Quentin Tarantino's blood-soaked "Django Unchained" won two key Golden Globes on Sunday, but Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" was still hoping for awards glory in the show's final straight, AFP reports.
There was all to play for as the three-hour awards show, Hollywood's second biggest to the Oscars, entered its final 60 minutes with the top categories still to be announced.
Other first-half winners included Anne Hathaway as best supporting actress in musical adaptation "Les Miserables," Jennifer Lawrence as best actress in a musical or comedy for "Silver Linings Playbook," and Austria's "Amour" for foreign language film.
British songstress Adele, making her first red carpet appearance since giving birth in October, won best song for the theme tune from James Bond blockbuster "Skyfall."
But Tarantino's spaghetti Western tribute "Django Unchained," about a freed slave who teams up with a dentist-turned-bounty-hunter a few years before the American Civil War, won best screenplay and best supporting actor honors.
"This is a damn surprise, and I'm happy to be surprised," said the "Pulp Fiction" director, accepting the screenplay award after Austrian actor Christoph Waltz won the first prize of the night, for his role as the bounty hunter.
Waltz beat Alan Arkin in "Argo," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master," Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln" and his "Django Unchained" co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
For the screenplay category, Tarantino beat fellow nominees Mark Boal for "Zero Dark Thirty," Tony Kushner for "Lincoln," David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook," and Chris Terrio for "Argo."
All four of those films were also in the running for the major awards of best drama film, best comedy or musical and best director, traditionally announced at the end of the show.
Co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had the A-list Hollywood audience in stitches with an opening string of gags, including one about the controversy surrounding the depiction of torture in Bigelow's latest movie.
"I haven't really been following 'Zero Dark Thirty' but when it comes to torture, I trust a woman who was married to James Cameron for three years," Poehler quipped, to a shocked look from the movie's star Jessica Chastain.
She was referring to Bigelow's director ex-husband, whom she famously beat at the Oscars two years ago, when her "Hurt Locker" beat his 3D blockbuster "Avatar" to win the top best picture prize.
Spielberg's presidential biopic won a major boost just days before Sunday's show, when it topped the nominations announced Thursday for the all-important Academy Awards next month, shortlisted in 12 Oscar categories.
"Lincoln" star Daniel Day-Lewis is favorite for best actor in a drama at the Globes, against Denzel Washington for piloting "Flight" while drunk, Richard Gere for "Arbitrage," John Hawkes for "The Sessions" and Joaquin Phoenix for "The Master."
Best actress is slightly more open: Chastain was widely favored for her role as a CIA agent relentlessly tracking bin Laden in "Zero Dark Thirty," while France's Marion Cotillard has drawn praise for "Rust and Bone."
The awards are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of fewer than 100 members seen as more celebrity-driven than the esteemed Academy of Motion and Picture Arts and Sciences, whose show is on February 24.
Reflecting the perhaps less high-brow taste of the HFPA, Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," which picked up 11 Oscar nominations, is running in only three Globes categories.
In the television categories, terrorism-themed drama "Homeland" took home two trophies for its stars, best actor Damian Lewis and best actress Claire Danes.
"Game Change," the political drama looking at John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate, won three awards -- best TV movie, best actress Julianne Moore and best supporting actor Ed Harris.
British actress Maggie Smith won the television award for best supporting actress for her work on "Downton Abbey".