The 5th AACTA Awards spectacular was supposed to highlight and reward some of the best in Australia’s ever-expanding entertainment output. Indeed, the event kicked off in style with a glistening red carpet event at The Star Event Centre where thunderous applauses acknowledged Australia’s brightest talents in front of and behind the camera.
The ceremony began promisingly, with Patrick Brammall and Miranda Tapsell charmingly kicking off proceedings. Stage and screen treasure Pamela Rabe was a bundle of nerves, picking up a well-deserved award for Best Actress In a Television Drama for Wentworth Season 3. Rabe dedicated the victory to everyone involved in the original series Prisoner, including controversial performer Maggie Kirkpatrick.
From the emotionally satisfying opening, the ceremony turned into one pratfall after another. Presenters including Home & Away alumni Stephen Peacocke and Bonnie Sveen mumbled in front of the audience, while many presenting duos struggled to push through; fumbling lines, and cracking stale, lifeless gags to the tune of crickets and tumbleweeds.
Even Packed to the Rafters alumni Erik Thomson and Michael Caton failed to drum up any chemistry. In their defence, the teleprompter offered up a who’s who of award ceremony script clichés. You could see the: “Really? Do I really need to say this?!” expression on every presenter’s face.
The ceremony pushed on, thanks largely to the telecast’s frenetic editing. Lurching from one presenter and face in the crowd to the next, the broadcast had all the style of a Bourne flick high on six Red Bulls. Most punishingly, the event turned into an extended advertisement for sponsor Presto, with the crowd laugh uproariously as a couple of pretty Home & Away cast members talked about the show’s upcoming spin-off movie, which will air on the streaming service.
Despite the myriad of flaws, the majority of AACTA awards went to deserving winners. This year’s record-breaking, $85 million success at the Australian box office, Mad Max: Fury Road, picked up two awards from Best Director and Best Film. Director George Miller, and producers Doug Mitchell and PJ Voeten touchingly acknowledged the tireless work of AACTA and Australian cinema. The on-stage reunion of Miller and original Max Mel Gibson was a rare highlight.
Fittingly, Caton picked up Best Lead Actor for his searing performance in Last Cab to Darwin. Lacklustre revenge dramedy The Dressmaker took home four awards including People’s Choice for Favourite Australian Film, along with acting gongs for Hugo Weaving, Judy Davis, and Kate Winslet. The moment was ruined by Winslet’s speech, however, which was sent in via smartphone. The other nominees in the People’s Choice category – including Paper Planes and Oddball – would have been far more deserving of the win as compared to The Dressmaker they are significantly more mature and interesting for a wider audience.
The AACTA Longford Lyell Award paid tribute to the extensive contributions A-lister Cate Blanchett has made to Australian cinema. Actors Richard Roxburgh and Weaving, along with director Gillian Armstrong, presented the five-time AFI and AACTA winner with the award. The tribute was further elevated by tributes from Hollywood powerhouse filmmakers Ridley Scott, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, and recent co-star Robert Redford. The Byron Kennedy Award hailed Macbeth and True Detective cinematographer Adam Arkapaw for his outstanding work in film and TV.
Despite the honourable array of winners and nominees, the 5th AACTA Awards ceremony, like many of 2015’s film and TV entries, was laughable, awkward, and should have been cut off 15-20 mins earlier.
Full list of winners from televised ceremony…
BEST FILM – Mad Max: Fury Road
BEST DIRECTION – Mad Max: Fury Road
BEST LEAD ACTOR – Michael Caton – Last Cab to Darwin
BEST LEAD ACTRESS – Kate Winslet – The Dressmaker
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Hugo Weaving – The Dressmaker
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Judy Davis, The Dressmaker
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD FOR FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN FILM – The Dressmaker
BEST REALITY TELEVISION SERIES – Masterchef Australia
BEST TELEVISION DRAMA SERIES – Glitch
BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA – Joel Jackson – Peter Allen – Not The Boy Next Door
BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA – Pamela Rabe – Wentworth
BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA – Ky Baldwin – Peter Allen – Not The Boy Next Door
BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA – Sigrid Thornton – Peter Allen – Not The Boy Next Door
SUBSCRIPTION TELEVISION 20TH ANNIVERSARY AWARD FOR BEST DRAMA – Love My Way
BEST SCREENPLAY IN TELEVISION – Michael Miller – Peter Allen – Not The Boy Next Door