Thompson took a Golden Globe award as best dramatic actress for her performance in Howard's End, while Richardson was voted best musical or comedy film actress for her role in Enchanted April - a BBC Television production which has grossed dollars 12m (pounds 8m) at the US box office.
The Screen 2 film scored a further success when one of its co-stars, Joan Plowright, won the award for best supporting film actor/actress. She said: 'I think this is probably the luckiest night of my life. I have seen the other nominees, and I think this award should be broken into little pieces and given to all of us.'
Plowright was also named best supporting actress in a television series or mini-series for her role in the HBO cable production, Stalin.
The awards, celebrating their 50th year, are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and are regarded by many as signposts for this year's Oscars.