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 film, which had seven nominations, tied for the most with American Hustle.
The awards returned Jennifer, a winner last year for David'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 (Wolf 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. Tina particularly had the crowd roaring with a description of Gravity, which stars Sandra Bullock and George.
"George Clooney would rather float away in space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age," said Tina.
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. 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.
Woody 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.