The stateside victory came after the project from Dutch director Paul Verhoeven -- of "Basic Instinct" and "Total Recall" fame -- was rejected by a number of American actresses who found the role to be too controversial.
The director ultimately found his lead in Huppert, the veteran French actress who beat out Natalie Portman, Ruth Negga, Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain to take home her first prize at the Globes ceremony, a prelude to the Oscars.
In the psychological thriller, Huppert plays a powerful businesswoman who, after being brutally assaulted, tracks down her attacker in pursuit of revenge. (See the somewhat graphic trailer below).
As he accepted his award, Verhoeven said he was "amazed" to win because "the movie is a bit controversial and people have been angry."
In his speech, he also paid warm tribute to Huppert: "It was wonderful to work with you -- you are wonderful. I love you, I love you, I love you."
A shocked Huppert noted the diversity in the room as she accepted her prize.
"There are people from all over the world in this room -- from China to America to Europe," she said. "Do not expect cinema to set up walls and borders."
Huppert will now have momentum behind a bid for a best actress nomination for next month's Oscars. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce those nominations on January 24.
The 63-year-old actress, who has worked with some of the world's greatest directors, told AFP in an interview prior to the Globes that her character's twisted relationship with her rapist adds a rich dimension to the role.
"It has been rightly said that she does not behave like a victim. She has an enormous number of responsibilities," said Huppert, who said she was interested in the role after reading the novel by Philippe Djian on which the film is based.
She called her character "somewhat of a loner, fairly courageous -- who the people around her depend on -- and who has a kind of generosity."