Sean Penn's Into the Wild has taken the best feature award at the 17th Gotham awards, held at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, New York.
Penn's adaptation of John Krakauer's book tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young graduate who gave away all his worldly goods before embarking on an ambitious journey to Alaska.
Acclaimed young actor Emile Hirsch plays McCandless in the epic film and accepted the award at last night's ceremony, held in Brooklyn for the first time.
"When this film came along, I was 35 pounds overweight sitting on a couch with a shaved head. I'm not anymore," he said.
Michael Moore's Sicko, an expose of the US healthcare system, took home the best documentary prize, while Ellen Page won the breakthrough actor award for her role as the eponymous pregnant teen in Juno.
Page paid tribute to Diablo Cody's cutting screenplay, saying it had made her "obsessive about playing Juno".
"I'm so proud that there is a teenage character like her going out into the world," she added.
The best ensemble cast award was shared by Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Talk to Me, the Don Cheadle-starring tale of 60s shock-jock Peter Green.
And six pre-announced special tribute awards were handed out, with Javier Bardem recognised for his contribution to acting and Mira Nair acknowledged for her direction.
Influential film critic Roger Ebert, production designer Mark Friedberg, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring were also rewarded for their efforts in the industry.