Inside the 9th Annual AACTA International Awards

Song Kang-ho and Bong Joon-ho attend the 9th AACTA International Awards at Mondrian Los Angeles - Getty - H 2019

"So I have no idea why this film is being talked about so much. A lot of people have seen it multiple times," 'Parasite' director Bong Joon-ho told THR before his film took home AACTA's Best Picture prize.

Awards season 2020 is off and running, with Adam Driver, Saoirse Ronan, Quentin Tarantino and Bong Joon-ho all being honored at the 9th annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Awards, which were held at the Mondrian Hotels’ Skybar on Friday night. 

The evening began with a champagne reception around the Skybar’s pool, with guests sipping cocktails and snacking on pass-around apps like bite-size lamb kebabs. The night had a more casual atmosphere than most awards show, with the AACTAs handing out just seven awards in a breezy 30-minute ceremony. 

While Bong Joon-ho has long been an acclaimed director, he’s experiencing his first march through awards season, with Parasite receiving three Golden Globe nominations. The director shared with The Hollywood Reporter what the experience has been like for him and his cast.

"So I have no idea why this film is being talked about so much. A lot of people have seen it multiple times," he said. "And when we were in New York, Song [lead actor Song Kang-ho] was in Central Park and a couple of ladies kept chasing after him, recognizing him. But of course, it's so gratifying. It's such a pleasure to see the success this film has had."

Appropriate to an International Awards show, the night’s seven winners represented five countries, with South Korea’s Joon-ho winning Best Picture for Parasite, Ireland’s Ronan taking home the award for best lead actress in Little Women, New Zealand’s Taika Waititi winning best screenplay for Jojo Rabbit, Australia’s Margot Robbie taking home best supporting actress for Bombshell and Tarantino and Brad Pitt each winning for best director and best supporting actor, respectively, for Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood

Tarantino was on hand to accept both awards and he told the audience how aligned he and Pitt were on creating the character of Cliff Booth. 

"And so he comes down and says, 'I have some stuff and I can't wait to show it.' And he wants to talk to me about it. And so we get there, and he has a DVD. He says, 'I have this idea now.' And so he takes out a DVD of the movie Billy Jack. He brings out the DVD. And I’m like, 'Dude, I've got a 35 millimeter IB Technicolor print (of Billy Jack)  set up in my screening room to screen for you tonight!'"

Driver, who was recognized with the best lead actor award for his role in Marriage Story, spoke to the audience about his own acting process.

"I don't look at acting as an internal quest to find myself. I look at it as an exercise in understanding others, not just the characters that you're supposed to be playing, but the creative team that’s inseparable from the character of the movie. And acting feels as most to life to me when you’re problem solving as a group. So on behalf of that group, I'm very proud to be here representing Marriage Story."

Ronan kept her own acceptance speech short and sweet, by recognizing the important role that working with Australians has had in developing her own career.

"I've worked with so many Australians since I was about 10 with Cate Blanchett.... So I kind of feel like I've grown up with Ozzies just sort of showing me the way."

Following the awards, a DJ spun cool hits while guests continued to mix and mingle around the pool and discuss their upcoming awards season plans.