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Golden Globes 2014: 'American Hustle' rides high with three awards

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Continuing its late surge through Hollywood's never-ending awards season, director David O. Russell's con game story "American Hustle" won a leading three trophies at the Golden Globes — including best musical or comedy — while the slavery tale "12 Years a Slave" avoided a total shutout by taking the evening's very last award, for top drama.

While the awards presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. Sunday at the Beverly Hilton did not radically reshape the race for the Academy Awards, whose nominations are announced Thursday, they did solidify the gathering momentum for "American Hustle" and the AIDS story "Dallas Buyers Club," which was the only other film to win more than one award, collecting honors for actor in a drama for Matthew McConaughey and supporting actor for Jared Leto.

Golden Globes 2014: Full coverage | Show highlights | Best & Worst | Top winners/nominees

Even though "12 Years a Slave" entered the ceremony with seven nominations, tied with "American Hustle" for the most of any film, it failed to win in several categories in which it was considered a leading contender, including director for Steve McQueen (who lost to "Gravity's" Alfonso Cuarón), screenwriter for John Ridley (who was topped by Spike Jonze for "Her") and supporting actress for Lupita Nyong'o (who saw the award go to "American Hustle's" Jennifer Lawrence).

The demanding movie, adapted from Solomon Northup's 1850s memoir about being kidnapped and sold into captivity, has been one of the year's best-reviewed films and has landed on scores of critics' Top 10 lists. But despite all the praise, "12 Years a Slave" has so far failed to become the front-runner many expected it would be.

McQueen was nevertheless giddy over the win, saying in his disjointed acceptance speech, "Little bit in shock. What can I say?"

Unlike the Oscars and most other movie awards, the HFPA voters divide their top awards into two categories — drama and musical or comedy — leading to some borderline classifications.

Leonardo DiCaprio was named actor in a comedy or musical for "The Wolf of Wall Street," in which he played the real-life Wall Street swindler Jordan Belfort. DiCaprio joked on stage about the rather serious film's inclusion in the non-dramatic category — "I never would have guessed I would win best actor in a comedy," he said — before dedicating his victory to the divisive film's director, Martin Scorsese.

MORE: Red carpet arrivals | Complete list | Quotes from the stars | Main story | Nominee reactions

Amy Adams won the top musical or comedy actress award for "American Hustle," defeating among others awards favorite Meryl Streep from "August: Osage County." Cate Blanchett was named actress in a drama for "Blue Jasmine," the latest film from Woody Allen, who was given the honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award but, as is Allen's wont, refused to collect.

McConaughey, in beating out Robert Redford in "All Is Lost" among others for actor in a drama, chronicled the rejection-filled, 20-year odyssey of getting "Dallas Buyers Club" to the screen. "Unexpected," he said of his Golden Globe. "But graciously accepted."

Leto, who hadn't made a movie since filming "Mr. Nobody" in 2007, won the supporting actor award for playing the transgender AIDS patient Rayon in "Dallas Buyers Club," a chronicle of the early pharmaceutical battles surrounding the deadly disease. "It's more than an honor to come back and have this kind of love and support," said Leto, who spends most of his time these days playing for the band Thirty Seconds to Mars.

Lawrence, who plays an unhappy housewife married to Christian Bale's con artist character in "American Hustle," took the supporting actress honor, winning a top prize for the second year in a row. A year ago, she was victorious as actress in a musical or comedy for "Silver Linings Playbook," which, like "American Hustle," was directed by Russell. She thanked the filmmaker — "You made my career what it is," Lawrence said — before stumbling into near incoherence. "I'm sorry I'm shaking so much," she said.

In one of the bigger surprises of the evening, Jonze won the Golden Globe for his screenplay for the dystopian love story "Her," which Jonze also directed, about a man's relationship with a computer operating system, beating the favored "American Hustle" from Russell and Eric Warren Singer and "12 Years a Slave" for the honor. (The Globes does not divide the screenplay award between adapted and original scripts.)

Golden Globes 2014: Full coverage | Show highlights | Best & Worst | Top winners/nominees

As expected, "Frozen" was named best animated feature. Italy's "The Great Beauty" won best foreign-language film in something of an upset over France's "Blue Is the Warmest Color."

For all of the media attention they receive, the Golden Globes are not a reliable harbinger of the Academy Awards. Because major Golden Globes are presented in the two categories, they have twice the statistical chance of mirroring the Oscars. Two of the last four Golden Globe best picture winners, "Argo" and "The Artist," repeated with the top prize at the Oscars, but the HFPA missed honoring "The King's Speech" and "The Hurt Locker," both of which won the best picture Academy Award.

As is often the case with the Golden Globes, there were a number of unscripted, embarrassing moments in the show hosted by Amy Poehler (who won a Golden Globe for her show "Parks and Recreation") and Tina Fey.

When actors Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie came on stage to introduce scenes from their film "The Wolf of Wall Street," their television prompter showed the next presenters' speeches, forcing a stagehand to hand Robbie a page torn out from a binder. Drew Barrymore started to present the best comedy or musical movie only to realize that the show was cutting to a commercial.

In an attempt to keep the show from running too long, the broadcast's producers gave winners only a few moments to accept their trophies before cuing the band. Among those quickly played off the stage were DiCaprio, Adams, Blanchett, Leto and Jonze. "Hey, hold on," the "Her" director said to the band. "I just started."

The tactic worked, as the show finished nearly exactly on time.

john.horn@latimes.com

MORE GOLDEN GLOBES COVERAGE

PHOTOS: 2014 Globes red carpet

LIST: Complete list of nominees

PHOTOS: Show highlights

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