Los Angeles, Jan 7: Hollywood hit the red carpet Sunday for the Golden Globes, with hit musical romance "A Star Is Born" the favourite to win big at the awards season opener -- and the prizes demonstrating an industry keen to tout its progress on diversity.
Along with "Star," a handful of films had earned accolades so far at the Beverly Hilton including Alfonso Cuaron's heartfelt "Roma" and civil rights dramedy "Green Book" -- giving them all a leg up in the run-up to the all-important Oscars on February 24.
Under a bright California sun, Tinseltown's A-listers worked the red carpet at the Beverly Hilton.
Many wore "Time's Up" bracelets in a nod to the movement for sexual equality in the workplace that grabbed the headlines 12 months ago as the industry became engulfed in a reckoning about rampant harassment and abuse.
Hosting the gala were comedian Andy Samberg and actress Sandra Oh, who made history as the first Asian woman to have hosted a major awards show while also taking home her second Globe for "Killing Eve."
As the only awards show where booze is served, the evening is usually more colorful than showbiz's other big nights.
But the presenters set the tone for a less edgy night than in previous years with a relatively tame opening that gave more time to complimenting the nominees than assailing them with "roast"-style jokes.
Samberg paid tribute to the diversity among the slate of films up for awards, singling out "Black Panther," "Crazy Rich Asians," "If Beale Street Could Talk" and several others praised for their inclusivity.
"And they are not just here tonight because they resonated with audiences Hollywood often ignores," he said.
"They are here because they told stories that resonated with everyone. And that is truly a beautiful thing."
Globes for supporting acting in movies went to two African Americans -- Regina King ("If Beale Street Could Talk") and Mahershala Ali ("Green Book.")
King vowed that, for the next two years, she would only produce projects that employ 50 percent women, exclaiming: "Time's Up times two!"
"And I just challenge anyone out there -- anyone out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry, in all industries -- I challenge you to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity and do the same," she said.
Dick Cheney biopic "Vice" led the film nominations with six, but "Star" -- and its power duo of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper -- had five and was the movie with the most buzz.
Most critics predict it will take home the coveted best drama film honors.
Gaga won an award for best original song for the breakout hit "Shallow."
This year, the Globes come at the start of voting for Oscar nominations, and while they are not always a clear predictor of Academy Award success, they are a bellwether of momentum.
If there was a sure bet on Sunday night, it was Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma," a cinematic ode to his childhood in 1970s Mexico City, which won best foreign film and a best director statuette for the filmmaker.
"Cinema at its best builds bridges to other cultures," Cuaron told the audience. "We need to understand how much we have in common."
Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes have parallel categories for dramas and musical/comedy films -- meaning two times the prizes, and a chance for Oscar voters to consider a wider range of performances.
For best actor in a drama, Cooper -- who plays an aging rocker in "Star" who discovers a struggling singer-songwriter (Gaga) and propels her to stardom -- is locked in a duel with Rami Malek, who portrays Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody."
The field on the musical/comedy side is wider.
Beyond "Vice," top contenders include offbeat royal romp "The Favourite," civil rights dramedy "Green Book" and Disney sequel "Mary Poppins Returns."
Christian Bale, nearly unrecognizable as Cheney, took home best actor honors.
"Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration for playing this role," he said, deadpan.
In the best musical/comedy actress race, Olivia Colman, who plays Queen Anne in "The Favourite," is up against Emily Blunt, who fills the shoes of Julie Andrews as the magical British nanny.
The television side of the Globes can feel a bit redundant coming so soon after the Emmys in September, with many of the same nominees as the Television Academy field.
Best drama series went to the acclaimed FX Cold War spy thriller "The Americans" -- its first Golden Globe for its sixth and final season.
But adding spice to the mix on Sunday are programs that aired too late for Emmys contention.
Netflix comedy "The Kominsky Method" took home the best comedy series trophy and best actor honors for Michael Douglas.
At Golden Globes, inclusion the big winner