The Golden Globes gave awards not just to A-List celebrities, but to the edgier productions that unequivocally deserved recognition, including BoyhoodThe Grand Budapest Hotel, and Birdman

Adding to the spirit of subversion was the recurring theme of free speech, which dominated the remarks of everyone from George Clooney to Jared Leto. Even hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler tackled a myriad of timely, and taboo, topics, including the Sony Hack, North Korea and Bill Cosby.

Perhaps this isn't a new mode for the Globes going forward, but on Sunday, the most readily mocked show of awards season transcended its party reputation to become something more, even if everything got started with the Entourage cast using the red carpet to film a scene for their upcoming movie.

As for what it all means for the Academy Awards, whose nominations are announced on Thursday, many fields seem more open than ever.

Richard Linklater's Boyhood dominated the Globes, winning the night's top honour, best drama, as well as best director for Linklater and best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette. Ellar Coltrane, who plays the boy, began the project at seven years old. 

The 12-years-in-the-making indie effectively captivated audiences, critics, and the industry to become one of the year's major awards contenders — a streak that could be solidified or destroyed when Oscar nominations are announced. 

"The bottom line is we're all flawed in this world. No one's perfect," said Linklater. "I want to dedicate this to my parents and to parents that are evolving everywhere, families that are just passing through this world and doing their best."

The other best drama nominees were Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, Selma, and The Theory of Everything.

Eddie Redmayne, for The Theory of Everything, and Julianne Moore in Still Alice took top honours for best actor and actress in a drama.

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton, star of Birdman, uses air quotes, something he swore he'd never do if he ever won a major award. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC/The Associated Press)

Redmayne plays the real-life role of brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 21. The actor has been praised for his skillful depiction of Hawking's gradual physical decline, eventually using only his eyes and a crooked smile to express what's inside Hawking's mind.

Redmayne beat out Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) and David Oyelowo (Selma).

In the most acclaimed performance by an actress this awards season, Moore gives a heart-rending portrayal of a vibrant and ambitious Columbia University professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.

The other nominees were: Jennifer Aniston in Cake, Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, and Reese Witherspoon in Wild.

Perhaps the chief Oscar rival to Boyhood, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's backstage romp Birdman, also fared well. It won best actor in a comedy or musical for its lead, Michael Keaton, who plays a former superhero star tinged with his own history, and best screenplay.

Reflecting on his life, Keaton's voice broke up as he thanked his son, whom he called his best friend. "Shoot," he said. "Two things I swore I wasn't going to do: cry and give air quotes."

Birdman was passed over in its Golden Globe category for best comedy film by The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Canadian win for best animated film

Directed by Wes Anderson, the film is a visually sumptuous concoction starring Ralph Fiennes — displaying admirable comic chops — as the pompous concierge of an Eastern European resort between the two world wars.
 
The other nominees in the category were Into the Woods, Pride and St. Vincent

The first award of the night went to J.K. Simmons for best supporting actor for his performance as a domineering jazz teacher in the acclaimed indie Whiplash. He thanked his confident co-star, Miles Teller, whom he called: "A young actor of such maturity and brilliance that he inspired me every day to want to scream at him and hit him in the face."

Some winners were caught by surprise. Accepting the award for best actress in a comedy or musical for her performance in Big Eyes, an unprepared Amy Adams said: "I didn't even reapply lip gloss."

Canadian director Dean DeBlois accepted the award for Best Animated Film for How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Underdogs rule the day in TV awards

As the only major awards show to honour both movies and TV, the Globes have also benefited from television's rise. Fey and Poehler alluded to that by leading the crowd in a call-and-response cheer, chanting "Movies ... Awesome! TV ... Better!"

The Golden Globes took a stand for underdogs in its television awards by honouring streaming services with two major acting awards and for making the best comedy. Rookie actress Gina Rodriguez of the CW's Jane the Virgin also took home a Best Actress in a TV comedy/musical award.

Amazon's Transparent won best comedy and Jeffrey Tambor, who plays a transgender woman who hasn't told her adult children about her journey, earned the Globe for best comic actor. Visibly moved, Tambor thanked the Globes for putting the series on the map and dedicated his award to the transgender community.

"Thank you for your courage, thank you for your inspiration, thank you for your patience and thank you for letting us be part of the change," Tambor said.

Helen Mirren-Charlie

Helen Mirren holds up a sign reading "Je Suis Charlie" at the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/The Associated Press)

Rodriguez beat out stars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Lena Dunham as best comedy actress. She is the second Latina actress to win the award in this category, after America Ferrara of Ugly Betty in 2007.

"This award is so much more than myself," said Rodriguez, who thanked her parents for allowing her to follow her dreams. "It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes."

The Affair beats out heavyweight dramas

The Showtime series The Affair, also in its first year, was honoured as best television drama. Ruth Wilson, who plays the waitress who becomes involved with a married writer, was named best actress in a drama.

The show won out over Downton Abby, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and The Good Wife, while Wilson was cited over more well-known nominees Claire Danes, Viola Davis, Julianna Margulies, and Robin Wright.

Ruth Wilson

British actress Ruth Wilson poses with her award for best actress win for television drama The Affair, which was in its first season. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Wright's co-star in House of Cards, Kevin Spacey, won best actor in a TV drama, a category that included Clive Owen, Liev Schrieber, James Spader and Dominic West.

It was Spacey's first win after eight nominations.

Maggie Gyllenhaal won as best actress in a miniseries for playing businesswoman Nessa Stein in The Honorable Woman, a political thriller that was shown on Sundance TV and in Canada on CBC. She said Hollywood is providing a greater variety of roles for women.

"What I think is new is the role for actual women in television and film," Gyllenhaal said. "That's what I think is evolutionary and revolutionary and it's turning me on."

FX's adaptation of the Coen brothers' acclaimed 1996 film, Fargo, came in the leading TV contender with five nominations and promptly won best miniseries or movie, as well as best actor, miniseries or movie, for Billy Bob Thornton.

"You can say anything in the world and get in trouble. I know this for a fact," said Thornton. "So I'm just going to say thank you."

Fey, Poehler skewer Clooney, Interview controversy

Actor Matt Bomer won a Globe as best supporting actor in a TV movie for playing a New York Times reporter with the AIDS virus in HBO's The Normal Heart. He thanked his husband and three children from the stage.

Joanna Froggatt won best supporting actress for her role of Anna Bates in PBS's Downton Abbey.

Fey-Cho-Poehler

In this image released by NBC, Tina Fey, from left, Margaret Cho, and Amy Poehler take on The Interview controversy. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC/The Associated Press)

Kicking off the proceedings, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler wasted no time in skewering Hollywood's most tender subjects: the hacking of Sony Pictures over The Interview, the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby and television rise as a cultural rival to movies.

In an opening blistering with zingers, the hosts welcomed Hollywood's "despicable, spoiled, minimally talented brats" to the Globes to celebrate "all the movies that North Korea was OK with." On several occasions during the show, the duo visited with a North Korea government character, played by Margaret Cho, who expressed her displeasure with all aspects of the show.

The Hollywood Foreign Press, a group of mostly freelance journalists, has lately cleaned up its reputation for idiosyncratic choices and awards swayed by celebrity. Last year, the HFPA chose the eventual Academy Awards best-picture winner, 12 Years a Slave, as best drama and American Hustle as best comedy.

The three-time hosts also made sure to relish their favourite target: George Clooney. Of the night's Cecil B. DeMille honouree, Fey suggested the lifetime achievement award might have been better off going to his new wife, Amal Clooney, who spent 2014 working for the United Nations.

The recent terrorist attack in Paris at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo hung heavily over the show, televised live from the Beverly Hill Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Attendees such as Clooney sported "Je Suis Charlie" pins and others like Helen Mirren held up signs that read the same on the red carpet.

Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Theor Kingma drew a standing ovation for a speech pledging support of free speech "from North Korea to Paris."

Accepting the Globe for best original song for Glory in the civil rights drama Selma, the rapper Common raised the status of the group behind the Globes even higher: "I want to thank God and the Hollywood Foreign Press."

Here is a list of the main winners: 

Film

  • Film Drama: Boyhood.
  • Actress, Drama: Julianne Moore, Still Alice.
  • Actor, Drama: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything.
  • Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood.
  • Film, Musical or Comedy: Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • Actor, Musical or Comedy: Michael Keaton, Birdman.
  • Actress, Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams, Big Eyes.
  • Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash.
  • Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood.
  • Animated Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2.
  • Screenplay: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman.
  • Original Score: Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything.
  • Original Song: Glory (music by John Legend, Common), Selma.

Television

  • Series, Drama: The Affair.
  • Actor, Drama: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards.
  • Actress, Drama: Ruth Wilson, The Affair.
  • Series, Musical or Comedy: Transparent.
  • Actress, Musical or Comedy: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin.
  • Actor, Musical or Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent.
  • Miniseries or Movie: Fargo.
  • Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman.
  • Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo.
  • Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey.
  • Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart.
With files from CBC News