The Golden Globes inched closer to legitimacy in its 72nd show, giving awards not just to A-List celebrities, but to the edgier productions that unequivocally deserved recognition, including "Boyhood," ''The 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 honor, best drama, as well as best director for Linklater and best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette.
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.
"Bottom line is we're all flawed in this world. No one's perfect," said Linklater. "I want to dedicate this to parents that are evolving everywhere and families that are just passing through this world and doing their best."
Tied with two wins each were Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's dark showbiz film "Birdman" and the Stephen Hawking biopic "The Theory of Everything," in which Eddie Redmayne emerged victorious in one of the evening's most hotly contested categories, best actor in a drama.
For his portrayal of famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Redmayne beat out Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game"), Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher"), David Oyelowo ("Selma") and Jake Gyllenhaal ("Nightcrawler").
While Michael Keaton took the best actor prize for "Birdman," the film flailed in the best comedy or musical category, losing out to Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Beloved by critics and audiences, Anderson's dark, whimsical fable was considered a bit of an underdog in the category and awards season on the whole.
Awards favorite Julianne Moore won best actress in a drama for her startling performance as an academic with early on-set Alzheimer's in "Still Alice," and Amy Adams surprised in taking best actress in a comedy or musical for portraying Margaret Keane in "Big Eyes."
Looking forward to Oscar nominations, the big question has become whether or not "The Imitation Game," ''Selma," or "Foxcatcher" can regain their footing in the race, and, if Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken," shut out at the Globes, could possibly emerge as a serious contender, too. All of the films have come under recent scrutiny for their fact-bending depiction of historical events.
Jessica Chastain, whose "Zero Dark Thirty" suffered the same sort of examination, said that the whole trend of fact-checking movies makes her really sad. "We don't make documentaries," she said on the red carpet.
But the tenor of the evening consistently catapulted back to current events.
In an opening blistering with zingers, hosts Fey and Poehler 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.
Clooney, honored with a Cecil B. DeMille award, wore a "Je Suis Charlie" button on the lapel of his suit and seriously addressed both the terrorist attack in Paris and the Sony Hack. "This is a really important moment," Clooney said backstage. "We have to stand up together or we end up falling apart."
The television winners also suggested a current of the unexpected, with awards for Maggie Gyllenhaal for "The Honorable Woman," and Gina Rodriguez in CW's popular "Jane the Virgin."
AMC's adaptation of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1996 film, "Fargo," won best miniseries or movie, as well as best actor, miniseries or movie, for Billy Bob Thornton. It tied with Showtime's "The Affair," which came away with two nods.
Amazon, crashing the party like Netflix did before it, celebrated its first — and second — Golden Globe for the sexual identity comedy "Transparent," winning best TV series, musical or comedy. The show's star, Jeffery Tambor, landed best actor in the category, dedicating his award to the transgender community.
Led by Fey and Poehler, the Globes have been on a terrific upswing in recent years. Last year's awards drew 20.9 million viewers, the most since 2004. And accepting the Globe for 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."