Michael Haneke's 'Amour' Wins Big at European Film Awards

The Palme d'Or winner takes best director, actor and actress plaudits as well as best film.

VALETTA, Malta – Michael Haneke's Amour was a big winner Saturday at the annual European Film Academy's awards.

Haneke's Palme d'Or winning elderly drama picked up a quartet of the evening's top plaudits.

The film picked up the evening's top award, the best European Film 2012, at the culmination of an evening's prize-giving.

Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura and Amira Casar presented the award to Haneke for Amour.

Haneke thanked everyone again, saying he didn't expect to be back on the stage again so soon after picked up the best director plaudit.

Earlier, Mads Mikkelson presented the evening's best director plaudit to Haneke for his study of aging and death.

Austrian Haneke, speaking in his native tongue rather than English to "maintain his identity," thanked his wife, main actors and producer after collecting his director nod.

Jean-Louis Trintignant won the best European actor nod for his turn in Amour, while his co-star Emmanuelle Riva picked up the evening's best actress award.

Veteran French actor Trintignant sent a video message thanking the European Academy, Haneke and his family among others.

Riva could not attend because she is suffering from the flu. The French producer sent her apologies and thanked the filmmakers for providing such a great role for an actress.

Earlier, Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg walked off with the screenwriting prize for the corruscating child abuse scandal drama The Hunt.

Vinterberg took the opportunity from the stage to invite Wim Wenders to dinner and thanked his actor Mads Mikkelson.

German comedienne Anke Engelke, kicked off the evening of European prize giving with a quip about the awards themselves, "This is the 25th European awards, or as they are known in America, 'the what'?".

A showreel of European filmmakers and producers including Costa Gavras, Jeremy Thomas, Julie Delpy, David Puttnam, Bernardo Bertolucci and Fatih Akin detailed the importance of the continent's storytelling prowess before the show dished out the already announced recipient of the Prix Eurimages co-production nod to Swedish producer Helena Danielsson.

The European Film Academy animated feature film nod went to Czech Republic-Germany-Slovakiaco-production Tomas Lunak's Alois Nobel, while the European discovery award, aiming to reward first time filmmaking endeavors, went to Kauwboy, directed by Boudewijn Koole from the Netherlands.

The European Film Academy documentary 2012 plaudit went to the Swiss director Manuel von Sturler for his movie Winter Nomads, about two shepherds through a winter season. He dedicated his prize to one of the shepherds.

The evening took a very British turn when Oscar winner Helen Mirren was presented with her special prize for her contribution to world cinema by Michael Gambon, perhaps best known for portraying Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films.

Mirren listed a slew of European acting greats including Claudia Cardinale, Liv Ullman and Jeanne Moreau as actresses she wanted to "be like" in her acceptance speech.

Wim Wenders and Marisa Paredes took to the stage, just ahead of the evening's best European film award, to trumpet the life, career and love for Bernardo Bertolucci, the Oscar-winning director who was one of the founding fathers of the European Film Academy. He was given the organization's lifetime achievement award.

Bertolucci, arriving on stage in a wheelchair amid a standing ovation, thanked the audience for honoring him with such a reception.

"My mouth is too dry for long speeches," Bertolucci said. "Long life to European cinema and a long life to the European Film Academy awards."

Bertolucci noted he had been at the first edition 25 years ago when he "thinks" he won the best film plaudit for The Last Emperor, a film for which he also won an Oscar.

Jim Sheridan dished out the evening's Carlo Di Palma European cinematographer award to Sean Bobbit for Shame, the sex-addiction drama starring Michael Fassbender.

Bobbit said he'd prepared a short, witty speech that he had  forgotten. He went on to thank director Steve McQueen and his crew.

Before Sheridan dished out the evening's plaudit for best European composer, he did his own personal shoutout to Mirren as one of the bravest actresses he has ever worked with.

Alberto Iglesias won the composer nod for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but was not there to pick up the award.

The evening's nod for European editor went to Shame's Joe Walker, who was shooting a film in New Orleans. Walker sent a text message, via the film's cinematographer Bobbit, thanking the academy for the recognition because unlike most Brits, he always wanted to be considered "European."

The evening's European production designer award went to Maria Djurkovic for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

The big European filmmaking names also took a moment in one of the segmented showreels airing throughout the evening to rail against the domination of Hollywood films in Europe.

This year's European Film Awards chose the Mediterranean island of Malta to celebrate its 25th anniversary. More than 2,700 European Film Academy members voted.

A full list of winners can be found here