Jeff Bridges one step closer to an Oscar win
The 60-year-old took the best dramatic actor prize for his performance as faded country singer Bad Blake.
His win was greeted by a standing ovation from his Hollywood peers at the Los Angeles ceremony, testament to Bridges' popularity in the acting world.
"You're really screwing up my 'under-appreciated' status here," he joked.
Bridges had been nominated for a Golden Globe on three previous occasions but each time left empty-handed.
He has also been a four-time Oscar contender, but never a winner: for The Last Picture Show in 1972, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot in 1975, Starman in 1985 and The Contender in 2001.
He is expected to pick up a fifth nomination when the Oscar shortlist is unveiled on February 2. Bookmakers have already installed him as the favourite, although he will likely face tough competition from George Clooney (Up In The Air) and Morgan Freeman (Invictus).
The son of late actor Lloyd Bridges, his lengthy film career includes roles in Against All Odds, The Fabulous Baker Boys - with his brother, Beau - and cult favourite The Big Lebowski.
In Crazy Heart, he plays a country music singer whose career has been on the slide for years. An alcoholic with a string of broken marriages behind him, he is reduced to playing in bowling alleys while his former protege Tommy Sweet, played by Colin Farrell, has become a major star. He finds redemption in a romance with a local newspaper reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
Bridges' performance very nearly bypassed the critics altogether. The film was heading for straight-to-DVD obscurity but was picked up by distributor Fox Searchlight, who saw its potential and released it in time for awards season.