First blood in the long battle that will end at the Oscars in late February was drawn by the film The Social Network, which picked up the lion's share of honours at the opening event of the Hollywood awards "season".
Members of the National Board of Review selected the Facebook biopic in four major categories, including Best Picture, on Thursday night. David Fincher was named Best Director for his work on the project, and writer Aaron Sorkin won Best Adapted Screenplay. Jesse Eisenberg won Best Actor for his portrayal of the social networking website's founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
In other major categories, Christian Bale was named Best Actor for his portrayal of boxer Dickie Eklund in The Fighter, while Toy Story 3 began its expected sweep of the season's Best Animation prizes.
It was a tough night for the British hopeful The King's Speech, which is widely considered to be the front-runner in the Oscar race. That film, starring Colin Firth, was completely shut out from every prize.