Australian film Little Fish has come away a winner at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards last night in Melbourne, with stars Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving taking out the awards for best lead actress and best lead actor.
But Look Both Ways trumped Little Fish to pick up the award for best film – a coup for director Sarah Watt with her first feature-length movie.
Watt also won awards for best direction and best screenplay.
"I think that this film owes its success to the fact that people can identify with what’s in the script – that is fear and grief," she said when accepting the best screenplay award.
Bridget Ikin, the producer of Look Both Ways, recognised the quality crop of films that she says signals a new era for the industry.
"It’s been a wonderful year and I think we’ve all benefited from each having everyone else screening their films at a similar time. It’s been very exciting for all of us to feel the energy around them."
Look Both Ways was up against Little Fish, The Proposition and Oyster Farmer for best film.
Anthony Hayes won best supporting actor for his role in Look Both Ways, while Noni Hazelhurst won best supporting actress for Little Fish.
Blanchett picked up the readers choice award, but was unable to attend the awards night.
Presenter Russell Crowe came out on stage with a telephone, in reference to his New York phone throwing tantrum. He called the phone "his little friend", warning winners not to go on with boring acceptance speeches.
Crowe did not go home empty-handed either, picking up the AFI international award for best actor for his performance in Cinderella Man.
The Proposition won best cinematography, production and costume, and best original music score by Nick Cave.
The awards also recognised excellence in Australian television.
The best comedy series on TV was won by John Safran vs God.
"How do you say thank-you when most of the people on the show were right-wing extremists?" Safran said when collecting his award.
The ABC’s Glass House picked up best light entertainment series.
"We’d like to thank Russell, without whom we’d have nothing else to talk about this year," Wil Anderson said in his acceptance speech.
"I’d like to thank everyone who knows me, it’s my birthday and Russell just winked at me," Glass House co-host Dave Hughes added.
Best lead actress in television was won by Claudia Karvan for Love My Way, while best lead actor in television went to Shane Bourne for MDA.
Crowe got the thumbs up from Bourne in his acceptance speech. "Russell is doing the best job I’ve ever seen, you’re a legend," he said.
Nick Cave performed Red Right Hand, while Rogue Traders, Marcia Hines and Crowe also performed.
Ray Barrett won the life achievement award and said he would "treasure it".