The King’s Speech picked up four Oscars with its star Colin Firth admitting he felt his career had “just peaked” as he collected the award for Best Actor.
Firth told the audience at the 83rd Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles he wanted to leave the stage before he embarrassed himself by dancing with joy.
He said: “I have a feeling my career has just peaked. My deepest thanks to the academy.
“I’m afraid I have to warn you that I’m experiencing stirrings somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves which joyous as they may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.”
The story of King George VI’s battle with his stutter also won Best Picture, Best Director for Tom Hooper and Best Original Screenplay for David Seidler.
Firth thanked his British fans, paying tribute to “all the people who have been rooting for me back home” and thanked his wife whom he said had put up with his “fleeting delusions of royalty”.
Firth, whose wife is Italian, also has a son from an earlier relationship with actress Meg Tilly and he thanked the “Anglo-Italian, American, Canadian axis which makes up my family”.
London-born Seidler dedicated his win to ``all the stutterers throughout the world''.
He said: “My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer. I believe I’m the oldest person to win this award.”
He went on to thank the Queen for “not putting me in the Tower of London” for the film’s use of swearing.
He added: “All the stutterers throughout the world, we have a voice, we have been been heard, thanks to you the academy.”
Hooper thanked his mother who first told him about the play that formed the basis of the film.
Addressing her, he said: “With this tonight I honour you and the moral of the story is ’listen to your mother’.”
He also paid tribute to the film’s leading actors and “the triangle of man love that is Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and me. I’m only here because of you guys”.
The team behind the film was presented with the Best Picture award by Steven Spielberg and producer Iain Canning thanked the “best of British crew” and the film’s “acting royalty”.
Co-host James Franco said the film, which had been nominated for 12 awards, had entered “Oscar history” before the ceremony ended with a performance of Over the Rainbow by a school choir.
But there was disappointment for two of its stars, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush who lost out on the Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor roles respectively.
Veteran actor Kirk Douglas presented The Fighter’s Melissa Leo with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Welsh-born Christian Bale picked up Best Supporting Actor for the same film.
The star, who first hit the headlines as the child star of Empire of the Sun, said: “Bloody hell. What a room full of talented, inspirational people and what am I doing in the midst of you?”
He also paid tribute to his wife who he said was “my mast through the storms of life”.
Last year’s Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges presented the award for Best Actress to Natalie Portman for her role in the dark thriller Black Swan.
The tearful star paid tribute to the other actresses that were up for the award, saying she wished “the prize tonight was to get to work with my fellow nominees”.
She also spoke about the father of her unborn child, Benjamin Millepied, who she said had given her the “most important role of my life”.
The ceremony had started badly for The King’s Speech when it missed out on two early Oscar opportunities.
It lost out to Alice in Wonderland for Art Direction and to sci-fi thriller Inception picked up the Cinematography award.
West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin picked up the Best Adapted Screenplay award for his work on the Facebook film The Social Network.
He thanked Ben Mezrich who wrote the book the film was based on, adding: “There is a lot of people who have worked hard in my corner for a long time.”
Russell Brand and Helen Mirren, who are co-starring in the remake of the Dudley Moore film Arthur, presented the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar to the Danish film In A Better World.
British musician Atticus Ross picked up the Oscar for Best Original Score for his work with Trent Reznor for The Social Network, beating Alexandre Desplat and The King’s Speech to the prize.
The ceremony, co-hosted by Franco and Anne Hathaway, featured the traditional tribute to the stars of the movie industry who died in the last year.
There was also a section about songs from the movies which featured an appearance from US President Barack Obama who told the audience in a video message his favourite song was As Time Goes By from Casablanca.
Bristol-based graffiti artist Banksy lost out in the race for the Best Documentary award which went to Inside Job which tells the story of the collapse of America’s financial institutions.
Speaking on the red carpet before the ceremony began, Rush revealed he had texted Firth to say he would not be too worried even if the film failed to win a thing.
He told Sky Movies Premiere: “Even if the whole film goes home empty-handed, because there are historical precedents for that, this film has scored with audiences and in our working relationship.”
Two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda said she was delighted for Firth.
Speaking after the ceremony at the Vanity Fair party, she told ITV1’s Daybreak: “First of all Colin is such a great guy. I love the movie so I’m really happy for him.”
Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who now hosts a talkshow in the US, said it was a “great night” for Britain, adding: “The Best Actor, The King’s Speech, the Royal Family being celebrated and storming Hollywood.”
London-born Christopher Nolan saw his film, Inception, miss out on the big prizes but it still picked up four Oscars - one more than The Social Network.
Australian X-Men star Hugh Jackman told the BBC it had been “a good night for the English”.
Asked about Firth, he said: “He was amazing. His speech was amazing. Terrific actor and very humble.”
A full list of winners at the 2011 Academy Awards:
'The King's Speech'
Colin Firth - 'The King's Speech'
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Melissa Leo - 'The Fighter'
Natalie Portman - 'Black Swan'
Tom Hooper - 'The King's Speech'
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Christian Bale - 'The Fighter'
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Aaron Sorkin - 'The Social Network'
David Seidler - 'The King's Speech'
Wally Pfister - 'Inception'
BEST FILM EDITING:
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter - 'The Social Network'
DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM:
'Strangers No More'
Luke Matheny - 'God Of Love'
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
'We Belong Together' - 'Toy Story 3'
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:
'The Lost Thing'
BEST ANIMATED FILM:
'Toy Story 3'
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - 'The Social Network'
Gary A Rizzo & Ed Novick - 'Inception'
Richard King - 'Inception'
Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips - 'Alice in Wonderland'
Colleen Atwood - 'Alice in Wonderland'
Robert Stromberg (production design); Karen O'Hara (set decoration) - 'Alice in Wonderland'
'In a Better World' (Denmark)