Roman Polanski's The Pianist has taken the best picture and best director award at the 54th Baftas.
Adrien Brody accepted an award for Polanski
The film's success comes a day after it won six awards at France's annual film ceremony, the Cesars.
The win was unexpected, as top honours were thought to be going to either musical Chicago and epic Gangs of New York, which both had 12 nominations, or drama The Hours, which had 11.
Polanski himself was not there to collect the awards, but his lead actor Adrien Brody accepted the best director award on his behalf.
"It's been such a tremendous honour to work with Roman," he told the audience.
"He has given me so much and taught me so much. He is a remarkable human being and filmmaker."
Nicole Kidman beat fellow The Hours best actress nominee Meryl Streep
The movie, about the Warsaw ghetto in World War II, took the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year and is also nominated for best picture at the Oscars.
An array of top Hollywood stars attended the ceremony, which now comes a month before the Oscars in Los Angeles.
Nicole Kidman scooped the best actress award for her role as Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry's The Hours, a performance she made complete with a now famous prosthetic nose.
"It's so lovely to share this award with two very special women," Kidman said of her co-stars Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep, also nominated for their roles in the movie.
Number of Baftas
The Two Towers: 3
The Pianist: 2
The Hours: 2
Road to Perdition: 2
Talk to Her: 2
The Warrior: 2
Gangs of New York: 1
"I'll divide this between the three of us."
But she was still reluctant to talk up her chances of winning the best actress Oscar next month.
"There is a strong category of women nominated this year and I think it is just lovely to be nominated two years in a row," she said.
Daniel Day-Lewis spearheaded the British and Irish charge, winning best actor for his acclaimed role as Bill the Butcher in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York - the only award given to the film.
Day-Lewis also paid tribute to fellow nominees as he picked up the best actor prize.
A rare grin from best actor Daniel Day-Lewis
"Such wonderful performances this year from both men and women and I feel a great sense of privilege in being included among you. It's really been like food and drink."
A heavily pregnant Catherine Zeta Jones also won for the British, taking best supporting actress for her role as Velma Kelly in Chicago.
"Oh my gosh - I'm very hormonal, so please forgive anything I might say, or if I cry please take me off the stage," she told the audience, adding a cry of the Welsh rugby chant: "Oggy, Oggy,
Oggy, Oi Oi Oi" for her family in Wales.
Chicago also won best sound, while The Hours took best music, with its score specially written by Philip Glass.
Pedro Almodovar won best foreign film and best original screenplay with Talk To Her, the movie the Spanish turned down as their Oscar entry.
Martin Scorsese congratulates Catherine Zeta Jones
He chose the moment to read what he said was a passage from a French newspaper that he had seen which criticised plans for war against Iraq.
Best British film also went to a movie rejected for Oscar consideration - Asif Kapadia's Hindi-language The Warrior. Londoner Kapadia also took the award for special achievement in a first feature film.
Meryl Streep provided the night's biggest unintentional laugh when she accepted the award for best adapted screenplay for Adaptation, on behalf of Charlie Kaufman.
Misreading his faxed acceptance speech, she told the audience: "I would like to spank director Spike Jonze."
Double winner Pedro Almodovar was in meditative mood
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers took three awards, including the Orange award for best film, voted on by the public.