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Facebook tale The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg, took four Golden Globes, including best dramatic film. ((Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures))

The Social Network, widely named 2010's best film by a host of critics, was the big winner at the Golden Globes on Sunday night.

The Facebook tale scored one of the evening's major honours, best dramatic film, as well as three other trophies at the posh Beverly Hills, Calif., gala — best screenplay (by Aaron Sorkin), original score (by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) and direction (for David Fincher).

"I'm loath to address the wonderful response that this film has received for fear of becoming addicted to it. It's been really nice," Fincher said when he took the stage to accept his award.

Film winners for the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards

  • Cecil B. DeMille Award: Robert De Niro
  • Drama: The Social Network.
  • Musical or Comedy: The Kids Are All Right.
  • Animated Film: Toy Story 3.
  • Foreign Language: In a Better World.
  • Actress, Drama: Natalie Portman, Black Swan.
  • Actor, Drama: Colin Firth, The King's Speech.
  • Actress, Musical/Comedy: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right.
  • Actor, Musical/Comedy: Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version.
  • Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter.
  • Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter.
  • Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network.
  • Direction: David Fincher, The Social Network.
  • Original Score: The Social Network.
  • Original Song: You Haven't Seen the Last of Me, (written by Diane Warren), Burlesque.

Other award-season front-runners also added Golden Globes to their haul on Sunday, with Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Annette Bening and Christian Bale among those earning kudos from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hosts the Globes.

Portman added a best actress in a drama trophy to the wide acclaim she's received for her starring role in Black Swan, in which she portrays a ballerina losing her grip on reality. 

Firth — the leading male actor contender this season — picked up the best dramatic actor trophy for his star turn as a stammering King George VI in the period monarchy drama The King's Speech.

"I don't know if this qualifies as gentle reassurance, but right now this is all that stands between me and a Harley-Davidson," Firth quipped in his acceptance speech, acknowledging how awards help validate him as he grows older.

Organizers named Bening best actress in a comedy or musical film for her role as half of a lesbian couple in crisis in Lisa Cholodenko's contemporary family tale The Kids Are All Right.

"I'm very proud to be a part of this special film," she said, as she thanked co-star Julianne Moore (also nominated in the category) and writer-director Cholodenko. "It was a labour of love for all of us. To be able to unite that with a moment like this is truly phenomenal."

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Bale's scene-stealing and self-admitted "loud" turn as a former boxer and drug addict in The Fighter, opposite star Mark Walberg's understated performance, earned him the Golden Globe for best supporting actor in a motion picture.

His equally praised co-star Melissa Leo nabbed the corresponding best supporting actress honour for her turn as the mother of Bale's and Walberg's characters.

Barney's Version win

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Paul Giamatti stars as Barney Panofsky in the film adaptation of Mordecai Richler's final novel, Barney's Version. ((Sabrina Lantos/eOne Films))

Paul Giamatti earned the best actor in a comedy or musical film for his lead role in Barney's Version, based on Canadian literary icon Mordecai Richler's final opus.

"This was an extraordinary movie to be a part of and people busted their asses in getting it made," Giamatti said of the international co-production that was filmed in Canada and in Italy.

"I got to smoke and drink and get laid in this movie and got paid for it. Amazing!" he quipped in his acceptance speech.

He also thanked Richler's family for allowing him "to stomp around in their private lives" and saluted both the city of Montreal ("which I dream about," he said) and "the great nation of Canada."

TV favourites take trophies

Some of television's most popular and lauded productions also won fresh laurels at Sunday night's celebration, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

TV winners for the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards

  • Series, Drama: Boardwalk Empire.
  • Series, Musical or Comedy: Glee.
  • Miniseries or Movie: Carlos.
  • Actor, Drama: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire.
  • Actress, Drama: Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy.
  • Actor, Musical/Comedy: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory.
  • Actress, Musical/Comedy: Laura Linney, The Big C.
  • Actor, Miniseries/Movie: Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack.
  • Actress, Miniseries/Movie: Claire Danes, Temple Grandin.
  • Supporting Actor, Series/Miniseries/Movie: Chris Colfer, Glee.
  • Supporting Actress, Series/Miniseries/Movie: Jane Lynch, Glee.  

High school musical comedy Glee was named best TV comedy and also saw cast members Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch awarded (respectively) best supporting actor and best supporting actress in a TV series, miniseries or TV movie.

Newcomer Boardwalk Empire, the Prohibition-era gangster series, picked up trophies for best TV drama and best TV actor for star Steve Buscemi.

"I'm only as good as the people I work with and I have the best cast," the longtime character actor said upon taking the stage.

Claire Danes and Al Pacino, this year's two Golden Globe winners for performances in miniseries or TV movies, were both honoured for playing real people.

"It's a great honour for me to have portrayed such a person as Jack Kevorkian," Pacino said of his turn as the assisted suicide physician in You Don't Know Jack. "It's kind of a special thing [when actors play real people] because that relationship is so interesting, intimate and wonderful."

Danes, who stars in Temple Grandin as the titular autism advocate and animal science expert, called it "very emotional" to accept her award with Grandin present, dubbing the project "an awsome experience, a truly extraordinary experience."

However, performance and reality struck a sad turn for Laura Linney, the evening's winner of best actress in musical or comedy series for her role in the new series The Big C.

Though she has earned much praise for her performance in the dark comedy as a woman diagnosed with terminal melanoma, Linney did not attend the Golden Globes ceremony. Her father, prolific playwright Romulus Linney, died of lung cancer at the age of 80 on Saturday.

Celebrity skewering by Gervais

The evening was hosted by outrageous comedian, actor and writer Ricky Gervais, who returned for a second consecutive stint at the podium and openly mocked the HFPA and stars both absent and present, from Mel Gibson to Angelina Jolie.

"It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or as Charlie Sheen calls it — breakfast," Gervais said during his opening monologue.

The night also included a tribute to Robert De Niro. The veteran actor accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement with a speech that poked fun at both his own career, other stars and the HFPA.

The Golden Globes, one of Tinseltown's glitziest award shows, is a prominent entry in a sea of film world prizes handed out ahead of the Oscars. It differs from the more staid and formal Academy Awards and similar events by seating its guests in a grand, black-tie, dinner party-like setting.

The last-minute buzz surrounding this year's ceremony included talk of a lawsuit filed on Thursday by a former longtime publicist for the HFPA, accusing the group of engaging in payola schemes.

The organization, composed of nearly 90 reporters covering Hollywood for media outlets abroad, has denied the claims.

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With files from The Associated Press