Before bestowing its international awards in LA on Saturday, the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts handed out trophies for homegrown titles in Sydney on Thursday. In a rare, but not unprecedented turn of events, the Best Film prize was a split. Both from first-time helmers, Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner and Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook shared the win. Kent also took home the Best Directing trophy — Crowe was not nominated in the category.
The Water Diviner, released by Universal locally, was the most successful Australian film of 2014 and also earned a prize for Supporting Actor Yilmaz Erdogan. Horror pic The Babadook, which also scooped Best Original Screenplay, was previously honored by the New York Film Critics Circle with the Best First Film prize. Nicole Kidman/Colin Firth drama The Railway Man was awarded the Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson. The Sydney-made Lego Movie built its way to the AACTA for Best Visual Effects or Animation.
In the acting categories, David Gulpilil repeated his Cannes Un Certain Regard win as Lead Actor for Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country. Predestination’s Sarah Snook was Best Actress.
On the TV side, The Code won four prizes: Best Drama, Best Direction, Lead Actor for Ashley Zukerman and Best Guest or Supporting Actress for Chelsie Preston Crayford. Made by Playmaker Media, it airs on Oz’s ABC and in the UK on BBC Four. The thriller was acquired by DirecTV for Audience Network in 2014.
The AACTAs also honor Hollywood films and will hand out their prizes on Saturday. Birdman leads the nominees there with seven noms, followed by Boyhood and The Imitation Game with five each.