Awards calendar favourite The Artist won three of the five international accolades presented as part of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards on the weekend in Los Angeles.
The Artist's awards were for best film for producer Thomas Langmann, best director for Michel Hazanavicius and best actor for Jean Dujardin.
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Australian actor Russell Crowe presented the award to Dujardin for his performance as Hollywood silent movie star George Valentin, whose career was negatively affected by the arrival of the talkies in the 1920s.
The black and white film, which is almost completely without dialogue, last week received the second-highest number of Academy Award nominations. It is being released in Australia on February 2.
Nicole Kidman presented the award for best actor to Meryl Streep for her transformation into former British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
The fifth award of the day, for best screenplay, was so closely contested that the judges decided that first-time writer/director of Margin Call, J.C. Chandor, should share it with George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, the writers of the adapted screenplay of The Ides of March.
AACTA president Geoffrey Rush, who was crowned Australian of the Year a few days earlier, was a key feature of the presentation ceremony, which was held at Soho House in West Hollywood.
“Some 70 years since our American friends first awarded Australians with an Oscar, and with Australians since awarded more than 60 Oscars and BAFTAs, it's great that the Australian industry now has the opportunity to formally recognise the outstanding work of our international colleagues through the AACTA International Awards,” said Rush in the AACTA media release announcing the winners.
These international awards are a new feature of the AACTA Awards, which are the revamped Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards. They are designed to recognise film excellence regardless of geography and were determined by, in the AACTA's words, “a jury of eminent Australian screen practitioners from a cross-section of crafts”.
“As our industry becomes a truly global entity, with screen performers and practitioners crossing borders to bring us the best of the big and small screens, it is fitting that the new Australian Academy recognises the industry's best, both at home and abroad,” said Rush.
Two batches of AACTA Awards have been presented already; the final and most significant batch will be presented tonight at the Sydney Opera House. Clips from the AACTA International Awards will be shown during the presentation, which will be broadcast nationally on the Nine Network from 9.30pm.
Either The Hunter, The Eye of the Storm, Red Dog, Snowtown, Oranges and Sunshine or Mad Bastards will go home with the best film award. These are also the films with the most nominations Red Dog has already won the AFI Members Choice Award.