Heath Ledger won the supporting-actor Golden Globe yesterday nearly a year after his death from a prescription drug overdose, earning the prize for his diabolical turn as the Joker in the Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight.

The award was accepted by the film’s director/co-screenwriter, Christopher Nolan, who said he and his collaborators were buoyed by the enormous acclaim and acceptance the film and Ledger’s performance have gained worldwide.

“All of us who worked with Heath on The Dark Knight accept with an awful mixture of sadness but incredible pride,” Nolan said. “After Heath passed, you saw a hole ripped in the future of cinema.”

The robot romance WALL-E won the Golden Globe for best animated film; Sally Hawkins earned the best-actress prize in a musical or comedy as an eternal optimist in Happy-Go-Lucky; and Kate Winslet took supporting actress for The Reader, in which she plays a former Nazi concentration camp guard in a romantic fling with a teenager.

Slumdog Millionaire, an underdog story some awards watchers think could emerge as an Oscar favourite, won its first award of the night, best screenplay for Simon Beaufoy, who adapted the script from the novel Q & A.

Slumdog Millionaire features a generally unknown cast in the story of an orphan boy in Mumbai who rises from terrible hardship to become a champ on India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, all the while trying to reunite with a lost love.

Early winners


• Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.
• Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader.
• Animated Film: Wall-E.

• Actor, Drama: Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment.
• Actress, Drama: Anna Paquin, True Blood.

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