LOS ANGELES (AFP) – “American Hustle” won big at the Golden Globes Sunday, while harrowing drama “12 Years a Slave” took the coveted best drama prize, fueling buzz ahead of the all-important Oscars.
“Hustle,” the stylish crime caper by director David O. Russell, took best musical/comedy film and two acting awards, while the critically-acclaimed “Slave” had to make do with the one big prize.
Hollywood turned out in their red-carpet finest for the 71st annual Golden Globes, Tinseltown’s biggest honors fest before the Academy Awards in March — and a key indicator as to who could be tipped to take home Oscars.
Australian Cate Blanchett won best drama actress for Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and Matthew McConaughey triumphed for best drama actor in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
“The Wolf of Wall Street” star Leonardo DiCaprio and Amy Adams from “Hustle” won the top acting awards in the musical/comedy category.
Best director went to Mexican Alfonso Cuaron for spectacular 3D space drama “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded in orbit after a space station accident.
On the small screen, cult series “Breaking Bad” took the best drama series crown and best drama actor Globe for Bryan Cranston, while best TV movie or mini-series went to Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra.”
Blanchett paid tribute to Woody Allen, who also received the Cecil B DeMille award for lifetime achievement at the Globes — accepted on his behalf by Diane Keaton.
“People like me are in his slipstream picking up these heavy things that make biceps look great,” said Blanchett.
There was a near disaster just hours before the show began, when a sprinkler malfunctioned and soaked a large part of the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton Hotel, but workers quickly mopped up the mess.
In their opening skit, comedy stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, hosting the show for the second year, made fun of Clooney — who sacrifices himself to save Bullock’s life in “Gravity.”
“It’s the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age,” said Fey.
The first prize of the night went to “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence for her supporting role in “American Hustle,” inspired by an FBI sting operation in the 1970s known as ABSCAM.
The Oscar-winning 23-year-old said she hopes to do more than act.
“I would love to direct one day, but I don’t want to suck. I want to keep learning,” Lawrence told reporters backstage.
Adams took best actress for her role in the movie, which also won nominations for Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper.
But Bale was beaten by DiCaprio in the best musical/comedy actor category, won by the “Titanic” star for Martin Scorsese’s epic about greed in the world of high finance.
And Cooper was defeated by Jared Leto, who took best supporting actor for his portrayal of a transgender woman suffering from AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Based on a true story, “Dallas Buyers Club” stars McConaughey as an AIDS sufferer who smuggles drugs for other patients to treat the HIV virus in the early days of the disease in the 1980s.
The night featured some snubs: among those going home empty-handed were “Nebraska” which had five nods, “Captain Phillips” with four, and “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Philomena” with three each.
Best foreign film went to Italian Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty,” defeating the Cannes-winning “Blue is the Warmest Color” as well as “The Hunt,” “The Past” and “The Wind Rises.”
Disney’s musical fairy tale adaptation “Frozen” won the Golden Globe for best animated film, beating “The Croods” and “Despicable Me 2.”
The Globes are run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), and voted on by barely 80 journalists — in contrast to the Oscars, chosen by 6,000 members of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” have had a series of boosts in recent weeks, winning nominations from the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA).
In the last 10 years, all but one of the winners of the DGA’s top prize went on to win the best director Oscar.
Nominations for the Oscars will be announced on Thursday. The Academy Awards will be held on March 2.