"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 best drama prize for the sweeping ensemble drama that takes place on three continents.
Inarritu's wisecrack was a highlight of a mostly ho-hum Globes ceremony, a show that failed to live up to its reputation as a freewheeling Hollywood soireé 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 Elizabeth II of Britain in "The Queen," while Forest Whitaker took best actor as magnetic but savage Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."
Mirren noted that at age 25 in 1952, Elizabeth "walked into literally the role of a lifetime, and I honestly think this award belongs to her, because I think you fell in love with her, not with me."
Both Mirren and Whitaker have been regarded as Oscar front-runners since their films debuted last fall.
Mirren also won the Globe for best actress in a TV movie or miniseries as England's former monarch in "Elizabeth I."
4The crowd-pleasing musical "Dreamgirls" also won acting honors for Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, its three prizes possibly positioning it as a favorite heading toward the Oscars.
"Babel," a tale of families around the globe linked by tragic events in the African desert, won only best drama, leaving its Oscar prospects somewhat up in the air. Other dramas it beat, including the crime saga "The Departed" and "The Queen," still could challenge for the top Oscar.
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.
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"You do not know how much this does for my confidence," she said laughing. Hudson dedicated her award to the late Florence Ballard, one of the singers from the Supremes on whom her "Dreamgirls" character was based.
3After a decades-long drought in which musicals were virtually absent from Hollywood's lineup, "Dreamgirls" is the third song-and-dance flick to click with audiences in the last five years. "Moulin Rouge" scored a best picture Oscar nomination for 2001, while "Chicago" won best picture for 2003, a feat "Dreamgirls" aims to emulate.
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.
His speech left the crowd in stitches. "Thank you to every American who has not sued me so far," Cohen said, also thanking his fiancé, actress Isla Fisher.