The all-star Silver Linings Playbook swept the comedy awards, winning best comedy film, best comedy actor for Bradley Cooper and best comedy actress, which went to Jennifer Lawrence.
The 250-member Broadcast Film Critics Association, the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, also gave the film its best acting ensemble prize at the event in Santa Monica, California.
Affleck, known mostly as actor and who was overlooked for directing Argo earlier on Thursday when the Academy Award nominations were announced, began his acceptance with the quip: "I would like to thank the academy," before adding "I'm kidding. This is the one that counts."
Day-Lewis won for his acclaimed performance in the title role of Steven Spielberg's historical drama Lincoln, while Chastain took the prize for Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
It was one of only two awards for Lincoln, which led the Oscar nominations with 12. The Oscar runner-up, Life of Pi, won only two technical awards.
Lawrence took home two awards, also winning best actress in an action movie for The Hunger Games.
"Critics aren't so bad," she said as she accepted the award, later riffing on the line when she won her second award, for Silver Linings Playbook, saying "Seriously, I love critics."
Many stars who were nominated just hours earlier for Oscars, Hollywood's top honors, were on hand, including Les Miserables star Hugh Jackman, Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, who won the award for best supporting actress for Les Miserables.
Best supporting actor went to Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master.
Director David O. Russell dedicated the Silver Linings award to his son, saying "I made it to give him hope," adding, "That's my silver lining."
European director Michael Haneke's drama Amour, about an aging couple struggling with failing health and mortality and which scored several major Oscar nominations on Thursday, won the award for best foreign language film.
The prize for best sci-fi/horror film went to Looper, while Searching for Sugarman won best documentary.
The screenwriting awards were won by Quentin Tarantino for his original screenplay for Django Unchained and Tony Kushner who adapted the screenplay for Lincoln.
British singer Adele's song Skyfall from the James Bond film of the same name won best song, and star Daniel Craig was named best actor in a action film. The film also won best action movie.
Nine-year old Quvenzhane Wallis, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild who became the youngest best actress Oscar nominee in history on Thursday, was named best young actor or actress. She accepted her award clutching a pink-cased electronic device, from which she read her speech as she grinned broadly.
The awards were handed out ahead of Sunday's Golden Globes and a slew of other award shows that narrow the field for the Oscars, which will be held on Feb. 24.