A gracious monarch and a charismatic dictator took the top prizes Sunday at the British Academy Film Awards.
Dame Helen Mirren was crowned best actress for playing Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen,” which also was named the year’s best picture.
Forest Whitaker took the best actor prize for his riveting turn as Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland,” the story of a young Scottish doctor’s entanglement with the Ugandan dictator. “Last King” was also named the best British film and took the prize for best adapted screenplay.
Peter Morgan, who wrote “The Queen” and co-wrote “The Last King of Scotland,” joked that the double triumph might spawn a sequel.
“Idi Amin wrote love letters to the queen, he offered himself as her lover,” Morgan said. “Forest, if you’re willing, I think there may be some takers.”
Whitaker beat Daniel Craig (“Casino Royale”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Departed”), Richard Griffiths (“The History Boys”) and Peter O’Toole (“Venus”) for the best actor prize.
Director Kevin Macdonald, however, said he initially doubted Whitaker was right for the role.
“He seemed such a sweet, gentle, lovable sort of person,” Macdonald said. “He proved he did have those depths of anger and paranoia and terror in him.”
Mirren, 61, beat out a strong field that included Dame Judi Dench (“Notes on a Scandal”), Penelope Cruz (“Volver”), Kate Winslet (“Little Children”) and Meryl Streep (“The Devil Wears Prada”).
Mirren thanked her co-stars and a group “without whom you would never have believed in me as the queen. I refer, of course, to the corgis.”
“The Queen,” which depicts the public mourning and palace intrigue that followed the 1997 death of Princess Diana, beat Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s multi-stranded saga “Babel,” Martin Scorsese’s cops-and-crooks saga “The Departed,” the quirky road comedy “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Last King of Scotland” for the best film prize.
No film dominated the awards, popularly known as BAFTAs and considered an important indicator of success at the Oscars in two weeks.
“The Last King of Scotland” took three prizes, as did Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical saga “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which was named best foreign language film and won for costume and makeup design.
The James Bond thriller “Casino Royale” went home with just one prize — for sound — despite nominations in nine categories. The film’s “Bond girl,” Eva Green, was named rising star of the year, an award decided by public vote.
Paul Greengrass was named best director for “United 93,” a docudrama-style reenactment of one of the flights hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
Former “American idol” contestant Jennifer Hudson was named best supporting actress for the musical “Dreamgirls,” while Alan Arkin won the best supporting actor prize for “Little Miss Sunshine.”
Michael Arndt won the best original screenplay prize for “Little Miss Sunshine.”