'Aviator' Wins Big at British Awards

"The Aviator" soared Saturday at the British Academy Film Awards (search), taking four prizes including best film. The abortion drama "Vera Drake" won three, including best director for Mike Leigh.

"The Aviator" — which has 11 nominations for the Feb. 27 Academy Awards — had led the field with 14 nominations. But members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts scattered the prizes widely.

While "Aviator" director Martin Scorcese (search) and star Leonardo DiCaprio (search) went home empty-handed, the film won a best supporting actress award for Cate Blanchett (search), as well as prizes for production design and best hair and makeup.

Imelda Staunton (search) won best actress for her wrenching performance as a 1950s Cockney housewife who performs illegal abortions in "Vera Drake." The film also took the costume design prize.

Jamie Foxx (search) was named best actor for his uncanny depiction of singer Ray Charles in "Ray"; the film also won the award for best sound. British star Clive Owen was named best supporting actor for "Closer."

The British awards, known as BAFTAs, have become an essential pre-Oscars stop since they were moved in 2000 from April to a February date, preceding the Academy Awards.

A clutch of Hollywood stars — including DiCaprio, Keanu Reeves, Richard Gere, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and model Claudia Schiffer — braved the rain and cold to walk up the red carpet in London's Leicester Square, watched by hundreds of fans.

The Che Guevara road movie "The Motorcycle Diaries" won two awards — best foreign-language film and best music. Another double winner was fractured romantic comedy "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," which took BAFTAs for editing and for Charlie Kaufman's original screenplay.

The prize for best adapted screenplay went to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for the wine-tasting comedy "Sideways."

"My Summer of Love," Pawel Pawliowski's bittersweet tale of romance between two teenage girls, was named best British film. The Orange Film of the Year prize — the only award decided by the public — went to "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."