It also leaves filmmaker Kent with a perfect batting average at the AACTAs: at the 2015 ceremony, she took home the best direction and best screenplay awards for her previous feature The Babadook.
In the other major film awards, Damon Herriman won best actor for his role in Judy & Punch, beating out Hollywood heartthrob Timothee Chalamet who was nominated for The King.
A humble Herriman paid tribute to the film’s writer and director Mirrah Foulkes for the “great role” she created for him.
“I can’t emphasise enough how much I think actors are given credit for good writing and good roles. I think it makes a huge difference.”
Herriman said telling local stories was important so that Australians can “have a look at themselves … and see how they can be better”.
“I think to have your own culture reflected back is an important thing. We live in a world where we do have a lot of influences from other cultures, especially American culture,” he said.
Best documentary went to The Australian Dream, one of two films on AFL legend Adam Goodes’ battle against racism that were nominated in the category.
The evening’s television awards were dominated by the ABC.
Total Control, led by Deborah Mailman’s fiery Auspol outsider, won for best drama series, and also gave stars Mailman and Rachel Griffiths wins for best lead actress and best supporting actress in a TV drama, respectively.
Mailman said she felt “really emotional” about winning and also said the role gave her “absolute respect” for politicians.
“Whether I agree with their politics or not I just think it’s a very difficult job, particularly as a female politician and the scrutiny they come under,” she said.
The public broadcaster’s parenting comedy The Letdown also won prizes for best comedy program and best performance in a television comedy for star and co-creator Alison Bell.
Foxtel’s Lambs of God, which already won seven AACTAs at Monday’s luncheon, won for best telefeature or miniseries, while the other major small-screen acting nods went to Mr Inbetween‘s Scott Ryan for best lead actor in a TV drama and The Hunting‘s Richard Roxburgh for best supporting actor in a TV drama.
The other TV winners included 10’s Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders for best reality series, Nine’s Lego Masters Australia for best entertainment program, and the ABC’s You Can’t Ask That which won the inaugural AACTA for best factual entertainment program.
The ceremony, hosted by Shane Jacobson at The Star in Sydney, also saw honorary awards handed out to actor Sam Neill and veteran director P.J. Voeten.
Neill quipped that while receiving a third lifetime achievement award in three months must mean “the universe is trying to tell me something”, he wasn’t ready to retire anytime soon.
“The idea of retirement is completely abhorrent to me, I don’t know what i’d do with myself. I hate golf, it’s a shit game. The idea of having to play golf terrifies me,” he said.
2019 AACTA Awards winners
- BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA: Deborah Mailman; Total Control (Blackfella Films, ABC)
- BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA: Richard Roxburgh; The Hunting (Closer Productions, SBS)
- BEST ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM: Lego Masters Australia; David McDonald, Eoin Maher, AJ Johnson (Endemol Shine Australia, Nine Network)
- BEST DIRECTION: The Nightingale; Jennifer Kent (Causeway Films, Made Up Stories)
- BEST SCREENPLAY: The Nightingale; Jennifer Kent (Causeway Films, Made Up Stories)
- BEST DOCUMENTARY OR FACTUAL PROGRAM: Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds; Debbie Cuell, Brooke Hulsman (Endemol Shine Australia (ABC)
- BEST DOCUMENTARY: The Australian Dream; Daniel Gordon, Sarah Thomson, Nick Batzias, Virginia Whitwell, John Battsek (GoodThing Production Company, Passion Pictures)
- BEST FACTUAL ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM: You Can’t Ask That; Kirk Docker, Aaron Smith, Frances O’Riordan (ABC)
- BEST TELEFEATURE OR MINI SERIES: Lambs of God; Jason Stephens, Helen Bowden, Sarah Lambert, Elisa Argenzio (Lingo Pictures, Foxtel – Showcase)
- BEST PERFORMANCE IN A TELEVISION COMEDY: Alison Bell; The Letdown (Giant Dwarf, ABC)
- BEST ONLINE DRAMA OR COMEDY: Robbie Hood; Dylan River, Tanith Glynn-Maloney, Meg O’Connell, Charlie Aspinwall (Ludo Studio, Since1788 Productions)
- BEST LEAD ACTOR: Damon Herriman; Judy & Punch (Vice Media LLC, Blue-Tongue Films, Pariah Productions)
- BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA: Scott Ryan; Mr Inbetween (Blue-Tongue Films, Jungle Entertainment, Pariah Productions, Foxtel – Showcase)
- BEST COMEDY PROGRAM: The Letdown; Linda Micsko, Julian Morrow, Sarah Scheller, Alison Bell (Giant Dwarf, ABC)
- BEST LEAD ACTRESS: Aisling Franciosi; The Nightingale (Causeway Films, Made Up Stories)
- BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA: Rachel Griffiths; Total Control (Blackfella Films, ABC)
- THE BYRON KENNEDY AWARD: P.J. Voeten
- THE LONGFORD LYELL AWARD: Sam Neill
- BEST ASIAN FILM: Parasite; Bong Joon-Ho, Young-Hwan Jang, Yang-kwon Moon, Kwak Sin-ae (Barunson E&A)
- BEST DRAMA SERIES: Total Control; Darren Dale, Miranda Dear, Rachel Griffiths (Blackfella Films, ABC)
- BEST LIFESTYLE PROGRAM: Love It or List It Australia; Karen Warner, Geoff Fitzpatrick, Howard Myers (Beyond Productions, Foxtel – Lifestyle)
- BEST REALITY PROGRAM: Australian Survivor: Champions V Contenders; Amelia Fisk, Adam Fergusson (Endemol Shine Australia, Network Ten)
- BEST FILM: The Nightingale; Kristina Ceyton, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky, Jennifer Kent (Causeway Films, Made Up Stories)
Robert Moran is a culture reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age
Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.