Sunday night should have been another opportunity for Disney (NYSE:DIS) to show that it was the undisputed champ of theatrical animation. The family entertainment giant's Big Hero 6 was up against four modest competitors to take top honors at the Golden Globes in the Feature Animation category. 

The only real challenger seemed to be The LEGO Movie, the crowd-pleasing blockbuster that wouldn't have turned heads if it had come out on top. The other three nominations -- The Book of Life, Boxtrolls, and DreamWorks Animation's (NASDAQ:DWA) How to Train Your Dragon 2 -- seemed like mere filler. 

In one of the bigger surprises of the film and television awards show, it was DreamWorks Animation that came out on top for its sequel to How to Train Your Dragon. It was an unexpected decision -- it's not as if the movie was the top dog in terms of ticket sales. Let's go over how the five entries did according to Box Office Mojo.

  • The LEGO Movie - $257.8 million
  • Big Hero 6 - $214.5 million 
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $177 million
  • Boxtrolls - $50.6 million
  • The Book of Life - $49.6 million

Now it's true that How to Train Your Dragon 2 was the bigger hit abroad. Unlike The LEGO Movie and Big Hero 6, which generated more than half of their ticket sales in the U.S., How To Train Your Dragon 2 went on to ring up $618.9 million worldwide, generating just 28.6% of its admissions domestically.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is the body that votes on the victors, so we can't discount how well DreamWorks Animation's film did internationally. However, if it was merely a matter of tallying up receipts, there wouldn't be a need for actual balloting. The award is based on critical merit, but it's not as if DreamWorks Animation came out on top there. Let's go over the percentage of critics that recommend each movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes. 

  • The LEGO Movie - 96%
  • Big Hero 6 - 88% 
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 - 92%
  • Boxtrolls - 74%
  • The Book of Life - 82%

Disney's flick may have come in third, but according to Rotten Tomatoes' Audience Score -- based on the results of tens of thousands of the site's users -- Big Hero 6 was the top dog with 93% of the viewers liking it. How to Train Your Dragon 2 also had to overcome the fact that it sold fewer movie tickets domestically than its predecessor.

Disney had won the Golden Globe in seven of the previous eight years, making any occasion that the family entertainment giant doesn't win notable. With critics typically snubbing their noses at sequels -- Toy Story 3 has been the lone exception to win before Sunday night -- it's a pretty welcome surprise for DreamWorks Animation.

It also comes at a great time for its shareholders. DreamWorks Animation was one of last year's biggest losers in the media realm with the stock plunging 37%. It kicked off 2014 with back-to-back quarters of larger than expected losses, and revenue has declined 10% through the first nine months of the year. 

Things should get better from here. The award should help spark sales and rentals at the retail level where the movie has been available since November. It should also help boost the prospects for How to Train Your Dragon 3, slated to hit theaters in 2017. 

DreamWorks Animation could also get a boost when The Adventures of Puss in Boots hits Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) on Friday. DreamWorks Animation and Netflix inked a deal two years ago to produce content that would stream exclusively on the leading premium video service. The first series -- Turbo F.A.S.T. -- debuted in late 2013, but only after the movie based on the property bombed earlier in the summer.

This time around Netflix and DreamWorks Animation have a series based on the most successful franchise in DreamWorks Animation's history. The first five episodes of the Shrek spinoff will be available this week, and it should be a win-win for both companies. 

Armed with a potentially magnetic new series and a Golden Globe, January has been a pretty good start for one of last year's biggest laggards.