The black-and-white silent film The Artist came away with the most prizes with three wins at the Golden Globes, but the show spread the love around among a broad range of films and TV shows.
Ricky Gervais, who has ruffled feathers at past shows with sharp wisecracks aimed at Hollywood's elite and the Globes show itself, returned as host for the third-straight year.
Wins for The Artist included best musical or comedy and best actor in a musical or comedy for Jean Dujardin, while the family drama The Descendants claimed two awards, as best drama and dramatic actor for George Clooney.
Other acting winners were Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, and Octavia Spencer, while Martin Scorsese earned the directing honour.
Streep won for dramatic actress as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, her eighth win at the Globes. Williams won for actress in a musical or comedy as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, 52 years after Monroe's win for the same prize at the Globes.
Dujardin won for musical or comedy actor for the silent film The Artist.
The supporting-acting Globes went to Plummer as an elderly widower who comes out as gay in the father-son drama Beginners and Spencer as a brassy housekeeper joining other black maids to share stories about life with their white employers in the 1960s Deep South tale The Help.
Scorsese won for the Paris adventure Hugo. It was the third directing Globe in the last 10 years for Scorsese, who previously won for Gangs of New York and The Departed and received the show's Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement two years ago.
Dujardin became the first star in a silent film to earn a major Hollywood prize since the early days of film. He won as a silent-era star whose career unravels amid the rise of talking pictures in the late 1920s.
The Artist, which led the Globes with six nominations, also won the musical-score prize for composer Ludovic Bource but lost out on three other awards, including the screenplay prize for Michel Hazanavicius.