The film version of stage hit Les Miserables – made by British director Tom Hooper – was one of the biggest winners of the night, collecting three prizes at the Hollywood event in Beverly Hills, California.
Director Mark Andrews received the award for best animation for the Scotland-set Disney film Brave.
Meanwhile, singer Adele was victorious for her theme to the latest James Bond movie Skyfall.
The singer – who attended the ceremony with Robbie Williams's wife Ayda Field – has kept a low profile since giving birth in October.
She and boyfriend Simon Konecki have still to reveal the name of their son, although she dedicated the award to him.
As she collected her award, Adele said: "I came out for a night out with my friend Ayda – we're new mums. We've literally come for a night out.
"I was not expecting this. It's very strange to be here. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your world for a night. It's amazing."
British-Irish star Day-Lewis received one of the biggest awards of the night, collecting the trophy for best actor in a drama for his role in Lincoln, in which he portrayed former US president Abraham Lincoln.
The film, which had been expected to be one of the night's biggest successes but left with just one award, was itself introduced by another former president, Bill Clinton.
Argo, about the rescue of a group of US diplomats from Iran in 1979, topped Lincoln for best dramatic picture, with Ben Affleck taking the best director award.
Dame Maggie was honoured for her role as Violet Crawley in ITV's Downton Abbey, but the veteran actress missed out on a second gong for best actress in a comedy or musical in her latest film, Quartet.
Lewis triumphed in the best actor in a television drama category for his performance in Homeland, and dedicated the award to his mother.
Blockbuster Les Miserables took centre stage at the awards, scooping three gongs for the musical/comedy picture category: best picture; best actor; and best supporting actress.
Collecting his award for playing leading man Jean Valjean, Jackman spoke glowingly of director Hooper.
He said: "Les Miserables is a project of passion. Thank you for hiring the visionary Tom Hooper; without you mate, I would not be standing here."
Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress for her part as Fantine. She said: "Thank you for this lovely blunt object I will for evermore use as a weapon against self-doubt."
The best musical/comedy actress prize went to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, while the best dramatic actress award was awarded to Jessica Chastain for spy thriller Zero Dark Thirty. Quentin Tarantino saw his latest film Django Unchained take two prizes.
Actress Jodie Foster was handed the Cecil B DeMille Lifetime Achievement and gave a lengthy speech in which she said: "I'm just going to put it out there, loud and proud - I am, uh, single." She then thanked Cydney Bernard, her ex-partner of 20 years and with whom she has two sons.