"Golden Globes, or the GGs as we very affectionately refer to them - your mad, pulsating affection for our film is much appreciated. Really, deeply appreciated," Boyle said.
"We really weren't expecting to be here in America at all at one time, so it's just amazing to be here," said Simon Beaufoy, whose winning script was adapted from Vikas Swarup's novel "Q & A."
Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose in New York almost one year ago. The movie was released in May.
Kate Winslet won the supporting-actress Golden Globe for "The Reader," in which she plays a former Nazi concentration camp guard in a romantic fling with a teenager. Globes with the domestic drama "Revolutionary Road."
These wins could boost Winslet's prospects for the same prize at the Academy Awards, whose nominations come out Jan. 22. Winslet has been nominated five times at the Oscars but has yet to win.
"You have to forgive me because I have a habit of not winning things," Winslet said as she opened what she acknowledged was a long acceptance speech.
"Sorry this is going on a bit, but I'm going to make the most of it," she said amid thanking everyone from her children to the film's makeup artists.
Taking the stage for the second time Sunday night to accept the prize for best actress, Winslet acknowledged her estimable competitors, who included Meryl Streep ("Doubt"), Kristen Scott Thomas ("I've Loved You So Long") and Angelina Jolie ("Changeling").
"Meryl, Kristen, oh God, who's the other one? Angelina! Forgive me. ... Is this really happening? Thank you so much," she said, practically panting with emotion.
She then went on to thank "two incredible men, who are such special people in my world." One of them was her "Revolutionary Road" and "Titanic" co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio: "I've loved you for 13 years and your performance in this film is nothing short of spectacular."
Winslet then acknowledged her husband, Sam Mendes, who directed her for the first time in "Revolutionary Road": "Thank you for directing this film, babe, and thank you for killing us every single day and really enjoying us actually being in such horrific pain."
Bruce Springsteen won the best song prize for the title track to "The Wrestler."
"This is the only time I'm going to be in competition with Clint Eastwood," said Springsteen, referring to the filmmaker who had a song nomination for writing the title tune to his "Gran Torino." "It felt pretty good, too."
A year ago, Hollywood labor strife shut down the Globes, but organizers promised their show would be back, bigger and better than ever.
A looser, more relaxed affair than the Oscars, the Globes are a televised dinner party where Hollywood's elite share a meal and drinks, sometimes cutting loose with unexpected antics (this is the place Jack Nicholson once mooned the crowd for a laugh). The tables were decorated with white lilies and roses; oversized bottles of champagne awaited guests.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Doubt" and "Frost/Nixon" went into the evening as front runners with five nominations each.
Last year's Globe show was scrapped after stars said they would stay away in honor of picket lines by the Writers Guild of America, which was engaged in a bitter strike against producers. In its place was a briskly paced news conference where winners were announced from a podium.
One of 2008's scheduled honorees finally will get his prize. Globe organizers had intended to present Steven Spielberg with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, but the strike delayed it a year.
The Globes serve as a barometer for potential Oscar contenders, often singling out deserving newcomers who might have been overlooked among bigger-name stars. Relative unknown Hilary Swank won for dramatic actress at the Globes for 1999's "Boys Don't Cry," then went on to an upset win at the Oscars over Annette Bening, who had been considered the front-runner for "American Beauty."
The Oscar ceremony comes on Feb. 22.
The Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 90 reporters covering show business for overseas outlets.
By David Germain