Gary Oldman was applauded for praising the lack of an "agenda" at the Jameson Empire Awards as he picked up the best actor gong for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
The British star won the award for playing George Smiley in the adaptation of John Le Carre's novel.
The role also earned him a string of other nominations this year, including an Oscar and Bafta nod.
But on both of those occasions Oldman was beaten by French actor Jean Dujardin who starred in The Artist.
As he picked up the award at London's Grosvenor Hotel, Oldman said: "This is a very special award because it isn't political."
"There's no agenda it's just movie fans and I will cherish this - thank you very much."
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy also picked up Best Thriller and Best British Film.
The awards, voted for by the readers of Empire Magazine, chose Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part II as Best Film.
Empire editor Helen O'Hara told Sky News it was probably a "sentimental" award to mark the end of the Harry Potter movies.
"Like film fans all over the world, our readers are huge fans of the Harry franchise," she said. "It won pretty much by a landslide in that category."
Director Tim Burton was given the Empire Legend award, presented to him by Batman Returns star Danny DeVito.
Olivia Colman won Best Actress for her portrayal of an abused wife in Tyrannosaur.
While Shame actor Michael Fassbender , who also lost out on a number of awards at the big film ceremonies, was given Empire Hero.
The Inbetweeners Movie was named Best Comedy and Best Sci Fi/Fantasy award went to comicbook adventure Thor.
The Jameson Empire Awards 2012 Winners List
The Art Of 3D presented by RealD: The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn
Best Male Newcomer: Tom Hiddleston
Best Female Newcomer: Felicity Jones
Best Comedy: The Inbetweeners Movie
Best Thriller: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Horror: Kill List
Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Thor
Jameson Best Actor: Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Actress: Olivia Colman for Tyrannosaur
Best British Film: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Film presented by Sky Movies: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Empire Hero: Michael Fassbender
Empire Legend: Tim Burton
Empire Inspiration: Ron Howard
Best Director: David Yates, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Done In 60 Seconds short film award: Indira Suleimenova for Black Swan