The drama and actor wins for “The Descendants” at Sunday’s Golden Globes look to put the George Clooney pic into a horserace with “The Artist,” winner of musical or comedy pic and two other statues at the kudocast.

But in typical Globes fashion, no single film swept the night. The three wins for “The Artist” included comedy or musical actor for Jean Dujardin and Ludovic Bource for original score.

“The Artist” has outpaced the kudos field from the start of awards season, winning the most critics’ awards, as well as nominations from all three guilds. But “The Descendants” has stayed in the race, also picking up DGA, PGA and SAG nominations (only “Midnight in Paris” matched that feat), as well as top honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics and an adapted screenplay nod from the Writers’ Guild (for which “The Artist” was ineligible).

Martin Scorsese’s directing win for “Hugo” — which he won over both “Descendants” director Alexander Payne and “Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius — will likely keep his name in the mix for his love letter to film preservation.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. spread the wealth among long-respected stars and a few fresh choices, with acting trophies to Meryl Streep for her dramatic lead as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” and Michelle Williams for musical or comedy actress in “My Week With Marilyn” while supporting kudos went to Christopher Plummer for “The Beginners” and Octavia Spencer for “The Help.”

The show was full of first-time Globes winners, including past nominees Williams, Plummer, Idris Elba (BBC America’s “Luther”), Matt LeBlanc (Showtime’s “Episodes”) and even Madonna, who won best song for the first time in six tries (though she also won an acting award for “Evita”). Other newbies: Dujardin, Spencer, “Game of Thrones” hero Peter Dinklage, “The Artist” composer Bource and the nation of Iran, which took home its first foreign-language Globe for “A Separation.”

On the veteran side, Streep’s win was her eighth, giving her the Globe over Viola Davis of “The Help,” a surprise that even Streep diplomatically acknowledged. Streep said her win was “embarassing in a year that saw so many extraordinary performances by women in leading roles,” singling out her “Doubt” co-star.

Both Steven Spielberg and Scorsese made their way to the stage for wins. Scorsese’s statuette for “Hugo” was his third career Golden Globe, following wins for 2002’s “Gangs of New York” and 2007’s “The Departed.” Spielberg accepted the best animated film award for his motion-capture pic “Adventures of Tintin,” a bit of a no-brainer given the international appeal of the Belgian character.

“The Help’s” Spencer followed up last week’s Critics Choice win with her first Golden Globe for her supporting role. “I’m trembling,” she said. “I’m going to fall off of these high-heeled shoes.”

Seth Rogen highlighted “My Week With Marilyn’s” questionable inclusion in the comedy/musical category when he dryly introduced Williams for her role in “the hysterical comedy.” Williams ultimately took home her first Globe, thanking her daughter, Matilda, for patience with “six months of bedtime stories where all of the voices were read aloud in a Marilyn Monroe voice.”

Best screenplay kudos went to Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris,” giving him a second Globe — and giving the telecast a chance to catch up, as Allen was not present.

Original song went to Madonna for “Masterpiece” from “W.E.,” a big surprise in a category that included nominations for songs from Mary J. Blige, Elton John and Chris Cornell.

Since the Oscars moved from March to February in 2004, the Golden Globes have provided less insight into potential Academy Award wins. Instead of Globe winners getting trophies while Academy voters still have a month to fill out ballots, Oscar voting closed Friday, two days before the Globes telecast.

Some overlap between nominees is inevitable, particularly when the HFPA can tap 10-14 films between the drama and musical/comedy categories — but there remains a distinct disconnect. Consolation to those who walked away emptyhanded Sunday: The Globes have lined up with the Oscar’s best picture only twice in the last decade, when “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” swept the Oscars in 2004 and “Slumdog Millionaire” took home multiple statuettes in 2009.

Sunday’s ceremony came after a trying year for the HFPA. Shortly before last year’s Globes, the org’s former publicist, Michael Russell, accused it of terminating his deal and alleged bribery in a $2 million lawsuit. The HFPA is also suing Globes producer Dick Clark Prods., accusing it of using deceptive means to renew its broadcast contract with NBC. That action is scheduled for trial on Jan. 24, the same day the Academy Award noms are announced.

The ceremony was broadcast live in 199 international markets from the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

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