Tinseltown's annual film award season kicks off

Julianne Moore won the best actress award for her portrayal of an Alzheimer's sufferer in 'Still Alice'. (Danny Moloshok, Reuters)

Julianne Moore won the best actress award for her portrayal of an Alzheimer's sufferer in 'Still Alice'. (Danny Moloshok, Reuters)

Britain’s Benedict Cumberbatch and A-list veteran Julianne Moore took top honours on Friday at the Hollywood Film Awards, billed as the official start of Tinseltown’s annual prizes season.

The best film award went to thriller Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck as a husband accused of murdering his wife, played by Rosamund Pike.

Other British stars had a good night, with those picking up prizes including Keira Knightley, Jack O’Connell and Eddie Redmayne, for his portrayal of paralysed physicist Stephen Hawking.

Cumberbatch was named best actor for his role as World War II Nazi code-breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, with co-star Knightley earning best supporting actress.

“Oh my, oh my, oh my,” said the heartthrob Sherlock actor, accepting his prize at the Palladium theatre in downtown Hollywood, adding backstage that “this is just the beginning, so who knows?” when asked about the looming awards season.

Moore, a three-time Oscar nominee for previous films, was named best actress for Still Alice, a heart-rending film about a linguistics professor stricken with Alzheimer’s.

Best supporting actor went to Robert Duvall for his title role in The Judge with Robert Downey Jr, who presented him with his prize.

The top ensemble award went to Foxcatcher, a rare dramatic outing for comic actor Steve Carell in a real-life story centred on the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.

O’Connell was named best new Hollywood actor for his role in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. The actress-turned-director welcomed him on stage saying “Aye, up me duck” in reference to his northern English vowels.

The awards, which have trademarked the term “the official launch of the award season” were televised for the first time this year by CBS, rival to ABC, which broadcasts the Academy Awards, and NBC, which airs the Golden Globes.

Industry journal Variety noted archly that the awards were “more mystery than suspense”, as it is unknown who votes for the winners and may well be a small group of industry insiders.

Hollywood heavyweight producer Harvey Weinstein, known for his peerless command of awards season campaigning, said the Hollywood Film Awards were of growing importance.

“This year, because it’s televised, it’s going to be super big. Very important awards tonight, very big indication of stuff,” he said on the red carpet.

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