It wasn't a one-film sweep last night at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards ceremony, as some might have expected.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King did end up winning 5 awards at Britain's equivalent to the Oscars, including for Best Film, but the best director award was scooped by Peter Weir for his seafaring yarn Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The latter also won awards for sound, costume design and also for production design, but The Rings went one better scooping BAFTAs for screenplay, cinematography, visual effects and also the BAFTA Orange Film of the Year where members of the public vote for the best film of the year.
"The party will probably be huge, there are quite a few Kiwis over here and the lager will be flowing like water," said Rings director Peter Jackson.
The good showing by "Master" should give much scope for chin-wagging by pundits and punters alike between now and Oscar night in two weeks time.
The best British film award went to the riveting mountaineering drama-documentary, Touching the Void, which was adapted by director Kevin MacDonald from climber Joe Simpson's published account.
The British Academy also singled out writer-director of Kiss of Life Emily Young as one British newcomer to watch for. Her long-distance love story set in Bosnia and London earned her a special achievement award.
Best actor and best actress awards went to Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson for Tokyo-set comedy Lost in Translation, where they play unhappy Americans who find solace in each other. The nineteen-year-old, who thanked her mum for "being there, taking me to auditions and buying me hotdogs afterwards", was also nominated for Girl With A Pearl Earring. Sarah Flack also won for Lost in Translation for editing.
Bill Nighy won the award for actor in a supporting role for his comic turn as an ageing rock 'n' roller in Love Actually, and an emotional Renee Zellweger took the award for her role as a rough-talking country gal in Cold Mountain. After winning a Golden Globe for supporting actress as well she looks like the strongest contender for the Oscar later this month. It was a disappointing night for Minghella's Cold Mountain though, winning only one other award for best film music.
Michael Winterbottom's In This World, a naturalistic drama about two young refugees trying to escape to Britain with the help of smugglers, took the award for a film not in the English language, beating the Barbarian Invasions, Etre Et Avoir, Belleville Rendez-vous (actually, there's really no language spoken here), Good Bye Lenin! And Spirited Away.
The Academy also recognised John Boorman's lifetime achievements by awarding him its highest accolade, an Academy Fellowship.
Holy Grail - "Best British Film Ever"
A recent poll of 7000 people found that Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the most popular British film of all time. The top 5 Brit flicks in the poll, conducted by Amazon.co.uk and the Internet Movie Database, were:
1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
2. A Clockwork Orange
4. Lawrence of Arabia
5. The Third Man