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Golden Globes: If It's Not Cash, It's On the Ledger

17 Jan, 2006 By: Gregg Kilday

Brokeback Mountain

The thwarted romance of Brokeback Mountain seduced the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which awarded the movie four trophies Monday night at the 63rd annual Golden Globe Awards, including best motion picture drama.

But while Focus Features' Brokeback was the evening's undisputed leader, corralling four of the seven categories in which it was nominated, it didn't dominate the proceedings.

On the musical side, 20th Century Fox's Johnny Cash saga Walk the Line was nearly as buoyant, picking up three awards, including best motion picture — musical or comedy.

As for the television contests, ABC and Touchstone TV cleaned up with drama and comedy series wins for "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," respectively, in addition to acting nods for "Commander in Chief" star Geena Davis and "Grey's Anatomy's" Sandra Oh. HBO's Empire Falls prevailed in the movie/miniseries competition.

Producer James Schamus, co-president of Focus Features, stressed the American-ness of Brokeback as he enjoyed the best picture win. He gave a large measure of credit to "two great Americans, (co-screenwriter) Larry McMurtry and (short story writer) Annie Proulx."

Accepting the best directing award from Clint Eastwood, Brokeback's Ang Lee recognized that the moment had a special symbolic value. As an actor and director, Eastwood may have once embodied the Western, but as he welcomed Lee to the stage at the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, it was as if he was handing over the Western to whole new set of meanings. Taiwan native Lee — who took home the same award for his martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — said: "This has been an amazing year for American cinema. I just want to give my first thanks to my fellow filmmakers for strengthening my faith in movies, in the power of movies to change the way we're thinking."

Best dramatic acting honors went to the Huffman/Hoffman juggernaut, as Felicity Huffman was named best dramatic actress for embodying a man in the process of becoming a woman in Transamerica and Philip Seymour Hoffman was named best actor for playing Truman Capote in Capote.

Cheered on by her "Desperate Housewives" castmates, Huffman thanked Transamerica's writer-director, Duncan Tucker, for creating the character of Bree, a transgendered person connecting with her past. "Duncan Tucker wrote a film about coming home to your family and your community and ultimately to yourself," she said. She also offered, "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."

Honored for Capote, Hoffman credited the film's screenwriter, Dan Futterman, and director, Bennett Miller, as "two of the smartest men I know" — though he said that hadn't earned them the best seats in the Globes' hierarchy of celebrity. "I just was given the best part of my life," he said. "And I know that."

Walk the Line, though it offers as many dramatic moments as tuneful ones in telling the tale of Cash and June Carter, took the prize for best motion picture — musical or comedy. Accepting the award, producer Cathy Konrad credited her husband, James Mangold, the film's director, for sustaining the "decade-long journey it took us to make this movie." Her fellow producer James Keach offered a special shout out to Cash and Carter. "I'm so sad that John and June didn't get to see this movie that they wanted so much to be made," he said.

Jamie Foxx, who was honored last year as best actor in a musical for his performance in Ray, passed the musical baton to Reese Witherspoon for her turn as Carter. "My husband just hit me so hard I almost fell over," Witherspoon said as she took the stage after getting an enthusiastic send-off from spouse Ryan Phillippe. Of the Southern-inflected musical drama, she said, "This film is really important to me. It's about where I grew up. It's about the music I grew up listening to."

About two hours later, Walk's Joaquin Phoenix was called to the stage by John Travolta to accept the trophy for best actor in a motion picture — musical or comedy for his portrayal of Cash. "Who ever thought I'd win in the comedy or musical category?" asked Phoenix, who turned in a brooding, hard-driving performance. In addition to thanking "John and June for sharing their life with us," he also told Mangold, "half of this is for you." "I leaned on you constantly, and I appreciate your hard work."

The Brokeback surge began midway through the evening when the best screenplay award went to McMurtry and Diana Ossana for adapting Proulx's short story. Ossana called it a "genius short story" as she offered thanks to cast, crew and execs at both Focus and its parent company, Universal Pictures. The more taciturn McMurtry thanked his typewriter, a Hermes 3000, saying "it's kept me for 30 years out of the dry embrace of the computer."

Composer Gustavo Santaolalla and lyricist Bernie Taupin picked up best song honors for Brokeback's "A Love That Will Never Grow Old," which is heard briefly in the movie as performed by Emmylou Harris. The composer specifically thanked Lee for "making a beautiful and important picture."

Earlier in the evening, George Clooney kicked off the awards parade when last year's best supporting actress winner, Natalie Portman, opened the envelope to reveal that he was chosen best supporting actor in a motion picture for his role as a CIA operative in Syriana. Clooney also was an exec producer on the political thriller that takes a critical look at the oil industry.

Picking up his second Globe — he won for O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2001 — Clooney cracked, "This is early. I haven't had a drink yet." After thanking writer-director Stephen Gaghan and the film's studio, Warner Bros. Pictures, Clooney couldn't resist throwing in gratuitous thanks to Jack Abramoff, the Washington lobbyist who has agreed to plead guilty to felony charges of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy. "Who would name their kid Jack with the last word 'off' at the end of their last name? No wonder that guy's screwed up," Clooney said, laughing.

Another political thriller, The Constant Gardener, earned best supporting actress honors for Rachel Weisz, who plays an activist who meets a violent end in Africa.

"I share this with (co-star) Ralph Fiennes — one couldn't ask for a more magical, committed actor," she said, before going on to acknowledge director Fernando Meirelles, calling him "an extraordinary director with equal parts talent and humanity."

John Williams, who picked up the best motion picture score award for Memoirs of a Geisha, thanked musicians Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman as well as the film's director, Rob Marshall.

Hany Abu-Assad's Paradise Now, which revolves around two Palestinians recruited to become suicide bombers, was named best foreign film. Expressing his thanks to distributor Warner Independent Pictures "for their taste and courage," Abu-Assad said, "The Palestinians deserve their liberty and equality unconditionally."

Anthony Hopkins was honored with the HFPA's Cecil B. DeMille Award, presented to him by his Proof co-star Gwyneth Paltrow. "I've had the great fortune to work with many great directors, great actors, and I just want to thank them," Hopkins said. He made a special point of praising the film crews with which he has worked — "all that wonderful bunch of anonymous people who work so hard." Before ceding the stage, he added, "It's been a great life. I'm not through yet. Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille."

Queen Latifah opened the show, which this year moved from its traditional Sunday night berth to Monday in order to avoid a ratings showdown with ABC's "Desperate Housewives." Acknowledging the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Latifah pointed out that this past weekend, her movie Last Holiday and Buena Vista Pictures' Glory Road were fittingly among the top films — "both films about African-Americans and their hopes and dreams." She continued, "May Dr. King's dreams and all our dreams continue to come true."

Brokeback's Taupin also recognized the day by dedicating his best song Globe to King.

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