Dramatic performance honors went to Jack Nicholson for playing a depressed retiree in "About Schmidt" and Nicole Kidman for her role as suicidal writer Virginia Woolf in "The Hours."
"I don't know whether to be happy or ashamed because I thought we made a comedy," Nicholson said. The tragicomic "About Schmidt" features him as an aging man searching for meaning at the end of his life.
Kidman, who disguised her face with prosthetics for the role, said she was just glad "The Hours" was made into a film. "It was a tricky movie in terms of the subject matter," she said.
It also took almost three decades to bring the stage musical "Chicago" to the big screen. But as the big winner at last night's "Golden Globe" Awards, it was worth the wait. Co-stars Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere won for best musical-comedy acting.
"I'm elated. I can't explain it. I couldn't believe I got the job with all the talented performers out there," Zellweger said to The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen.
The award was Gere's first. He said it was something he did not expect:
"I tried to think it's not a big deal. But it's joyous." Interestingly, at the beginning, Gere said, did not want to play the slick lawyer in the sexy, hip-swiveling musical.
"I saw the stage piece. I said, 'How do you make this into a movie,' which is why it's been sitting there for the last 20 years or so. No one could figure out how to do it," he said.
Gere paid tribute to co-star Zellweger: "If you have the vaudeville stage, you put that into Roxie Hart's mind. And you've got the raunchy, down and dirty kind of thing, which is all, you know, everything that excites us all," Gere said.
Zellweger noted "it was all about trying everything and seeing what would happen and 'Maybe if' and 'Hey, how about that?' We were all wrapped up in the lights and costumes and watching all our friends blossom around us in so many different ways, expressing themselves in many different ways you never thought you could."
Her acceptance speech was scribbled on a piece of notepad paper. Asked when she wrote it, Zellweger said she did it while applying her makeup. "I thought, 'Oh, God. That's why I'm going. Oh, God, there's a chance I might need to say something and I better not forget to thank somebody in case I do,'" she said.
Asked how will she celebrate her win? Zellweger said, "Champagne, champagne, with my friends."
The film "Adaptation" took home both trophies in the "supporting actor" categories. A surprised and jet-lagged Meryl Streep nearly tripped on her way to the podium.
"Oh my God, I've just been nominated 789 times and I was getting so settled over there for a long winter's nap," she said. "I didn't have anything prepared because it's been like (since) the Pleistocene era that I won anything."
The actress last won a Golden Globe in 1983, for "Sophie's Choice." (She's won two others, for "The French Lieutenant's Woman" in 1982 and "Kramer vs. Kramer" in 1980.)
"It was a great movie to work on, it felt small, not like it had great portent," she said about "Adaptation." Chris Cooper did not expect to win either. "I think we tied for being surprised," he said.
Cooper played a stringy-haired and toothless orchid poacher chronicled in Orlean's book. He offered his thanks, saying: "You've given millions and millions of stringy-haired and toothless people a lot of hope."
He also thanked co-star Nicolas Cage as well as "Nic Cage," a reference to Cage's portrayal of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and his fictitious twin brother, Donald.
Kaufman lost the best screenplay prize, however, to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for "About Schmidt," adapted from the novel by Louis Begley and starring Jack Nicholson as a retiree looking for meaning in his life.
Many times nominated, Martin Scorsese finally took home the gold as Best Director for "Gangs of New York," a film he's wanted to make for 35 years.
"It feels great, for any picture, but for this one especially. The recognition helps for more people to see it," Scorsese said.
Irish rockers U2 won the best movie song award for "The Hands That Built America" from "Gangs of New York" and composer Elliot Goldenthal received the best original score award for "Frida."
The Pedro Almodovar-directed Spanish drama "Talk to Her," about two men in love with comatose women in the same hospital, was chosen best foreign film.
The Golden Globes also honor the best in television. Jennifer Aniston won as Best Actress in a comedy for "Friends." She reportedly broke her toe after running into some furniture, but that didn't hurt nearly as much as forgetting to thank Brad Pitt. "I forgot to thank my husband, I was in the twilight zone," she said.
The TV comedy actor's trophy went to Tony Shalhoub for the USA detective show "Monk."
The Golden Globes, broadcast live on NBC, is renowned as one of Hollywood's biggest parties, where participants are encouraged to be spontaneous and irreverent.
"You have no idea how many men I've had to sleep with to get this award," said Kim Cattrall, who won in the TV supporting actress category for her role as the most promiscuous of the four women on "Sex and the City."
"The Shield" won for best TV drama, upsetting such major shows as "The Sopranos" and "The West Wing," and its star, Michael Chiklis, was named best actor in a drama series. His Golden Globe follows his surprise Emmy victory last year for playing a rogue cop on the violent, profanity-laced series on the little-watched FX cable channel.
HBO's acerbic sitcom "Curb Your Enthusiasm" won best TV comedy series. "This is a sad day for the Golden Globes. It is however, quite a good day for Larry David," joked David, the show's star and executive producer. "I suspect the wife will be a little forthcoming tonight."
The dramatic TV actress award went to Edie Falco for her performance as the unhappy wife of gangster Tony Soprano in HBO's "The Soprano." Gasping that she was suffering from laryngitis, she accepted her award by flapping her hands and whispering, "I can't talk."
Gene Hackman accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award, which honors the star of "The Conversation" and "Crimson Tide" for his career spanning more than 80 films. His roles in "The French Connection" and "Unforgive" won him both Golden Globes and Academy Awards and he received an additional Golden Globe honor last year for the comedy "The Royal Tenenbaums."
Golden Globe honors are chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's roughly 90 members, who cover Hollywood for overseas publications.
LIST OF WINNERS:
Drama: "The Hours."
Director: Martin Scorsese, "Gangs of New York."
Actor, Drama: Jack Nicholson, "About Schmidt."
Actress, Drama: Nicole Kidman, "The Hours."
Musical or Comedy: "Chicago."
Actor, Musical or Comedy: Richard Gere, "Chicago."
Actress, Musical or Comedy: Renee Zellweger, "Chicago."
Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper, "Adaptation."
Supporting Actress: Meryl Streep, "Adaptation."
Foreign Language Film: "Talk to Her," Spain.
Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, "About Schmidt."
Score: Elliot Goldenthal, "Frida."
Original Song: U2, "The Hands That Built America" from "Gangs of New York."
Drama Series: "The Shield," FX.
Actor, Drama: Michael Chiklis, "The Shield," FX.
Actress, Drama: Edie Falco, "The Sopranos," HBO.
Musical or Comedy Series: "Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO.
Actor, Musical or Comedy Series: Tony Shalhoub, "Monk," USA.
Actress, Musical or Comedy Series: Jennifer Aniston, "Friends," NBC.
Miniseries or Movie Made for Television: "The Gathering Storm," HBO.
Actor, Miniseries or Movie Made for Television: Albert Finney, "The Gathering Storm," HBO.
Actress, Miniseries or Movie Made for Television: Uma Thurman, "Hysterical Blindness," HBO.
Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie Made for Television: Donald Sutherland, "Path to War," HBO.
Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie Made for Television: Kim Cattrall, "Sex and the City," HBO.