Beverly Hills, Calif. "Babel" won best drama and "Dreamgirls" was named best musical or comedy at Monday's Golden Globes, establishing them as potential front-runners for a showdown at the Academy Awards.
"I swear I have my papers in order, governor, I swear," "Babel" director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of Mexico joked after California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger presented the prize for the sweeping ensemble drama that takes place on three continents.
Inarritu's wisecrack was a highlight of an otherwise ho-hum Globes ceremony, a show that failed to live up to its reputation as a freewheeling Hollywood soiree where stars sometimes cut loose with amusing antics.
The Globes for best dramatic performances were awarded for renditions of two wildly different heads of state: Helen Mirren won best actress as Britain's priggish monarch Elizabeth II in "The Queen," while Forest Whitaker took best actor as magnetic but savage Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."
Both Mirren and Whitaker have been regarded as Oscar front-runners since their films debuted in the fall.
The crowd-pleasing musical "Dreamgirls" also won acting honors for Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, its three prizes possibly positioning it as the nominal favorite heading toward the Oscars.
Murphy, previously a three-time loser in the best-actor category at the Globes, finally won a major Hollywood honor after a 25-year career in which his fast-talking comic persona made him a superstar while critical acceptance eluded him.
"Wow. I'll be damned," said Murphy, who plays a slick soul singer struggling to change with the times and find new relevance as the Motown music scene evolves through the 1960s and '70s.
"People don't come to me with supporting roles," Murphy said backstage. "The reason I responded to this was that it was a great role. I've always been open to it; it just never came to me."
Hudson rose to fame barely two years ago on "American Idol" on the strength of her powerhouse voice, which she uses to great effect in "Dreamgirls," a film that also shows her remarkable acting range, from brassy comedy to heartbreaking pathos as a soaring vocalist in a Supremes-like singing group.
"I had always dreamed but I never ever dreamed this big. This goes far beyond anything I could have ever imagined," said Hudson, who dedicated her award to the late Florence Ballard, one of the singers from the Supremes on whom her "Dreamgirls" character was based.
Sacha Baron Cohen received the Globe for best actor in a movie musical or comedy for his raucous satire "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
In colorful anatomical language, Cohen thanked co-star Kenneth Davitian for a naked-wrestling scene in which the heavyset hairy actor rolls around on top of Cohen, who has to breathe the fetid air from his buttocks.
"Kenneth, if it was not for that rancid bubble, I would not be here today," Cohen said.
Meryl Streep won her sixth Golden Globe, this one as best actress in a musical or comedy for "The Devil Wears Prada," in which she plays the boss from hell at a top fashion magazine.
"I think I've worked with everybody in the room," joked Streep, one of Hollywood's winningest actresses during awards season. "It makes you want to cry with gratitude. Until next year."
Sending big stars home empty-handed, the Golden Globes gave a boost to some television newcomers on Monday, particularly Alec Baldwin and America Ferrera of ABC's "Ugly Betty."
Teary-eyed but smiling widely, Ferrera won the award for best comic actress on TV just a few minutes after the show itself was named best comedy.
It was a true underdog's tale. Ferrera competed against four women who had all been nominated for Golden Globes in the past, including two desperate housewives. ABC had such little faith in "Ugly Betty" initially that it was scheduled for the TV graveyard of Friday nights, until the network sensed a buzz and premiered it on Thursday, where it has flourished.
Ferrera said she hears every day from girls inspired by her character, Betty Suarez, saying it "truly brings a new face to television."
NBC's comedy "30 Rock" hasn't been noticed by many television viewers, but Alec Baldwin's role as a megalomaniac TV network executive has enthralled critics. Monday he won the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy.
"I'm glad this isn't too heavy because I just had hernia surgery," Baldwin said after grabbing his trophy.
Golden Globes winners
¢ Picture, Drama: "Babel"
¢ Actress, Drama: Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
¢ Actor, Drama: Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"
¢ Picture, Musical or Comedy: "Dreamgirls"
¢ Actress, Musical or Comedy: Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"
¢ Actor, Musical or Comedy: Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
¢ Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
¢ Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"
¢ Director: Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"
¢ Movie Screenplay: Peter Morgan, "The Queen"
¢ Foreign Language: "Letters From Iwo Jima," USA/Japan
¢ Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, "The Painted Veil"
¢ Original Song: "The Song of the Heart" from "Happy Feet"
¢ Animated Film: "Cars"
¢ Series, Drama: "Grey's Anatomy," ABC
¢ Actress, Drama: Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"
¢ Actor, Drama: Hugh Laurie, "House"
¢ Series, Musical or Comedy: "Ugly Betty," ABC
¢ Actress, Musical or Comedy: America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty"
¢ Actor, Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
¢ Miniseries or movie: "Elizabeth I," HBO
¢ Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Helen Mirren, "Elizabeth I"
¢ Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Bill Nighy, "Gideon's Daughter"
¢ Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Emily Blunt, "Gideon's Daughter"
¢ Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Jeremy Irons, "Elizabeth I"
¢ Cecil B. DeMille Award: Warren Beatty