Top acting honours go to Russell Crowe and Dame Judi

Gala night for 'The Lord of the Rings' but Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet and the team behind Harry Potter go home empty-handed
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The Independent Culture

All in all it was a very British night at the Baftas: Dame Judi Dench won her seventh award, for her moving and disturbing portrayal of the novelist Iris Murdoch. And it rained.

The continuous downpour drenched the red carpet outside, bringing up puddles of soap suds, which the nominees ­ many of them Hollywood stars more used to palm fronds and a cool LA breeze at the Oscars ­ had to tiptoe through on their way into the Odeon Leicester Square last night.

The best actress prize for Iris ­ which charts the author's struggle with Alzheimer's disease ­ could be the start of a momentous month for Dame Judi, who has been nominated for an Oscar for the same role.

After the ceremony, Dame Judi said she was shaken, adding jokingly that the reason was that she had had a £1m bet with her agent that she would not win. "You never get used to it," she said. "The job gets harder." The Baftas were becoming more like the Oscars, Dame Judi said: "It used to be quite quiet and British. Now we have the red carpet and a lot of people outside."

Dame Judi's screen husband in Iris, Jim Broadbent, did not win an award for that role but was named best supporting actor for his part as the flamboyant compère in Moulin Rouge. There was no Bafta for Moulin Rouge's leading lady, Nicole Kidman. Nor were there prizes for Kate Winslet, Kevin Spacey or Sissy Spacek, who were also present. Harry Potterand the Philosopher's Stone did not win in any category.

The best actor award went to the New Zealand-born Russell Crowe for his portrayal of the Nobel Prize-winner John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. It was second time lucky for Crowe, who lost last year with Gladiator to the 14-year-old Jamie Bell, the star of Billy Elliott.

Crowe, who recited a poem by the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh when he received his award, said afterwards: "I love my job and I don't think I do it that well, but keep on disagreeing with me." Earlier, there had been a good-natured joke from Jamie Bell when he presented an award. "With me not getting nominated this year, it gives Russell Crowe the chance to get an award," he said.

The Baftas ­ which are the UK's top film awards and are awarded by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts ­ are held a month before the Oscars. Although they have not yet achieved quite the sameinfluence, they are thought to presage the probable results of the American awards. Dame Judi and Crowe are considered likely to replicate their wins.

So is The Lord of the Rings, which was named best film last night. Its four Baftas included best director for Peter Jackson, best special visual effects, and best make-up and hair. It alsowon the People's Vote for best film, a separate award chosen by the general public.

Robert Altman's Gosford Park was named best British film, and Jennifer Connelly was voted best supporting actress for A Beautiful Mind, beating Winslet, Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren. The French film Amélie won awards for original screenplay and production design. The Mexican film Amores Perros was named best film not in the English language. Shrek was awarded best adapted screenplay, About a Girl won best short film and Dog won best short animation. The Man Who Wasn't There scored for cinematography, while Mulholland Drive won best editing.

Eon Productions ­ the company behind the James Bond films ­ was presented with a special award to recognise 40 years of 007. And Bafta fellowships for outstanding contributions to world cinema were given to the actor Warren Beatty and the film-makers Merchant Ivory, who follow in the footsteps of previous winners such as Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and Elizabeth Taylor.

Beatty, 64, whose films include Shampoo, Reds and Bonnie and Clyde, said he was thrilled to receive an award in Britain and had last been at the Odeon in 1961. He added that it was getting harder to make risky films with big budgets.

Merchant Ivory's adaptations of classic novels have includedA Room with a View, Howard's End, and The Remains of the Day. The production company is based on a collaboration of three people: Ismail Merchant, the producer, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the screenwriter, and James Ivory, the director. Their latest film, The Mystic Masseur, opens in the UK next month.

Also last night, the writer and director Joel Hopkins and the producer Nicola Usborne won an award for special achievement by a director, screenwriter or producer for their first feature film, Jump Tomorrow.

The winners

Best film: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Carl Foreman Award: Joel Hopkins/Nicola Usborne for Jump Tomorrow

David Lean Award for achievement in direction: Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings

Best original screenplay: Amélie

Best adapted screenplay: Shrek

Best actress: Judi Dench, Iris

Best actor: Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind

Best supporting actress: Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

Best supporting actor: Jim Broadbent, Moulin Rouge

Best music: Moulin Rouge

Best foreign language film: Amores Perros

Best cinematography: The Man Who Wasn't There

Best production design: Amélie

Best costume design: Gosford Park

Best editing: Mulholland Drive

Best sound: Moulin Rouge

Best special effects: Lord of the Rings

Best make up/hair: Lord of the Rings

Best short film: About a Girl

Best short animation: Dog

Orange Film Of the Year: Lord of the Rings

Alexander Korda Award for outstanding British film of the year: Gosford Park

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