man preparing for sex-change surgery in “Transamerica” and Philip Seymour Hoffman as gay author Truman Capote in “Capote.”
“I know as actors our job is usually to shed our skins, but I think as people our job is to become who we really are and so I would like to salute the men and women who brave ostracism, alienation and a life lived on the margins to become who they really are,” Huffman said.
The Johnny Cash biography “Walk the Line” won the Globe for best musical or comedy film and earned acting honors for stars Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.
Director Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain,” the story of two rugged Western family men (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) concealing their affair, has emerged as a front-runner for the Oscars — which occasionally have handed out top acting prizes for performers in homosexual or gender-bending roles but have never given the best-picture Oscar to a gay-themed film.
Oscar nominations come out Jan. 31, with the awards presented March 5.
“Brokeback Mountain” also won for best screenplay and song, “A Love That Will Never Grow Old.”
Phoenix and Witherspoon won for best actor and actress in a movie musical or comedy for the biopic that follows country legend Cash’s career and his long courtship with the love of his life, June Carter.
The Globe audience clapped along to Cash’s song “I Walk the Line” as Phoenix took the stage.
“Who would ever have thought that I would win in the comedy or musical category?” said Phoenix, poking fun at his image for dark, brooding roles. “Not expected.”
Phoenix, who did his own singing in the film, thanked “John and June for sharing their life with all of us.”
“This film is really important to me,” said Witherspoon, who offers a spirited performance and fine singing as Carter. “It’s about where I grew up, it’s about the music I grew up listening to, so it’s very meaningful.”
George Clooney, who was among the directing nominees for “Good Night, and Good Luck,” won the supporting-actor Globe for the oil-industry thriller “Syriana” and Rachel Weisz earned the supporting-actress prize for the murder thriller “The Constant Gardener.”
“Syriana” spins a convoluted story of multiple characters caught up in a web of deceit, greed, corruption and power-brokering over Middle Eastern oil supplies. Clooney plays a fiercely devoted CIA undercover agent who comes to question his country’s actions in the region.
Clooney thanked writer-director Stephen Gaghan for a movie “that asks a lot of difficult questions.”
There are similar corporate undertones to “The Constant Gardener,” in which Weisz plays a humanitarian-aid worker whose husband (Ralph Fiennes) is drawn into a dogged investigation of business interests connected to her murder.
“I share this with Ralph Fiennes,” said Weisz. “One couldn’t ask for a more magical, a more magical, committed actor.”
“Brokeback Mountain” won the screenplay award for Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. McMurtry thanked his constant companion during the lonely process of writing.
“Most heartfelt, I thank my typewriter. My typewriter is a Hermes 3000, surely one of the noblest instruments of European genius,” McMurtry said.
The Palestinian film “Paradise Now,” a dark tale of two Arab friends tapped to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel, won the prize for foreign-language film.
There’s no need for jealousy on the set of “Desperate Housewives.” The Golden Globes avoided anointing any of the four leads as best actress Monday in favor of Mary-Louise Parker of Showtime’s “Weeds.”
Parker, who plays a suburban drug dealer on the low-profile premium cable show, competed for the best comic actress award against Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Eva Longoria of TV’s top-rated comedy. Hatcher won last year.
“I thought we were all kind of desperate housewives,” Parker said backstage. “Mine was just a little more desperate than they were.”
“Desperate Housewives” won the Globe for best comedy, however. “Lost,” which has also helped transform ABC from an also-ran to a hot network, took the award for best drama.
“Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the consideration,” said “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof, “and the open bar.”
The two drama acting winners — Geena Davis of “Commander in Chief” and Hugh Laurie of “House” — showed their talents for comedy in acceptance speeches true to the impish, often lubricated spirit of the Golden Globes.
Davis, who portrays President Mackenzie Allen on the rookie ABC show, said a little girl in a party dress told her on the way into the show that “because of you, I want to be president some day.”
The audience reacted with a theatrical “ahhhhhh.”
“That didn’t actually happen,” Davis said, “but it could have. It very well could have.”
Laurie, who masks his British accent to play the brilliant but difficult doctor in “House,” said he had 172 people to thank. So he said he wrote their names on slips of paper and would choose three at random. He thanked the show’s script supervisor, hair stylist and, finally, his agent.
“That’s not my handwriting,” he said. “Oh, he’s good.”
Steve Carell, whose surprise win for actor in a comedy could boost NBC’s struggling “The Office,” trumped them both.
“Wow!” he said. “I really did not expect this so I didn’t write anything. However, my wife did and handed me this.”
To growing laughs, Carell thanked his wife four times for, among other things, giving him two wonderful children “as painful as her labor might have been.”
The HBO miniseries about a struggling New England town, “Empire Falls,” won a Globe, and so did venerated actor Paul Newman for his supporting role as the father figure.
Elvis Presley was in the building, spiritually at least, when Jonathan Rhys-Meyers won best actor in a TV movie for the lead in CBS’ “Elvis.” S. Epatha Merkerson, who played a rooming house operator in HBO’s “Lackawanna Blues,” won best actress in a TV movie.
“I feel like I’m 16,” said Merkerson, 53. “And if I weren’t in the middle of a hot flash, I’d believe that.
The bubbly Sandra Oh of ABC’s hit medical soap opera “Grey’s Anatomy” almost lost sight of the stage in trying to retrieve her supporting actress award.
“I feel like someone set me on fire!” she said.
The Globes are awarded by the relatively small Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has about 80 members, compared with the 5,800 film professionals eligible to vote for the Oscars.
Still, the Globes have an excellent track record at predicting the Oscars. Globe winners catch momentum that can boost their chances come Oscar night.