BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. —The science-fiction blockbuster "Avatar" won best drama at the Golden Globes and picked up the directing honor for James Cameron on Sunday, raising the "Titanic" filmmaker's prospects for another Academy Awards triumph.
It was a repeat of Cameron's Globes night 12 years ago, when "Titanic" won best drama and the directing prize on its way to dominating the Oscars.
"'Avatar' asks us to see that everything is connected, all human beings to each other, and us to the Earth," Cameron said. "And if you have to go four and a half light years to another, made-up planet to appreciate this miracle of the world that we have right here, well, you know what, that's the wonder of cinema right there, that's the magic."
Winning the dramatic-acting honors were Sandra Bullock for the football tale "The Blind Side" and Jeff Bridges for the country-music story "Crazy Heart." The crowd gave a standing ovation to Bridges, a beloved veteran generally overlooked for key Hollywood honors.
Never miss a local story.
The acting prizes for musical and comedy went to Meryl Streep for the Julia Child story "Julie & Julia" and Robert Downey Jr. for the crime romp "Sherlock Holmes." The supporting-performance Globes were won by Mo'Nique as an abusive welfare mother in "Precious" and Christoph Waltz as a gleefully bloodthirsty Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds."
The Vegas bachelor bash "The Hangover" won for best musical or comedy, bringing uncharacteristic awards attention for broad comedy, a genre that often gets overlooked at Hollywood honors.
"I just want to thank my mom, who supported my decision to become a director when she realized I wasn't as smart as my two sisters," said "Hangover" director Todd Phillips.
The blockbuster "Up" came away with the award for animated film.
While Streep is a perennial at awards shows, the prize marked a dramatic turning point for Mo'Nique, who was mainly known for lowbrow comedy but startled audiences with her ferocious performance in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire."
"First let me say, thank you, God, for this amazing ride that you're allowing me to go on," the tearful Mo'Nique told the crowd.
She went on with gushing praise for "Precious" director Lee Daniels and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, a best dramatic actress nominee at the Globes with her first film role, playing Mo'Nique's abused, illiterate daughter.
Streep's competition for best actress in a musical or comedy included herself. She also was nominated for the romance "It's Complicated."
"I just want to say that in my long career, I've played so many extraordinary women that I'm getting mistaken for one," Streep said. "I'm very clear that I'm the vessel for other people's stories and other people's lives."
Waltz, a veteran Austrian actor who is a relative newcomer in Hollywood, won the supporting-actor Globe as a gleefully bloodthirsty Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds."
"A year and a half ago I was exposed to the gravitational forces of Quentin Tarantino," Waltz said. "He took my modest little world, my globe, and with the power of his talent and his words and his vision, he flung it into its orbit, a dizzying experience."
Though one of Hollywood's biggest parties, the Globes bore somber reminders of tragedy in the real world, many stars wearing ribbons in support of earthquake victims in Haiti.
Films from Pixar Animation, the Disney outfit that made "Up," have won all four prizes for animated movies since the Globes introduced the category in 2006. Past Pixar winners are "WALL-E," "Ratatouille" and "Cars."
"Up" features the voice of Ed Asner in a tale of a lonely, bitter widower who renews his zest for adventure by flying his house off under helium balloons to South America, where he encounters his childhood hero and a hilarious gang of talking canines.
"Mad Men" won for best TV drama, while Michael C. Hall won for best actor in a TV drama for "Dexter," in which he plays a serial killer with a code of ethics, killing only other murderers. Hall's publicists revealed this past week that Hall is being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma and that the cancer is in remission.
"It's a dream job," Hall said. "I'm so grateful."
"Dexter" also won the supporting-actor TV honor for John Lithgow. Other TV winners included Juliana Margulies as best actress in a drama for "The Good Wife" and Toni Collette as best comedy actress for "The United States of Tara."
The Globes got a makeover, featuring Ricky Gervais as master of ceremonies, the first time in 15 years the show had a host.
Sunday's winners could get a last-minute boost for the Oscars, whose nominations balloting closes Saturday. Last year's big Globe winner, "Slumdog Millionaire," went on to dominate the Oscars.