Iran hostage drama Argo continued its journey from awards season outsider to favourite on Sunday, winning three prizes, including best picture, at the British Academy Film Awards.

Ben Affleck was named best director for the based-on-reality story of a long shot plan to rescue a group of American diplomats from Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the film also took the editing trophy.

Affleck dedicated his directing prize for “anyone out there who’s trying to get their second act.”

Daniel Day-Lewis won his universally expected best actor trophy for Lincoln the only prize out of 10 nominations for Steven Spielberg’s historical biopic.

Emmanuelle Riva was named best actress for Michael Haneke’s poignant old-age portrait Amour.

French revolutionary musical Les Miserables won four prizes, including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway. James Bond adventure Skyfall spied some elusive awards recognition, winning trophies for music and best British film.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty was shut out of the prizes, despite five nominations.

This season’s movie with momentum is crowd-pleaser Argo, which has been building steam with big prizes at ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild of America Awards.

It is now considered a front—runner for the best picture award at the Oscars on Feb. 24, even though Affleck was not nominated for best director.

The early prizes were shared widely, with Les Mis taking trophies for sound and makeup/hair and Life of Pi receiving the honour for cinematography.

Quentin Tarantino picked up the original screenplay award for Django Unchained, and Christoph Waltz was named best supporting actor for playing a loquacious bounty hunter in Tarantino’s slave-revenge thriller.

Writer-director David O. Russell won the adapted screenplay prize for Silver Linings Playbook, a comedy about characters confronting mental illness.

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