Animal Kingdom

Writer/director David Michod’s Melbourne-set crime drama Animal Kingdom ruled the roost last night at the 2010 Australian Film Institute Awards, winning 10 gongs from a record 18 nominations.

The result surprised nobody, other than perhaps those who thought it might’ve won a couple more awards given the tsunami of Animal Kingdom acclaim that’s been flooding the industry since the film’s premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

It won all the major awards: Best Film, Best Direction, Best Original Screenplay, Best Lead Actor (Ben Mendelsohn) and Best Lead Actress (Jacki Weaver).

Mendelsohn’s career-high performance deserved – no, demanded – AFI recognition, but unlike his three competitors (James Frecheville for Animal Kingdom, Brendan Cowell for Beneath Hill 60 and Clive Owen for The Boys are Back) Mendelsohn wasn’t cast as the film’s protagonist (that was Frecheville) so he arguably should have been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category, which was won by another Animal Kingdom star, Joel Edgerton.

Jacki Weaver, who last won an AFI in 1976 for Best Supporting Actress in Caddie, accepted her award via videolink from Sydney, where she is currently performing in the Sydney Theatre Company production Uncle Vanya.

‘When I was young and green I used to think awards didn’t mean that much but now that I’m not young and green, but quite ripe, I love getting prizes,’ she said.

‘It’s wonderful to be reassured that you haven’t been barking up the wrong tree for 48 years in your choice of career, and it’s nice to have it affirmed that you’re still relevant.’

Other winners include writer/director Stuart Beattie (Best Adapted Screenplay for Tomorrow, When the War Began), Deborah Mailman (Best Supporting Actress, Bran Nue Dae) and Sam Worthington (International Award for Best Actor, Avatar).

Visit the AFI website for the full list of results.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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