The film won three Globes including the coveted best drama prize and best director honours for Richard Linklater at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.
The pioneering movie – made over 12 years with the same cast of actors portraying a child’s growth to adulthood – also won a best supporting actress trophy for Patricia Arquette.
“This was a very personal film for me ... and it means so much to us that people have seen it and responded to it in that personal way,” Linklater said.
Dark comedy Birdman – which had started the evening with the most nominations at seven – and The Theory of Everything, about world-famous scientist Stephen Hawking, each took home two awards.
The Globes give the winning films vital momentum just days before nominations are announced for next month’s Oscars, the climax of Tinseltown’s annual awards season.
All three leading Globes winners – Boyhood, Birdman and The Theory of Everything – are relatively low budget films, confirming a trend among the frontrunners in this year’s awards race.
Birdman, about a washed-up film actor trying to revive his career on stage, took best musical/comedy actor prize for Michael Keaton, and best screenplay for director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu.
The Theory of Everything, the moving story of Hawking’s descent into disability as a young man, won best drama actor honors for Britain’s Eddie Redmayne, as well as best original score.
The prize for best comedy/musical film went to The Grand Budapest Hotel, a stylish caper starring Ralph Fiennes, while Amy Adams won best actress in a musical/comedy for art fraud film Big Eyes.
Unlike the Oscars, which are voted on by some 6,000 industry members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Globes are selected by fewer than 100 journalists from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
The Academy Awards will be held on February 22.