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Hosts were the highlight at Golden Globes

Everybody seemed to be winning something at the Golden Globe Awards, except viewers. The annual movie-TV-celebrity mishmash veered all over the place on Sunday night, trying to be all things to all people — except Bill Cosby, perhaps — and instead being just a whole lot of blah and disorder.

Returning hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were great — but after their funny, sharp opening duologue, they disappeared for most of the night, letting the pomp and the long-winded thank-yous take over. As the categories jumped all over the place, the crowd sat still, sweating, awaiting the 90-or-so-member Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s latest random choice. Amy, Tina, where were you when we needed you?

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A few movies improved their chances for Oscar nominations by winning Globes. “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a movie that might have been forgotten by Oscar voters, won best comedy or musical. Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Michael Keaton, J.K. Simmons, Patricia Arquette, Eddie Redmayne (sorry, Cumber-lovers), they all got to show Oscar voters just how emotional and gratitude-filled they would be onstage at the Oscars, if given the chance. The Globes sometimes feels like an audition for the bigger show, which this year will air on Feb. 22.

TV viewers: Gently apply balm today after having scratched your head so much on Sunday night. The TV choices, which matter so little compared with the Emmys, ranged from good to weird. The HFPA does like to honor new series, something the Emmys are often slow to do; that explains the wonderful celebration of Amazon’s “Transparent,” which won best comedy and best actor for Jeffrey Tambor, who plays a transgender character. Accepting his award, Tambor said, “This is bigger than me.”

But Joanne Froggatt from “Downton Abbey” and Gina Rodriguez from “Jane the Virgin” won best supporting actress and best actress awards, respectively; though both are lovely in their roles, they weren’t the best of the year. Kevin Spacey won for his hammy performance in “House of Cards” — which he matched with a hammy, self-aggrandizing acceptance speech — and the enjoyable but very flawed “The Affair” won for best drama. And no prizes for the exquisite and exquisitely acted “Olive Kitteridge”? Sorry, that’s just wrong.

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For their third and final year hosting, Fey and Poehler nailed it — when they were onstage. They’ve spoiled us for future hosts with their expert delivery, honed over years of collaborating on the Weekend Update segment of “Saturday Night Live.”

They took full advantage of their right to free speech, flinging insults at North Korea (introducing Margaret Cho as a sour new member of the Hollywood Foreign Press from North Korea who had strong opinions about our TV and movies) and slinging slights small and big at Hollywood.

“Wild” best-actress nominee Reese Witherspoon got a nudge — she “did all of her own walking, so brave” — while Cosby got a full body slam. In talking about “Into the Woods,” Poehler said, “Sleeping Beauty thought she was just getting coffee with Bill Cosby,” and then the pair proceeded to share dueling, absurd Cosby “pudding pop” impersonations, including this line: “I put the pills in the people, the people did not want the pills in them.”

One of their best shots had them singing the praises of human rights activist and lawyer Amal Clooney, who works trying to change the world, and then noting, “so tonight her husband” — actor George Clooney — “is getting a lifetime achievement award.”

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Clooney accepted the award graciously, telling Amal from the stage, “I couldn’t be more proud to be your husband.” He ended with “Je suis Charlie,” a slogan in support of those killed by terrorists at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Earlier in the telecast, the entire house had risen when HFPA president Theo Kingma gave a big nod to world issues: “Together we will stand united against anyone who would repress free speech, anywhere, from North Korea to Paris.”

During the preshow, actor Liev Schreiber told the E! folks that this year’s red carpet felt like a mosh pit. But it looked more like a Pez dispenser, delivering pieces of perfectly shaped Hollywood candy to the mike-holding bigmouths. All the stars made their way to the E! beachhead, including what Ryan Seacrest called “the British invasion of the red carpet” — Benedict Cumberbatch, Rosamund Pike, and Eddie Redmayne, among others.

But by the time George and Amal Clooney found their way to Giuliana Rancic, the assembly line of stars — indeed, the whole night — seemed to stop for an excruciatingly long and awkward moment. Seacrest had already skeeved out the couple by showing them that the entire E! crew was wearing “Game Over” T-shirts, as in the competition for George is over now that he’s married, because George is, apparently, game.

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But the Clooneys looked fully weirded out by Rancic, who’d been obsessing over Clooney all night, and finally tried to have a drink with them, which they declined. “Hello Amal,” Rancic said to the bride, as if she were the losing party, “Congratulations. Love the white gloves.”

It was the kind of curiosity, like Kelly Osbourne’s lavender bun-type thing, that you just don’t find on the more controlled, official NBC preshow. They’re able to say all kinds of strange things on E!, but, alas, they failed to ask Jennifer Lopez to explain the identity of that mysterious little bit of pink fabric peeking out from the top of her dress.

More coverage:

On Globes’ red carpet, Hollywood lets it shine

• Photos: Memorable onstage moments

• Winners at the 2015 Golden Globe Awards

‘Boyhood’ leads Golden Globes

• Recap: Globe writers weighed in


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.