But Inception led all films with six awards total, most for technical achievement.
The best picture award left star Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg reaching for words. "It's been an overwhelming experience to be in something received so wonderfully," he said backstage.
A visibly pregnant Natalie Portman won best actress for Black Swan and gushed onstage about the film's director Darren Aronofsky. "You made me skinny and you're indirectly responsible for making me fat because you introduced me to my love," she said, referring to her fiance and the film's choreographer, Benjamin Millepied. The two are expecting their first child together later this year.
"I'm incredibly thankful for that special gift," she added.
Christian Bale won for best supporting actor for The Fighter and dedicated the prize to the real-life Dicky Eklund, whom he portrayed on screen. "This feels great because I feel like he's winning as well," he said, later tearing up as he thanked his wife.
Colin Firth won best actor The King's Speech and Melissa Leo won best supporting actress for The Fighter.
Following are the main award winners:
The Social Network
Colin Firth – The King's Speech
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale – The Fighter
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Melissa Leo – The Fighter
BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
David Fincher – The Social Network
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The King's Speech – David Seidler
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin
Inception – Wally Pfister
BEST ART DIRECTION
Inception – Guy Hendrix Dyas
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Toy Story 3
BEST ACTION MOVIE
BEST PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Waiting for 'Superman'
"If I Rise" – performed by Dido and A.R. Rahman/music by A.R. Rahman/lyrics by Dido Armstrong and Rollo Armstrong – 127 Hours
The Social Network – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross