(CNN) — Matt Damon won the Golden Globe for best actor in a movie comedy Sunday for his role as a stranded astronaut in “The Martian” — a box-office smash that many didn’t consider a comedy.
Damon beat out Christian Bale and Steve Carell — two stars of “The Big Short,” about the 2007-08 financial crisis — and movie legend Al Pacino to claim his first Golden Globe award for acting. The Ridley Scott movie, based on the best-selling novel by Andy Weir, is the story of an astronaut who uses science and his wits to survive alone on Mars for years until he can be rescued.
“It’s literally been 18 years since I’ve been here doing this. With a little more context, I know how lucky I am and how lucky I am to do this for a living,” Damon said. “When people go see movies, it’s just ‑‑ it’s kind of rare. I’ve made a lot of movies that people just didn’t go see.”
In a sentimental choice that earned a standing ovation from fellow actors at the Beverly Hilton, veteran actor Sylvester Stallone won best supporting actor in a movie for “Creed.” In the movie, Stallone reimagines his iconic Rocky Balboa character as an aging, vulnerable ex-fighter who comes out of retirement to train an unproven young boxer.
“This is incredible. Last time I was here, that was 1977. I was kind of hit by a tumbleweed. It was a long time ago,” said Stallone, looking a bit dazed in accepting the award. “It’s like a different, different situation, and the view is so beautiful now.”
Jon Hamm, on the heels of his first Emmy win in November, won best actor in a TV drama for his defining role as the tormented, womanizing Don Draper in AMC’s “Mad Men,” which wrapped its final season last year.
But unpredictability was the rule in many of the TV categories, as new series and lesser-known actors beat out more established shows and stars for awards.
Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle,” about classical musicians in New York, was named best TV comedy. The category had been considered a three-way race between Amazon’s transgender dramedy, “Transparent”; Netflix’s ensemble prison saga, “Orange is the New Black”; and HBO’s political satire, “Veep.” Its star, Gael Garcia Bernal, also won best actor in a TV comedy.
Best TV drama went to the upstart “Mr. Robot,” USA Network’s critically praised hacker drama, which beat out such heavyweights as Fox’s “Empire” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” In addition, Christian Slater won best supporting actor in a TV series for his role as an anarchist on the show.
In another mild surprise, Rachel Bloom won best actress in a TV comedy for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” which premiered on the CW in October. “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has won numerous awards for her starring role on the show, was widely considered the front-runner.
Two pop stars also were honored Sunday. Lady Gaga won best actress in a limited TV series for her role as a vampire on “American Horror Story: Hotel.” And crooner Sam Smith accepted the award for best song for “Writing’s On the Wall,” his theme song from the James Bond movie “Spectre.”
Best supporting actress in a TV series went to Maura Tierney for Showtime’s “The Affair,” in which she plays a middle-age woman who learns that her husband is cheating on her. The drama, also starring Dominic West, Ruth Wilson and Joshua Jackson, just wrapped its second season.
Over on the movie side, the best supporting actress prize went to Kate Winslet for “Steve Jobs,” Danny Boyle’s portrait of the late Apple co-founder. Winslet played Apple marketing exec Joanna Hoffman, a member of Jobs’ inner circle and one of the few people at the company who stood up to his famous bullying.
“Steve Jobs” also was named best screenplay for Aaron Sorkin’s talky script, a surprising show of strength for a film that tanked at the box office and has faded somewhat as a top Oscar contender.
As expected, Pixar’s critical and commercial smash “Inside Out,” about the emotions fighting for control of an 11-year-old girl, won best animated movie.
Best foreign film went to “Son of Saul,” a Hungarian drama about an Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner trying to give a proper burial to his son.
Best miniseries or TV movie went to “Wolf Hall,” the BBC drama about political machinations among England’s Tudor dynasty during the reign of King Henry VIII. Oscar Isaac, currently co-starring as a rebel fighter pilot in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” won best actor in a TV miniseries for his role as a mayor who fought for the desegregation of public housing in HBO’s “Show Me a Hero.”
Host Ricky Gervais kicked off the night with a beer in his hand and a typically bitchy monologue in which he made jokes at the expense of Caitlyn Jenner, “Transparent” nominee Jeffrey Tambor, movie bomb “Pixels” and host network NBC, which didn’t receive any Globe nominations.
Some see the Golden Globes, voted on by the 90 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, as predictors of the more prestigious Academy Awards. Oscar nominations will be announced Thursday, with the show following on February 28.