The intimate held its own against the epic at Sunday's Golden Globes, as the big, thunderous "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" collected a leading four trophies while the small, poignant "Lost in Translation" got three.
"Lost in Translation," a story of two lonely Americans who find friendship in a Tokyo hotel, was named best comedy film. Bill Murray won the first major acting award of his career, winning as best comedy actor, and the screenplay prize went to Sofia Coppola, who wrote, produced and directed the film.
"Return of the King" was recognized as best dramatic film, and Peter Jackson as best director. It also won two musical awards.
"I never realized that seven years on this movie would end up turning me into a Hobbit," Jackson said, referring to the shortish, big-footed magical characters in the J.R.R. Tolkien stories. "To all of the actors, our magical cast, you just gave so much to the movies and equally importantly you made it so much fun to work on."
Among TV nominees, HBO's six-hour adaptation of playwright Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" won five trophies, including best miniseries or TV movie.
But movies gathered most of the attention as Sean Penn collected best movie drama actor for playing an emotionally ravaged father seeking revenge for his daughter's murder in "Mystic River," and Charlize Theron won the drama actress honor for "Monster," the story of a prostitute serial killer.
Theron thanked writer-director Patty Jenkins for believing she could play the role: "There's only so much you can do, but if somebody doesn't give you a chance there is nothing you can do."
Murray thanked Coppola and went on to dryly mock Hollywood award speeches, declaring he had fired all his agents and representatives and had no one else to thank.
He also poked fun at the idea that comedy performers are overshadowed by dramatic stars. "Too often we forget our brothers on the other side of the aisle — the dramatic actors," he said. "I'd just like to say: Where would our war, our miseries and our psychological traumas come from?"
Coppola thanked her father — "The Godfather" director and co-writer Francis Ford Coppola, calling him "a great screenwriting teacher."
Diane Keaton, who had one her her first roles in "The Godfather," collected a Golden Globe for lead comedy performances, playing an older woman in love in "Something's Gotta Give."
"Getting to play a woman to love at 57 is like reaching for the stars with a step ladder. I know I got lucky," said Keaton.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association event is regarded by many in Hollywood as one of the year's biggest parties, but it's also a way to generate front-runner buzz for the Oscars.
The Globes are distributed by a relatively small group, about 90 journalists who cover entertainment for foreign-based media outlets.
Tim Robbins and Renee Zellweger collected supporting movie performer honors.
Robbins' supporting role as a grown child-abuse survivor suspected of murder in "Mystic River" earned him the first trophy of the evening. "Wow! We just sat down. The good thing about this coming early is that I get to drink now," Robbins joked.
Later in his acceptance speech he shouted to director Clint Eastwood: "Clint, you are the man! I have never felt so trusted and in such good hands as when we were on the set for that movie."
Eastwood accepted the drama actor award on behalf of Penn, who did not attend, and described his "Mystic River" star as an actor who has been too often taken for granted.
Zellweger received the supporting movie actress award for playing a tough-as-bark backwoods woman in "Cold Mountain." She previously won two lead comedy actress Golden Globes for "Nurse Betty" in 2001 and last year for "Chicago."
Besides winning best TV movie or miniseries, "Angels in America" won four performing awards. Co-star Meryl Streep and Al Pacino were picked best TV movie lead performers and supporting TV honors went to Jeffrey Wright and Mary-Louise Parker.
Streep, who was previously onstage to present the award to Robbins, accepted her trophy with a blushing remark: "I just realized you can see completely though my dress."
Among the nominees Wright beat out for supporting TV actor: his "Angels in America" co-stars Ben Shenkman and Patrick Wilson. "I share this with you," he told them from the stage. "But I'll keep it at my house."
Anthony LaPaglia won best drama series actor for the CBS crime show "Without a Trace," while Frances Conroy claimed the drama actress award for the HBO funeral-home show "Six Feet Under."
Sarah Jessica Parker won best comedy series actress for "Sex and the City," which is in its last season on HBO, and Fox's real-time thriller "24" won best drama series.
BBC America's "The Office," which stars co-creator Ricky Gervais as an annoying boss at a British paper merchant, defeated "Arrested Development," "Monk," "Sex and the City" and "Will & Grace" for best comedy show. The critically lauded "The Office" is being developed into an American version.
"I'm not from these parts," said Gervais, who later won best TV comedy actor. "I'm from a little place called England ... We used to run the world before you."
The honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award went to Michael Douglas, whose actor father, Kirk Douglas, received the honor in 1968.
The Globes event came just two days before Tuesday morning's announcement of the Oscar nominations. The Oscar ceremony is set for Feb. 29, about three weeks earlier than previous years.