In a typically wry acceptance speech, Anderson thanked a number of members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. by name, rattling off a string of foreign-sounding monikers such as Dagmar, Jean-Paul, Helmut, Anke -- "and many others with names equally captivating."
Coming into the evening, "Birdman" -- which led the movie field with seven nominations -- had been widely considered the favorite in the category. But in a ceremony that showed the HPFA spreading its awards love around, "Grand Budapest" -- a stylish, quirky fable about a concierge of a European hotel (Ralph Fiennes) who becomes embroiled in a feud over a widow's fortune -- proved an underdog winner.
Though the HFPA has often favored musicals in the hodgepodge category (past winners include "Sweeney Todd," "Dreamgirls" and "Les Miserables"), among the other nominees, the Stephen Sondheim musical adaptation "Into the Woods" was never considered a serious contender by most awards pundits, nor were the smaller indies "Pride" and "St. Vincent."
The win breathes fresh life into the Oscar campaign for Anderson's sleeper hit, which has stayed in the awards hunt longer than nearly any other film but has rarely been considered an out-and-out frontrunner. The film was met with largely rapturous reviews upon its release last March and has earned more than $59 million at the box office -- a career best for Anderson.
Though Anderson's offbeat movies, such as "Royal Tenenbaums" and "Moonrise Kingdom," have received three Oscar nominations for screenwriting, Anderson has never before been recognized in the best director or best picture races. But between the Globes win and a Screen Actors Guild nod for best ensemble, "Grand Budapest" -- which boasts a deep roster of talent, including Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton and Owen Wilson -- has picked up momentum heading into the rest of the awards season.
"I think that movie is pretty deserving," Wilson, a regular in Anderson's movies going back to his feature debut, "Bottle Rocket," told The Times last month in the wake of the SAG nod. He laughed. "It's funny: I remember when Wes was telling me the idea, I thought, 'I don't know about that. I wouldn't bet on the commercial prospects for that movie.' But then it ended up doing really well."
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