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THE GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS

'American Beauty' wins top Globes while acting awards are scattered among films that emphasize the resilient human spirit.

January 24, 2000|ROBERT W. WELKOS and SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

In a year when Hollywood tried not only to entertain but educate and enlighten movie audiences, the Golden Globes were awarded Sunday night to films that dealt with social injustice, the human drama, dark satire and even an odd assortment of toys with a heart and a mission.

"American Beauty," a bleak fable about a middle-age Everyman stuck in a boring job and a loveless marriage, won three Golden Globes--including best feature-length drama, director and screenplay. The win vaulted the Sam Mendes-directed film to the head of the pack in the all-important Academy Awards race.

"Toy Story 2," the hugely popular sequel to Disney/Pixar's animated 1995 blockbuster, "Toy Story," also captured best film honors for a musical or comedy, beating out such live-action films as "Being John Malkovich" and "Notting Hill." Two other Disney-animated legends--"Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King"--were previous winners.

In television, cable flexed its muscles as shows like "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City" and movies like "RKO 281" and "Inherit the Wind" beat out the network competition.

The 57th annual Golden Globes, one of the glittering party events of the year in the film and television communities, were broadcast on NBC from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Though usually known for its unpredictability and raucous atmosphere, the three-hour event this year was more emotional than rowdy. At one point, former boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, now free after spending two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit, stood before a crowd of celebrities and television viewers everywhere as Denzel Washington, who portrayed Carter in the movie "The Hurricane," placed his hand on his shoulder and said, "This man is love."

Washington was named best actor in a drama for his portrayal of Carter's pursuit of justice. Washington is the first black performer to win a Golden Globe in this category since Sidney Poitier did it 36 years ago for "Lilies of the Field."

A true underdog--Hilary Swank--won best actress in a drama for her role as a woman murdered in a small Nebraska town after leading a double life as a man in the film "Boys Don't Cry." With cropped hair and a mannish demeanor, Swank's portrayal of the real-life Brandon Teena has already won a lion's share of critics' awards.

In her acceptance speech, Swank, 25, took note of the late Teena's memory, thanking him for inspiration and saying, "He will always be in my heart." Backstage, she added that after the filming, "I felt like I had lost every ounce of my femininity. I was floating between genders."

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In the comedy or musical category, Jim Carrey and Janet McTeer took best actor and actress honors. Carrey, ever the clown prince of Hollywood and a favorite of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which sponsors the Golden Globes, took home his second statuette in two years, this time for his dead-on impression as the bizarre and unpredictable comedian Andy Kaufman in "Man on the Moon." Last year, Carrey won best actor in a drama for "The Truman Show," but the prize he really coveted--an Oscar nomination--never materialized.

Backstage, he remarked that "Man on the Moon" is the kind of role that comes along rarely in an actor's career.

"There will never be another one like this," he noted. "It was just such a tremendous odyssey. I've never thrown myself into something so drastically. I'm going to take six months off and live a life."

Tony Award-winning British actress McTeer won as best actress in a comedy or musical for the small, independent film "Tumbleweeds" as a much-married, carefree divorcee with a much more stable young daughter. The role demanded that McTeer shed her upper-class British accent for an earthy Southern twang.

In two of the evening's most hotly contested races, superstar Tom Cruise and rising young actress Angelina Jolie walked off with statuettes for their supporting performances.

Cruise won a Golden Globe for his fiery role as a sexist self-help lecturer in Paul Thomas Anderson's ensemble drama "Magnolia." Ironically, a year ago, Hollywood insiders would have thought that Cruise would be a shoo-in for a best actor nomination for the much-anticipated Stanley Kubrick film "Eyes Wide Shut," but that movie failed to match expectations, both critically and financially.

"Wow, I didn't expect this," said Cruise, who also won a Golden Globe a decade ago as best dramatic actor in "Born on the Fourth of July" and, in 1997, as best comedy actor in "Jerry Maguire."

Jolie, daughter of past Golden Globe winner Jon Voight, captured the foreign press' heart with her vulnerable yet manipulative patient in an institution for troubled girls in "Girl, Interrupted." Jolie previously won Golden Globes for HBO's "Gia" and TNT's "George Wallace."

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