Annette Bening, who played a lesbian mother in The Kids Are All Right, and Christian Bale, who portrayed a drug-addicted boxer in The Fighter, won Golden Globe trophies on Sunday.
Bening was named best actress in a comedy in the tale of two children of lesbian parents who search for their sperm donor father. Bale claimed the honor of best supporting actor for boxing drama The Fighter.
In another key film award, Melissa Leo playing the mother of Christian Bale's character in The Fighter was named best supporting actress.
Among other early winners were Facebook film The Social Network, which was also nominated for best drama, took home two honors. One went to Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for best score and a second to writer Aaron Sorkin for best screenplay.
Toy Story 3 was named best animated movie for what director Lee Unkrich called an animated movie that beat with a human heart.
Denmark's In a Better World was named best foreign language film.
But it was Bening and Bale who brought major starpower to the early awards with Bening thanking her cast, including Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, and Bale poking modest fun at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which hands out the Golden Globe Awards.
Now I know who you are, and suddenly I realize how wise and perceptive and spectacular you guys are, Bale quipped.
The Golden Globe Awards, which are given out by the nearly 90 members of the HFPA, are one of the major Hollywood awards shows leading to the film industry's most-prized honors, the Oscars, which is handed out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The night's top Golden Globe is best film drama, and in that category, The King's Speech, which examines British King George VI's stammering problem, will compete with The Social Network, the Facebook film that has swept many early honors in Hollywood's awards season.
Three others hope to deliver a knockout punch and win best drama including boxing movie The Fighter, which had six nods, ballet movie Black Swan and thriller Inception.
HFPA THE BUTT OF JOKES
Host, comedian Ricky Gervais, got the show off to a start by poking fun at movies like The Tourist and actor Charlie Sheen, who in recent weeks has been reported partying wildly, causing concern at the CBS television network that airs his comedy, Two and a Half Men.
Gervais also noted a scandal that has rocked the HFPA this year. A former publicist sued the group claiming its members received favors in turn for nominations from movie studios. Noting Gervais' often cutting wit, HFPA President Philip Berk took the stage with a joke of his own, aimed at Gervais.
Ricky, next time you want me to help you qualify your movies, go to another guy, Berk joked.
Before the show, glamorous actresses in colorful dresses and shimmering jewels paraded down the red carpet. Natalie Portman, star of Black Swan, wore a light pink Viktor and Rolf dress with a red flower across the front, and Nicole Kidman donned a cream-colored, off-the-shoulder dress by Prada.
Michael Douglas, fresh from treatment for throat cancer, and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones turned out for the show.
Unlike the Oscars, Golden Globe voters also pick winners in television categories, and among key winners in that arena, HBO crime series Boardwalk Empire was named best TV drama. Its star, Steve Buscemi, won the Golden Globe for best actor in a TV drama.
Katey Sagal was named best actress in a TV series drama, and Chris Colfer, who plays a gay high school student in musical Glee was named best supporting actor in a TV series, mini-series or movie.
Carlos was named best made-for-TV movie. Al Pacino took the Golden Globe for best actor in a TV movie or mini-series for You Don't Know Jack, and Claire Danes won best actress in a TV movie or mini-series with Temple Grandin.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Stacey Joyce)