American Hustle bags three Globes
The major honours at the Golden Globes ended up with the favourites as American Hustle won three awards, but 12 Years A Slave concluded the night as best film drama.
David O Russell's con-artist caper American Hustle swiped best film comedy, and acting awards for Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.
And despite missing out in the other six categories it was nominated in, the unflinching historical drama 12 Years A Slave won one of the most important gongs.
"A little bit in shock," said its British director Steve McQueen, before shrugging "Roll, Jordan, roll" - the lyrics to the old gospel song sung in the slavery epic.
However best picture was the only award for the firm, which had seven nominations, tied for the most with American Hustle.
The awards 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 said to herself. "It's so scary."
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both won for their startlingly gaunt performances 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 uninhibited work in The Wolf Of Wall Street.
He thanked director Martin Scorsese for his mentorship (Wol" is their fifth film together) and for "allowing me to stalk you to make this movie".
Alfonso Cuaron won best director for the space odyssey Gravity, a worldwide hit and critical favourite.
The film will probably join American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave as an Oscar frontrunner on Thursday, when Academy Awards nominations are announced.
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, California, ceremony was just as successful as last year's show.
The pair came out with a spree of punch lines, dishing them around the Beverly Hills Hilton, much to the delight of its starry audience.
Matt Damon, Meryl Streep and, naturally, George Clooney were among the targets. Fey particularly had the crowd roaring with a description of Gravity, which stars Sandra Bullock and Clooney.
"George Clooney would rather float away in space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age," said Fey.
The Globes are unique in celebrating both film and television. Perhaps more than ever before, those lines were blurred this time, capping a year in which TV was much celebrated as the more dynamic storytelling medium.
The beloved and now concluded Breaking Bad earned some of the night's loudest cheers for its first Globe wins: best drama TV series and best actor in a drama for Bryan Cranston.
Cranston called his honour a lovely way to say goodbye".
The big TV film winner, the Liberace melodrama Behind The Candelabra, was made for HBO by one of cinema's most talented directors, Steven Soderbergh, after Hollywood passed.
Along with a best movie Globe, Michael Douglas won best actor for his performance as the flamboyant classical pianist. He thanked his co-star Damon.
Actors like Briton Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, and Dancing on the Edge) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said, and 'Veep) were nominated for both film and TV.
U2 and Danger Mouse won the award for best original song for Ordinary Love, recorded for the Nelson Mandela biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."
U2 singer Bono said working on the film completed a decades-long journey with Mandela, having played an anti-apartheid concert some 35 years ago.
"This man turned our life upside down, right-side up," he said of the South African leader who died in December. "A man who refused to hate not because he didn't have rage or anger or those things, but that he thought love would do a better job."
Cate Blanchett won best actress in a drama for her Blanche DuBois-like performance in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.
Allen was honoured, too, with the Cecil B DeMille lifetime achievement award. Always an awards no-show, he left Diane Keaton to accept on his behalf.
Veteran British actress Jacqueline Bisset, five times a nominee who won her first Golden Globe, savoured the moment in getting a best supporting actress trophy.
She played Lady Cremone in the BBC production of Dancing On The Edge.
Her acceptance was punctuated by silence, she kept talking when the music tried to usher her offstage and even forced the censor to press the "bleep" button after she uttered a profanity.
"I want to thank my mother," she said. "What did she say? Go to hell and don't come back."