Shut out all night at the Golden Globes, the historical drama 12 Years a Slave eked out the night's top honor, best film drama, while the con-artist caper American Hustle landed a leading three awards, including best film comedy.
David O. Russell's American Hustle had the better night overall, winning acting awards for Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence. Best picture was the only award for 12 Years a Slave, which came in with seven nominations, tied for the most with Hustle.
Adams won her first Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical Sunday night at the Beverly Hills, Calif., ceremony. Lawrence took best supporting actress for her performance in David O. Russell's fictionalized Abscam tale.
The award returned Lawrence, a winner last year for Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, to the stage for an acceptance speech — something she said was no easier a year later.
"Don't ever do this again," she told herself. "It's so scary."
Many of the awards were spread around. Spike Jonze won for his screenplay to his futuristic romance Her. Alfonso Cuaron won best director for the space odyssey Gravity, a worldwide hit and critical favorite.
Matthew McConaughey took best actor in a drama for his performance in the Texas HIV drama Dallas Buyers Club. Leonardo DiCaprio, a nine-time Golden Globe nominee, won his second Globe for best actor in a comedy for his work in The Wolf of Wall Street.
The night's biggest winners may have been hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, whose second time hosting the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Beverly Hills, Calif., ceremony was just as successful as last year's show. Fey concluded the night by toasting the awards as "the beautiful mess we hoped it would be."
They started the 71st annual Golden Globes with a torrent of punch lines that lambasted Matt Damon, Meryl Streep and, of course, George Clooney. The audience roared most of all when Fey described Gravity.
"George Clooney would rather float away in space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age," said Fey.
The playful interplay of Fey and Poehler again stole the show in the early going.
"This is Hollywood," explained Fey. "If something kind of works, they'll just keep doing it until everyone hates it."
Poehler said that in such a famous crowd, Damon was "basically a garbage person." He later sheepishly presented an introduction to best picture nominee Captain Phillips: "It's me, the garbage man."
The Tracy Letts play adaptation August: Osage County, starring Streep, Fey said, proved "that there are great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60."
Many of the night's surprise winners were literally caught speechless. Andy Samberg (best actor in a comedy series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Elisabeth Moss (winner of best actress, miniseries or movie, for Top of the Lake), Robin Wright (best actress in a TV series, drama) and even Poehler, herself (best actress in a TV series, comedy), appeared particularly shocked to win and each stumbled through their thanks. Poehler celebrated by making out with Bono.
Four months after its final episode, AMC's Breaking Bad won for best drama TV series and best actor in a drama series for Bryan Cranston (both their first Globes). Cranston called his honor "a lovely way to say goodbye." Creator Vince Gilligan said the award gave him "one more chance to thank the fans of the show," but left the final word for star Aaron Paul.
Accepting the Globe for best supporting actor, Jared Leto also paid tribute to his inspiration. The actor, whose rock band Thirty Seconds To Mars took him away from movies for years before the part, won for playing a transsexual in the Texas HIV drama Dallas Buyers Club.
"To the Rayons of the world, thanks for the inspiration," said Leto.
As expected, the Emmy-winning HBO film Behind the Candelabra, the acclaimed Liberace drama directed by Steven Soderbergh, won for best movie or miniseries. Producer Jerry Weintraub, the famed Hollywood producer, accepted the award.
Going into Sunday night, the favorites were American Hustle and Steve McQueen's unflinching epic 12 Years a Slave. The films and their much-nominated ensemble casts led with seven nominations each, but they were mostly separated by the Globes' split between comedy-musical and drama categories.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 85 mostly freelance foreign journalists (Fey and Poehler mocked their publications), has recently undergone a change in leadership and, perhaps, a shift toward respectability.
This year, the Globes fall days after Oscar nomination voting concluded.