The big winners from the 2019 AACTA awards at The Star in Sydney on Wednesday were Alison Bell’s The Letdown, Rachel Griffiths and Deborah Mailman’s Total Control, and Jennifer Kent’s controversial gothic dramaThe Nightingale.
Sam Neill was urbane in accepting the Australian Academy’s most prestigious gong, the Longford Lyell Award, although his highlights reel featuring tributes from Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and doppelganger Hugo Weaving nearly stole the show.
Neill said he was slightly uncomfortable with a lifetime achievement award: “The lifetime thing sounds a little terminal, and I’m not done. I’d still like to put a few more runs on the board.”
Before the onstage action, stars showcased their red carpet looks with homages to the ’70s and ’80s, not-so-basic black and some dated tizziness.
Posting she was “turning the AACTAs into the BLAACTAs” Miranda Tapsell was fashion forward in a Macgraw cigarette leg pant and fringed top.
Alison Bell was in a class of her own, scooping multiple awards for The Letdown and wearing the night’s most covetable dress, a modest and totally hot kaftan with asymmetric sleeve, perfect dress and lurex hints.
Asher Keddie’s ox blood wrap dress was fabulously sexy, understated and high wattage at the same time. The scarf? Very Nina Proudman.
Magnolia Maymuru was both princessy and slightly crumpled. This is how to do a ballgown, ladies: Pair formality with insouciance.
Phoebe Tonkin looked vaguely cultish. The bow was too small, the shoes a bit picnic after church.
Danielle Cormack tapped into the current mania for white shoes and hosiery. Robert Palmer wants his back-up dancer back.
Michelle Payne was quite grand and swishy. Would have preferred hair that was less minor European royal to add edge.
Mia Wasikowska smashed it. Contemporary cocktail. Love.
Leeanna Walsman channelled the ’70s in a halter dress with printed skirt. Tick. The clutch could have been more chic.
Alison McGirr also had the church sandal on with a deceptively complicated structural dress.
Deborah Mailman’s fuschia column was relaxed glamour.
Tilda Cobham-Hervey’s one shouldered blue and green column dress scored a podium finish. Effortless and beautiful.
Jessica De Gouw was like the world’s most fantastic 1980s door bitch.
Melina Vidler’s uber ‘done’ mermaid gown was a touch WAG circa 2014.
Sam Frost’s LBD was less L than she’s done before, and more classy.
This! Essie Davis smashed it. The flounces, the fabric, the hip-skimming A-line, the sleeves, the red lip … amazing.
Pia Miranda also rocked it in black, with dramatic balloon sleeves and lady shoes.
Ada Nicodemou channelled Sofia Vergara in her heyday.
Shaynna Blaze’s revealing showgirl razzle dazzle was good in a bad way.
Julia Morris, you know you’re unreal. Feminine masculine suits you. Next time, ditch the Gold Coast holiday shoe for a dagger sharp pump.
Jacki Weaver also worked a Le Smoking variation. Again, I have a quibble with the shoe, and wish it was less enclosed.
Milly Alcock was high glam festival. This shoe is just right.
And the AACTA winners included:
Best film: The Nightingale
Best director: Jennifer Kent, The Nightingale
Best screenplay: The Nightingale
Best lead actress in a film: Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale)
Best lead actor in a film: Damon Herriman (Judy and Punch)
Best TV drama series: Total Control (ABC)
Best lead actress in a TV drama: Deborah Mailman, Total Control (ABC)
Best lead actor in a TV drama: Scott Ryan, Mr Inbetween (Foxtel)
Best guest or supporting actress: Rachel Griffiths (Total Control, ABC)
Best guest or supporting actor in a TV drama: Richard Roxburgh, The Hunting (SBS)
Best documentary or factual program: Old People’s Home for 4-year-olds (ABC)
Best factual entertainment program: You Can’t Ask That (ABC)
Best entertainment program: Lego Masters Australia (Nine)
Best documentary: The Australian Dream
Best telefeature or mini series: Lambs of God (Foxtel/Showcase)
Best performance in a television comedy: Alison Bell, The Letdown (ABC)
Best online drama or comedy: Robbie Hood
Best comedy program: The Letdown (ABC)