A year after the reboot of his seminal film Mad Max scooped the pool, Mel Gibson returned to the AACTA Awards to prove he’s still got a few tricks up his sleeve himself.
Capping a remarkable return from the Hollywood wilderness, Mel walked away with all the big prizes for his critically-acclaimed war flick Hacksaw Ridge at the star-studded ceremony in Sydney tonight.
The intense drama about a conscientious objector turned war hero has won nine awards at the ‘Aussie Oscars’, including best film, director, lead actor for Andrew Garfield, supporting actor for Hugo Weaving and original screenplay for Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan.
Those five wins at a ceremony at The Star were on top of four at the craft awards two days earlier – for best cinematography, editing, production design and sound.
“It’s very gratifying and it’s a tribute to the men and women who worked on it,” said director Mel of the acclaim for the film. “It’s a totally home grown product.”
The Daughter was the other big winner in the film category, picking up two acting awards to go with writer-director Simon Stone’s win for best adapted screenplay at the craft ceremony on Monday.
Teenager Odessa Young won best actress for playing a vulnerable girl whose life is shaken up and Miranda Otto won best supporting actress for playing her warm-hearted mother.
The win capped an stunning couple of years for Odessa, who was unknown before impressing in both The Daughter and Looking For Grace.
In the television categories, Wentworth won best drama series with The Kettering Incident winning best telefeature or mini-series – a reflection of the strength of drama on pay television.
Elizabeth Debicki also won best actress in a television drama for playing a doctor who goes back to her troubled home town in The Kettering Incident, with Samuel Johnson winning the male equivalent for his spirited role as music guru Ian Meldrum in Molly.
Samuel has since retired to raise money for cancer research following his sister’s diagnosis rather than keep acting.
“I’ve pledged not to go back to acting until we’ve raised 10 million,” he said recently. “We’re at three million now.”
The ABC’s Upper Middle Bogan won best comedy series, Gruen won best light entertainment series and Comedy Showroom – The Letdown won best screenplay in television.
Other highlights included the presentation of the AACTA Longford Lyell Award to Paul Hogan AM and the AACTA Trailblazer Award to Isla Fisher.
In addition to the presentation of the Awards, the evening’s musical performances were outstanding, including iconic UK pop group Culture Club, who performed a medley of their greatest hits.
The ceremony opened with an incredible performance of Tainted Love from Jessica Mauboy, and Dami Im showed off her classical piano skills during a tribute for the 20th anniversary of Australian film SHINE.
Paul Kelly gave a moving performance to accompany the ‘In Memoriam’ segment of the ceremony alongside his daughters, Madeline and Memphis, and Charlie Owen.
Pictures by Cyclone Imaging