Queen and King are triumphant at British film's big night out

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The Independent Culture

It was the right royal triumph that everyone had predicted. She worried about the dowdy wardrobe when she accepted the role, but playing Queen Elizabeth II last night won Helen Mirren top honours at Britain's most glamorous film awards.

In the latest in a string of prizes which already includes a Golden Globe for the role, Mirren beat fellow dame, Judi Dench, as well as Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep, to take the best actress award at the Orange British Academy Film Awards (Baftas).

The film, a dissection of royalty and New Labour following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was the brainchild of its director Stephen Frears and Granada television in the wake of their drama, The Deal, about Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Daniel Craig, the first James Bond to be nominated for best actor, lost out to Forest Whitaker who won for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

Accepting the award at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden last night, Mirren, 61, wept as she paid tribute to her mentor, the actor Ian Richardson, who has just died, congratulated her voice coach Penny Dyer for making her "less Barbara Windsor and more Elizabeth Windsor" and she even thanked the film's corgis.

"I wish I could sing. Just to be nominated among those incredible powerhouse performances from women was absolutely fantastic," said the actress. "I want more roles like that for us, please."

The Queen was also named best film in a night when the British movie industry saw off strong Hollywood competition to take many of the top prizes without producing the clean sweep some had been expecting.

The intriguing Spanish film Pan's Labyrinth was a surprise winner in several categories, including best foreign language film where it was up against Pedro Almodovar's Volver.

There were victories for British talents including the director Paul Greengrass, the screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock, and Film 4, who backed The Last King of Scotland which, with Pan's Labyrinth, was the big winner of the night with three honours.

The Last King of Scotland, based on the book by Giles Foden, was named the outstanding British film of the year. Whitaker, who won best actor, paid tribute to his fellow cast members, especially co-star James McAvoy.

Peter Morgan ­ also nominated for the screenplay of The Queen ­ took best screenplay with co-writer Jeremy Brock, and suggested a sequel involving both Mirren and Whitaker based on love letters Idi Amin wrote to the Queen.

"He offered himself as her lover. He said, 'Having met Mr Philip, I don't think I like him, perhaps if you want to experience a real man, you should come to Kampala'."

The best director award went to Paul Greengrass for United 93, his restrained but powerful depiction of the events on board the United Airlines plane where the passengers took on the terrorists on 11 September. He also took an award for editing.

He said: "We gathered together to try and think about 9/11 and what it meant and more, I think, what it means today and what it's going to mean going on from here. Its shadow is cast over all of us. I believe that cinema must deal with the world is and its dangers. We need it very much now."

British talent was less successful in the supporting actor categories. Emily Blunt, Frances de la Tour, James McAvoy, Leslie Phillips and Michael Sheen all lost out to Americans.

The director Andrea Arnold followed up her success at the Cannes Film Festival when Red Road won the jury prize by winning a special category designed to honour emerging British talent for their first feature film.

In the only category that was voted for by members of the public, Eva Green, the French actress who was the latest Bond girl, beat Naomie Harris, Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw to win the Orange rising star award.

The winners

Best Film ­ The Queen

Outstanding British Film ­ The Last King of Scotland

Special achievement by a British director, writer or producer in their first feature film ­ Andrea Arnold (director) ­ Red Road

Best Director ­ United 93 ­ Paul Greengrass

Best Actor ­ Forest Whitaker ­ The Last King of Scotland

Best Actress­ Helen Mirren ­ The Queen

Best Supporting Actor ­ Alan Arkin ­ Little Miss Sunshine

Best Supporting Actress ­ Jennifer Hudson ­ Dreamgirls

Best Original Screenplay ­ Michael Arndt ­ Little Miss Sunshine

Best Adapted Screenplay ­ Peter Morgan/Jeremy Brook ­ The Last King of Scotland

Best Film not in the English language ­ Pan's Labyrinth

Best Animated feature film ­ George Miller ­ Happy Feet

Best Cinematography ­ Emmanuel Lubezki ­ Children of Men

Special Visual Effects ­ John Knoll/Hal Hickel/Charles Gibson/Allen Hall ­ Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Orange Rising Star award ­ Eva Green ­ Casino Royale