Winslet can bask in the sunshine at last after winning public's vote

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Kate Winslet finally turned a string of high-profile nominations into prize-winning success last night when she was voted the best British actress at Britain's only awards chosen by the cinema-going public.

Kate Winslet finally turned a string of high-profile nominations into prize-winning success last night when she was voted the best British actress at Britain's only awards chosen by the cinema-going public.

The actress, who had been shortlisted for the Oscars, the Baftas and Golden Globes, was honoured for her performance in the quirky drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind at the Empire magazine film awards held in London. Although she could not be there to collect her honour in person, a roll-call of film royalty including Quentin Tarantino, Matt Damon and the Working Title team behind films such as Notting Hill and Bridget Jones did attend the ceremony.

More than 12,500 readers of the magazine voted for the prizes which saw The Bourne Supremacy win best film, and its star Matt Damon win best actor. Paddy Considine's unnerving performance in Dead Man's Shoes earned him the best British actor title while Shaun of the Dead , Simon Pegg's romantic zombie comedy, was named best British film.

Sam Raimi won best director for Spider-Man 2 and Matthew Vaughn, the producer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels , won the best British director award for Layer Cake .

But to prove that cinema-goers are not only seduced by the big budget pictures, the best actress honour went to Julie Delpy for her charming performance in the Before Sunrise sequel, Before Sunset .The event, celebrating its 10th year, will be broadcast by Channel Five tomorrow.

THE EMPIRE AWARDS

Best newcomer: Freddie Highmore - Finding Neverland

Best British actress: Kate Winslet - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best British actor: Paddy Considine - Dead Man's Shoes

Best British director: Matthew Vaughn - Layer Cake

Best British film: Shaun of the Dead

Scene of the year: The balloon sequence from Enduring Love

Best actress: Julie Delpy - Before Sunset

Best actor: Matt Damon - The Bourne Supremacy

Best director: Sam Raimi - Spider-Man 2

Best film: The Bourne Supremacy

Independent spirit award: Kevin Smith

Inspiration award: Brad Bird for The Incredibles

Outstanding contribution to British cinema: Working Title

Icon of the decade: Quentin Tarantino

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