"12 Years a Slave" went into the 71st Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night with seven nominations but was passed over again and again. That is, until the last award of the evening, and arguably the best of them all. The harrowing portrayal of slavery in America took home the prize for best drama of 2013.
The film's director, Steve McQueen, seemed surprised by the win. "Little bit in shock," said the British filmmaker, clutching the award. "I wasn't expecting it."
But the evening's biggest victor was David O. Russell's Abscam-inspired comedy, "American Hustle." It won three trophies during the three-hour ceremony that aired on NBC from the Beverly Hilton, including for best musical or comedy, best actress for Amy Adams and best supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence.
Also performing well at the awards show considered a key indicator for Oscar gold: the AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club." Matthew McConaughey won his first Golden Globe as lead actor in the film, as did Jared Leto for supporting actor in the film. Cate Blanchett received the best actress in a drama honor for Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."
Leonardo DiCaprio joked that he never thought he'd win a Golden Globe for a comedy, but that's just what he did, taking home the trophy for best actor in a musical or comedy film for his role as a hedonistic broker in "The Wolf of Wall Street." He praised the film's director, Martin Scorsese, with whom he's worked five times, saying, "Thank you for your mentorship." DiCaprio also commended the other unlikely "comedians" nominated in the category with him, including Christian Bale.
In other marquee categories, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which presents the Globes, honored Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron with best director for his lost-in-space thriller, "Gravity."
It was also a good night for "Breaking Bad." The acclaimed drama about a high school teacher turned ruthless meth maker, which ended its run last fall, won best drama, and the show's star, Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White, won best actor. It was the first Globe for the show and Cranston. "It's such a lovely way to say goodbye to the show," said Cranston, who had been nominated three other times.
One of the biggest surprises of the night? How about Fox's first-year cop spoof, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," winning big. It took home the best comedy series honor, beating out such established favorites as "The Big Bang Theory" and "Modern Family." And the show's star, Andy Samberg, was almost speechless when he won for best actor in a comedy series.
It was no surprise, though, that Allen was a no-show Sunday night, even though he was honored with the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Diane Keaton, who earned a Globe and an Oscar for lead actress for Allen's 1977 classic, "Annie Hall," subbed for the notoriously award-shy auteur. "I think it's safe to say Woody Allen is an anomaly," Keaton said in picking up the honor on his behalf. She praised him especially for creating strong female characters — and then got bleeped for using salty language before launching into the Girl Scout song "Make New Friends" to symbolize her 45-year friendship with the filmmaker.
In other film awards, Spike Jonze won for his original screenplay for the quirky romance "Her," about a man who falls in love with the voice of his computer's operating system. Alex Ebert won for best original score for "All Is Lost." Best song honors went to "Ordinary Love," U2's song for "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," with U2's Bono and the Edge among those on stage to pick up the trophy. "Frozen" won best animated film. And Italy's "The Great Beauty" won for best foreign film.
On the TV side, Amy Poehler, who returned Sunday night as host with Tina Fey, won her first Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy series for "Parks & Recreation." Robin Wright won her first Golden Globe for best actress in a drama series for the political drama "House of Cards." Jon Voight, 75, won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor in a series, miniseries or TV movie for the drama series "Ray Donovan."
"Behind the Candelabra," HBO's drama about flamboyant pianist Liberace and his young boyfriend, won best miniseries or TV movie. And Michael Douglas, who played the celebrated showman, won a best actor trophy for the performance. Elisabeth Moss won her first ever Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a TV miniseries or movie for the thriller "Top of the Lake." And veteran Jacqueline Bisset earned her first Globe, winning the best supporting actress trophy for the miniseries "Dancing on the Edge."