The band of brothers who fought to get Hacksaw Ridge made were rewarded with 9 AACTA trophies in at a red carpet industry soiree in Sydney last night. Returning again and again to the podium, artisans and craftsmen on Mel Gibson’s bloody ode to faith and heroism all but shut out the rest of the nominees, with only Simon Stone’s dark drama The Daughter feeling any love in other major categories.
In accepting his Best Director award from Mad max director Dr George Miller, a moved Gibson (“I am so choked up, I can’t even talk”) acknowledged the ongoing support afforded filmmakers by the funding bodies Screen Australia and Screen New South Wales. He also paid service to local below-the-liners, stating, “the calibre (of this cast and crew) is as good as or better than anywhere in the world. I’m not the only one who wants to make films here, because Ridley Scott says exactly the same thing about working here.”
By the end of the night, most of those cast and crew had AACTA awards in their grasp, with the film earning Andrew Garfield the Lead Actor gong (he accepted via a pre-recorded link) and Supporting Actor for Hugo Weaving. Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan earned Screenplay honours; DOP Simon Duggan’s immersive battlefield camerawork saw him take the Cinematography nod; the kudo list was rounded out by John Gilbert’s editing, Barry Robinson’s production design and the sound design unit.
AACTA’s in the Female Lead and Supporting categories for The Daughter halted a Hacksaw Ridge clean sweep. In her first feature film role, Odessa Young (pictured, right) earned Best Actress while industry favourite Miranda Otto received her first and long-overdue trophy for her supporting turn. Writer/director Simon Stone secured the Adapted Screenplay honour, having reworked Henrik Ibsen’s play The Wild Duck into a contemporary Australian drama.
The only other honourees were the lovably offbeat coming-of-age comedy Girl Asleep, which earned Best Costume Design for Jonathon Oxlade and the Pacific Island romance Tanna, which took home Best Original Music Score for Antony Partos. Chasing Asylum, a harrowing account of the immigrant experience in Australia, won Best Documentary, with the film’s director Eva Orner on hand to collect.
A highlight of the night was the bestowing of the AACTA Longford Lyell Award upon beloved icon Paul Hogan, an honour that has previously acknowledged the global standing of such talents as Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush. Accepting the trophy in typically laconic style, he cheerfully recognised his entire career has largely been a been based upon the one-hit wonder Crocodile Dundee and its sequels, but as he pointed out to the roar of the audience, “It was a mighty hit.” Other industry accolades went to Isla Fisher, who joined the likes of Naomi Watts, Margot Robbie and Toni Collette as the recipient of the Trailblazer Award, and visual artist and VR innovator Lynette Wallworth, who earned the Byron Kennedy Award.