Mo'Nique won the supporting-actress Golden Globe Sunday for her role as a loathsome, abusive welfare mother in the Harlem drama "Precious," while the blockbuster "Up" came away with the award for animated film.
The prize marks a dramatic turning point for Mo'Nique, who was mainly known for lowbrow comedy but startled audiences with her ferocious performance in "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' By Sapphire."
The Globe win could boost Mo'Nique's prospects at the Academy Awards, whose nominations come out Feb. 2.
"First let me say, thank you, God, for this amazing ride that you're allowing me to go on," the tearful Mo'Nique told the crowd.
She went on with gushing praise for "Precious" director Lee Daniels and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, a best dramatic actress nominee at the Globes with her first film role, playing Mo'Nique's abused, illiterate daughter.
"Lee Daniels, the world gets a chance to see how brilliant you are. You are a brilliant, fearless, amazing director who would not waver, and thank you for trusting me," Mo'Nique said. "To Gabby, sister, I am in awe of you. Thank you for letting me play with you."
The Globes were a mix of far-out fantasy and ripped-from-the-headlines reality at the Golden Globes, Hollywood's first major film honors that will help sort out the Oscar picture.
Contenders for best drama include two wildly make-believe adventures, the science-fiction spectacle "Avatar" and the war story "Inglourious Basterds," which rewrites the end of World War II with a gleefully vengeful bloodbath at a movie premiere.
Also competing are timely dramas of the war on terror ("The Hurt Locker") and economic hard times ("Up in the Air"), along with the grim but inspiring "Precious," with Sidibe as a Harlem teen struggling to lift herself out of an abyss of neglect.
Films from Pixar Animation, the Disney outfit that made "Up," have won all four prizes for animated movies since the Globes introduced the category in 2006. Past Pixar winners are "WALL-E," "Ratatouille" and "Cars."
"Up" features the voice of Ed Asner in a tale of a lonely, bitter widower who renews his zest for adventure by flying his house off under helium balloons to South America, where he encounters his childhood hero and a hilarious gang of talking canines.
"When it came to finding the heart of the film, we didn't have to look very hard," said "Up" director Pete Docter. "Our inspiration was all around us. Our grandparents, our parents, our wives, our kids. Our talking dogs."
The rain-drenched red carpet was a rare sight for an awards show in sunny southern California, stars in their finery getting damp under umbrellas as storms swept the region.
The Globes got a makeover, featuring Ricky Gervais as master of ceremonies, the first time in 15 years the show had a host.
Gervais opened by mocking Steve Carell, star of the U.S. version of "The Office," based on Gervais' British comedy series. While a stone-faced Carell watched, Gervais yammered on about how fans love Carell and wonder where he gets his ideas from.
Carell then mouthed and pantomimed, "I will break you," to Gervais, an executive producer on the U.S. version of the show.
Gervais joked about the international causes near and dear to Hollywood stars internationally.
"You can be a little Asian child with no possessions and see a picture of Angelina Jolie and you think, `mommy,'" he said.
Gervais also jokingly marveled that his 2009 comedy "The Invention of Lying" was not nominated. The movie bombed with critics and audiences.
Umbrellas were a must-have accessory for celebrities walking the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton Hotel as southern California's dry winter suddenly turned wet.
"It's raining a lot — I'm worried that my tattoos are going to start showing," actress Tina Fey joked to Ryan Seacrest during a red carpet show broadcast by E! television.
George Clooney didn't let the showers stop him from stepping out into the rain to sign autographs for fans.
With stars sharing dinner and drinks, the Globes traditionally are a loose and relaxed affair compared to the courtly Oscars. Celebrities sometimes are caught more in reality-show mode — Jack Nicholson once mooned the crowd for a laugh, and Christine Lahti had to rush from the restroom to collect her Globe for the TV drama "Chicago Hope."
Also unlike other Hollywood film honors, the Globes feature categories for musicals and comedies along with dramas. Nominated for best musical or comedy are the Vegas bachelor romp "The Hangover," the Julia Child tale "Julie & Julia," the musical "Nine" and the romances "(500) Days of Summer" and "It's Complicated."
Among acting nominees are Meryl Streep for both "Julie & Julia" and "It's Complicated," Sandra Bullock for both "The Blind Side" and "The Proposal" and Matt Damon for both "The Informant!" and "Invictus."
Others include Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick for "Up in the Air," Morgan Freeman for "Invictus," Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz for "Nine" and Robert Downey Jr. for "Sherlock Holmes."
Martin Scorsese, who won the best-director Globe three years ago for "The Departed," is receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement.
Sunday's winners could get a last-minute boost for the Oscars, whose nominations balloting closes Saturday. Last year's big Globe winner, "Slumdog Millionaire," went on to dominate the Oscars.
The Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 90 reporters covering show business for overseas outlets. The show airs live on NBC.
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