Tina Fey, left, and Amy Poehler during the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills.
At a time when President Barack Obama is under attack for appointing so many white men - and so few women - to senior positions in the White House, Hollywood seemed intent on correcting the imbalance at the Golden Globes.
Ricky Gervais took the awards to the edge of puerile bullying three years in a row, but Tina Fey and Amy Poehler brought charm and easy good humour to a ceremony where stars are supposed to relax and have fun.
And it was one of the more amusing awards shows because of it. The two comedians were gentle - up to a point. In their opening, Ms Fey and Ms Poehler pointed out Kathryn Bigelow and made a joke about the controversy over her film Zero Dark Thirty. Ms Poehler said, "When it comes to torture, I trust a lady who spent three years married to James Cameron." The camera panned stars looking a little shocked as they laughed.
It wasn't the only Girl Power moment. Former President Bill Clinton was met with a standing ovation when he arrived to introduce the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln. But it was Ms Poehler who got the biggest laugh when she returned to the stage and said rapturously, "That was Hillary Clinton's husband."
Female wunderkinds of every age seemed to dominate the night, including Jodie Foster, a former child star who was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, and the newcomer Lena Dunham, the creator and star of Girls.
Jodie Foster, long reticent about her personal life, gave a brilliant, somewhat incomprehensible soliloquy that was almost a coming-out speech, but then veered away. (It was like Garbo talks, then Garbo is garbled.) Ms Dunham accepted for Best Actress in a TV comedy by saying somewhat tremulously that other, more senior nominees for the award, like Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, were the comfort of her youth. Fey underlined the slight by saying sarcastically, "Congratulations, Lena, I'm glad we got you through middle school."
Julianne Moore, who won Best Actress in a television movie for her depiction of Sarah Palin in the HBO film Game Change, made a point of saluting two women who had nothing to do with the film but everything with exposing Palin's weaknesses: Fey, who impersonated Palin on Saturday Night Live, and Katie Couric, whose interviews with Palin during the 2008 election campaign provided Fey with raw material for her parody.
And one of the most unlikely star turns was by Aida Takla O'Reilly, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group that is often mocked but is not known for having a sense of humor. Takla O'Reilly said, "I know that Jeffrey Katzenberg will never forget my name, because he never knew it in the first place."
In so many studied efforts at levity, lapses are all the more glaring. British actors are known for their witty good manners at awards shows but Damian Lewis, who won best actor in a TV drama for "Homeland," thanked many colleagues and friends but didn't even mention his co-star, Claire Danes - one of the more startling omissions since Hilary Swank forgot to thank her husband at the time, Chad Lowe. (When Dunham was onstage after winning the award for best comedy or musical TV series, she made an oblique reference to that slip, joking, "I also promised myself that if I ever got this chance, I would thank Chad Lowe.")
Most of the women were studiously gracious in victory (except the pop singer Adele, who used a rather salty Britishism to describe how much she was enjoying the show). While accepting her award, Jennifer Lawrence made a joke about beating out Meryl Streep but praised her co-star Bradley Cooper and also the producer Harvey Weinstein, whom she thanked for "killing whoever you had to kill to get me up here today."
Anne Hathaway, who won for best supporting actress in a movie, even reached out to one of her rivals for the award, thanking Sally Field, nominated for playing the president's wife in Lincoln, for being "a vanguard against typecasting" by going from The Flying Nun to Norma Rae. (Hathaway rose to fame as the star of The Princess Diaries.)
And it could be that all the female success has left a pall on some of the men.
On the red carpet before the show Jay Leno gave the hosts of the night a backhanded compliment: He called Ms Fey and Ms Poehler "two of the funniest women I know," then added of Ms Poehler's sitcom: Parks and Recreation is my wife's favorite show. She never misses it.''
Ms Poehler had the last laugh, closing the show by saying of herself and Fey, "We're going home with Jodie Foster."
© 2013, The New York Times News Service