An unpredictable Hollywood awards season took a few more sharp curves at the Golden Globes: Jodie Foster gave a dramatic and at times cryptic speech, former President Clinton put in a surprise appearance, and all that on-stage drama upstaged the movies in contention, which split the top awards.
"Les Misérables," Tom Hooper's adaptation of the long-running stage musical set in 19th century France, was Sunday night's top honoree by the numbers, winning three trophies. In the comedy or musical categories, "Les Misérables" collected best picture and actor for Hugh Jackman as ex-con Jean Valjean, while Anne Hathaway won supporting actress for her performance as the consumptive prostitute Fantine.
"It's the Mt. Everest of filmmaking, making a movie musical," Jackman told reporters backstage. "These guys [at producer Working Title] were crazy enough to do it."
PHOTOS: Golden Globes 2013 red carpet
But the CIA drama "Argo" won two arguably weightier awards: director for Ben Affleck and best picture in the drama category, a boost for Affleck, who was passed over for an Oscar nomination last week.
"I don't care what the award is," Affleck said in his speech, acknowledging his fellow nominees Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. "These nominees are exceptional talents. I truly to God never thought I'd be in the same breath as them."
Asked backstage about being left out of the Oscar director noms, Affleck said: "We got nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture.... If you can't be happy with that then your prospects for long-term happiness are probably pretty dim."
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The Golden Globes, which are voted on by the nearly 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., are imperfect Academy Awards predictors — last year, the silent, black-and-white comedy "The Artist" collected the most Globes and went on to win the Academy Award for best picture, but in 2011 the top winner on Globes night, the Facebook drama "The Social Network," lost out to "The King's Speech" on Oscar night.
Still, the Globes are frequently entertaining, sometimes zany, TV. And Sunday night was no exception, when Foster, who was on hand to receive the normally uneventful Cecil B. DeMille Award, gave a speech in which she spoke about her sexual orientation, while also talking about her need for privacy and hinting at changes in her career.
"There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard," Foster, 50, said, adding that she's "single." The speech also covered her agent, her aging mother and the reality show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."
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In another surprise to almost everyone in the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Clinton appeared on stage to introduce a clip from Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."
The drama, which had been up for seven awards, had an otherwise quiet night, collecting only one trophy, actor in a drama for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as the 16th president.
"Are you sure there's room for another ex-president on the stage?" Day-Lewis said, when accepting his award. "If you thought that was showing off, Her Majesty the Queen of England is going to parachute in to make a last-minute bid for 'Skyfall.'"
Sunday's ceremony, which occurred while academy voters are contemplating their selections, helped build momentum for some actors on the Oscar trail.
Golden Globes 2013: List | Red Carpet | Winners | Ballot | Show moments | Quotes
Jessica Chastain won actress in a drama for her portrayal of Maya, an intense CIA operative hunting Osama bin Laden in "Zero Dark Thirty." In her speech, Chastain singled out the women behind the film, Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, financier Megan Ellison and director Kathryn Bigelow.
"I can't help but compare my character of Maya to you," Chastain said to Bigelow. "Two powerful, fearless women."
Despite the weighty subject matter of the films represented and the intensity of Foster's speech, comedians Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who co-hosted the show, kept the mood light.
PHOTOS: Golden Globes 2013 red carpet
"I haven't really been following the controversy over 'Zero Dark Thirty,'" Poehler said of the Bigelow film. "But when it comes to torture, I trust a lady who spent three years married to James Cameron."
Jennifer Lawrence took home the trophy for actress in a comedy or musical for her performance as an unhinged young widow in "Silver Linings Playbook," while Christoph Waltz won supporting actor for his playing a dentist-turned-bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino's slavery revenge epic "Django Unchained."