When the third annual AACTA International Awards began on Jan. 10, the open bar had to close for about a half hour, or the total time of the short awards ceremony.
“Stay strong! No weeping,” the ceremony opener advised.
Meanwhile, the evening’s host, Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts president Geoffrey Rush, was drinking coffee during the cocktail hour prior to the show’s start.
The Sunset Marquis provided a laid back, lounge feel to the show. It was intimate to the point where there were only four rows of seating with four different sections.
Chiwetel Ejiofor huddled with “12 Years a Slave” cohorts Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender — the two actors took home AACTA prizes. “My first thank you is really to everyone who is making films,” Ejiofor said. “And I also just want to thank without kind of boring you with all of [the names].”
When Fassbender received his award he first thanked Solomon Northup, Patsey and “all of the slaves who went through such terrible conditions.”
Cate Blanchett won best actress for her work in “Blue Jasmine,” and joked that the only reason she won was because of her native roots.
“I’m Australian. It was a done deal,” Blanchett said. “All I had to do was show up.”
Stuart Beattie and Miranda Otto presented the award for best screenplay, but before they announced the winner they showed clips for the upcoming films from Aussies: “Felony,” “The Railway Man” and “I, Frankenstein.” Beattie directed the latter film.
David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer took home the best screenplay trophy home for “American Hustle,” and at first Singer was at a loss for words.
“I don’t know what to say,” Singer said.
“Thank you,” Russell quipped in response.
During best director Alfonso Cuaron‘s speech, he joked that his directing abilities are a work in progress. “Geoffrey Rush was just saying that AACTA is going through a potty training stage,” Cuaron said. “I feel that I’m at that stage in my directing career. I sit through a lot of accidents.”
When “Gravity” took the best picture award, Cuaron took to the stage again, but this time with producer David Heyman who did all the thanking. “Thanks to all the people who went to see ‘Gravity’ in the cinema, which is frankly where cinema films are best seen,” Heyman said. “And particularly for a film like ‘Gravity’ is best seen.”
After the show was finished, Rush was chatting with friends, and no longer in need of coffee. “Hold on, let me grab a drink,” he said, while holding a cigarette. The AACTA Awards will be broadcast on Sunday on Foxtel’s Arena in Australia.