That's it! Congratulations to all the winners, thanks to all the sponsors (obligatory list: Jameson, Kiss 100, Citroen, Magic, HMV, Sony, indiemoviesonline.com) and a general big whoop to all the readers who took the time to vote. Now if you'll excuse me, there's dinner to be snaffled and an after party to attend.
O'Briain: "As you know this award is positioned right at the end to indicate how important it is, and because the winner tends to be such a big star that they can waltz in an hour and a half late and we still like them. To present this award, two huge stars in their own right, please welcome Roger Rees and Patrick Stewart." (Both starred with the winner onstage if that's a clue).
Rees: "I've seen this guy play King Lear, Iago, Romeo, Richard II, Richard III... If Shakespeare had written a play called Richard IV he'd have been in that too."
Stewart: "It's really in the last 20 years that he's come into his own as a movie star. He has always injected wit and subtlety into even the biggest blockbusters."
Rees: "His role as Mag-net-o (Stewart corrects his pronunciation: It's Mag-knee-to) was no simple villain."
Stewart: "And his Gandalf was part action-hero, part mentor, and the most interesting character in the whole series. And with the Hobbit just around the corner, he is poised to become the highest-grossing movie star on the planet!"
OK, the two have started trying to outdo each other with their perfect diction and theatrically-trained voices, and are now almost shouting their lines into the mike.
Stewart: "This man has been a source of inestimable advice. When I had only five days to decide whether to play Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, EVERYBODY told me I should do it. Only one man told me I shouldn't - but he can afford to be wrong once."
Ladies and gentlemen, it's Sir Ian McKellen!
"These two beautiful men, I've been working with them separately on Waiting for Godot. The thing is that just one of them is gay, and it's very difficult to tell which one. After six months with Patrick in the dressing room I really thought I could live with him; he just wants to sit down and have a chat about his career. But Roger and I are far too alike; for one thing, we both have hair. But my dears, I'm terribly pleased to be here. I always set out to be a stage actor, but rather late in the day I made films that people actually saw - so let that be an inspiration to those of you who have not yet stood up here receiving one of these. Be ready for the luck when it comes, is my advice. I had a fantastic time making films. I still have no idea how it's done, but I enjoy finding out. That's one of the reasons I love doing this: you can always hope to get better. So thank you very much indeed."
Outstanding Contribution to British Film
This is one of the big awards of the night, one which acknowledges a British star who may have gone on to big things internationally but who has never lost touch with the homeland. Jamie and Lois Winstone are presenting. Go on, guess who's won! The pair make a decent fist of the prepared remarks, but finally Jamie just said, "Can we just have a look at the clips? It's weird talking about Dad like this. He's our daddy, and he is the daddy: Ray Winstone."
Ray Winstone: "Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Actually, there's two people in this room who should never have been actors, and I'm both of them. I had a little something written out, in case my nerves got the best of me, but I'll try not to go too long because I'm sure you all want to get a drink. But I've met some great people, worked with great people in this industry, we've become friends. I've worked on some great films.
"I've looked at subjects like child abuse, wife abuse, self-abuse, and this industry has sort of educated me and taught me about my emotions. I've met people from all over this world through this industry. I've been to Afghanistan, met nurses, soldiers, policemen. Don't get me wrong, I'd met policemen before, but in a different way. So I'd like to thank Empire for giving this to me, I'd like to thank my wife, my daughters - there's one at home who's too young to drink so she isn't here - and my mum and dad and my really good friends. If you wouldn't mind I'd like to dedicate this award to the men and women of our armed forces and their families. God bless them, and god bless you."
It's the big one, and Clash of the Titans stars Nicholas Hoult and Mads Mikkelsen are presenting - and looking good doing it. "Can I just congratulate my Swedish neighbours?" says Mikkelsen. Yes, it's someone else with English as a second language who's more eloquent than most native speakers. It's almost embarrassing.
And the winner is...AVATAR! Since Cameron still isn't here, a still-jacketless Sam Worthington is set to accept on behalf of the whole cast and crew. Hubba.
"I told Jim I was doing this and he told me not to fuck this up. I was told that when you go work with Jim, it's like going to war. It's a big piece of your life, making a movie like this. Some days you get your face dragged across a cheesegrater, but James never loses sight of what you're doing. To receive an award like this, from the audience who went to see the film, is going to mean a lot to him I know, so thank you very much."
O'Briain: "To present this is a very good friend of Empire's, a star of stage and screen who's in everything that's funny and a little bit creepy: Reece Shearsmith."
Shearsmith: "Someone once said that a film director is someone catching butterflies with a net made of honeycomb, but I don't know what that means."
And the winner is: (I already know who because I had to go record his acceptance in LA last week, daaaahling) James Cameron!
"Well, I've just received this award, for which I am very grateful. Clearly the Empire magazine readership are more discerning than the British or American academies. Of course, we know that the director just takes credit for the work of others, and we had a hugely talented group of people working on this film, but I'm very happy to take the credit for them. I just want to say that I'm a huge fan of the magazine, not just for the award but for all the coverage, for breaking the story on Avatar beforehand. I'm a geek as well, and I'd love the magazine even had it not been so great for us on Avatar, so thanks very much."
O'Briain: "Johnny Vegas, ladies and gentlemen, who unlike Christoph Waltz and the Let The Right One In kids, went to school here. Here's the inspiration award for someone who's an inspiration even if they only inspire us to see their films. And to present it here's a woman who doesn't even wait for the end of the introduction, she's already here: Naomie Harris"
Harris: "I love this man; I love him so much that I postponed my holiday to be here to present this award, then got sick and got out of my sickbed to present this award. He's enormously talented and one of the most versatile actors in the whole world. He can lay claim to having literally changed the face of cinema with his groundbreaking performance as Gollum in Lord of the Rings, which inspired James Cameron in creating Pandora. But we all know all this. What's less well known is how he combines all that talent with his humanity. Generous, humble and incredibly hard-working, it's this humanity combined with his skill that makes his performances so compelling. Even when playing a giant gorilla, that humanity shines through and touches our hearts." It's Andy Serkis!
Serkis: "I'm nearly having a fucking cardiac arrest, I had no idea. But, anyway, listen...I have no idea what to say. I didn't know I was up for this award or that it even existed. Naomie, thank you for saying those nice things and postponing your holiday and hope you feel better. It's been an incredible journey since I took part in Lord of the Rings, but I've got to say that performance capture is very important and we've got to acknowledge that. Performances should be judged by whether they transport, move and take you on a journey. Whether it's in costume or CG, that's what matters. I've got to thank my long-standing agent, Peter Jackson and everyone that worked on sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Yesterday it was 10 years since Ian Dury died, and he was a huge inspiration to me. Finally, I have to say, Lorraine, that I adore you with all my heart and soul. You and the children are everything to me." Awwww!
"Christoph Waltz: another great speech and it's not even his first language. Another win for the European school system." There's no presenter for this one, which almost certainly means that a fine old Empire tradition is about to be upheld...
And the winner is...Zoe Saldana for Avatar. O'Briain: "Now, sadly, she couldn't be with us tonight, so she sent us an envoy, as close as we could find to the people of Pandora: Johnny Vegas" (yes, it is tradition that Vegas accept any award, especially Best Actress, whenever the winner can't come. He's in tears at the emotion of the occasion.)
Vegas: "This is my fourth Empire award on behalf of other people - and let me tell you, it still gets me. Although this is technically in someone else's name, this goes out to a large percentage of the room who stood on the red carpet and thought, "What the fuck is he doing here?" I saw people who are A-list, D-list, and then I see people filming on their camera phones and think, I'm among my own. It's being recorded professionally - what do you think you're adding? There were three sitting in front of me.
"I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I don't want to be this bit of rough in the industry. If someone wants to meet me, ring me and we'll do lunch, we'll chat, we'll see if we can connect. You can talk about your illustrious film career, and I can talk about my monkey ads. Ladies and gentlemen, this award is the only link I have to you, which is probably why I still have Johnny Depp's. And the day they're not looking, it's going on eBay. As long as you ask me, I will collect these, because I am PROUD to pretend to be part of what you do, to knock you out of the way at the bar to get the last free whiskey drink going. I'll be the one later on spiking your drinks, but for now, I'm the best goddamn actress in the room. I am Zoe Saldana, and I love you Empire!"
It's Noel Clarke ("one of the hardest working actor/directors in Britain today") and Shanika Warren-Markland to present this one.
And the winner is Christoph Waltz! Yes, he has an Oscar, but this is the one he'll remember.
"Thanks very much. This is voted for by the readers, I hear. That's a pretty democratic process for a magazine called Empire. I always wondered where the E came from in OBEs and MBEs, and clearly it's Empire - but I digress. I can't hold an award of any kind without thanking Quentin Tarantino, out of whose wonderful imagination this came. Thank you!"
O'Briain: "That was one of the best speeches of the night, and it's not even their first language. Here to present is a lady who's at least 20% of Girls Aloud, who's also acting in films like St Trinians and Freefall as well, Sarah Harding."
And the winner is: Sherlock Holmes, with Guy Ritchie, Jude Law and Mark Strong all here to collect.
Ritchie: "Well, thank you very much Empire and Jameson. We didn't set out to make a thriller, at least I certainly didn't, but I'll take it where I can get it! Warner Bros, thank you for your support, and the English film industry in general. Who else should I be thanking? (Strong: The readers?) Yes, the readers, and all you people out here. Thank you very much, and good luck Mr Vaughn for Kick-Ass!"
"This is always a very tightly fought category. And spoiler alert: the montage includes the very last scene of Paranormal Activity, so if you haven't seen it you might want to close your eyes. To present is an actress who was Silver Fox in Wolverine and who's currently shooting John Carter of Mars, the gorgeous Lynn Collins (short leopardy dress, ankle boots, looking stunning as usual).
And the winner is...Let The Right One In, with Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leanderson here to accept. Kare: "Hi everyone. Well, Tomas [Alfredson, the director] hoped to be here to accept the award but he got delayed. But I guess I better thank the whole film crew and all the awesome people who worked on the film. So, thank you!"
Lina: "We would like to dedicate this award to all the bullied children around the world for having the courage to go to school every day without superpowers, special abilities or a vampire as the best friend."
Best British Film
O'Briain: "For next year, he's going to try to edit his speech down to 60 seconds. The Brits didn't do too well at the Oscars this year, but I've a feeling you might do better with this award. Here to present, the writer and star of The Infidel, David Baddiel and Omid Djalilil."
Baddiel: "We have just made a film about Muslims and Jews, and we're a bit worried about the reaction from both communities. But by both communities, I mean Muslims. What are the Jews going to do? Deny us bagels? But we had a meeting with our distributor, Revolver, and I suggested a tagline, "Fast, funny and fatwah-free", and someone asked, "What's a fatwah?" Which is clearly why they're releasing the film."
Djalili: "2009 was my unfortunate year of accidentally promoting anti-Semitism. While playing Fagin and being the first Iranian to do so, I had to make it clear that this was not a conspiracy to wipe Israel off the map."
And the winner is...Harry Brown.
Here to accept are star Ben Drew, writer Gary Young and producer Kris Tykier. "Thank you very much - I'd like to say thank you to Lionsgate for supporting the movie, but mostly there are two people who are not here to thank, and that's Daniel Barber who directed the film and Michael Caine."
Done In Sixty Seconds
O'Briain: "I'm particularly pleased that I stood in just the right spot to look like security in all your pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow. But now, Done in Sixty Seconds - and here to present it is a man who, despite working repeatedly with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, is still regarded as one of the coolest young directors in Britian, and who was the head of the Done in Sixty Seconds jury this year: Edgar Wright." Makers of one-minute movies for our competition, your time has come...
Wright: "I'm particularly pleased to be presenting this award because I've been reading Empire since they started when I was 15, and if they'd had this then I'd have entered. Any category where one of the finalists is a plasticene version of The Evil Dead is bound to be close to my heart. And the winner, out of 5000 entries, against very stiff competition, almost as funny as the original, is Top Gun. Welcome to the stage director Mark Wong. He's come in costume; you've got to give him a round of applause."
Wong: "First of all, sorry for the long wait getting to the stage. They put the DISS guys as far away from the real celebrities as possible. I've been doing this competition for 3 years now so you have no idea how much this means to me. I want to thank Jameson, Empire, Edgar and the guys for making the right decision as far as I'm concerned. I want to thank my co-director who got us access to a real fighter jet and made incredible things happen. This may be the only award I ever win, so I have to enjoy it. Thank you to everyone who ever responded to a call from me to be in a film, and my mum. Thank you very much indeed. It's a great honour to finally be recognised as the best pilot in Top Gun."
"Here's an award for the real heroes, the people who make films. And to present it is Gwyneth Paltrow!".
Paltrow (looking fab in sort of sparkly cream): "Hi. I've had too much of the Jameson cocktails, so pardon me. The winner of this award is that rare breed who is both character actor and movie star, versatile and substantial. He's worked with some of the world's greatest filmmakers, the motherfucker [yes, she actually said this]. His work has traversed historical epics and modern fiction. He has played serious and silly but whatever the work he did it with style and charisma - but perhaps his best work was with Anthony Minghella. His relationship with Anthony has led to a tritpych of work that is both credible and unique. In 2009 he created a Hamlet onstage in London and New York that was powerful, and on screen he was the equal of Sherlock Holmes as Doctor Watson, and next he's in the action thriller Repo Men. Whatever the role, he's a hero of mine. Please be upstanding for the gorgeous, beautiful, talented Jude Law! Stand up! I know we're in England but it's OK to show some love!"
Jude Law: "Waow. Thank you very much. I don't feel much like a hero; here's to all the real heros out there. But I suppose thanks to Jameson and Empire I can be a hero for one day, like David Bowie. This makes me think of all the great people I've worked with, all the actors and directors and editors and composers, and they all contributed to what we just saw - especially my late, great friend Anthony Minghella. Thank you very much."
O'Briain: "Ah comedy, not to be confused with films starring Ricky Gervais. (groans around the room). Oh, come on, you know it's true. Here to present is a man best known for sitting behind a desk on a BBC panel every week, which is no way for a grown man to make a living...Ian Hislop!". Hislop: "Thank you very much indeed for asking me to present this category; comedy's the most important one, and the hardest."
And the winner is (Hislop: "a film I thought was a documentary")...In the Loop! They're all headed for the stage, hurrah! Iannucci: "Hello, we're from comedy. It's not the hardest, but it is difficult. This was the first film I made, so it was the first time I got notes. They were all from people who made dramas, so they had marked by all the jokes, "Do we need this?". I'd like to thank Alistair Campbell for slagging off the film and getting us off to a great start, the twat; Tony Blair for showing that you don't need to be evil to start a war, and BBC Films for letting us make it. Thank you very much."
Best Sci-Fi / Fantasy
"It's the award for films that bear no resemblance to real life: things like Blade Runner, Alien and of course Notting Hill. Here to present is a young actor who's gone from strength to strength in Harry Potter - only 11 more to go!" Grint: "Hey. Let's do the nominees..."
By the by, I've just learned that Sir Ian was late because security asked for his pass. His reply, apparently, was "I am the Icon of the Year" which is always the appropriate response. That's a bit of a spoiler for later, but it's got to be reported.
And the winner is...Star Trek! Simon Pegg is collecting on behalf of the rest of the crew.
Pegg: "Thank god the best looking member of the Enterprise crew is here to pick this up. This is lovely and I'm hugely proud to be part of this story, so on behalf of JJ and the rest of the crew, thank you. I said I wasn't going to cry but (Scottish accent) you cannae defy the laws of physics."
O'Briain: "Simon Pegg, a famously difficult man to work with."
Or the "future bitter has-been" award, as O'Briain dubs it. It's Chloe Moretz and Matthew Vaughn presenting. Vaughn: "I don't know if you gamble, but next year you should put money on this young lady. There's no autocue so I don't know what to say. Here are the nominations..." And the winner is..."Aaron Johnson for Nowhere Boy". (Hey, Sir Ian just arrived and hugged Sir Patrick).
Johnson: "I'm a bit nervous seeing these two walking around (indicating Vaughn and Mortez); maybe they influenced the voters. Thank you, and I had a fantastic time on Nowhere Boy. Thank you very much."
Here's the clip reel of this year's best bits - always something that makes me want to go home and just watch movies instead. But no! Things are much more exciting here. And now here's our host, Dara O'Briain.
"Good evening! It's a very special night, where we get to thank people who very rarely get thanked, those unknown people who...wait, that's the script of the Blood Transcription awards. You people are always giving each other prizes. Some of your prizes even have curses, like Best Actress winner Sandra Bullock who lost her husband after she won an Oscar. And to a tattoo fetish model - what a totally stupid man, giving up Sandra Bullock for that. I hope that's the only thing that Sandra Bullock picks up in the next month or so. Oh, come on! It's going to get wronger than that as the evening goes on.
"It's an intriguing time for cinema. There are massive technological developments at the moment - 3D, motion capture, all the rest.. Theatre, as it was known for thousands of years, is finally happening in cinemas up and down the country. But don't get me wrong: you have to see Avatar. It picks up where Titanic left off in that half the cast is blue. The Hurt Locker was another amazing film, featuring more soldiers and equipment than the actual British army in Afghanistan. And Twilight, which turns girls into vampires and boys into zombies.
"But let's turn to films that may not quite live up to expectations. 2012, the most amazing thing I have genuinely seen in my life. I include wife walking down the aisle or holding a child in my arms in that. That film was John Cusack running away from lava for two hours. He got into a car, the lava sped up. Midway through the film, you thought, "Hold on John, stand still and see if the lava just stops. Call its bluff!" You'd think if you were going to go to all the effort with CGI, you'd put in one line at the start of the film explaining why it's all happening. Instead, the physicist said the most incredible line I've ever heard. He said, "The neutrinos have mutated". Now, these are fundamental particles. It's like going, "The electrons are angry". It's as ridiculous as saying, "The light from the sun has gone off". At that point, the first physicist should have gone, "What the fuck are you saying with your face? Are you on drink or drugs or heroin?" But instead he said, "Oh my god" and ran away from lava for two hours. At the end of the film, I was left wondering, "What happened to the neutrinos? Did they leave a note apologising?" If you're going to make shit up, go bananas. Just go mad. The tiniest of changes and it could've been the greatest film ever made. If the physicist has said, "The Latinos have mutated, and they're heating up the planet", that's a movie I'd have paid to watch. Two and a half hours of John Cusack running away from Gloria Estefan! The rhythm is going to get you! Ricky Martin running after the car and mariachi bands erupting out of the ground. And the ending, it could be the greatest ending in cinema, if, at the new dawn, Cusack's wife looks at him in horror as she realises she has multicoloured sleeves and maracas and it goes, The End.
"Now, that's one of a number of routines I love doing, and it's nice to do it here because Jimi Mistry, a lovely and talented actor, is the one who actually delivered the line, "The neutrinos are mutating"! (Mistry stands up and waves and cheers). Last year I slagged off Quantum of Solace and got told off by a Bond girl, so that may happen again tonight. So welcome to the Jameson Empire Awards 2010! And without further ado, it's the Best Newcomer award.
I Can See Famous People
Jane Goldman's the easiest celebrity in the room to spot, since she has the good manners to maintain a different hair colour from everyone else. Our Kat won't shut up about Rupert Grint's astonishing eyelashes - you heard it here first - and then apparently she just met the guy who plays the Phantom so she's stratospherically excited now. The Exam bunch are here - at least I can see Stuart Hazeldine and Jimi Mistry. Ooooh, the Voice of God has just announced that we're beginning, cuing a special TV ad and encouraging the stragglers to get to their seats at last.
Really, It's Totally Starting
Sam Worthington (shirt untucked, but it's a damn good shirt) and Mads Mikkelsen (sunglasses on head, because the Danish can get away with that) are reading the menu - clearly two men with their eye on the important stuff - as the final flood of guests flows into the hall. Christoph Waltz is here, despite telling a security guard who asked for his ticket that he didn't have one and was just crashing. If if were me I'd've flashed the Oscar, but his natural charm got him through anyway. That's a bingo! I've also just learned that Ray Winstone turned into a big kid when given the chance to sample the 3D TV outside. Awesome. Waltz is currently talking to Edgar Wright (let's start those Waltz-as-Ant-Man rumours now!) while Stephen Merchant chats to Patrick Stewart.
We're Almost There...
As the Princess and the Frog might sing at this point. Yes, I make Disney in-jokes; deal with it. The ballroom is almost full, but no one is in their seats as yet; right now it's more about the back-slapping, glad-handing and tongue-kissing (but enough about Chris and Sam). Guy Ritchie and Jude Law are both in the general vicinity of their tables, at least; the In The Loopers win the punctuality prize for actually sitting down and Jessica Hynes gets points for the same - but Ray Winstone's still stalking the room (and really, who's going to stop him?) while bad guy du jour Mark Strong is also on his feet (actually, he's very nice in real life). Hey, this thing might possibly actually start on time.
OK, Keep Calm But...
Sir Patrick Stewart is right over there. No, don't stare! I can tell you that he has fabulous posture, an air of sex appeal that I'm not sure any of the other men here tonight can match and that he's talking to Ian Hislop, a regular fixture at these awards.
And They're In The Room - Sorta
There's now such a crush in the bar area that the ballroom is filling up - but Jude Law's here, as in Andy Serkis and Rupert Grint. Stephen Merchant has arrived, causing funny levels to rise by 17.4%, and our Done In Sixty Seconds winners are here, wearing costumes that instantly identify them (we're not saying who they are yet, though). Aaron Johnson and Mark Strong are also here, just to make things a little more Kick-Ass (sorry).
The Arrivals Have Begun
The stars of Let The Right One In have arrived, and we let them in, so I guess they're the right sort. Simon Pegg's making his way along the red carpet, and was mobbed by adoring fans - until our editor Mark ordered us all back to work.
The Calm before the Awards...
Well, the Empire team is all here, suited and booted and ready to part-ay. The celebs are also starting to trickle along the red carpet, to be met by hapless journalist escorts and brought to the drinks reception for their Jameson cocktails. And I (that'd be Helen) am here, sitting on my tod at the back of the room and wondering why I bother to dress up, ready to blog the whole event for you, our beloved reader. Just as soon as something starts to happen.