Gravity dominated the Bafta awards, scooping six prizes, while 12 Years a Slave won the coveted best film honour.
The space drama was named best British film and picked up other prizes for visual effects, cinematography, best sound and original music, while Alfonso Cuaron won best director.
British star Chiwetel Ejiofor collected the best actor Bafta for his role as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave.
Cate Blanchett was named best actress for Blue Jasmine.
British director Steve McQueen collected the best film trophy for 12 Years a Slave, and thanked his “one and only mother for having the faith – never give up”.
He added: “Right now there are 21 million people in slavery. I just hope that 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another film-maker to make this film.”
Ejiofor, who was nominated for the Bafta rising star award seven years ago, accepted his award from US actress Uma Thurman.
He said he was “so deeply honoured and privileged to receive it”, thanking McQueen for his “artistry and passion”.
He joked: “This is yours, by the way, I know that, you know that. I’m going to keep it but it’s yours”.
Captain Phillips star Barkhad Abdi won the best supporting actor prize, while Jennifer Lawrence was named best supporting actress for American Hustle.
As the Hunger Games star was not at the ceremony, American Hustle director David O Russell accepted the award on her behalf.
He was back on stage minutes later to pick up the best original screenplay prize for the 1970s crime drama, about two con artists who get entangled with the FBI.
The Great Gatsby picked up two awards, for production design and costume design.
Room 8 was named best short film; the short animation award was won by Sleeping With the Fishes.
The awards were hosted for a ninth time by actor Stephen Fry.
Best animation went to Frozen, which came out ahead of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2.
The Bafta for outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer went to Kieran Evans for Kelly + Victor, the tale of a young couple embarking on a passionate love affair.
US director Ron Howard, whose film Rush – about the rivalry between F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda – won the award for best editing, joked on the red carpet he felt like “a grateful foreign exchange student”.
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope won for their adapted screenplay for the film Philomena, based on the true story of an Irish woman trying to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption.
Coogan praised the “real Philomena Lee”, adding that “her story has been told and her story finished in the Vatican. She has been heard but there are 60,000 women who are yet to trace their children”.
She may have lost out to Blanchett but Dame Judi set a Bafta record with her 15th acting nomination.
When asked about it on the red carpet, she replied: “I didn’t know until you told me. Thanks for reminding me”.
She added: “It means I’ve been going for a very, very long time.”
Accepting her best actress award, Blanchett paid tribute to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died earlier this month in New York, calling him “a continual profound touchstone”.
She added: “Phil, buddy, this is for you, you bastard. I hope you’re proud.”
The Baftas can be an indicator of which films go on to win Academy Awards, which take place on 2 March.
Last year Argo won best film, Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor, and Christoph Waltz and Anne Hathaway took the best supporting acting prizes. They all went on to win Oscars.
Presenters and guests included Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Irons, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Stanley Tucci.
The ceremony opened with a duet from Tinie Tempah and Mercury Prize nominee Laura Mvula.
Prince William, the academy’s president, presented Dame Helen Mirren with its highest accolade – the British Academy fellowship.
She paid tribute to her drama teacher, Alice Welding, who died recently at the age of 102 and celebrated the “carnival of characters” who worked behind the scenes on all her films.
She finished by reciting a monologue from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Previous winners have included Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick.
Peter Greenaway also received the outstanding British contribution to cinema award, presented by Juliet Stevenson.
The winner of the public vote for this year’s Rising Star award was also announced with 21-year-old British actor Will Poulter from We’re the Millers accepting the award.