The film "12 Years a Slave" took the coveted Golden Globe for best drama and "American Hustle" won best musical or comedy on Sunday in a kick-off to the Hollywood awards season that foreshadows a wide scattering of honours for a year crowded with high-quality movies.
Only two films garnered more than one award at the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards, an important but not entirely accurate barometer for the industry's highest honours, the Academy Awards to be held on March 2.
"American Hustle," a romp through corruption in the 1970s directed by David O. Russell, was the top winner with three Globes for its seven nominations, while modest AIDS film "Dallas Buyers Club" starring Matthew McConaughey, took home two acting awards for him and co-star Jared Leto.
British director Steve McQueen's brutal depiction of pre-Civil war American slavery in "12 Years a Slave," based on a true story of free black man Solomon Northup who was sold into slavery, only won one award out of its seven nominations. It was entirely shut out from the acting honours, for which it had been a presumed favourite.
But best drama is the top award of the Golden Globes and McQueen thanked actor and producer Brad Pitt, who played a small part in the film but a big role in getting it made. "Without you this movie would never had gotten made, so thank you, wherever you may be," McQueen said.
Among those that left empty-handed were two darlings of critics, the Coen brothers' paean to the 1960s folk scene "Inside Llewyn Davis" and Alexander Payne's homage to the heartland, "Nebraska."