Babyteeth and Stateless swept the 2020 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards (AACTAs), sharing in 22 awards at yesterday’s ceremony.
The former film, directed by Shannon Murphy, is a coming-of-age flick about a terminally ill teen, played by Eliza Scanlen, and her family and friends’ struggle with addiction – in a four-star review, NME said Babyteeth “is unpredictable in a way that few big-screen romances manage“.
It was awarded Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay (Rita Kalnejais) and dominated the acting categories: Scanlen won Best Lead Actress, Toby Wallace notched Best Lead Actor while Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis took home awards for Best Supporting Actor and Actress.
Mendelsohn accepted his award in a bathrobe via video link in Sicily, Italy, apparently amidst a film shoot, commenting that “of the films of mine that I’ve seen, it’s my favourite”.
The True History of the Kelly Gang just went home with craft awards from its 10 nominations: Best Costume Design, Hair and Make-up, and Production Design.
Stateless, a six-part drama series about Australia’s offshore detention centres co-created by Cate Blanchett, cleaned up TV’s categories. The show won in every single acting category available: Fayssal Bazzi won Best Lead Actor, Best Lead Actress for Yvonne Strahovski, while Darren Gilshenan and Cate Blanchett notched Best Guest or Supporting Actor and Actress. It also went home with Best Telefeature or Miniseries, Best Screenplay (Elise McCredie) and Best Direction.
Some other TV contenders still got a look in. Mystery Road won Best Drama Series while Tim Minchin and his series Upright cleaned up comedy, winning Best Comedy TV Series and Best Comedy Performer.
“It became what I hoped it would become,” Minchin said in an acceptance speech.
“The reactions were what I had hoped it would be, and for me that’s the depth with which people engage. In everything I do, in a wanky kind of way, I try to make it so people like it hard and deep and want to watch it again. And that’s the reactions we’ve got.”
This year’s ceremony was split into two sessions, film and TV, to meet COVID capacity requirements at The Star casino in Sydney (also the venue for last week’s ARIA Awards).
Russell Crowe addressed the awards as the new president of the Academy, phoning in via video call “from the bush”. He made a speech highlighting the struggle of the screen industry during the pandemic and the bushfires, but struck an optimistic note on the low case numbers in Australia.
“I want to encourage the federal government to use this time to set a platform so this rise in production can be facilitated to continue,” Crowe said.
“Given the right support, the screen industry can be used as a powerful driver for economic recovery.”
Selected highlights from the awards will screen on Channel 7 on Wednesday (December 2) and on Foxtel Arts on Sunday (December 6).
A full list of the winners is available on the AACTAs website.