Helen Mirren Accepts 'Legend' Prize At Jameson Empire Awards, Laments Lack Of Women In Sam Mendes' Winning Speech

It was gracefully done, of course, but Helen Mirren definitely left nobody in the room unsure of her thoughts about director Sam Mendes' speech that she had just listened to.

Dame Helen took to the stage at London's Grosvenor Hotel to accept her Legend Award at the end of the night, directly after Mendes had received his award for Empire Inspiration Award for his direction of James Bond film 'Skyfall'.

Mendes had taken the opportunity to give the audience a list of the directors who had most inspired him to enter the world of filmmaking, and listed such luminaries as Ingmar Bergman, Francis Ford Coppola and the Coen Brothers.

They were all worthy inclusions, if a bit predictable - just one problem, as far as Dame Helen was concerned - there wasn't a single female name among them.

As she collected her Legend Award from an immaculately attired Tom Hiddleston, Dame Helen told the crowd:

"I don't want to unduly pick on Sam Mendes, but when he spoke about his inspirations earlier this evening, I'm afraid not a single one of the people he mentioned was a woman.

"Hopefully in five or ten years, when Sam's successor is collecting their Inspiration Award, the list will be slightly more balanced in terms of its sexual make-up... In the meantime, this one is for the girls."

The 67-year-old actress was being hailed for her screen career spanning five decades, including notable performances in 'The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover', 'Gosford Park', 'The Queen' and this year's 'Hitchcock'.

It was a cracking night for Mendes, collecting other gongs for Best Director and Best Film for 'Skyfall'.

Other awards went to 'The Woman In Black' for Best Horror. Screenwriter Jane Goldman was one of the recipients on stage, swapping her trademark pink tresses for a striking new platinum blonde shade.

And the film's star, Daniel Radcliffe, was named this year's Empire Hero.

Best Actor and Actress went to Martin Freeman for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey', and to Jennifer Lawrence for 'The Hunger Games'. She can add this gong to her Oscar and Golden Globe Awards for her role in 'Silver Linings Playbook'.

The Hobbit also won Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy, with the gong picked up by a popular Sir Ian McKellen.

Danny Boyle, who recently returned to the director's chair post-Olympics with his film 'Trance' out this week, was given Empire Outstanding Contribution Award.

The British director, who like Mendes has ruled himself out of directing the next James Bond film, has enjoyed a varied career of acclaimed films, including his debut 'Shallow Grave', the Oscar-winning 'Slumdog Millionaire' and cult hit 'Trainspotting'.

The night's biggest laugh went to Johnny Vegas, an unlikely recipient you might think of a film award. But he took to the stage to accept the award for Best Comedy for 'Ted', on behalf of Seth McFarlane, and used the opportunity to invent a whole load of controversial stuff that McFarlane might, or might not, have actually said. Much of it was blue-tongued, and might not make it in entirety to the televised broadcast of the Awards. But the audience was very appreciative.

The Jameson Empire Film Awards Special will be transmitted on Saturday 30 March on Sky Movies at 8.30pm.