Social Network pips King's Speech at London critic bash

Colin Firth holds the Best Actor Award he collected during the 31st London Film Critics Circle Awards at the BFI Colin Firth is expected to win the best actor Bafta on Sunday

The Social Network and The King's Speech have dominated this year's London Film Critics' Circle awards.

The former won four prizes, including film of the year, while the latter won three, among them a best actor award for Oscar hopeful Colin Firth.

Firth was among the celebrities at the annual awards, held for the first time at BFI Southbank.

The event comes three days before the Bafta Film awards, to be held at the Royal Opera House in London on Sunday.

Firth said that reports of cinema audiences spontaneously applauding The King's Speech were "overwhelming".

"To hear that people are actually standing up or clapping or expressing a personal response is probably as good as it gets," he told the BBC.

"Films like this depend entirely on what people say about them. They don't depend on the money because there wasn't much, they don't depend on a big studio machine or a big financial apparatus."

Asked about reports that the Queen had seen and enjoyed the film, he said: "It means a very great deal to me if that is the case."

It is the second year in a row that Firth has won the award. He won last year for his role in A Single Man.

The King's Speech, about George VI's battle with his stammer, was named British film of the year at the event, where its director Tom Hooper was also recognised.

The Social Network's other awards went to its director David Fincher, its screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and cast member Andrew Garfield, named best British actor in a supporting role.

Sorkin, who collected the awards, said: "The critics were the first ones to come out for this movie and they told people to go see it and they did go see it. Getting an award from people who see everything is really something."

Both The King's Speech and The Social Network are expected to enjoy further success at the Baftas and at the Academy Awards on 27 February.

Sam Taylor Wood (R) poses with Kristen Scott Thomas after presenting her with the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film award Sam Taylor-Wood (r) presented Kristen Scott Thomas with the award for "outstanding contribution to cinema"

Mike Leigh's Another Year, which had received four nominations, came away with a single prize after Lesley Manville won British actress of the year.

Manville paid tribute to the other actresses in the film, including Ruth Sheen who she was up against at the awards. "This year there have been some great parts for older women, so it's a good move," she said.

Elsewhere, Olivia Williams was named best British actress in a supporting role for Roman Polanski's political thriller The Ghost.

Actress of the year went to Annette Bening for her role in The Kids are All Right, while Christian Bale won British actor of the year for The Fighter.

The young British performer of the year prize went to Scotland's Conor McCarren for his performance in Peter Mullan's gritty drama NEDs - short for Non-Educated Delinquents.

The award for breakthrough British film-maker went to Gareth Edwards for his feature debut Monsters, while French drama Of Gods and Men was crowned the year's foremost foreign language film.

The evening climaxed with Kristin Scott Thomas being honoured for her outstanding contribution to cinema - presented to the actress by Sam Taylor-Wood, her director on Nowhere Boy.

The actress said: "It was very special because I know she wouldn't have done that for many people and I'm really touched by what she said."

The awards are voted for by more than 120 members of the circle including critics, broadcasters and writers.

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Film Awards 2011

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