Argo has continued its award-winning streak, picking up three Baftas including the top prize for best film.
Ben Affleck was named best director for his film about the rescue of American hostages in Iran, following its success at the Golden Globes last month.
Daniel Day-Lewis won the award for best actor for his role in Lincoln, while French actress Emmanuelle Riva was the surprise best actress winner for Amour.
James Bond film Skyfall won the award for outstanding British film.
Argo beat Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty to win the best film award and Affleck triumphed over Kathryn Bigelow, Michael Haneke, Ang Lee and Quentin Tarantino for the director honour.
Accepting his best director award on stage, Affleck made reference to his career of the past decade, when he fell out of favour in Hollywood.
“This is a second act for me – you’ve given me that and I’m so grateful and proud. I want to dedicate this to anyone that’s trying to get their second act because you can do it,” he said.
He added later it was a “wonderful, warm surprise” to win the best film award, while producer George Clooney praised the star, saying “you are remarkable at what you do”.
Argo also picked up the award for best editing.
During his acceptance speech, Day-Lewis paid tribute to his fellow nominees who included Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman and Joaquin Phoenix.
“I don’t know if I deserve this, but I do know that every single one of you deserve it at least every bit as I do,” he said.
Despite going into the awards with 10 nominations, Day-Lewis was Lincoln’s sole success.
Anne Hathaway was named best supporting actress for her role in Les Miserables, while Christoph Waltz won best supporting actor for Django Unchained.
An emotional Hathaway said she was “so honoured” to receive her award and paid tribute to her fellow cast members and director Tom Hooper.
Backstage, the actress said taking part in the film was “the most sublime experience – I don’t know how I got so lucky”.
Waltz put his win down to director, Quentin Tarantino – who won an award himself for best original screenplay for Django Unchained – calling him a “silver-penned devil”.
David O Russell won the award for best adapted screenplay for Silver Linings Playbook, which he also directed.
Accepting the award on stage, Russell said: “This film is about emotions and this is for every family that face those emotions every day.”
It was the only award the film received though, despite its stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence being nominated for best actor and actress.
Skyfall beat Anna Karenina, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Les Miserables and Seven Psychopaths to win best British film.
It is the first Bafta a Bond film has won since 1964 when From Russia With Love was awarded a cinematography prize. Skyfall also received the award for best original music.
“We all had high expectations for this film and this is really the icing on the cake,” director Sam Mendes said.
Backstage, Mendes said the fact Skyfall star Daniel Craig had not nominated for an award was due to “the curse of Bond”.
“It was an incredible performance but because Bond is the spine of the movie… you take it for granted.”
Tom Hooper’s adaptation of stage musical Les Miserables came away with the most honours on the night, winning four awards.
In addition to Hathaway’s award, the film also picked up prizes for best sound, make-up and hair and production design.
Ang Lee’s 3D epic Life of Pi – which went into the awards with nine nominations – picked up two awards for cinematography and special visual effects.
Amour won best foreign film, although its director, Michael Haneke, and Riva were not at the ceremony to collect their prizes.
Joe Wright’s adaptation of Anna Karenina came away with the award for best costume design, while Disney Pixar film Brave was named best animation.
Searching for Sugar Man – the true story of 1970s rocker Rodriguez – won best documentary.
Director Sir Alan Parker, whose works include The Commitments and Bugsy Malone, was honoured with a British Academy Fellowship – the highest accolade the Academy can bestow.
There was also a special prize for Channel 4 film boss Tessa Ross, who received a lifetime achievement award.
The awards, held at London’s Royal Opera House, were hosted by Stephen Fry.