Sunday’s Golden Globes gave a good Oscar-season launch for several leading players.

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was cheered as the year’s finest film comedy. The family saga “Boyhood” won best drama, with key awards to director Richard Linklater and supporting actress Patricia Arquette. Best-actor awards went to Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne and Amy Adams.

But Sunday’s night ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles took an unusual turn. After 72 years, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association created an award show where the star was reality.

Real-world issues surfaced again and again, and not just in the easy, expected jokes about North Korea by hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Prince, presenting the prize for best song in a film, announced “but of course” when it went to John Legend and Common for “Glory” in the civil-rights drama “Selma.” Common, who co-starred in the film, said it enriched his understanding of history: “I am the unarmed black kid who may have needed a hand but was given a bullet,” he said. “ ‘Selma’ is now.”

The crowd rose to its feet in support of freedom of expression after a speech from HFPA president Theo Kingma, touching on last week’s terrorist attack on Paris satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. George Clooney, the recipient of an honorary award, was among the stars wearing a “Je Suis Charlie” pin Sunday.

“Transparent,” the Amazon series about a family whose patriarch redefines himself as female, won for best TV comedy. Creator Jill Soloway dedicated the win to Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who committed suicide two weeks ago. “Maybe we’ll be able to teach the world something about authenticity and truth and love,” Soloway said.

Jeffrey Tambor won as best actor for playing the series’ father/mother. In a salute to the transgender community, he declared: “Thank you for letting us be part of the change.”

The PBS costume drama “Downton Abbey” got into the act as well. Supporting-actress winner Joanna Froggatt won for a storyline dealing with the aftereffects of rape. “I received letters from survivors of rape,” she said. “One told me she had wanted to be heard. I want you to know: I heard you.”

Of course fiction had many moments in the spotlight.

In “Boyhood,” Arquette played a well-intentioned but stressed-out mother who subjects her son and daughter to two abusive stepfathers. In her speech Arquette explained that she was a single mother herself and thanked director Richard Link­later “for casting a light on this woman and millions of women like her.”

The epic story of a Texas boy growing up from childhood to college, “Boyhood” took 12 years to shoot. In accepting the best-director prize, Linklater said the film expresses a basic universal theme — “Bottom line, we’re all flawed” — and he hoped to celebrate families “who are just passing through this world and doing their best.”

Keaton won as best actor in a comedy for “Birdman,” in which he portrays a former movie star trying to revive his career on Broadway, and struggling with a testy, drug-addict daughter. He called it a “gutsy, unapologetic look at human nature” in a speech that brought him to a crying thank you to his “best friend,” his “kind, intelligent” son, Sean. After a pause, he called weeping one of the “things I said I wasn’t going to do.”

Moore won as best dramatic actress as a college professor with Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.” Redmayne’s performance as physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything” took the prize for best actor in a drama.

The comedy actress prize went to Adams for “Big Eyes,” in which she plays iconic artist Margaret Keane (Adams), whose round-eyed waifs won phenomenal fame in the 1960s. Adams thanked the female performers in the auditorium on behalf of her 4-year-old daughter, Aviana.

“I’m so grateful to all of the women in this room who have such a rich voice for speaking to my daughter,” she said.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a decade-spanning comedy about a fictional guesthouse, won the best comedy award. After the usual shout-outs to business partners, writer/director Anderson veered into a gibberish thank-you list of first names of supposed HFPA members.

Wins for Amazon, Netflix

The two wins for “Transparent” were the first for Amazon as a TV producer. Netflix, another challenger to the established TV order, also received an award: Kevin Spacey won best actor in a TV drama for “House of Cards.”

“Fargo,” the FX series inspired by Joel and Ethan Coen’s Minnesota-shot movie, won the Globe for miniseries while co-star Billy Bob Thornton was named best supporting actor. Series creator Noah Hawley thanked his wife for helping him understand what made “Fargo” tick: “As Marge Gunderson so eloquently said, There’s more to life than a little money, ya know?”

Newcomer Gina Rodriguez was a surprise winner for best comedy actress for “Jane the Virgin.” Out of breath, she said, “My dad used to tell me to wake up each day and say, ‘I can and I will.’ Well, dad, today’s a great day. I can and I did.”

Showtime’s “The Affair” was named best TV drama while its co-star Ruth Wilson won a best-actress award.