Sunday, December 13, 2009

Samson & Delilah Wins Big in Australia

It was only five years ago when the Australian Film Institute Awards reached their most sad and pathetic moment. 2005, the year that will live in infamy for followers of Australian film, produced only one (ONE!) film that the AFI felt worthy enough to award. Cate Shortland's Somersault was nominated for and won every.single.category. The really sad thing is that it probably deserved to win them all, which says more about the slate of Aussie films that year than anything else.

Sidebar: Two of Somersault's wins were for Abbie Cornish and Sam Worthington's performances. The former is on the cusp of Oscar and the latter on the cusp of global fame and worship. You could do worse than seeing where these two learnt the ropes.

This year's AFI awards, however, are a much different story. 2009 has been a stellar year for Australian cinema - perhaps the best ever - and my country's version of the Oscars (as they like to be called) certainly showed why.

Samson & Delilah's creator Warwick Thornton walked away with three of the AFI's glass statues winning for Best Cinematography (he has been a cinematographer for 25 years prior to directing S&D), Best Direction and Best Original Screenplay. The film also took hope Best Film for producer Kath Shelper (who I've seen loitering around the comment sections here at The Film Experience!) Australia's entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category at next year's Academy Awards also won for Best Sound and the film's two stars, Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson, took the Young Actor Award.

Robert Connelly's Balibo took the honours for Best Actor (Anthony LaPaglia), Best Supporting Actor (Oscar Isaac) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Rhonda Epinstalk herself, Rachel Griffiths, won a Best Supporting Actress gong for her role in Rachel Ward's directorial debut Beautiful Kate. Frances O'Connor, she of constant almost-fame in America, won her first AFI Award from five nominations for her role in Ana Kokkinos' Blessed. Kokkinos couldn't direct a good movie if it fell into her lap, and Blessed was no different, but O'Connor has a scene - and anyone who has seen it will know which one - that ranks as one of the most emotionally devastating scenes you're ever likely to see. She deserved the prize for that scene alone.

And what happened to Baz Luhrmann's Australia? Well, it was snubbed for nominations in the top categories, but took home trophies for Costume Design, Production Design and Visual Effects as well as a special AFI in honour of it's astronomical box office. All good for a night's work, I say.

What do these wins mean for Samson & Delilah's Oscar hopes? Not much at all, sadly. Three years ago Ten Canoes won the big prize, but wasn't able to make any headway in the Foreign Language league. Adam Elliot's Mary and Max, a shortlisted title for Best Animated Feature, was nominated for several awards, including Best Film, but failed to win any. Meanwhile The Cat Piano and Miracle Fish won Best Animated Short and Best Short Fiction Film respectively. Both are on Oscar's shortlist and shouldn't be ignored. Check out The Cat Piano below, I guarantee you'll love it!


Anonymous said...

Great Article! I wish SAMSON & DELILAH all the best for the Academy Awards

I haven't watched SOMERSAULT unfortunately

I read that also Bruce Beresford's latest, MAO'S LAST DANCER was nominated. the trailer looks awful but there's my ever favorite Joan Chen in the cast :D


Michael Parsons said...

Loved the short. Anything to do with cats get my vote.

Mickche said...

remember Mao's Last dancer was voted runner-up for Most popular Film at Toronto and got a few awards at the Sao Paulo Film Fest.
I saw it in a full cinema with an average age of 65. It's not the best film but the dance sequences are amazing.

Glenn, great artcile mate. Was it me or did they cut Best original Screenplay from the Nine Broadcast.

I was a little dissapointed that i didn't predict correctly any of the acting categories.
I had:
Actor: Hugo Weaving - Last Ride
Actress: Sasha Horler - My Year w/o Sex
S.Actor: Brandon Walters - Australia
S.Actress: Meave Dermody- Beautiful Kate

Mickche said...

P.S I was dissapointed that my votes for Best Short Film and Best Aniamted Short Film didn't win :(

Glenn said...

Mickche, I noticed the Original Screenplay disappearing act too. LaPaglia also gave a tribute to Rowan McNamara in his acceptance speech, which was cut from the telecast.

Mirko, Mao's Last Dancer was nominated for many awards. It won, rightfully so, Best Original Music Score and it also picked up the Reader's Choice Award, which was voted on by the readers of various newspapers. I liked the movie, it has some really great individual moments although it does feel a bit made-for-TV. Joan Chen has a beautiful moment at film's end though.

Michke, I didn't like Weaving at all. Thought he was cliched and boring. Dermody wasn't able to do anything with her one-note character either. Horler and Walters were good though! I would've preferred Damon Gameau to win for Balibo over Oscar Isaac though. He was best-in-show for me.

Michael, I know! I'm so sick of all the anti-cat stuff lately.

whitney said...

I'm still so upset that I can't see these here without downloading them illegally. These are the kinds of movies I want to pay for.