Britons including Kate Winslet were among the early winners at the Golden Globes on Sunday, as British comic Ricky Gervais again took mocking aim at Hollywood at its main pre-Oscars awards show.
Silent film The Artist also won an early gong at the Globes, where the low-budget movie had the most nominations, taking on Tinseltown heavyweights including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
Winslet won best actress in a mini-series or TV movie for her role in Mildred Pierce, while Emmy-winning British series Downton Abbey won best mini-series.
Gervais, hosting for the third straight year despite ruffling feathers at last year's show, made a confident start, opening with: "So, where was I?" before taking an early stab at the Globes themselves.
"It's just like the Oscars without the esteem," he said, adding: "The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton" to groans from the star-studded audience.
The Artist, which earned nominations in six categories, won its first of the evening for best original score, for Ludovic Bource.
"I'm sorry, I'm French," he said, before pulling out a piece of paper and reading his acceptance speech.
Madonna, who won best original song a short time later, appeared to forget her words initially, saying: "This is a surprise," before adding, after a pause: "I'm not French, I have no excuse."
Other winners in the show's first hour included Michelle Williams as best actress in a musical or comedy for her Monroe turn in My Week with Marilyn.
But Hollywood's A-listers were bracing for the later part of the show, when The Artist was taking on films from Scorsese and Spielberg, and stars including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney and Meryl Streep.
Vying for the coveted best drama prize are Clooney's The Descendants and thriller The Ides of March, Scorsese's big-budget Hugo, baseball movie Moneyball, Spielberg's epic War Horse, and civil rights film The Help.
The Artist is not up for the top dramatic prize at the Globes, but its six nominations include best director for French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius.
The black-and-white film, billed as a tribute to the silent movie era, tells the story of silent star George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) whose career is torpedoed by the arrival of the "talkies."
The movie, with a budget of just $12 million -- compared for example to $170 million for Scorsese's Hugo -- has won a series of prizes in recent weeks including best film and best director from the New York Film Critics Circle.
After its six nods, tied for second with five nominations each were The Help, about black servants in the pre-civil rights era US south, and The Descendants.
There were four each for The Ides of March, Pitt's Moneyball and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris -- including a nod for best director for the veteran New York filmmaker.
Pitt is up for best actor, along with Clooney (The Descendants), Michael Fassbender in sex-addiction study Shame, Leonardo DiCaprio for Clint Eastwood's biopic J. Edgar and Ryan Gosling for The Ides of March.
For best actress the shortlist includes Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Viola Davis in The Help, cross-dressing Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk about Kevin and Rooney Mara in the screen version of best-seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.