Christian Bale won the supporting-actor Golden Globe on Sunday for his role as a former boxer whose career unraveled amid drugs and crime in "The Fighter."
The first prize at the Globes, the win boosts the Academy Awards prospects for Bale, the star of Hollywood's current "Batman" franchise, who is favored to win supporting-actor award at the Feb. 27 Oscars.
Bale thanked his collaborators on "The Fighter," among them director David O. Russell and star and producer Mark Wahlberg, who plays boxer Micky Ward to Bale's Dicky Eklund, Ward's older half brother.
"I've really got to give a shout out to Mark, because he drove this whole movie, and you can only give a loud performance like the one I gave when you have a quiet anchor and a stoic character," Bale said. "I've played that one many times, and it never gets any notice."
Bale seems to be on the same awards track as his "Batman" co-star, the late Heath Ledger, was two years ago, when he won supporting actor at the Globes for "The Dark Knight" on the way to earning a posthumous Oscar.
"The Fighter" also is competing for best drama at the Globes, along with "Black Swan," "Inception," "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network." The show did not end in time for this edition.
The regal 1930s saga "The King's Speech" and the contemporary Web tale "The Social Network" are considered the favorites for best drama. "The King's Speech" led the Globes with seven nominations and "The Social Network" dominated awards from top critics groups.
"Boardwalk Empire" won two prizes, for best TV drama and dramatic actor for Steve Buscemi. Other TV winners included Katey Sagal as best actress in a drama for "Sons of Anarchy," Chris Colfer as supporting actor for "Glee" and "Carlos" for best miniseries or movie.
The buzz around town on Globes weekend was not only about about likely winners, but also about a lawsuit filed Thursday by a former longtime publicist for the Globes claiming the organization that runs the show, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, engages in payola schemes for nominations and awards. The allegations have been denied by the HFPA, a group of about 85 reporters covering show business for overseas outlets.
The lineup of presenters during the three-hour show included Kevin Bacon, Sandra Bullock, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Lopez, LL Cool J, Helen Mirren, Robert Pattinson, Kevin Spacey and Bruce Willis.
Colin Firth was considered the likely winner for best dramatic actor for "The King's Speech," in which he plays Queen Elizabeth II's father, George VI, amid his struggle to overcome a debilitating stammer.
Firth's competition included "The Social Network" star Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Internet innovator Mark Zuckerberg as he founds Facebook then falls into legal tussles with former associates over the website's riches.
While Firth also is the front-runner for best actor at the Oscars, the best-actress race could be a tossup between two Globe favorites. Natalie Portman had the edge for Globe dramatic actress as a ballerina coming unhinged in "Black Swan," while Annette Bening was the probable winner for best actress in a musical or comedy for her role as a stern but loving lesbian mom in "The Kids Are All Right."
The Globes ceremony also features such heavyweight nominees as Wahlberg, Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman in the dramatic acting categories and Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Anne Hathaway in the musical or comedy ranks.
Robert De Niro will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement.
Ricky Gervais returned as Globes host for the second straight year. Gervais joked that Globe nominees weren't picked just so that Globe voters could hang out with stars such as Depp.
"They also accepted bribes," Gervais said, referring to the publicist lawsuit.
Philip Berk, who heads the HFPA, made no reference to the lawsuit during his appearance early in the show, simply offering a perfunctory plug for the quality of Hollywood movies.
Gervais had plenty of comedic fodder among the nominees, which included Depp and Jolie's "The Tourist" and Christina Aguilera's "Burlesque." Both films were drubbed by critics but received Globe nominations.
On the red carpet, a sunglasses-clad Gervais told E! host Ryan Seacrest that he couldn't wait to go backstage after he opened the show to have his first drink. When asked what would be his alcohol of choice, Gervais' girlfriend, Jane Fallon, piped up and said, "Oh, whatever he can get his hands on."
Several stars kept it loose on the red carpet on their way to the swanky International Ballroom. After answering questions about her dress, Bullock joked that her interview with Carson Daly on the NBC pre-show was "really boring," while "Glee" nominee Matthew Morrison said he was excited to attend "a prom for adults."
It's not just a party. The ceremony traditionally has a strong track record as a forecast for what film would win best picture at the Oscars. But the two shows have split in recent times, with only one top Globe recipient -- 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire" -- also winning the main prize at the Oscars over the past six years.