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'Atonement' Leads Glitz-Free Globes

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DAVID GERMAIN | January 13, 2008 11:52 PM EST | AP

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The first Golden Globe of the night went to Cate Blanchett for her supporting role in "I'm Not There" _ and that pretty much said it all about the awards ceremony Sunday that was wiped out by the Hollywood writers strike.

Because Blanchett wasn't there. Neither was anyone present to accept the best drama award for "Atonement," the final award of the 31-minute, news conference-style fiasco that raced through 25 winners so fast, it was as if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just wanted to get it over with.

No red carpet, no tipsy stars, and no big winners. "Atonement" led the field with seven nominations but won only twice, tying with three other films for the most honors.

But atonement was also on the minds of awards presenters who hope feuding producers and writers might mend fences so Hollywood can get back to business. After announcing the tragic period romance as best drama winner, the chief overseer of the Globes made a bold promise.

"Rest assured that next year, the Golden Globe awards will be back bigger and better than ever," said HFPA president Jorge Camara. The association was forced to curtail its glitzy televised banquet into a breakneck news conference without a nominee in sight.

"I wish circumstance would allow me to be there," said Blanchett, the supporting actress winner for the Bob Dylan tale "I'm Not There," in a statement after what's sure to go down as one of the strangest awards shows in the annals of Hollywood. Instead of the usual three hours of star-studded back-slapping that drags on forever, this one flew by in half an hour, with no winners on hand and prizes announced by TV entertainment show hosts.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd be up here," said E!'s Giuliana Rancic. She added that she supports the striking Writers Guild of America, "not because without the strike there'd be no way I'd ever be standing up here at the Golden Globes presenting. ... Next year I hope it's extremely different from this year."

Actors and filmmakers skipped the Golden Globes because of the two-month-old strike by the guild, which had planned pickets outside the show if organizers had tried to do their usual televised ceremony. Globe planners and NBC canceled the three-hour bash in favor of the news conference, attended by about 600 politely clapping journalists, TV crews, HFPA members, guests and publicists in business attire.

"We all hope that the writers strike will be over soon so that everyone can go back to making good movies and television programs which is what the Golden Globes were designed to celebrate," Camara said at the start of the show.

Besides "Atonement," three other films also won two awards: the crime saga "No Country for Old Men," the bloody musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" and the personal memoir "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."

"Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press," "No Country for Old Men" co-star Javier Bardem said in a statement after he was named best supporting actor for his role as a merciless killer. "It is a great honor to have been recognized with this award in a time when there are so many outstanding performances in this category." The film also won the screenplay honor for writer-directors Ethan and Joel Coen.

"Sweeney Todd" was picked as best musical or comedy and earned Johnny Depp the Globe for best actor in the musical-comedy category. "Diving Bell" was named best foreign-language film and received the directing honor for Julian Schnabel.

Among other winners: Daniel Day-Lewis, best dramatic actor for the historical epic "There Will Be Blood"; Marion Cotillard, best musical or comedy actress for the Edith Piaf saga "La Vie En Rose"; and Julie Christie, best dramatic actress for the Alzheimer's drama "Away From Her."

The rodent tale "Ratatouille" _ directed by Brad Bird, who made Academy Award winner "The Incredibles" _ was named best animated film.

Among TV recipients, Jeremy Piven won for his supporting role as an acerbic agent in HBO's "Entourage," his first win after three previous nominations. Samantha Morton supporting actress for "Longford."

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder won the prize for best original song in a movie for "Guaranteed," featured in director Sean Penn's road drama "Into the Wild."

On strike since Nov. 5, the Writers Guild refused to let union members work on the Globes. Although the guild called off pickets it had planned outside the news conference, the strike left one of Hollywood's brightest and giddiest nights in shambles.

"It was short and sweet, wasn't it?" said Glenn Close, who won best TV drama actress for "Damages." "It was so weird because usually there's a little more time before these announcements, it happened very fast."

Despite the gowns and formal wear, the Globes are known as a freewheeling cousin of the Academy Awards, a place where stars can have a few drinks and cut loose as they celebrate the year's achievements in film and television.

The news conference format was a far cry from that, and would set an underwhelming precedent for what's to come this awards season: The fate of Hollywood's biggest night, the Feb. 24 Oscars, remains uncertain, as guild leader Patric Verrone has said writers would not be allowed to work on that show, either, which could force stars to make an even tougher choice.

Oscar organizers insist their show will come off as planned, with or without the writers.

"Sweeney Todd" producer Richard Zanuck, an Oscar winner for "Driving Miss Daisy," said he watched the Globes at his son's house in "Levis and tennis shoes instead of the tuxedo, which had been all pressed and ready to go."

Zanuck said that while he commiserates with writers, he expects that either the strike will end before the Oscars, or the guild will agree to let members work on the show.

"I don't think they want to be responsible," Zanuck said, "in bringing the most important event in the motion-picture industry each year down to its knees."

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