The little movie that could took one step closer to the ultimate prize on Sunday night in Beverly Hills, when Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" was named the best drama of the year at the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards.
The victory doesn't secure the film's status as an Oscar frontrunner, given the vast difference between the 6,000-plus members of the Academy and the 81 eligible voters of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But it reinforces the adventurous family drama’s status as the 2014 film that is receiving the most across-the-board support heading into the crucial three weeks of awards season, when Academy nominations will be announced and the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild will give out their awards.
Also read: Golden Globes Winners: The Complete List
Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “Birdman,” the film besides “Boyhood” that had won the most awards, took a hit from voters when it lost the Globes’ Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical category to Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which is showing surprising strength this season.
It had to settle for wins for screenplay, and for lead actor Michael Keaton. (The loss to "Grand Budapest" could have been both satisfying and a bit awkward for Fox Searchlight, which released both films.)
"Birdman" fell victim to an tendency of Globes voters to split the vote to an odd degree. "Grand Budapest" lost in all the categories in which it was nominated, including losses to "Birdman" for writing and "Boyhood" for directing, before it was unexpectedly named the year's best comedy or musical, its only win of the night.
Overall, the 14 film awards went to 10 different movies, with no film winning more than three. And the roster of winners' studios was a roll call of one true indie -- IFC, with its three "Boyhood" wins -- and a batch of major-affiliated indies: three for Sony Pictures Classics (one each for "Still Alice," "Leviathan" and "Whiplash"), three for Fox Searchlight (two for "Birdman" and one for "Grand Budapest"), two for Focus Features (both for "The Theory of Everything").
The Weinstein Company, which came in with "The Imitation Game" as its big hope, had to settle for a single award for Amy Adams in "Big Eyes." And Paramount's "Selma" settled for a single win of its own, for a song by John Legend and Common.
See photos: Golden Globe Awards: Winners Gallery (Photos)
This being the Globes, with its plethora of categories designed to get stars to show up, the acting races found room for both of the Best Actor frontrunners: Eddie Redmayne won in the drama category for “Theory of Everything,” and Keaton in the comedy-or-musical category for “Birdman.” If you buy the theory that the Globes provide a chance for Oscar contenders to impress voters with their acceptance speeches, Keaton's was more memorable but a lot lengthier, while Redmayne did honorably considering that Globes announcers had been haranguing attendees during the last few commercial breaks telling them that they had to keep their speeches short.
Julianne Moore's win for "Still Alice" was a sign that the well-liked actress has real strength even among voters who might be expected to be dazzled by fellow nominee Jennifer Aniston's star power, while Amy Adams' surprise win in the comedy-actress category gave the appearance of a boost to the actress who seems to be battling Aniston for that last best-actress slot at the Oscars.
The supporting roles went to the favorites, J.K. Simmons for "Whiplash" and Patricia Arquette for "Boyhood." Simmons' speech was succinct but clever and touching, while Arquette was heartfelt but should probably wean herself from reading from a piece of paper before she gets too many more awards.
Before the show began one longtime HFPA-watcher who'd recently spent time with the group stood at the back of the Beverly Hilton ballroom and predicted a night of wins for the consensus critical favorites. "They like their newfound credibility," the person said. "They like it when people write, 'We can't find anything to complain about at the Globes anymore.'"
And for the most part, the choices were respectable. The HFPA may have gone in an unexpected direction when it gave the animated-feature award to "How to Train Your Dragon 2" over "The Lego Movie" and "Big Hero 6," but it also went dark and tough when it gave its foreign-language award to the Russian film "Leviathan" over the slightly more accessible "Ida" and "Force Majeure."
In the TV categories, meanwhile, Globes voters proved that they're the anti-Emmys -- instead of awarding the same shows year after year, they love to go for what's new. The 11 television awards were spread out among eight different shows, with no show winning more than two and six of the eight being in their first year of Globes eligibility.
The roster of newcomers included "Transparent," "Jane the Virgin," "The Affair," "Fargo" and the HBO movie "The Normal Heart." It was enough to make Joanne Froggatt, who won for the fourth season of "Downton Abbey," stand out like an interloper in a newcomers'-only club -- though she was later joined by Kevin Spacey, who won for the second season of "House of Cards" and pointed out that he'd had seven previous nominations without a win.
This doesn't mean much for the Oscars or the Emmys, but it made for some festive moments at the afterparties that filled the Beverly Hilton and its surroundings as soon as the show ended -- including one at the Warner Bros/InStyle when Linklater, Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater and producers Jonathan Sehring and John Sloss arrived about 40 minutes after winning the night's final award.
Linklater stopped to say hello to "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor, a fellow Globes winner, and the two men shared a toast of sorts, clinking their trophies together. Then Linklater looked at the red carpet that led into the party, shook his head and said a single word: "Awesome."