Despite its politically charged, mixed reception by international platforms such as the Cannes Film Festival, Jennifer Kent’s crushing period drama The Nightingale has been awarded Australia’s highest cinematic honour. Last night at the 9th Annual AACTAs, it was awarded Best Film, as well as scooping up gongs for lead actress Aisling Franciosi as Irish convict Claire, and Best Director and Best Screenplay awards for Kent, making her the first ever female director to win both prizes.
To nobody’s surprise, Damon Herriman took home the Best Lead Actor award in the film category – a fair judgement, considering his nominations in four different categories for four different roles. His villainous turn in Judy and Punch won out, whilst on the TV front, Scott Ryan and Richard Roxburgh were celebrated for their performances in Mr Inbetween and The Hunting.
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ABC drama Total Control stars Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths won matching Best Lead Actress and Best Guest or Supporting Actress, with the series also taking home an AACTA for Best Drama Series.
Alison Bell’s motherhood comedy The Letdown won Best Comedy Series, with the actress and creator winning Best Performance in a TV Comedy to boot.
The astounding diversity of the talent that was awarded last night is pretty breathtaking, and makes for a nice summary of the ways in which Australian film and TV can do things no other national cinema can. After reports of mass audience walk-outs at the The Nightingale’s brutal content and a misogynistic incident at its premiere, it’s exciting to see the film achieve so much at its hometown awards ceremony.