BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - The film "12 Years a Slave" took the coveted Golden Globe for best drama and "American Hustle" won best musical or comedy in a kick-off to the Hollywood awards season that foreshadows a wide scattering of honors for a year crowded with high-quality movies.
"American Hustle," a romp through corruption in the 1970s directed by David O. Russell, was the top winner, taking home three of its seven nominations for the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards, an important but not entirely accurate barometer for the film industry's highest honors, the Academy Awards to be held on March 2.
Director Steve McQueen's brutal depiction of pre-Civil war slavery in "12 Years a Slave," based on a true story of a free black man sold into slavery, only won one award out of its seven nominations and was shut out from the acting honors.
The top drama acting awards went to Cate Blanchett for her turn as a riches-to-rags socialite in Woody Allen's tragicomedy "Blue Jasmine" and Matthew McConaughey for his unlikely AIDS activist in "Dallas Buyers Club," for which he lost 50 pounds (22.7 kg).
"Ron Woodroof's story was an underdog, for years it was an underdog, we couldn't get it made ... I'm so glad it got passed on so many times or it wouldn't have come to me," said McConaughey, widely lauded for a string of strong performances this year.
His co-star Jared Leto took the best supporting actor Globe for his role as Rayon, a transsexual with AIDS.
Amy Adams won best actress in a musical or comedy for her role as the conniving partner to a con-man played by Christian Bale in "American Hustle," while Jennifer Lawrence took best supporting actress for her turn as his loopy wife.
Leonardo DiCaprio won best actor in a musical or comedy for his role as a fast-living, drug-popping, swindling stockbroker in the "The Wolf of Wall Street," his fifth collaboration with director Martin Scorsese.
"As the history of cinema unfolds, you will be regarded as one of the great artists of all time," DiCaprio told Scorsese as he accepted the award.
CUARON WINS BEST DIRECTOR
Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron won best director for his existential space thriller, "Gravity," a film starring Sandra Bullock as an astronaut tumbling through space that has won praise for its groundbreaking technical advances.
Director Spike Jonze took home the Globe for best screenplay for his quirky computer-age comedy "Her," starring Joaquin Phoenix.
The Golden Globes, under the purview of some 90 journalists in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), have outsized clout in the awards race as buzz around these first honors influences members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in their voting for the Oscars.
Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, but voting has already concluded. The Globes have a mixed record when it comes to predicting the Oscar best picture, though last year's best drama winner, "Argo," did go on to win the Academy Award for best movie.
The show, telecast live on Comcast Corp's NBC, was hosted by comic actors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and reunited Hollywood's A-listers and its powerbrokers, who all took playful pokes from the duo in their second straight gig at the Globes.
The HFPA honored Woody Allen with the Cecil B. DeMille award recognizing outstanding contribution to the entertainment field. Famously averse to awards shows, the 78-year-old Allen sent one of his favorite actresses, Diane Keaton, to stand in for him.
(Additional reporting by Nichola Groom and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Sandra Maler)