In her nearly 6-minute address while accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award, the actress highlighted the importance of the "most vilified segments in American society right now" -- "Hollywood, foreigners and the press."
Without referencing him by name, the actress also blasted president-elect Donald Trump for mocking a reporter with a disability in 2015.
"Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts," she said to huge applause from the room.
She continued: "An actor's only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that -- breathtaking, compassionate work."
Streep, however, said there was one "performance" this year that "stunned" her "not because it was good -- there was nothing good about it."
That, she said, was that moment when "the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back."
Trump has denied the accusation that he mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski in the past.
"It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie, it was real life," Streep said. "This instinct to humiliate when it's modeled by someone in the public ... by someone powerful, it filters down into everyone's life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same."
Streep added: "When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose."
The room listened with rapt attention. Actress Kerry Washington appeared near tears in the audience when the camera cut to her.
On Twitter, the actress predictably found much support from her peers.
"Thank you #MerylStreep," wrote Julianne Moore in a tweet.
— Julianne Moore (@_juliannemoore) January 9, 2017
"Everything she said. Thank you #MerylStreep for you work and everything you said tonight," added Laverne Cox.
There has never been anyone like Meryl Streep. I love her. #GoldenGlobes
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 9, 2017
— Uzo Aduba (@UzoAduba) January 9, 2017
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) January 9, 2017
Streep also stumped for the press, who she said is needed to "hold power to account."
Streep asked for those in the audience to support the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists "because we're going to need them going forward and they're going to need us to safeguard the truth."
The response to Streep's speech wasn't all positive.
This is exactly why Hwood is DYING, what a bunch of hypocrites. Sex, violence, and drivel rule hwood. Turning the channel. https://t.co/jZVRviw7jw
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) January 9, 2017
This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won. And if people in Hollywood don't start recognizing why and how - you will help him get re-elected
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) January 9, 2017
Fox News host Sean Hannity tweeted: "This is exactly why Hwood is DYING, what a bunch of hypocrites. Sex, violence, and drivel rule hwood. Turning the channel."
Radio host Meghan McCain, daughter of Republican Senator John McCain, added: "This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won. And if people in Hollywood don't start recognizing why and how - you will help him get re-elected."
Streep also drew some criticism from the Mix Martial Arts community.
In a letter posted to Twitter, Scott Coker, an MMA promoter and fighter, invited Streep to an upcoming event in Los Angeles so she can see "that Mixed Martial Arts is truly artistic."
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) January 9, 2017
Trump, meanwhile, didn't immediately seem to have a response. His latest tweet, sent as the Globes was coming to an end on television, was about the wall he hopes to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Streep closed her speech with a quote from her late friend Carrie Fisher: "take your broken heart, make it into art."