By JAKE COYLE
AP Film Writer
The 73rd annual Golden Globes Awards kicked off with a predictably astringent opening monologue from Ricky Gervais, who happily played the part of beer-sipping villain to the starry crowd that he labeled "pill-popping sexual deviant scum."
"I want to do this monologue and then go into hiding. Not even Sean Penn will find me," he said, pausing for a swig. "Snitch."
The first win of the night Sunday was a slight surprise, with Kate Winslet winning best supporting actress for the Aaron Sorkin-penned, box-office dud "Steve Jobs." Winning her fourth Globe in 11 nominations, Winslet triumphed over the lauded Alicia Vikander for "Ex Machina," though Vikander is also contending for best actress in "The Danish Girl."
Citing the crowded categories, Winslet remarked: "What an incredible year for women in film."
The Globes, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press in Beverly Hills, California, began Sunday night with much of Hollywood buzzing over the revelation Saturday that Penn traveled clandestinely to Mexico to interview the drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman for Rolling Stone. Penn was not in attendance Sunday, but surely had Gervais making last-minute changes to his opening monologue.
Gervais, in his fourth time hosting, spared little time before laying into the HFPA and the awards’ network (NBC, which he noted had no nominations), as well as delving into the male anatomy of "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor. He mocked the whole enterprise, assuring losing actors that "no one cares about awards as much as you do."
The Globe award, itself, he said, is "a bit of metal that some confused old journalist wanted to give you to meet you in person and take a selfie." One of his three Globes, Gervais said, he stuffs up his rear.
That didn’t stop Winslet from an exuberant acceptance speech, nor did it mute early winners Rachel Bloom (best actress in a TV series comedy for "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend") and Maura Tierney (best actress in a series, limited series or TV movie for "The Affair"). Best comedy TV series went to Amazon’s "Mozart in the Jungle," which won over the HBO heavyweight "Veep."
Without a runaway favorite for this year’s top Academy Award, a handful of key contenders will be looking to the Globes for a little traction on the road to the Oscars. Academy Award nominees will be announced Thursday.
Among the nominees with the most to gain from a best-picture win when the Globes are handed out are "Mad Max: Fury Road," ”The Revenant" and "Spotlight" in the drama category, and "The Big Short" and "The Martian" in the comedy category.
The five films are the only Globe best picture nominees in either category to also appear on the Producers Guild of America’s list of 10 best picture nominees announced this past week. There has never been an Oscar best picture winner that hasn’t also been on the PGA’s list of best picture nominees since the guild started handing out awards in 1990.
Other nominees in the Globes’ top two categories this year are the dramas "Carol" and "Room," and "Joy," ”Spy" and "Trainwreck" in the comedy category.
"The Revenant," starring the best-actor favorite Leonardo DiCaprio, came in buoyed by its $37 million wide-release, good enough to almost topple J.J. Abrams’ box-office juggernaut, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
That film on Wednesday became the highest-grossing movie of all time in North America. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the Golden Globes, announced its nominees a few days before the first industry screening of "Star Wars" in mid-December.
After a 10-year ratings high three years ago, the Golden Globes’ viewership has dipped slightly since, with an audience of 19.3 million tuning in last year.
That, though, is still very strong for the Golden Globes, which have worked to shed an image of eccentric selections made by a group of little-known international journalists. The Globes have instead grown into one of the most popular award show broadcasts of the year, thanks to increasingly credible nominees, its trademark relaxed atmosphere and its unique position as a major awards show that honors both film and television.
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