Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer won acting honours and Martin Scorsese earned the directing prize at Golden Globe Awards on Sunday.

Williams won for best actress in a musical or comedy as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, 52 years after Monroe’s win for the same prize at the Globes.

George Clooney won the Golden Globe for best actor in a movie drama for The Descendants. The film also won the Golden Globe for best movie drama.

British comedian Ricky Gervais, who has ruffled feathers at past shows with sharp wisecracks aimed at Hollywood’s elite and the Globes show itself, returned as host for the third-straight year.

Plummer takes supporting Globe

The supporting-acting Globes went to Plummer as an elderly widower who comes out as gay in the father—son drama Beginners and Spencer as a brassy housekeeper joining other black maids to share stories about life with their white employers in the 1960s Deep South tale The Help.

“With regard to domestics in this country, now and then, I think Dr. King said it best- ‘All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.’ And I thank you for recognizing that with our film,” Spencer said.

Scorsese won for the Paris adventure Hugo. It was the third directing Globe in the last 10 years for Scorsese, who previously won for Gangs of New York and The Departed and received the show’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement two years ago.

He won over a field of contenders that included Michel Hazanavicius, who had been considered by many in Hollywood as a favourite for his black-and-white silent film The Artist.

Williams offered thanks for giving her the same award Monroe once won and joked that her young daughter put up with bedtime stories for six months spoken in Monroe’s voice.

“I consider myself a mother first and an actress second, so the person I most want to thank is my daughter, my little girl, whose bravery and exuberance is the example I take with me in my work and my life,” Williams said.

The Artist, which led the Globes with six nominations, won the musical-score prize for composer Ludovic Bource but lost out on three other awards, including the screenplay prize for Michel Hazanavicius. Wins for The Artist included best actor in a musical or comedy for Jean Dujardin.

Woody Allen won the screenplay honor for his romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris, the filmmaker’s biggest hit in decades. Never a fan of movie awards, Allen was a no—show at the Globes, where he previously won the screenplay honor for 1985’s The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Academy Awards

The wins boost Williams, Spencer and Plummer’s prospects for slots at next month’s Academy Awards, whose nominations come out Jan. 24.

The Oscars are an honour for which Monroe herself never was nominated, though she was a two—time nominee at the Globes and won for best actress in a musical or comedy for 1959’s Some Like It Hot.

In My Week with Marilyn, Williams plays Monroe as an insecure performer struggling to establish herself as a genuine actress rather than a movie star sexpot just a couple of years before Some Like It Hot. The film chronicles Monroe’s contentious time shooting the 1957 romance The Prince and the Showgirl alongside exasperated director and co-star Laurence Olivier.

Shakespearean actor

Like Monroe, Oscar consideration has been elusive for the 82-year-old Plummer, who has been nominated for Hollywood’s top honor only once in his 60—year career two years ago, for the Leo Tolstoy drama The Last Station.

“I must praise my distinguished competitors, who whom I have the greatest admiration and to whom I apologize most profusely,” said Plummer, who added warm regards to Beginners star and Scottish actor Ewan McGregor. “I want to salute my partner, Ewan, that wily Scot, Ewan ‘My Heart’s in the Highlands’ McGregor, that scene—stealing swine from the outer Hebrides.”

Plummer is regarded as one of the finest Shakespearean stage actors of the last half century. His film roles range from Austrian widower Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music and Tolstoy in The Last Station to newsman Mike Wallace in The Insider and a treacherous Klingon general in Star Trek- The Undiscovered Country. He also co-starred in the current thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Adventures of Tintin

The prize for best animated film went to Steven Spielberg’s action tale The Adventures of Tintin, a Paramount-Sony co—production that dealt the first Globes loss to Disney unit Pixar Animation.

Spielberg thanked his producing partner on the film, The Lord of the Rings creator Peter Jackson, along with both studios behind the film, based on what the director pointed out was a series of picture books by Belgian writer Herge that started 80 years ago.

“I would like to thank two studios that really proved the adage that Peter and I could make the telephone book if we wanted to,” said Spielberg, whose World War I epic War Horse is nominated for best drama.

Foreign-language film

The Iranian drama A Separation was chosen as best foreign-language film. Writer-director Asghar Farhadi uses a divorcing couple’s domestic troubles with a young child and an aging parent as the means to examine gender, religious and class distinctions in contemporary Iran.

Among television winners were Kate Winslet as best actress in a miniseries or movie in Mildred Pierce, Idris Elba as best actor in a miniseries or movie in Luther, Laura Dern as comedy or musical actress in Enlightened, Kelsey Grammer as dramatic actor in Boss, Homeland for drama series and Downton Abbey for miniseries or movie.

The Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of 89 entertainment reporters for overseas outlets.

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Martin ScorseseNovember 24, 2012