BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - Austrian actor Christoph Waltz and Adele notched early wins at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, while "Lincoln" and Iran hostage thriller "Argo" were in a close race for the top honor, best movie drama.
Waltz carried off the Golden Globe for best supporting movie actor for his role as a dentist-turned-bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino's quirky slavery Western "Django Unchained."
"Let me gasp!" said Waltz. "It's extraordinary ... Quentin, my indebtedness and gratitude to you know no words."
British Grammy-winning singer Adele, in her first major public appearance since giving birth in October, shared the trophy for performing and co-writing the best original song, "Skyfall," for the James Bond movie of the same name.
Comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, hosting the Globes for the first time, got the ceremony off to a rollicking start with jokes about some of the top Hollywood stars in the audience, and impersonations of Johnny Depp and Julianne Moore.
Pointing out "Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow at the glitzy dinner, Poehler said she had not been closely following the controversy over the torture scenes depicted in the thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
But, she added, "when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron," Poehler quipped, to roars from the audience. Bigelow is the former wife of Cameron, director of blockbusters "Avatar" and "Titanic."
"Meryl Streep is not here. I hear she has the flu, and I'm told she is amazing in it," Poehler joked about the esteemed actress.
The Golden Globes, handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has become the entertainment industry's second-biggest awards show after February's Oscars, or Academy Awards.
But its influence on the Academy Awards has been somewhat sapped this year because Oscar nominations were announced three days ago, instead of a week after the Globes awards show.
TV HONORS FOR 'HOMELAND'
Unlike the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes also honor television dramas and comedies.
On Sunday they chose Showtime terrorism thriller "Homeland" as best drama series, and the show's Damian Lewis as best actor for his role as a Marine returning from Iraq who is turned by Muslim extremists.
HBO's drama "Game Change" about Sarah Palin's 2008 run for U.S. vice president won best TV film, while Moore won for her portrayal of the polarizing former Alaska governor.
In the movie category, "Lincoln," Spielberg's account of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's battle to end slavery, went into the evening with a leading seven nominations.
But it faces strong competition from "Argo," and "Django Unchained," which started the evening with five nominations.
"Zero Dark Thirty" and visually arresting shipwreck tale "Life of Pi" round out the best dramatic film contest.
The Golden Globes also hand out prizes for best comedy or musical, where the lavish screen version of hit stage musical "Les Miserables" is facing strong competition from comedy "Silver Linings Playbook."
Jennifer Lawrence won the award for best actress in a comedy movie for her role as a young widow in "Silver Linings Playbook."
"Les Miserables" stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway hoped to take home a Golden Globe later on Sunday.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Stacey Joyce)