King's Speech star Colin Firth crowned at Golden Globes - VIDEO

BRITISH actor Colin Firth is celebrating after he was named best actor at the Golden Globes.

Firth was handed the accolade for his portrayal of a stammering King George VI in The King's Speech, solidifying his chances of an Oscar nomination.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report.

Meanwhile, award show's host and fellow Brit Ricky Gervais got a mixed reaction for his sharp-tongued presenting style.

The 49-year-old tackled scientology, gay celebrities pretending to be straight, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association taking bribes, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp only being nominated to ensure they would come to the ceremony and introduced Bruce Willis as Ashton Kutcher's father.

"It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking," Gervais began his opening monologue, sipping from a glass of beer.

"Or, as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast."

Firth's countryman Christian Bale took home the supporting-actor Golden Globe for his role in The Fighter at the star-studded awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

British hopes had been pinned on The King's Speech, which tells the story of the unlikely relationship between the monarch and an Australian speech therapist who helps him cope with his stammer.

The monarchy saga was nominated in seven categories, but it was only Firth who took the plaudits in the category of best actor in a movie drama.

Accepting his award, Firth referred to his age and said: "To get to this stage of your life with your dignity and judgment intact can be somewhat precarious. Sometimes all you need is a bit of gentle reassurance to keep you on track but right now this (the award) is all that stands between me and a Harley Davidson."

Elsewhere, Natalie Portman scooped best actress in a movie drama for the ballet-themed film, Black Swan.

Hollywood veteran Annette Bening took the prize for best actress in a musical or comedy, for her performance in the lesbian-family tale The Kids Are All Right.

David Fincher won the directing prize for the Facebook drama The Social Network, one of four awards for the film. Best animated film went to Toy Story 3.

Glee was also a big winner, taking home best TV musical or comedy as well as two supporting actor prizes.

The Globes, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), are often seen as a guide to later Oscar success and many pundits have tipped Firth to win an Academy Award later this year.

His co-star Helena Bonham Carter, who missed out on the best supporting actress award for her performance as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, said she expected the father-of-three to win an Oscar.

Before the ceremony she said: "I've had a Golden Globe nomination before and then didn't get an Oscar nomination. But I presume Colin will get one, and I presume Colin will win."

Some of the biggest stars from film and television descended on the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the ceremony, where host Ricky Gervais had a swipe at Mel Gibson, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Paul McCartney's ex-wife Heather Mills.

Talking about multi-millionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, he said: "Heather Mills calls him the one that got away."

Alec Baldwin was seen wiping a tear from his eye at the wisecracks, while Robert de Niro, who was handed a lifetime achievement award, dissolved in laughter.

But Gervais failed to reappear for large parts of the show and not everyone was amused by his gags.

The New York Daily News called him "tasteless, bordering on nasty", while the LA Times said his jokes set "a corrosive tone" for the night.

American film producer Harvey Weinstein joked that Gervais would "not make it out of town tonight".

He said: "There are seven people that we've hired to kill him and deservedly so.

"Knowing that Ricky Gervais will never work again means a lot to me, I'm going to make sure of it."

The King's Speech director Tom Hooper said: "Do you know how edgy he was?

"LA is a careful town - my God he was unbelievable.

"I thought he was hilarious but will he ever present another award show again? I don't know but if he went out, he went out burning."

Australian actor Guy Pearce joked: "He could have gone further, I think there were a few more lines to cross."

The Office star is not the first Brit to shock an audience of American celebrities with near the knuckle gags.

In 2008, Russell Brand stunned the MTV awards as he championed Barack Obama, ran down George Bush and made lewd jokes about the Christian pop band Jonas Brothers.

The comic branded President Bush a "retarded cowboy" and told members of the audience they must vote for Obama "on behalf of the world".

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