Page last updated at 21:43 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 22:43 UK

Dark Knight scoops Empire Awards

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight won two Academy Awards last month

The second film in the rebooted Batman franchise, The Dark Knight, has taken home three prizes at the Empire Awards.

Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale won best director and actor, while the movie won the title of best film.

The late Heath Ledger also received a special commemoration award for his life works at the ceremony in London.

Voted for by readers of the monthly film magazine, the awards attracted luminaries such as Tim Burton, Danny Boyle, James McAvoy and Gemma Arterton.

Arterton won best newcomer - a prize for which she had been nominated two years running.

"It's quite scary, because now I'm a proper actress," she told the BBC.

Danny Boyle on the success of Slumdog Millionaire

"But it's actually nice to have moved on from being a newcomer."

Bond movie Quantum Of Solace, in which Arterton had a brief role, took home Best Thriller, while McAvoy collected the best sci-fi prize for Wanted.

Helena Bonham Carter dedicated her best actress prize for Sweeney Todd to her partner - and the film's director - Tim Burton.

"I always wanted to be in a musical, always wanted to sing, always wanted to be in something written by Stephen Sondheim and I always wanted a baby girl," she said.

"I got all of those, thanks to Tim Burton".

Slumdog Millionaire director Boyle was presented with the Outstanding Contribution To British Film prize by Andy Bishop, Paul Scott and Alan Knill from his favourite football team, Bury.

The director said the award marked the end of his duties for the Mumbai-set drama and that he was "going to start work tomorrow morning" on his next project.

"It's a lovely feeling getting all these awards," he said, "but you've got to get back on the bicycle at some point".

Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen was presented with the Empire Icon award

Australian actor Russell Crowe was also present at the ceremony to collect the Actor Of Our Lifetime prize.

He took to the stage and recited Rudyard Kipling's poem If - a sly reference to the 2002 Bafta awards, where his recitation of Patrick Kavanagh's Sanctity was edited out of the television broadcast.

"Thank you for this honour," he concluded, "and the opportunity to read some poetry at a British awards ceremony.

"It's one of my favourite things to do. Thank you and good night."

Viggo Mortensen, best-known as Aragorn in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, was also named Empire Icon for his contribution to world cinema.

Other awards on the night went to coming-of-age tale Son Of Rambow, which won best comedy, and gangster caper RockNRolla, which took home Best British Film.

Director Guy Ritchie was present to accept the award, but refused to speak to the press - on the day that his ex-wife Madonna arrived in Malawi, where she wants to adopt a young girl called Mercy James.

None of the stars of The Dark Knight were able to pick up the film's awards in person, but both Nolan and Bale sent video messages.

"When you make a film like Dark Knight you really hope it reaches a lot of people, and Empire and its readers are really a great audience," said Nolan. "Thank you very much."

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