A low-budget Iraq war drama completely outshone 3D blockbuster Avatar at the Bafta awards last night.
The Hurt Locker — directed by Avatar maker James Cameron’s ex-wife Katryn Bigelow — won the award for best film, the sixth prize the picture picked up on the night.
It eclipsed Avatar, which, like The Hurt Locker, had been nominated for eight Baftas.
The two movies also lead the field for the Oscars awards ceremony on March 7. Ms Bigelow won the award for best director, best actor was Colin Firth for A Single Man and best actress was Carey Mulligan for An Education.
Mulligan's victory denied Irish teenager Saoirse Ronan another award to go with the IFTA she won in Dublin the previous night.
But there was an Irish success with Dubliner Richard Banehan winning an award for special effects in Avatar.
Colin Firth was named best actor for his portrayal of a gay academic battling grief in A Single Man.
Firth said: “What Tom Ford (director of A Single Man) doesn't know is I have the email in my outbox telling him I could not possibly do this.”
But he thanked Ford who “knows what's best for me. An encounter with Tom Ford is to come away feeling resuscitated, a little more worldly, better groomed, more fragrant, and more nominated than one has ever been before”.
“I have worked with a lot of great directors and he's up there with the best of them,” he added.
Acting legend Vanessa Redgrave — whose daughter Natasha, wife of Ulster actor Liam Neeson, died after a skiing accident last year — received a standing ovation as she collected the British Academy fellowship, the highest accolade it bestows on someone for “outstanding and exceptional” contribution to film.
The award was introduced by Prince William, who was making his first appearance at the Orange British Academy Film Awards, and actress Uma Thurman. Redgrave, who appeared close to tears, told the audience she praised the “intelligence, humility and kindness,” of William's father the Prince of Wales, as she gave her acceptance speech.
“I would like to say, your Royal Highness, how much I admire your father for his intelligence, humility and kindness,” she said.