BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ Backstage at the Golden Globe awards, Dustin Hoffman should have been ecstatic about winning a lifetime achievement award.

But the award ``does make you feel that this is it,'' Hoffman said Sunday night in a chat with reporters.

``They're giving you an award for lifetime, and that's it. You've just got to kid yourself that they are giving you the award for best newcomer _ again.''

Most award winners said their piece and hurried off _ to the ceremony, the food, or as best original songwriter and Englishman Tim Rice said, to ``the loo.''

Hoffman did not mind sticking around. After being given the Cecil B. DeMille Award, he joked about wearing a regulation-issue tuxedo in a sea of cutting-edge cravats.

``I thought, `Geez, what am I doing up here with all this (old) stuff?''' he said.

His career really began with the making of ``The Graduate.'' That's when he became a perfectionist, he said. Director Mike Nichols demanded of him, ``How can you not give it 100 percent?''

It appears he took the advice. Hoffman won acclaim for the range of roles he took, including the tragic comedian Lenny Bruce in ``Lenny,'' the pathetic Ratso Rizzo in ``Midnight Cowboy,'' the cross-dressing soap star of ``Tootsie'' and the custody-battling father in ``Kramer vs. Kramer.''

He reminisced about working in ``Rain Man,'' in which he gave a heralded performance as the the autistic brother of Tom Cruise. According to Hoffman, Cruise rose at 4:30 a.m. each day to work on his scenes and his biceps before hitting the set.

It was Cruise who presented him with the special award.

Cruise got an award himself, as best comic actor for the title role in ``Jerry Maguire.''

And no, he could not ``smell'' the award when he agreed to take on the role, he said.

``I could never smell that,'' he said laughing. ``I don't know what that smells like.''

Helen Mirren, who won for her role in Showtime's ``Losing Chase,'' shared the secret of her hat _ a black feather boa ordeal with strands that swept across her eyes as she spoke.

Scrounging for an outfit to wear to the ceremony, she came across the hat in her closet.

``I shook the dust out of it'' and stuck it on ``to hide behind,'' she said.

Clothes-wise, slim, slinky and sexy was the order of the day for women attending the awards show.

``I wanted it to be sleek, sexy and hot,'' Brooke Shields said of her dress, slit like an oval key hole from throat to chest with a similar opening in the back.

Christine Baranski, nominated for supporting actress in the TV series ``Cybil,'' vamped for photographers in one of the show stoppers of the night _ a strapless black velvet dress tight as a second skin, then fanning-out in a glittery poof below the knees and accessorized with matching black velvet gloves.

``Why put it on,'' Baranski said, ``if you're not going to strut?''