Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation wins every film category but two at the annual Australian awards ceremony.
The big budget US-financed jazz age extravaganza The Great Gatsby won every film category but two at the annual AACTA (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television) Awards this evening Australian time in Sydney.
This included the best film gong, which goes to Australian producers Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin and Catherine Knapman and their US counterparts Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher.
Luhrmann also scored best director and, with his high school friend and regular collaborator Craig Pearce, best adapted screenplay.
The only award The Great Gatsby could have won but didn’t was for best actress: that instead went to Rose Byrne for her small part — all the actors had small roles overall — in the bold anthology film The Turning, adapted from a book of short stories by popular novelist Tim Winton.
The Rocket, a festival hit made on a shoestring budget in Laos, had nearly matched The Great Gatsby’s nomination tally but didn’t go away empty-handed: director Kim Mordaunt won the prize for best original screenplay.
“A screenplay does not happen unless something fuels your imagination and that was the people of Laos,” said Mordaunt, who has also made a documentary about the shockingly large number of unexploded rockets lying half buried in the country due to the Vietnam War.
The Rocket’s child actor Sitthiphon Disamoe was one of those nominated but lost out to Leonardo diCaprio. “You my friend have plenty of time ahead of you,” Luhrmann said after asking Disamoe to stand, then telling him a story about a boyish diCaprio coming to Australia to make a promo for Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet.
The main message in team Luhrmann’s speeches was Australia’s filmmaking capabilities but the reality is very very few filmmakers can attract significant Hollywood dollars for made-in-Australia films. The Great Gatsby seriously outclassed all other AACTA Award contenders on budget.
A song-and-dance tribute to Luhrmann’s films was one of the highlights of the evening, as was the honouring of actress Jacki Weaver whose career has been revitalised by the US interest in her work since she was nominated for an Oscar for the small Aussie film Animal Kingdom.
Weaver won the prestigious Raymond Longford Award for contribution to Australian film. The companion award, the Byron Kennedy, went to the Australian Cinematographers Society.
During the evening AACTA president, the actor Geoffrey Rush, described the film and television production industry as “the passionate custodians of the national imagination”. Other presenters included Cate Blanchett and Sam Worthington.
Top Of The Lake, season two of Redfern Now and Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story were the three big television drama winners, while Red Obsession won best feature documentary.
“Documentary is a strange kind of animal that takes twists and turns,” said Warwick Ross, who also shared the best feature-length documentary direction award alongside co-director David Roach.
“We thought we were making something about red wine and France but it became more about China and the economic power shift from West to East.”
Best Film The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher, Catherine Knapman
Best Direction Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby
Best Original Screenplay Kim Mordaunt, The Rocket
Best Adapted Screenplay Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce, The Great Gatsby
Best Lead Actor Leonardo Dicaprio, The Great Gatsby
Best Lead Actress Rose Byrne, The Turning
Best Supporting Actor Joel Edgerton, The Great Gatsby
Best Supporting Actress Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby
Best cinematography Simon Duggan, The Great Gatsby
Best editing Matt Villa, Jason Ballantine, Jonathan Redmond, The Great Gatsby
Best sound Wayne Pashley, Jenny Ward, Fabian Sanjurjo, Steve Maslow, Phil Heywood, Guntis Sics, The Great Gatsby
Best original music score Craig Armstrong, The Great Gatsby
Best production design Catherine Martin, Karen Murphy, Ian Gracie and Beverley Dunn, The Great Gatsby
Best costume design Catherine Martin, Silvana Azzi Heras, Kerry Thompson, The Great Gatsby
Outstanding achievement in visual effects Chris Godfrey, Prue Fletcher, Tony Cole, Andy Brown
Raymond Longford Award Jacki Weaver
Best film Gravity
Best direction Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best screenplay Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell, American Hustle
Best actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Lead actress Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best supporting actor Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Best supporting actress Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle