'12 Years a Slave,' 'American Hustle' take home Golden Globes for best films

Unflinching and unforgettable, "12 Years a Slave" was named best drama of 2013 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Sunday night.

The true-life story of a black New Yorker cruelly robbed of his freedom and family in the mid-1800s took the top prize at the 71st annual Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton over "Gravity," "Captain Phillips," "Rush" and "Philomena."

Director Steve McQueen thanked his genius cast. "Hit me with some names," he asked his actors and crew when he blanked on who else to thank, closing with Brad Pitt. "Without you this movie never would have got made."

On the comedy-musical side of the equation, the prize went to con-artist caper and blast from the past "American Hustle."

It's an entertaining, zany trip back to the late 1970s and a seemingly unlikely subject for a movie -- the Abscam scandal -- starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Globe winners Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.

Mexico native Alfonso Cuaron received the top directing prize for "Gravity" and thanked actress Sandra Bullock for not quitting when she thought he said (in his accented English) he was giving her "herpes" instead of an "earpiece."

Top acting prizes also went to Matthew McConaughey from "Dallas Buyers Club," Cate Blanchett from "Blue Jasmine," Leonardo DiCaprio from "The Wolf of Wall Street" and Jared Leto from "Dallas Buyers Club."

Mr. McConaughey passed on romcoms and action movies that came with "beautiful paychecks," instead losing weight, gambling on "Dallas Buyers Club" and gaining gravitas in the process. He earned his first Globe nomination and win for his portrayal of a Texas electrician, rodeo cowboy and homophobic womanizer who is given 30 days to live but refuses to surrender to AIDS without a ferocious fight.

"Unexpected but graciously accepted," Mr. McConaughey said, acknowledging his fellow nominees, who included Robert Redford. "Dallas Buyers Club" had been an underdog project for 20 years and was turned down 86 times, until it came to him. He thanked his mom for booting him outside and away from the TV (a blessing for a budding actor) and his wife for encouraging him in the same way. "This film was never about dying, it was always about living," he said.

Actress Diane Keaton accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Woody Allen. Her 45-year friendship with him fills her with "pride and affection and even love," she said with nary a "La-di-da" except when referring to Annie Hall.

Although she acknowledged that Woody might have ordered the hook as she turned sentimental, she offered a sweet short rendition of the "Make New Friends" song so familiar to Scouts and others. It came after she saluted the New Yorker's ability to write "four decades of unforgettable female characters" for 179 of the world's most captivating actresses.

Mr. Allen's "Blue Jasmine" opened way, way back in August, but no one could forget Ms. Blanchett's blend of haughty elegance and heartbreaking fragility as a socialite who has lost everything, from her husband and Fifth Avenue apartment to her bumpy attempt to start over on the West Coast.

Ms. Blanchett, with a few vodkas under her belt, said she was very happy to join other actresses at the table during a day when she went to the magic castle with her children. She thanked Woody Allen for calling her and not one of the other incredible women in the room.

Add another f-word to the 506 unmentionables uttered in "The Wolf of Wall Street." This one, though, is finally a second Globe for Mr. DiCaprio, who often seems to be the odd (if devilishly handsome) man out at awards time. He won for best actor in a musical or comedy.

The 39-year-old plays amoral stockbroker Jordan Belfort in the Martin Scorsese film. Mr. DiCaprio paid tribute to his fellow nominees, particularly veteran Bruce Dern, and said to the director, "Thank you for allowing me to stalk you into making this movie. Look, I grew up in a generation of actors who revered your work," he said, calling Mr. Scorsese a visionary, a risk taker and someone "who put the very fabric of our culture up on screen."

Mr. DiCaprio previously won a Globe for another Scorsese collaboration, "The Aviator," about Howard Hughes.

Mr. Leto, winner of the supporting actor honor, had not made a movie in almost six years, but he wasn't sitting idle; he and his alternative rock band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, played to audiences as large as 100,000 and sold millions of albums. When he returned to acting with "Dallas Buyers Club," he wasted away to 114 pounds to play Rayon, a transsexual with AIDS, and started each morning by donning the heels that sent him swaying some days.

"It was a very transformative role," he said, revealing he waxed his entire body including his eyebrows. "It's more than an honor to come back and have this love and this support. I never expected it, I never even dreamed of it. ... And to the Rayons of the world, thanks for the inspiration."

In a year when it's raining men who could be honored for their performances, the field of women wasn't quite so robust. However, Ms. Adams edged out Meryl Streep and three others for best actress in a musical or comedy thanks to "American Hustle," in which she plays a onetime stripper who pretends to be an Englishwoman with London banking connections.

"David, you write such amazing roles for women," Ms. Adams said, addressing filmmaker David O. Russell. "Today is my 15-year anniversary of moving out to LA," she said, recalling that she hoped to land a commercial and instead found a manager who "had a feeling" about the newcomer that benefitted both.

The first award of the night went to Ms. Lawrence for her talkative, tempestuous Long Island housewife married to a con man in "American Hustle." It turns out she was a fan of Mr. Russell before she even knew his name, recalling how she watched 2004's "I Heart Huckabees" and was "so in awe and floored by this uncharted humor" that she Googled to find out who made it.

If Ms. Lawrence was terrified and shaking, Jacqueline Bisset was close to tears after winning the supporting actress honor for miniseries or movie for "Dancing on the Edge." The 69-year-old's rambling speech closed by suggesting "forgiveness for yourself and the others" as the best beauty treatment of all.

Co-host Amy Poehler temporarily turned into a breathless winner (and makeout partner of Bono) courtesy of her turn on the comedy "Parks and Recreation." In a night of one surprise after another, Andy Samberg won TV actor, musical or comedy, for his goofball cop in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," also winner of the best comedy series Globe.

Best miniseries or movie honors went to "Behind the Candelabra," and Michael Douglas, who played Liberace, won for best actor in that category. "You ever thought about Liberace?" Steven Soderbergh asked Mr. Douglas while they were shooting "Traffic" a decade before they would successfully collaborate on such a project for HBO.

"Oh my gosh," Bryan Cranston said of his first Globe for "Breaking Bad," also named best TV drama in its final season. He said it was a wonderful way to say goodbye to high school teacher turned meth manufacturer Walter White, who brought the world "mirth and merriment."

"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan was thrilled the honor provided "one more chance to thank the fans of the show, especially the early adopters as they say in the electronics business, the folks who were watching since season one, the grim days when we had very little viewership. Thank you for helping us to get to here."

Robin Wright, attending with fiance Ben Foster, was top TV actress in a drama for "House of Cards." She had no speech prepared but remembered to thank the nearly 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. "You guys are a gaggle of characters, I gotta say."

Jon Voight, who plays the father of Liev Schreiber's title character in Showtime's "Ray Donovan," picked up the Globe for supporting actor, series, miniseries or movie. Elisabeth Moss triumphed as best actress, miniseries or movie, for her New Zealand investigating detective in "Top of the Lake."

"Frozen" was top animated movie, the Italian "The Great Beauty" (now at the Regent Square Theater) was best foreign film. Spike Jonze may be a self-described "terrible public speaker," but he's the Globe-winning screenwriter of "Her."

"All Is Lost" took the gold for original score, but not even the musicals could top "Ordinary Love," winner of original song for Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. and Brian Burton. It appears in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.

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