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The Golden Globes: 'The Social Network' Dominates; Ricky Gervais Needles

In this handout photo provided by NBC, Host Ricky Gervais speaks onstage during the Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC via Getty Images)
Getty Images
In this handout photo provided by NBC, Host Ricky Gervais speaks onstage during the Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC via Getty Images)

When Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globe Awards in 2010, many speculated about whether his jokes would be daring, but after the fact, the general sense was that he'd been very well behaved and avoided any major landmines.

Not this year.

Everything people expected to hear last year, he did this year. His very first joke poked fun at Charlie Sheen's various (and seemingly serious) personal problems. His second went another direction, saying that everything this year was in 3D, so everything was three-dimensional "except the characters in The Tourist" -- a film nominated for several Golden Globes. Gervais went on to openly reference the lawsuit filed this week claiming the Globes give out nominations in exchange for bribes, and he hung it around the neck of The Tourist -- exactly the kind of nomination that raises eyebrows.

From introducing Bruce Willis by naming all his worst-regarded films as well as introducing him as "Ashton Kutcher's dad" (Kutcher is married to Willis' ex-wife Demi Moore) to a bit of patter late in the show where he described two presenters by stating that one was the star of Philadelphia, Apollo 13, Cast Away, and other successful films, and "the other is Tim Allen," Gervais was pretty relentless with the crowd. That's not even getting into the crude visuals that accompanied his riff on Hugh Hefner's marriage, which would have probably been treated with the visual equivalent of the mute button (which was pretty heavily used on Sunday night for swearing of all kinds) if there were such a thing.

Gervais got a little pushback after introducing Robert Downey, Jr. for his many fine films, but telling the audience they'd probably know him better "from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and the Los Angeles County Jail." Downey walked out and addressed the audience for himself, saying, "Aside from the fact that it's been hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I'd say the vibe of the show's pretty good so far, wouldn't you?" At first, he seemed like he might be legitimately mad (actors in these situations always seem to be 50 percent kidding, with the problem being that that's plus or minus about 20 percent), but Downey then rattled off a lengthy set of crass sex jokes about various actresses, so he can't have been too offended.

Gervais was certainly being himself, and no one should have been entirely surprised, but there is a line between the good, naughty kind of discomfort with a riffing comedian and the "I suddenly wish I weren't in this room" level of true awkwardness, and a couple of times, it seemed that Gervais might have crossed it. But then, it's Hollywood, so the odds of a terribly straight answer are probably slim.

As for the actual awards, the night's big winner was The Social Network, which took home the screenplay and directing awards, and the one for the best dramatic film. Dramatic lead acting awards went to Colin Firth for The King's Speech, Natalie Portman for Black Swan, while the awards for supporting actors went to Melissa Leo and Christian Bale, both for The Fighter.

The award for the best animated film went to Toy Story 3, which pulled out a win over strong contenders like Tangled and How To Train Your Dragon, and the award for the best comedy or musical film went to The Kids Are All Right, in a field that had generally been regarded as weak for including pictures like Burlesque and Red. Annette Bening also took home an award for her performance in the film, while Paul Giamatti won the award for lead actor in a comedy for Barney's Version.

On the television side, Glee also had a strong showing, with awards for supporting actress (Jane Lynch), supporting actor (Chris Colfer), and Best Television Series (Comedy Or Musical). One surprise came to Katey Sagal, who won the award for leading actress in a TV drama for her role in Sons Of Anarchy, for which she's been denied Emmy nominations in the past to much critical grumbling.

HBO's Boardwalk Empire snagged awards for drama series (over contenders like Mad Men and The Walking Dead) and for its lead actor, Steve Buscemi. Awards for lead actor and actress in a comedy series went to Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory and Laura Linney for the new Showtime series The Big C.

It was not a night of big surprises -- except perhaps for those who expected the same tamped-down Ricky Gervais they saw last year.

We live-blogged the event with an energetic crowd of Monkey See readers; feel free to relive the whole thing below.

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.
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