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Ben Affleck's 'Argo' named best film at British BAFTAs

Danny Kemp
11 February 2013
Ben Affleck poses with Best Director award for his film Argo in London on February 10, 2013
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US actor and director Ben Affleck poses with Best Director award for his film Argo during the annual BAFTA British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House in London on February 10, 2013

Iran hostage crisis drama "Argo" won the best film prize at Britain's BAFTA awards in a further boost for US actor-director Ben Affleck's movie ahead of the Oscars later this month.

At a rainy but celebrity-packed ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London on Sunday, Affleck also won the best director award, highlighting the fact that he has been snubbed in the same category at the Academy Awards.

Daniel Day-Lewis boosted his status as Oscar favourite as he was named best actor for his presidential turn in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln", while 85-year-old French screen legend Emmanuelle Riva won best actress for "Amour".

Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress for her performance in the musical "Les Miserables" while Christoph Waltz won best supporting actor for his role in Quentin Tarantino's blood-soaked western "Django Unchained".

Dozens of stars defied the sleet and wind of a typical British winter evening to sashay down the red carpet for the awards, which are widely viewed as a bellwether for the Oscars on February 24.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, or BAFTAs, have picked the same best film as the Oscars for the last four years in a row, and for five of the last 10 years in total.

Veteran British actress Helen Mirren stole the show with freshly dyed pink hair, while US star Jennifer Lawrence blew a kiss to television audiences during the ceremony, just as Brad Pitt did last year.

"Les Miserables" won the most awards with four including Hathaway's gong, plus prizes for production design, sound and hair and make-up, followed by "Argo" with three, also including editing.

But it is "Argo" that now has the wind in its sails for the Oscars. The movie, about a CIA mission to rescue diplomats in Tehran in 1979, also won the top Golden Globe awards last month against all the odds, beating "Lincoln".

Affleck took the best director award from the Directors Guild of America a week ago as well.

Glossing over his own Oscar snub, Affleck said the BAFTA best director award was a second chance for him after a career that took off when he starred in the 1997 picture "Good Will Hunting" with Matt Damon.

"I want to say this is a second act for me and you've given me that, this industry has given me that and I want to thank you and I'm so grateful and proud," he said as he accepted the award from British actor Ian McKellen.

Riva's best actress award for her role as a dying woman in "Amour" -- which won the Palme d'Or in Cannes last year -- came after the movie by Austrian director Michael Haneke also won the best foreign language film award at the BAFTAs.

French star Riva is the oldest ever nominee for the best actress award at the Oscars.

Britain's Day-Lewis meanwhile added to a trophy cabinet that already contains the Golden Globe and a Screen Actor's Guild award for his role as US president Abraham Lincoln, but it was the only BAFTA for the movie.

Cult director Tarantino won the award for best original screenplay for "Django Unchained" and David O. Russell picked up the best adapted screenplay award for romantic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook".

In a rare accolade for the James Bond series despite its enduring appeal over the past 50 years, "Skyfall" was named best British film and the score won the best original music prize. "Skyfall" is Britain's highest grossing film ever.

The BAFTAs ceremony ended with the awarding of a special fellowship to filmmaker Alan Parker, the director of movies including "Midnight Express", "Birdy", "Angel Heart" and "Bugsy Malone".

Long a highlight of the British film industry calendar, the BAFTAs have been growing in stature over the years and are now seen as one of the key indicators of Oscar success.

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