London: Iran-hostage drama Argo continued its journey from awards-season outsider to favourite, winning three prizes, including best-picture, at the British Academy Film Awards.
Ben Affleck was yesterday named best director for the based-on-reality story of a longshot plan to rescue a group of American diplomats from Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the film also took the editing trophy.
Affleck, who has made a remarkable journey from little-regarded actor to award-winning director, dedicated his directing prize for "anyone out there who's trying to get their second act."
George Clooney, a producer of Argo, quipped: "I don't know what you're going to do for a third act." Daniel Day-Lewis won his universally expected best-actor
trophy for Lincoln — the only prize out of 10 nominations for Steven Spielberg's historical biopic.
Emmanuelle Riva, the 85-year-old French film legend, was named best actress for Michael Haneke's poignant old-age portrait Amour.
Made-in-Britain French revolutionary musical Les Miserables won four prizes including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway.
James Bond adventure Skyfall spied some elusive awards recognition, winning trophies for music and best British film.
The British awards, known as BAFTAs, are increasingly glamorous, despite a well-earned reputation for dismal weather and ever-more scrutinized as an indicator of likely success at the Hollywood Oscars. In recent years they have prefigured Academy Awards triumph for word-of-mouth hits including Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech and The Artist.
This year they spread the honors widely, with multiple trophies for Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Amour and Django Unchained, as well as Argo.
Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty was shut out of the prizes, despite five nominations.
This season's movie with momentum is crowd-pleaser Argo, which has been building steam with big prizes at ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild of America Awards.
It is now considered a front-runner for the best picture award at the Oscars on February 24, even though Affleck was not nominated for best director.