The Descendants took home the awards for 'Best Motion Picture (Drama)' and 'Best Actor in a Motion Picture' (Drama) for its leading man George Clooney.
Accepting the award for 'Best Motion Picture (Drama)', filmmaker Alexander Payne paid tribute to his fellow nominees, the cast and crew and Kaui Hart Hemmings, who wrote the original novel. Clooney also saluted his fellow nominees, including close friend Brad Pitt.
> Morgan Freeman receives Cecil B. DeMille award from Sidney Poitier, Helen Mirren
The Artist earned three awards throughout the evening, with the movie's Jack Russell terrier Uggie making an appearance as the cast and crew stepped on stage to accept the prize for 'Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy)'.
While accepting his award for 'Best Actor (Musical or Comedy)', the movie's star Jean Dujardin revealed that he had once been told that he could never be an actor because his face is too expressive.
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Meryl Streep took home the prize for 'Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama)' for her role as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, comparing challenging roles in cinema to "exotic birds".
The Help's Octavia Spencer was awarded 'Best Supporting Actress', while Christopher Plummer earned 'Best Supporting Actor' for his role in Beginners. Michelle Williams thanked her daughter Matilda when accepting her award for 'Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy)', praising her "bravery and exuberance".
Martin Scorsese upset fellow nominees in the 'Best Director' category, taking home the prize for his film Hugo.
> Golden Globes 2012: Movie winners in full
Madonna, who took home the prize for 'Best Original Song' for W.E's 'Masterpiece', struggled to give an acceptance speech and even stuttered as she took the microphone.
She also teased host Ricky Gervais when he later introduced her by making puns on many of her most famous song titles, including breakthrough hit 'Like a Virgin'.
Gervais had opened the ceremony by mocking celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Eddie Murphy, and later introduced Colin Firth by claiming that he is "very racist" and punches kittens.
> Golden Globes 2012: TV winners in full
Kate Winslet - who won a Primetime Emmy for her role in HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce last autumn - was awarded the trophy for 'Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television', while Claire Danes won the award for 'Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama' for Homeland.
The Showtime series also triumphed in the 'Best Television Series - Drama' category, while Downton Abbey won 'Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television'.
Matt LeBlanc also took home his first Golden Globe in four nominations, winning the 'Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Comedy Or Musical' category for his role in Episodes.
The Adventures of Tintin was awarded 'Best Animated Feature Film', while Iranian movie A Separation triumphed in the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category.
Browse a gallery of red carpet arrivals from the Golden Globes below: