Ricky Gervais delivering his hilarious but scathing opening monologue at the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards this past Sunday.

The 2011 awards season began this past Sunday at the 68th Annual Golden Globes. The ceremony was hosted by comedian Ricky Gervais, who did not hold back in his unyielding and harsh opening monologue.

Even though his diatribe was no more than five minutes long, it seemed no one was safe from his mockery. From Charlie Sheen to the Church of Scientology to “The Tourist” and even to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association itself, Gervais offended almost everyone present at the award ceremony. The tension in the air was palpable, as the plethora of celebrities who were in attendance did not seem to find Gervais’ comedy amusing. Nevertheless, the jokes, while quite biting, were still amusing and sharp-witted.

Surprisingly, after his monologue, Gervais did not return for more than an hour to continue his hosting duties. He seemed much more subdued and his jokes were low-key -— NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association may have put a premature end to his verbal assault on Hollywood. The tone for the rest of the ceremony was much more modest.

As for the awards themselves, one movie seemed to stand out above the rest. “The Social Network,” directed by David Fincher (known for his work on “Fight Club,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Se7en”), won four out of the six awards for which it was nominated, including Best Motion Picture – Drama. It won out against “Black Swan,” directed by Darren Aronofsky (known for “Requiem for a Dream”), “The Fighter,” “Inception,” and “The King’s Speech.”

In fact, in addition to Best Motion Picture, the film won the three other biggest awards of the night: Best Director and Best Screenplay and Best Score. Despite sweeping these honors, no performer from the film won awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press.

Jessie Eisenberg, who portrayed Mark Zuckerberg in the film, was nominated for Best Actor. He was bested, however, by Colin Firth’s stunning performance as King George VI in “The King’s Speech.” Colin Firth won out against fierce competition from James Franco for “127 Hours,” Mark Whalberg for “The Fighter,” Ryan Gosling for “Blue Valentine.”

This was Colin Firth’s second nomination and first win at the Golden Globes. His first nomination was for “A Single Man” in 2009.

Andrew Garfield was the second actor nominated for a performance in “The Social Network” -— he portrayed Facebook co-founder, and Zuckerberg’s close friend, Eduardo Saverin. His performance was superb and certainly deserving of the nomination, if not the victory.

The award for Best Supporting Actor was also hotly contested. Geoffrey Rush’s performance in “The King’s Speech” as King George’s speech therapist was equally striking. However, Christian Bale  won won out with his portrayal as  a washed up boxer-turned-drug-addict in “The Fighter.”

Other notable Golden Globe victories included Natalie Portman’s Best Actress win for “Black Swan,” Melissa Leo for Best Supporting Actress in “The Fighter” and “Toy Story 3” for Best Animated Feature-Length Film.

Portman’s depiction of a dancer who can’t handle the stress of becoming the lead role in the ballet “Swan Lake,” was one of the most emotional and intense performances of the year.

Portman had to master both the technique and subtleties of ballet while also giving a passionate acting performance.

Finally, turning from movies to television, “Glee” won for Best Television Program in the comedy/musical category, while “Boardwalk Empire” earned the same title in the drama category.

Another notheworthy win was by Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt in “Glee.” He took home the  Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series. After receiving his award, he gave a particularly heartfelt and touching speech that was certainly fitting. The openly gay actor dedicated his victory to all teens who face bullying because of who they are.

Glee continued its winning streak by getting three of the five awards it was nominated for. Jane Lynch rounded it out by winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress in Comedy/Musical.

Steve Buscemi took the Best Actor in a Television Drama for his work on “Boardwalk Empire,” while Jim Parsons  won the same award in the comedy category.

The Golden Globes are just the beginning of the awards season -— the Oscar nominations will be released on Jan. 25, while the 83rd annual Academy Awards will air on Feb. 27 on ABC.

Penney is a member of the class of 2012.

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