BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The Iran hostage thriller "Argo" was a surprise best-drama winner at Sunday's Golden Globes, beating out the Civil War epic "Lincoln," which had emerged as an awards-season favorite.
"Argo" also claimed the directing prize for Ben Affleck, a prize that typically bodes well for an Academy Award win – except he missed out on an Oscar nomination this time.
Affleck's now in an unusual position during Hollywood's long awards season, taking home the top filmmaking trophy at the second-highest film honors knowing he does not have a shot at an Oscar.
And the night left "Argo" taking home the top prize at the Globes but standing as a longshot for best picture at the Feb. 24 Oscars, where films almost never win if their directors are not nominated.
In a breathless, rapid-fire speech, Affleck gushed over the names of other nominees presenter Halle Berry had read off: Steven Spielberg for "Lincoln," Ang Lee for "Life of Pi," Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty" and Quentin Tarantino for "Django Unchained."
"Look, I don't care what the award is. When they put your name next to the names she just read off, it's an extraordinary thing in your life," Affleck said.
"Les Misérables" was named best musical or comedy, while Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway claimed acting prizes.
Besides the three wins for "Les Misérables" and two for "Argo," the show was a mixed bag, with awards spreads around a number of films. "Lincoln" came in leading with seven nominations but lost all but one, for Daniel Day-Lewis as best actor in the title role of "Lincoln."
"If I had this on a timeshare basis with my wonderful gifted colleagues, I might just hope to keep it for one day of the year, and I'd be happy with that," said Day-Lewis, who previously won a Globe for "There Will Be Blood" and is a two-time Oscar winner.
"Zero Dark Thirty" star Jessica Chastain won the Globe for dramatic actress as a CIA agent obsessively pursuing Bin Laden.
Other acting prizes went to Jennifer Lawrence as best musical or comedy actress for the oddball romance "Silver Linings Playbook" and Christoph Waltz as supporting actor for the slave-revenge tale "Django Unchained."
"Les Misérables," the musical based on Victor Hugo's classic novel earned Jackman the Globe for musical or comedy actor as tragic hero Jean Valjean. Hathaway won supporting actress as a single mom forced into prostitution.
Former President Bill Clinton upstaged Hollywood's elite with a surprise appearance to introduce Spielberg's Civil War epic "Lincoln," which was up for best drama. The film chronicles Abraham Lincoln's final months as he tries to end the war and find common ground in Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.
Lincoln's effort was "forged in a cauldron of both principle and compromise," Clinton said. "This brilliant film shows us how he did it and gives us hope that we can do it again."
Amy Poehler, co-host of the Globes with Tina Fey, gushed afterward, "Wow, what an exciting special guest! That was Hillary Clinton's husband!"