LOS ANGELES - Dreamy musical "La La Land" pirouetted its way into an early lead at the Golden Globes on Sunday with four awards as Hollywood's elite celebrated at the glitziest party of the showbiz year.
Host Jimmy Fallon and a slew of stars got the champagne-drenched party underway with a parody of some of the iconic scenes from the movie, a nostalgic tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals.
Damien Chazelle's acclaimed picture - a major favorite for next month's Oscars - came into the night with seven nominations, and quickly came good in the best original score category, as well as best song for "City of Stars." It then picked up best actor in a musical/comedy for Ryan Gosling and best screenplay for Chazelle.
Gosling joked about breaking up the statuette to share with his co-star Emma Stone and Chazelle, before getting serious with a heartfelt tribute to his partner, the actress Eva Mendes.
"I would like to try to thank one person properly and say while I was singing and dancing and playing piano and having one of the best experiences I've ever had on a film, my lady was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second, and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer," he said.
"La La Land" could clean up with wins in the directing and actress categories for Stone and Chazelle, and it is also the runaway favorite for best comedy/musical.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual prizegiving - a boozy prelude to the Academy Awards - handed its first award of the evening to Aaron Taylor-Johnson for best supporting actor in thriller "Nocturnal Animals."
Viola Davis picked up best supporting actress for "Fences," paying tribute to "extraordinary leader, great actor, great director" Denzel Washington.
"It's not every day that Hollywood thinks of translating a play to screen. It doesn't scream money-maker, you know? But it does scream art. It does scream heart," she said.
Barry Jenkins's coming-of-age tale "Moonlight," which started the night with six nominations including for the director and cast members Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali, has been monopolizing attention on the drama side of the contest.
Another frontrunner is Kenneth Lonergan's unflinching "Manchester by the Sea," which earned the filmmaker nods for best directing and screenplay while Casey Affleck is a favorite for best actor and Michelle Williams vies for best supporting actress honors.
"Lots of people love 'Manchester by the Sea' because it feels like real life. The pain of this character who can't get over the guilt and grief of a tragedy he's responsible for is probably something a lot of people can relate to," said Stone.
For best actress in a drama, Natalie Portman is expected to pick up the award for her intense, critically-acclaimed turn as Jackie Kennedy in "Jackie," which chronicles the days immediately following John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination.
French rape-revenge tale "Elle" captured the best foreign language film award over the heavily favored German-Austrian dramedy "Toni Erdmann." "It was wonderful to work with you - you are wonderful. I love you, I love you, I love you," director Paul Verhoeven said to star Isabelle Huppert.
On the television side, FX true crime anthology "The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" took home prizes for best limited series or TV movie.
And Sarah Paulson took home the prize for best actress in a limited series for the show, for her portrayal of prosecutor Marcia Clark.
But AMC crime drama "The Night Manager" swept up three acting prizes, for Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman.
Actor Donald Glover - who is due to star in the next "Star Wars" spin-off film - picked up the best comedy television series award for "Atlanta," which he created.
Fallon was assisted by "Jimmy's Angels" - Stallone sisters Sistine, Scarlet and Sophia - who are jointly this year's "Miss Golden Globe," responsible for helping to hand out statuettes.
For the first time, the arrival of Hollywood's A-listers on the red carpet - a top moment for fashion lovers - was live-streamed on Twitter.
Organizers had feared that fierce rain storms pummeling Northern California could soak the event and the stars, but the skies remained blue and the temperatures mild in Los Angeles as the ceremony began.
Read also: List of Golden Globe winners