Homosexual and transsexual themes dominated Monday's Golden Globes with the key wins by "Brokeback Mountain," plus acting honors for the film biography "Capote" and the gender-bending "Transamerica."
But politics and music ran close behind at the Globes, second only to the Oscars in the hierarchy of Hollywood film honors.
Top prizes went to the corporate and government corruption thrillers "Syriana" and "The Constant Gardener," the terrorism drama "Paradise Now" and the White House series "Commander in Chief," while the Johnny Cash film biography "Walk the Line" won three honors.
The four Globes for "Brokeback Mountain," the story of old ranch-hand buddies who conceal an ongoing homosexual affair from their families, included the directing award for Ang Lee.
"Brokeback Mountain" went into the night having earned seven nominations - including Best Drama, Best Director and Best Actor.
"Call these the gay globes," said TV Guide Channel's Tom O'Neil before the show started.
The fact that "Brokeback Mountain" has found eager audiences across the country, including the conservative heartland, shows that Americans are willing to embrace stories of love in all forms, Lee said.
"It has proven you can never categorize a region or place or stereotype them," Lee said.
The Globes position "Brokeback Mountain" as a solid front-runner for the Academy Awards, whose nominations come out January 31, with the Oscars handed out March 5. The film also won Globes for best screenplay and song.
Likewise, acting winners Felicity Huffman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, George Clooney and Rachel Weisz solidified their Oscar prospects.
Huffman won the best dramatic actress award for her remarkable transformation in the road-trip tale "Transamerica," in which she plays a man preparing for sex-change surgery.
"I know as actors our job is usually to shed our skins, but I think as people our job is to become who we really are, and so I would like to salute the men and women who brave ostracism, alienation and a life lived on the margins to become who they really are," Huffman said.
Hoffman was honored as best dramatic actor for his role as gay author Truman Capote in "Capote." Phoenix as country legend Cash and Witherspoon as the singer's soul mate, June Carter, earned the lead-acting prizes in a musical or comedy for "Walk the Line."
The film also won for best musical or comedy.
A Southerner, Witherspoon said she was excited to do a film paying tribute to the region's music and to play a woman she greatly respected.
"I also believe in really strong women, and I think she's the ultimate strong female character," Witherspoon said. "And I just really related to her as a mother and as a wife and also as an entertainer."
Political thrillers picked up both supporting-acting Globes, Clooney winning for the oil-industry saga "Syriana" and Weisz for "The Constant Gardener," a tale of government and corporate corruption centered in Africa.
"This is early, I haven't had a drink," Clooney said after picking up the first award on the night. "I'm up here alone, I don't know how to handle it."
With other Globe-nominated tales such as "Munich" and "Good Night, and Good Luck," the latter directed by Clooney, 2005 proved practically a throwback to Hollywood's golden age of political films in the 1970s.
Both of Clooney's films, "Syriana" and "Good Night, and Good Luck," have been viewed as critiques on the current state of U.S. policy domestically and overseas. Backstage, Clooney said the films were just dealing with issues he felt important.
"Syriana" was not an attack on the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, Clooney said. "This was an attack on 60 years of failed policies in the Middle East."
The Palestinian film "Paradise Now," a dark tale of two Arab friends enlisted to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel, won the Globe for foreign-language film.
Among television winners, Mary-Louise Parker of "Weeds" beat out the four lead actresses of "Desperate Housewives" - Emmy winner Huffman included - for best actress in a comedy series. But "Desperate Housewives" did win for best musical or comedy series.
"Lost" won for best TV drama series, while the White House saga "Commander in Chief" won the dramatic actress TV honor for Geena Davis, who plays the first female president.
While Davis noted the United States lags far behind other countries that have installed women in their top leadership posts, she said a woman in the Oval Office is inevitable.
"I'd like to think that it would be sooner than later," Davis said. "Because if you think about it, that is the only direction that we're headed in is to have a female president eventually. ... Whether it will take 100 years or 10 years, I really don't know."