Agnes Varda also sent a video thank you to claim documentary of the year for Faces Places.
Molly Wright was named young British/Irish performer of the year for her role in Apostasy and Michael Pearce won breakthrough British/Irish film-maker for Beast.
Pawel Pawlikowski accepted the foreign language film prize for Cold War, while his cinematographer Lukasz Zal won the technical achievement gong.
Lara Zeidan’s Three Centimetres was named British/Irish short film of the year.
Dame Heather Rabbatts of Time’s Up UK said the organisation was “delighted to see the Critics’ Circle nominate two female directors for director of the year at this year’s ceremony, which was hosted by a black woman for the first time”.
She added: “And the Film Section’s current chair, Anna Smith, is the first woman to helm the section in over 40 years and is part of a team working towards gender parity and diversity in criticism.
“As Time’s Up UK enters its second year, we are as dedicated to raising the profile of female critics as we are the number of female film directors and more women in leadership roles across all parts of the arts industry and beyond.
“So it is great to see the Critics’ Circle championing women, especially as we turn to the Baftas in a few weeks’ time.”