The Iran hostage thriller Argo was a surprise best drama winner at today's Golden Globes, beating out the Civil War epic Lincoln, which had emerged as an awards-season favourite.
Argo also claimed the directing prize for Ben Affleck, a prize that normally bodes well for an Academy Award win - except he missed out on an Oscar nomination this time.
Affleck's now in an unusual position during Hollywood's long awards season, taking home the top filmmaking trophy at the second-highest film honours knowing he does not have a shot at an Oscar.
Argo is a longshot for best picture at the February 24 Oscars, where films almost never win if their directors are not nominated.
In a breathless, rapid-fire speech, Affleck gushed over the names of other nominees presenter Halle Berry had read off: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, Ang Lee for Life of Pi, Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty and Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained.
"Look, I don't care what the award is. When they put your name next to the names she just read off, it's an extraordinary thing in your life," Affleck said.
Les Miserables was named best musical or comedy at today's Golden Globes, while Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway claimed acting prizes, honours that could boost the lush stage adaptation's prospects at next month's Academy Awards.
The musical based on Victor Hugo's classic novel earned Jackman the Globe for musical or comedy actor as tragic hero Jean Valjean.
Hathaway won best supporting actress for her portrayal of tragic heroine Fantine, a young working class woman who is abandoned by a rich student to raise their child on her own.
''Thank you for this lovely blunt object that I will forevermore use as a weapon against self-doubt,'' Hathaway said.
Jackman was a bit hoarse from the flu, but his Globe win seemed to be the right antidote.
''I was kicking myself for not getting the flu shot, but it appears that you don't need one. I feel great,'' Jackman said.
Other acting prizes went to Jennifer Lawrence as best musical or comedy actress for the oddball romance Silver Linings Playbook and Christoph Waltz as supporting actor for the slave-revenge tale Django Unchained.
Lawrence won as best actress in a musical or comedy for her role as a troubled widow in a shaky new relationship.
The Globe winners in musical or comedy categories often aren't factors at the Oscars, which tend to favour heavier dramatic roles. But Silver Linings Playbook is a crowd-pleasing comic drama with deeper themes than the usual comedy.
And Lawrence - a 2010 Oscar nominee for her breakout film Winter's Bone who shot to stardom with the Hunger Games - delivers a nice mix of humour and melancholy.
''What does this say? I beat Meryl,'' Lawrence joked as she looked at her award, referring to fellow nominee and multiple Globe winner Meryl Streep.
Lawrence went on to thank her mother for believing in her and her father for making her maintain a sense of humour. Waltz won supporting actor for his role as a genteel bounty hunter who takes on an ex-slave as apprentice.
The win was Waltz's second supporting-actor prize at the Globes, both of them coming in Tarantino films.
Waltz's violent but paternal and polite Django character is a sharp contrast to the wickedly bloodthirsty Nazi he played in his Globe and Oscar-winning role in Tarantino's 2009 tale Inglorious Basterds.
''Let me gasp,'' said Waltz, whose competition included Django co-star Leonardo DiCaprio. ''Quentin, you know that my indebtedness to you and my gratitude knows no words.''
Meanwhile, former United States President Bill Clinton upstaged Hollywood's elite with a surprise appearance to introduce Spielberg's Civil War epic Lincoln, which was up for best drama.
The film chronicles Abraham Lincoln's final months as he tries to end the war and find common ground in a divided Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Lincoln's effort was ''forged in a cauldron of both principle and compromise,'' Clinton said.
''This brilliant film shows us how he did it and gives us hope that we can do it again.''
Amy Poehler, co-host of the Globes with Tina Fey, gushed afterward, ''Wow, what an exciting special guest! That was Hillary Clinton's husband!''
Lincoln came in with seven nominations to lead the Globes, but it went zero-for-five on its first categories, including director for Spielberg, supporting actress for Sally Field and supporting actor for Tommy Lee Jones.
The film also lost for screenplay, a prize that went to Tarantino for Django Unchained.
Tarantino thanked his cast and also the group of friends to whom he reads work-in-progress for reaction.
''You guys don't know how important you are to my process. I don't want input. I don't want you to tell me if I'm doing anything wrong. Heavens forbid,'' Tarantino said.
''When I read it to you, I hear it through your ears, and it lets me know I'm on the right track.''
The Scottish tale Brave won for best animated film. It was the sixth win for Disney's Pixar Animation unit in the seven years since the Globes added the category.
Austrian director Michael Haneke's old-age love story Amour, a surprise best-picture nominee for the Oscars, won the Globe for foreign-language film.
The top prize winner at last May's Cannes Film Festival, Amour is a grim yet moving portrait of an elderly woman tended by her husband as she is incapacitated by age.
Pop star Adele and co-writer Paul Epworth won for best song for their theme tune to the James Bond adventure Skyfall.
''Oh, my God!'' Adele gushed repeatedly, before offering gratitude to the group that presents the Globes. ''I'd like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press. I never thought I'd say that.''
The prize for musical score went to Mychael Danna for the lost-at-sea tale Life of Pi.
Hosts Fey and Poehler, who co-starred in the 2008 big-screen comedy Baby Mama, had a friendly rivalry at the Globes. Both were nominated for best actress in a TV comedy series, Fey for 30 Rock and Poehler for Parks and Recreation.
''Tina, I just want to say that I very much hope that I win,'' Poehler told Fey at the start of the show. ''Thank you. You're my nemesis. Thank you,'' Fey replied. Neither won.
Lena Dunham claimed the comedy series Globe for Girls. After that, Fey and Poehler showed up on stage with cocktail glasses, Fey joking that it was time to start drinking.
''Everyone's getting a little loose now that we're all losers,'' Poehler said.
Among other TV winners, Julianne Moore won a best-actress Globe for her role as Sarah Palin in Game Change, which also was picked as best TV mini-series or movie and earned Ed Harris a supporting-actor prize.
Best actor in a mini-series or movie went to Kevin Costner for Hatfields & McCoys.
Homeland was named best TV drama series, and its stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis received the dramatic acting awards.
Maggie Smith won as supporting actress for Downton Abbey.
Jodie Foster received the Globes' Cecil B DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.
''It is the most fun party of the year,'' Foster said, ''and tonight, I feel like the prom queen.''
Full List of Winners of the 70th Golden Globes Awards:
- Picture, Drama: Argo.
- Picture, Musical or Comedy: Les Miserables.
- Actor, Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln.
- Actress, Drama: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty.
- Director: Ben Affleck, Argo.
- Actor, Musical or Comedy: Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables.
- Actress, Musical or Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook.
- Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained.
- Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables.