The honor came as a surprise, because "Chicago" and "Gangs of New York" shared a dozen nominations each, and one of them had been expected to win in the top category. The dual wins for "The Pianist" from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in London followed the film's sweep of the French Cesars on Saturday in Paris, at which it took best picture, director and actor, among others.
Adrien Brody, nominated for an Oscar as well as for a BAFTA for his portrayal of a Polish Jewish pianist struggling to survive the Nazis (and winner of the best actor Cesar), accepted on Polanski's behalf. Since last year the BAFTAs have been held just before the Academy Awards, giving movie fans an Oscars preview. The more so this year: The BAFTA nominees for best film and best actor were identical to those battling for the Oscars. All the main winners are Oscar nominees.
A very pregnant Catherine Zeta-Jones was chosen best supporting actress for her role as Velma Kelly in the musical "Chicago." Christopher Walken was voted best supporting actor as the father of a teen con artist in Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me if You Can."
Pedro Almodovar took best original screenplay and best foreign-language film honors for "Talk to Her," which his own country, Spain, rejected as an Oscar submission. "The Warrior," a Hindi-language film disqualified by the Oscars, was chosen best British film.
Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman were selected as the winners of the best adapted screenplay for "Adaptation."
In Paris, the Cesars took a decidedly political tone as several American stars thanked France for its antiwar stance on Iraq. Director Spike Lee was presented with a career achievement award and thanked the French for "knowing the difference between the American people and American foreign policy." In impeccable French, Meryl Streep accepted her own career prize "in the spirit of international understanding."
Michael Moore won for best foreign film with "Bowling for Columbine." The audience rose to its feet when he applauded France for trying to slow the U.S. drive to war. "Thanks for showing us the way, and for taking up a position on something very important," he said. "A real ally, a real friend, is someone who tells you when you're wrong."
Martin Walsh and Thelma Schoonmaker won film editing honors for "Chicago" and "Gangs of New York," respectively, at the American Cinema Editors awards banquet Sunday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Longtime Martin Scorsese collaborator Schoonmaker was recognized in the dramatic feature category and Walsh in the musical or comedy category.
Producer Kathleen Kennedy was named filmmaker of the year, the first woman so honored by the editors association.
TV winners included episodes of "Sex and the City" edited by Wendey Stanzler, and Sidney Wolkinsky for a segment of "The Sopranos."
Lifetime achievement awards went to editors John Burnett and Tom Rolf.
In a ceremony Saturday at the Beverly Hilton, the Art Directors Guild named production designers and art directors for "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" and "Catch Me if You Can" winners of its top awards. Production designer Grant Major and supervising art director Dan Hennah won for "The Two Towers," and production designer Jeanne Oppewall and art directors Sarah Knowles, Peter Rogness and Michele LaLiberte won for "Catch Me."
In television, "Alias," "Live From Baghdad" and "Titus" were among the winners.