Chicago is talk of the town with triple gold

Britons lose out in awards, writes JANE FRYER

TWO films with strong female roles triumphed at the 60th annual Golden Globe Awards.

The jazz-belting lady prisoners of Chicago won best musical comedy and The Hours, directed by British director Stephen Daldry, claimed best drama for its tale of women seeking solace in the work of author Virginia Woolf.

The films also earned awards for their leading ladies - Renee Zellweger, for her role in Chicago, won best musical comedy actress for her role as murderer and wannabe cabaret singer Roxy Hart. Nicole Kidman won best dramatic actress for her portrayal of Woolf.

"I say to the writers, please keep writing for us, we're very interesting," said Kidman. "And to the directors, please keep taking chances and giving us complicated, rich characters to play."

Kidman's award on Sunday night marked her second consecutive Golden Globe after her win last year for Moulin Rouge in the musical comedy class.

She also won in 1996 for To Die For. Zellweger had a previous win for 2001's Nurse Betty.

Kidman and Zellweger each beat co-stars: Meryl Streep from The Hours and Catherine Zeta-Jones from Chicago. Streep did win supporting actress honours for playing a fictionalised version of author Susan Orlean in Adaptation.

Chicago also earned an award for Richard Gere, who plays a tap-dancing lawyer hired by Zellweger's starstruck prisoner to beat a murder charge. Apparently astonished, he said, "I don't win anything. I never win. And I didn't even want to do this movie."

Gere's win saw off Hugh Grant's hopes for a best actor award for his role in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby's best seller, About a Boy.

Jack Nicholson, who took home his sixth Globe for best dramatic actor for portrayal of a bedraggled angst-ridden widower in About Schmidt, joked to the star-studded audience: "I don't know whether to be happy or ashamed, because I thought we'd made a comedy."

Martin Scorsese won a best director trophy for his epic Gangs of New York and Dublin band U2 best original song with The Hands That Built America, written for the film.

Among those who went home empty-handed were British actors Daniel Day-Lewis, nominated for best actor for Gangs of New York, and Michael Caine, up for his role in the The Quiet American.

As the Golden Globes have long been viewed as an early barometer to the Academy Awards nominations in February, the battle is now likely to hot up between Gangs, Hours, Chicago, About Schmidt and Adaptation as serious Oscar contenders.

There were no wins for public favourites such as Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers or My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

One man who will be delighted is Harvey Weinstein, the larger than life chief of Miramax Films, which backed Chicago and Gangs and partnered Paramount Pictures on The Hours.

The awards will help allay recent rumours that the media mogul is losing his touch. Since Miramax's victories in the 1990s Oscar battles with films such as Shakespeare in Love and The English Patient, it has been forced to share the spoils with rival Dreamworks, courtesy of American Beauty and Gladiator.

In the television categories, British actor Albert Finney got a best actor Globe for his Emmy-winning role as Winston Churchill in The Gathering Storm, which also won best TV movie. Friends star Jennifer Aniston, who broke her toe recently, hobbled up to take best actress in a TV comedy award.

Liverpool-born Kim Cattrall won best supporting actress in a TV series for her role in Sex in the City. "You have no idea how many men I've had to sleep with to get this award" she joked as she accepted the award.

FILM

Best picture (drama) The Hours

Best picture (musical or comedy) Chicago

Best director Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York)

Best actor (drama) Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt)

Best actress (drama) Nicole Kidman (The Hours)

Best actor (musical or comedy) Richard Gere (Chicago)

Best actress (musical or comedy) Renee Zellweger (Chicago)

Best supporting actor Chris Cooper (Adaptation)

Best supporting actress Meryl Streep (Adaptation)

Best foreign language film Talk to Her, Spain

Best screenplay Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (About Schmidt)

Best score Elliot Goldenthal (Frida)

Best original Song U2, The Hands That Built America (Gangs of New York)

TELEVISION

Best drama series The Shield

Best comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm

Best actor (drama) Michael Chiklis (The Shield)

Best actress (drama) Edie Falco (The Sopranos)

Best actor (comedy) Tony Shalhoub (Monk)

Best actress (comedy) Jennifer Aniston (Friends)

Best mini-series or movie made for television The Gathering Storm

Best actor (mini-series or television movie) Albert Finney (The Gathering Storm)

Best actress (mini-series or television movie) Uma Thurman (Hysterical Blindness)

Best supporting actor, (series, mini-series or movie made for television) Donald Sutherland, (Path to War)

Supporting actress (series, mini-series or movie made for television) Kim Cattrall, (Sex and the City)

-Jan 21st