Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was the big winner at the 2009 Empire awards, with three prizes including best film.

The Batman Begins sequel, one of the most successful films of all time and an Oscar winner for the late Heath Ledger, also took the best actor award for leading man Christian Bale while Ledger received a special commemoration award.

Nolan was voted best director by readers of the film magazine and sent a video message in acceptance of the prize.

"When you make a film like Dark Knight you really hope it reaches a lot of people, and Empire and its readers are really a great audience," he said. "Thank you very much."

Other winners included Son of Rambow (best comedy), Eden Lake (best horror) and RocknRolla (best British film) while Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle received the outstanding contribution to British film award.

"It's a lovely feeling getting all these awards," Boyle said, "but you've got to get back on the bicycle at some point".

St Trinian's and Quantum of Solace star Gemma Arterton was named best newcomer - "It's quite scary, because now I'm a proper actress," she jokingly told the BBC - while Helena Bonham Carter won the best actress prize.

Lord of the Rings actor Viggo Mortensen received the Empire Icon prize for his contribution to cinema while Gladiator actor Russell Crowe won the Actor of Our Lifetime award.

Crowe recited Rudyard Kipling's If when he accepted the prize - a reference to the 2002 BAFTA awards when his reading of Patrick Kavanagh's Sanctity was edited out of the television broadcast.

"Thank you for this honour," he remarked on Sunday evening "and the opportunity to read some poetry at a British awards ceremony.

"It's one of my favourite things to do. Thank you and good night."

The winners of the 2009 Empire awards were:Best newcomer Gemma Arterton

Best comedy Son of Rambow

Best horror Eden Lake

Best thriller Quantum of Solace

Actor of our Lifetime Russell Crowe

Best director Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight

Best sci-fi/superhero Wanted

Best soundtrack Mamma Mia!

Best British film RocknRolla

Best film The Dark Knight

Done in 60 Seconds Jerry Maguire

Best actor Christian Bale

Best actress Helena Bonham Carter

Outstanding contribution to British film Danny Boyle

Empire icon Viggo Mortensen

30/03/2009 09:13:04