Late Australian actor Heath Ledger has won a posthumous Golden Globe award for his performance as psychopathic villain The Joker in Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight.
Batman director Christopher Nolan on Sunday collected the best supporting actor award on behalf of Ledger, who died of an accidental overdose in January last year at the age of 28.
"For any of us to enjoy his performance he will be eternally missed, but he'll never be forgotten," Nolan told guests at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.
The victory cements Ledger's status as the odds-on favourite to win a best supporting actor Oscar at next month's Academy Awards.
Ledger has already picked up a series of minor awards for his performance in the phenomenally successful Batman sequel.
Perth-born Ledger gained international stardom and was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for his heart-breaking performance as a taciturn gay cowboy in the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain.
He had already served notice of his talent with parts in several films including Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale and The Patriot.
As Batman's cackling arch-enemy, Ledger earned rave reviews from critics and co-stars.
"I can only speak superlatives of Ledger, who is mad-crazy-blazing brilliant as The Joker," wrote Rolling Stone's film critic Pete Travers.
The cast and crew of The Dark Knight were similarly wowed.
British actor Gary Oldman, who plays Gotham City police officer Lieutenant Jim Gordon, is among those who believes Ledger's performance is Oscar-worthy.
"Over the years when I've seen great performances - (Jack) Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon - you go 'wow, there's something really special at work here'. And I think Heath's done that here. It's like he's gone through the sound barrier."
Nolan said Ledger, renowned for taking on difficult, edgy roles, was chosen for the film precisely for that reason.
"For the role of The Joker I was looking for fearlessness," Nolan said.
"I needed a phenomenal actor, but he (Ledger) also had to be someone unafraid of taking on such an iconic role.
"Heath created something entirely original.
"It's stunning, it's captivating," Nolan said.