Hat-trick for Artist at film awards
Silent film The Artist has swept the board as it won three prizes at the London Film Critics' Circle awards.
The black-and-white picture won Film of the Year, Director of the Year and Actor of the Year at the ceremony, following on from its success at the Golden Globes. The director was Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin took the actor prize.
The Actress of the Year award was tied between Anna Paquin for her performance in Kenneth Lonergan's drama Margaret and Meryl Streep for her portrayal of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
The latter film also saw Olivia Colman scooping The Moet & Chandon Award: British Actress of the Year for her performance.
Kenneth Branagh was awarded Supporting Actor of the Year award for his turn as Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn, while Michael Fassbender collected the British Actor of the Year award for his performances as Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method and as a sex addict in Shame.
Iranian drama A Separation also took home three awards. It won Foreign Language Film of the Year and also saw Sareh Bayat win Supporting Actress of the Year and Asghar Farhadi pick up best screenwriter.
The Attenborough Award: British Film of the Year went to We Need To Talk About Kevin, directed by Lynne Ramsay, while Young British Performer of the Year went to Craig Roberts for his role in comedy Submarine.
The Artist star Jean admitted he had been take aback by the film's awards success. "We were never prepared for this. It is very new so I am so proud, for the crew, for the film. It's a very new experience but I'm happy," he said.
The awards, held at the BFI Southbank in London, are voted for by 120 British film critics, broadcasters and writers.
London Film Critics' Circle chairman Jason Solomons said: "Judging from the quality of films and performances honoured tonight, it is clear that the critics - who see every film, not just those with awards campaigns behind them - have an increasingly influential voice in awards races."