Ben Affleck thriller Argo has been voted film of the year by the UK’s regional critics.

The award marks the first major UK prize for the film, based on the true story of CIA operative Tony Mendez, who let the rescue of six US diplomats from Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

Affleck, who directed and stars in the film, said: “We thank the UK regional film critics on behalf of all the cast and production team for voting Argo Film of the Year in the Richard Attenborough critics’ awards.”

The UK Regional Critic’s Film Awards are dedicated to actor Richard Attenborough and are voted for by film journalists and bloggers who write or broadcast for local media throughout the UK.

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, picked up two awards for Sam Mendes (director of the year) and Ben Whishaw (rising star).

The regional critics’ prize for screenplay of the year went to Amy Jump, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram for Sightseers, the dark British comedy directed by Ben Wheatly.

Oram said: Thank you, it’s a real honour. And thank you to everyone in the regional media who have supported Sightseers. It’s made a huge difference and won’t be forgotten.”

The British performance of the year, decided by a public vote, went to Robert Pattinson for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.

Each winner receives a RAFA award engraved with Lord Attenborough’s signature.