The ballet thriller Black Swan won four prizes at the Spirit Awards honouring independent film, including best picture, best actress for Natalie Portman and director for Darren Aronofsky.
James Franco was picked as best actor for the survival story 127 Hours, while the Ozarks crime story Winter's Bone earned both supporting-acting prizes, for John Hawkes and Dale Dickey.
All three films are up for best picture at the Academy Awards, where Portman is considered the favourite to win the best-actress Oscar and Franco is a co-host alongside actress Anne Hathaway.
With plenty of overlap among nominees at the Oscars, the Spirit Awards are a warm-up for Hollywood's biggest party.
The British monarchy saga The King's Speech, the best-picture front-runner at the Oscars, won the prize for best foreign film.
Black Swan also took the cinematography award for Matthew Libatique.
Portman and Aronofsky joked about the difficulty in getting Black Swan off the ground, with cash tight and few people believing the film could ever make its money back.
"My ballet teachers were, like, every day, 'So when do we get paid?'," said Portman, who won for her role as a ballerina losing her grip on reality.
Aronofsky said he has been blessed with fearless actors in all of his films and had gushing praise for Portman.
"To have this incredible performer give you everything she's got and then train for a year. I'll always be in debt to Miss Natalie Portman," Aronofsky said.