The night featured former US President Bill Clinton getting a standing ovation after introducing Lincoln and Jodie Foster coming out without really coming out as this year's winner of the Cecil B DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.
Foster joked that celebrities are now expected to reveal they're gay "with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show." She declined: "My reality show is so boring."
One thing not so boring this year were hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who were charming, irreverent and hilarious.
Besides the three wins for Les Miserables and two for Argo, the show was a mixed bag, with awards spreads around a number of films.
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln came in leading the Globes with seven nominations but won only one award, best actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. Lincoln also leads the Oscars with 12 nominations, with Spielberg, Day-Lewis and co-star Sally Field all in the running for possible third Oscars.
"If I had this on a timeshare basis with my wonderful gifted colleagues, I might just hope to keep it for one day of the year, and I'd be happy with that," Day-Lewis said.
Les Miserables was named best musical or comedy and won acting honors for Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
Zero Dark Thirty star Jessica Chastain won the Globe for dramatic actress as a CIA agent obsessively pursuing Bin Laden.
Other acting prizes went to Jennifer Lawrence as best musical or comedy actress for the oddball romance Silver Linings Playbook and Austrian Christoph Waltz as supporting actor for Django Unchained.
Les Miserables, the musical based on Victor Hugo's classic novel, earned Hugh Jackman the Globe for musical or comedy actor as tragic hero Jean Valjean. Anne Hathaway won supporting actress as a single mother forced into prostitution. "Thank you for this lovely blunt object that I will forevermore use as a weapon against self-doubt," Hathaway said, cradling her trophy.
Jackman was a bit hoarse from the flu, but after winning the Globe he said: "I was kicking myself for not getting the flu shot, but it appears that you don't need one. I feel great."