Ben Affleck's CIA spy thriller Argo was crowned Best Film at the British Academy Film Awards, making the movie clear favourite to scoop Best Picture at the Oscars in two weeks' time. The film, set during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, picked up three awards in total, for best film, direction and editing.
Affleck nabbed Best Director for his third time behind the camera, after previously directing Gone Baby Gone and The Town. In what has proved a remarkable turnaround for the actor/director since the infamous 'Bennifer' years when he was incessantly covered by the press for his relationship with Jennifer Lopez, he thanked the film industry for providing him with a second chance. "This is a second act for me, this industry has given me that, and I'm so thankful and so proud. So I want to dedicate this to anyone out there who is trying to get their second act, because you can do it," he said.
Stephen Fry returned to hosting duties at Covent Garden's Royal Opera House for the annual extravaganza that showcases the often symbiotic relationship between British talent and the Hollywood studios. The 2013 Baftas were seen as a wide open-field, with no-clear favourite for Best Film for the first time in years.
Ahead of the ceremony Steven Spielberg's civil war biopic Lincoln lead the field with 10 nominations, with Tom Hooper's musical Les Miserables and Ang Lee's Life of Pi just behind on nine apiece. But it would be Argo that would triumph on the night, following on from previous successes at the Golden Globes, Directors Guild of America (DGA) awards and Producers Guild of America (PGA) awards.
Day-Lewis and Riva win top acting prizes
It was a disappointing night for Lincoln, winning only one award for Daniel Day-Lewis' hypnotic turn as the 16th President of the United States. The 55-year-old has won the prize three times previously for his roles in My Left Foot, Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood.
Emmanuelle Riva triumphed over younger rivals Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence to win the Best Actress gong for her devastating performance in harrowing geriatric romance Amour. The 85-year-old French legend first came to attention in Alan Resnais' French New Wave trailblazer Hiroshima mon amour, and became the oldest person to be nominated for the Best Actress prize for this year's Academy Awards.
As predicted Anne Hathaway scooped the Best Supporting Actress prize for her brief but powerful turn as Fantine in Les Miserables. The singer of 'I Dreamed a Dream', accepted the award and thanked the film's director Tom Hooper, "for your ability to make dreams come true". Christoph Waltz won best Supporting Actor for a second time for his role as a German bounty hunter in Django Unchained, following on from his previous success in 2009 for Inglourious Basterds.
Juno Temple won the EE Rising Star award, the only one voted for by members of the public. The 23-year-old actress, daughter of film director Julien Temple, has caught public attention recently in indie films Killer Joe, Little Birds and Jack & Diane, and her tiny role last year in Hollywood blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises.
Skyfall made history as it became the first James Bond movie to win the Outstanding British Film award, a just reward for the critical acclaim it has received and over a $1bn the film has taken worldwide at the box office. Celebrating its half-centenary last year, the Bafta awards were just 15 years old when the first Bond caper, Dr No, gave audiences worldwide a licence to thrill.
Director Sam Mendes took to the stage and highlighted Daniel Craig's performance in his third outing as 007. "I also have to single out the man around whom we built this film, and that's Daniel Craig," he said. The film also won Best Original Music for Thomas Newman's lively score.
The other UK specific award for Outstanding British Debut went to director Bart Layton and producer Dimitri Doganis for superb documentary thriller The Imposter. Speaking about the film's use of reconstructions in order to craft suspense, Doganis said when accepting the award, "We should thank Film4 who thought we could do this and tell it like a thriller rather than a traditional documentary".
The winner of the main documentary prize was Malik Bendjelloul's Searching For Sugar Man, about the attempts to find cult American folk musician Sixto Rodriguez, after his music became wildly popular in South Africa. Michael Haneke's Amour won Best Film not in the English Language, whilst Pixar's Highlands fantasy Brave won Best Animated Film.
Tessa Ross, the head of film at Channel 4, was presented with a lifetime achievement honour for her outstanding contribution to British cinema. In her role as controller of film and drama at Channel 4 she has produced a smorgasbord of recent British successes such as This Is England, Slumdog Millionaire and Shame.
The final prize and the highest the academy can bestow, the BAFTA Fellowship, was presented this year to Sir Alan Parker, the British filmmaker who in his over 40-year career made popular and critically acclaimed movies such as Bugsy Malone, Fame and The Commitments.
61-year-old Parker, who was twice nominated for a Best Director Oscar for Midnight Express and Mississippi Burning, accepted his award from Kevin Spacey and admitted that the last four decades of filmmaking success had flown by. "When you're halfway through your first film, you're sure it's going to be your last. Then you blink, and 40 years have gone by and you've made 14 movies," he said. One of the founding members of the now-defunct UK Film Council and Director's Guild of Britain, Parker was knighted in 2002 for his services to the British film industry.