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Plummer is regarded as one of the finest Shakespearean stage actors of the last half century. His film roles range from Austrian widower Captain von Trapp in “The Sound of Music” and Tolstoy in “The Last Station” to newsman Mike Wallace in “The Insider” and a treacherous Klingon general in “Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country.” He also co-starred in the current thriller “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

The prize for best animated film went to Steven Spielberg’s action tale “The Adventures of Tintin,” a Paramount-Sony co-production that dealt the first Globes loss to Disney unit Pixar Animation. Pixar films such as “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E” and “Toy Story 3” had won all five previous times since the Globes added the category.

Spielberg thanked his producing partner on the film, “The Lord of the Rings” creator Peter Jackson, along with both studios behind the film, based on what the director pointed out was a series of picture books by Belgian writer Herge that started 80 years ago.

“I would like to thank two studios that really proved the adage that Peter and I could make the telephone book if we wanted to,” said Spielberg, whose World War I epic “War Horse” is nominated for best drama.

The Iranian drama “A Separation” was chosen as best foreign-language film. Writer-director Asghar Farhadi uses a divorcing couple’s domestic troubles with a young child and an aging parent as the means to examine gender, religious and class distinctions in contemporary Iran.

Ricky Gervais, who has ruffled feathers at past shows with sharp wisecracks aimed at Hollywood’s elite and the Globes show itself, returned as host for the third-straight year. He started with some slams at the Globes as Hollywood’s second-biggest film ceremony, after the Oscars.

Gervais joked that the Globes “are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem. The Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton. A bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker and more easily bought. Allegedly. Nothing’s been proved.”

He also needled early winners, saying the show was running long and stars needed to keep their speeches short.

“You don’t need to thank everyone you’ve ever met or members of your family, who have done nothing,” Gervais said. “Just the main two. Your agent and God.”

After winning for musical score, “The Artist” composer Bource apologized for his halting English, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m French,” adding that he’s better with music than words.

“Right now, if I were to write a song, it would be a tap-dance number,” Bource said. “The power of music is at least universal. The gift of the silent film is that it is so universal.”

Madonna, Julie Frost and Jimmy Harry won the Globe for best song for “Masterpiece” from the King Edward-Wallis Simpson drama “W.E.”, which Madonna also directed.

Among television winners were Kate Winslet as best actress in a miniseries or movie in “Mildred Pierce,” Idris Elba as best actor in a miniseries or movie in “Luther,” Laura Dern as comedy or musical actress in “Enlightened,” Kelsey Grammer as dramatic actor in “Boss,” “Homeland” for drama series and “Downton Abbey” for miniseries or movie.

A drama with comic touches, “Beginners” was a fitting recipient to start the Globe ceremony, which has a strong lineup of lighter fare to match the more sober-minded films that generally dominate Hollywood awards.

Alongside those heavyweight dramas, the category for best musical or comedy at the Globes usually is more of a lark, with nominees rarely emerging with best-picture prospects at the Academy Awards.

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