LOS ANGELES — The epic musical “Les Miserables” dominated the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night with three trophies, including one for best musical or comedy. But the evening belonged to Ben Affleck.
Affleck’s political thriller “Argo,” about a CIA plot to rescue Americans trapped in Iran in 1979-80, won for best dramatic film and director for Affleck. It was a bit of vindication, perhaps, for the filmmaker, who was surprisingly absent last week when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its Oscar nominations for director.
Since the Oscar snub Thursday, Affleck has not only won a Golden Globe but he also received a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for directing as well.
“Les Miz” was the most honored film of the ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s International Ballroom and telecast live on NBC. Besides best musical or comedy, it won lead actor for Hugh Jackman, who admitted in his acceptance speech that at one point he almost quit the project after a grueling rehearsal. And Anne Hathaway sang her way to a supporting actress win as the tragic Fantine.
With her pixie haircut and tasteful white gown, Hathaway was reminiscent of a young Audrey Hepburn.
“Thank you for this lovely blunt object,” Hathaway told the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. “I’ll forever use it as a weapon against self-doubt.”
The wins for “Les Miz” and “Argo” as well as the two Golden Globes for “Django Unchained” help give those films momentum leading to the Oscars on Feb. 24. But those honors do little to bring clarity to a topsy-turvy awards season that has seen plenty of outstanding movies to choose from — but few clear-cut front-runners.
For example, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” went into the evening with seven Golden Globes nominations — more than any other film. Former President Bill Clinton even appeared to a standing ovation and thunderous applause to introduce the clip for the historical epic. But instead of “Lincoln” by a landslide, the film about the 16th president’s struggle to end the Civil War and slavery won only one honor: lead actor in a drama for Daniel Day-Lewis.
One of the most stunning moments came courtesy Jodie Foster, who took to the stage to give a … retirement speech? A coming-out speech? It was hard to tell. She was receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement when she ramped up to confess that she was … single. And while she seemed to take pains to sidestep addressing her sexual orientation she did thank her ex-partner and co-parent of her two boys, Cydney Bernard.
Her speech was also a rant in favor of privacy that brought many people to its feet. Foster noted that she has lived virtually her entire life in the public eye yet wanted to keep some things private. “I have given everything up there from the time I was 3 years old,” she said. “That is reality enough.”
Even backstage, talking face-to-face with the media, she was cryptic about what, exactly, she was trying to say with her speech. (Memo to Foster: Nothing will destroy an attempt at privacy like telling the world you want to keep your life private.)
In other film awards, Jessica Chastain won lead actress in a drama for her role as a CIA operative who helps track down Osama bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty.” Jennifer Lawrence won lead actress in a comedy or musical for “Silver Linings Playbook” for her performance as a widow in the quirky romantic comedy. “I beat Meryl!” Lawrence joked as she accepted the trophy. (Meryl Streep was nominated in the same category, for “Hope Springs.”) Among Lawrence’s thank-yous: “Thank you, Harvey Weinstein, for killing whoever you had to kill to get me up here.”
Christoph Waltz won for supporting actor for playing a bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.”
Tarantino was a surprise screenplay winner for the controversial spaghetti Western set during the slavery era, beating out such favorites as the writers of “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Lincoln,” “Argo” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”
“Wow, I wasn’t expecting this,” said an effusive Tarantino. “I’m happy to be surprised.”
Austria’s “Amour” won foreign language film, and “Brave” won for animated film. Mychael Danna won for writing the score for Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.” Original song went to pop singer Adele and Paul Epworth for “Skyfall,” the title tune for the latest James Bond installment.
On the TV side, the Golden Globes honored Showtime’s “Homeland” and HBO’s “Game Change” and “Girls” with multiple trophies.
“Homeland,” the political thriller that counts President Barack Obama as one of its biggest fans, won its second consecutive award for drama series. Claire Danes won her second-in-a-row Globe for lead dramatic actress in the series. Her co-star, Damian Lewis, took lead actor.
“Game Change,” the drama about then-Gov. Sarah Palin’s run for the vice presidency in 2008, also performed well. It snapped up three awards: miniseries or TV movie, supporting actor for Ed Harris, and lead actress for Julianne Moore for her uncanny channeling of Palin.
“Girls” won best comedy series while its young star and creator, Lena Dunham, won for lead actress. Don Cheadle won lead actor in a comedy series for Showtime’s “House of Lies.” Kevin Costner won lead actor in a miniseries or TV movie for History Channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys.” Maggie Smith won for supporting actress in a TV series, miniseries or movie for playing the acerbic dowager in PBS’ “Downton Abbey.”
After a controversial three-year stint as host, Ricky Gervais turned over the emcee duties to Globe nominees Amy Poehler (“Parks & Recreation”) and Tina Fey (“30 Rock”). The pair were only slightly less irreverent, skewering Hollywood by poking fun of pill-popping Hollywood and “rat-faced” TV types and joking about the controversy surrounding Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Cracked Poehler: “When it comes to torture, I trust the woman who spent three years married to James Cameron.”