On a night when "American Hustle" cemented its status as an award-season front-runner, it was a number of lower-profile movies — including Spike Jonze's digital romance "Her" and the Italian drama "The Great Beauty" — that earned the designation of biggest surprises.
Jonze won his first-ever Golden Globe over screenplay favorites "American Hustle" and "12 Years a Slave." It was the only win for the film, and it seemed to bode well for it in the original screenplay Oscar category. Looking a little stunned on the Beverly Hilton podium, Jonze, who had been nominated only for one Globe previously, said: "I'm a terrible public speaker. I'm bad at English — and it's the only language I know."
Paolo Sorrentino's "Beauty," about a veteran journalist reflecting on his hedonistic life, was considered a long shot to beat Palme d'Or winner "Blue Is the Warmest Color" in the foreign language category. Accepting the honor, producer Nicola Giuliano paid tribute to Italy as a "crazy country — but beautiful."
"Hustle" scored three wins, the most of any film. But it carried its own surprise with star Amy Adams, whose turn as grifter Sydney Prosser nabbed her first Globes trophy for actress in a comedy or musical film over category favorite and "August: Osage County" star Meryl Streep, who had won eight times previously.
In a somewhat milder upset, Leonardo DiCaprio triumphed over Bruce Dern in the actor in a comedy or musical category for his turn as slick stockbroker Jordan Belfort in "The Wolf of Wall Street." It was DiCaprio's second Globes win in 10 nominations.
DiCaprio, who returned after his acceptance speech to present the actress in a drama prize and slipped in more thank yous, said backstage not to confuse him with Belfort. "Thank God none of the attributes of this character rubbed off on my real life, because I probably wouldn't be standing here today," he said.
And although "12 Years a Slave" won the big prize of best motion picture drama, it was the film's only win, something of a surprise for the early season favorite. Even so, it performed better than "Captain Phillips," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Nebraska" and "August: Osage County." Although those films had a bucketful of nods among them, all four came away empty handed.
It wasn't just the film contenders that yielded unexpected turns. One of the biggest dark horses of the night was the freshman comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," which took home Globes for actor Andy Samberg as well as TV comedy — the latter over powerhouses "Girls" and "Modern Family," fellow nominees that had won previously.
A surprised-looking Samberg hurried through his speech, then came backstage and offered a quick mea culpa. "It's a cliche," he said, "but I forgot to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press — and my parents."
Amy Kaufman and Jessica Gelt contributed to this reportCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times