The 28-year-old called his experience of going from obscurity in Minnesota to stardom — complete with an Oscar nomination — “surreal.”
In the past few years, the British prizes, known as BAFTAs, have helped underdog films, including “Slumdog Millionaire,” ”The King’s Speech” and “The Artist,” gain Oscars momentum.
The prize for adapted screenplay went to “Philomena,” based on the true story of an Irish woman’s decades-long search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption.
The awards have become an essential stop for many Hollywood stars before the Academy Awards, held this year on March 2.
The temperature in London was hardly Hollywood, but Britain’s fickle weather relented ahead of Sunday’s ceremony. The sun shone as nominees including “Wolf of Wall Street” star Leonardo DiCaprio and “12 Years a Slave” performer Lupita Nyong’o— striking in a green Dior gown — walked the red carpet outside London’s Royal Opera House.
Best-actress nominee Amy Adams wore a black dress by Victoria Beckham, and revealed the inspirations for her “American Hustle” character’s faux-British accent: “Marianne Faithfull and Julie Christie.”
There was royalty of the Hollywood kind — Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, wearing matching tuxedos. And there was British royalty, too, in the form of Prince William, honorary president of the film academy.
The documentary prize went to Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing,” a powerful look at hundreds of thousands of killings carried out in 1960s Indonesia in the name of fighting communism.
Will Poulter (“Son of Rambow,” ”We’re the Millers”), a 21-year-old actor, won the rising star award, decided by public vote.
Director Peter Greenaway received an award for outstanding contribution to British cinema for a body of unsettling, comic and erotic films that includes “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” and “The Draughtsman’s Contract.”
Greenaway said he hoped the trophy would encourage those, like him, “who believe that cinema has to be continually reinvented.”
Helen Mirren received the British Academy Fellowship in recognition of a career that has ranged from a hard-nosed detective in TV series “Prime Suspect” to Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen.”
Mirren, 68, said she was “almost speechless” at receiving the honor, whose previous recipients include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor and Judi Dench.
“It’s been an amazing journey up to now,” she said.
She was given the trophy by Prince William — who said he should probably call her “granny.” Mirren won an Oscar for playing his grandmother, Britain’s monarch, in “The Queen.”