CANNES–The Asian Academy Creative Awards announced its National Winners for its 5 headline Drama Categories at an exclusive party in Cannes, France this evening.

Industry heavyweights gathered at the plush Carlton Hotel, along the famed Promenade de la Croisette, to discover just which shows will represent their nation at the inaugural Gala Final to be staged in Singapore on December 7.

The five final categories announced were Best Drama, Best Single Drama or Telemovie, Best Actor, Best Actress plus Best Director (Fiction).

Judges across the region scored shows in each country to deliver the National Winners, who will then compete against each other for the highly sought after AAA’s statuette, dubbed the “Goddess of Creativity”.

Phantom Films’ Netflix blockbuster, Sacred Games was the star attraction for India taking Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Drama Series (adding to the Best Supporting Actor/ Actress category wins announced the previous day).

Perhaps the shock of the night was Indonesia’s Oscar entrant Marilina The Murderer In Four Acts being overrun by HOOQ’s other big play Critical Eleven, which had been somewhat overshadowed by it’s more fancied stablemate, which had picked up a staggering 4 National Wins the previous day. Viu’s acclaimed The Publicist will represent Indonesia in the coveted Best Drama series category.

In another major surprise, the local judges gave the Best Drama Series nod to Taiwan Public Television Service’s Wake Up season 2 ahead of hot favourite Rozeki from Hakka TV. Rozeki picked up Best Actress for Pei-Jia Huang and Best Director Yi-an Lo. Hakka’s Burning Crows delivered a Best Actor victory for Jag Huang.

IQIYI’s entrant for China, Burning Ice, showed it too will be a serious contender, picking up Best Drama and Best Director for Lu Xing, meanwhile, for Hong Kong, Viu TV’s highly fancied Eason Chan starrer My Very Short Marriage was out in force with three wins. One for Chan as Best Actor as well as Best Drama and Best Director (Steven Chan). The series is also up for Best Theme Song.

Korea’s MBC weighed in with Emperor: Owner of the Mask for Best Drama and Australia’s entry will be the Foxtel’s period drama A Place To Come Home, which also saw Marta Dusseldorp selected as Best Actress In A Leading Role. And in a stunning show of strength Japan’s Hulu swept up 4 categories thanks to Miss Sherlock and You Are Tender When It Rains. 

The conclusion audiences can draw from the announcement is that the AAA’s drama awards will be a heavyweight battle between the region’s major scripted studios and their stars. 

ABS-CBN FINALLY GET REASON TO SMILE

In the Philippines, GMA Network largely dominated the previous day’s National Win announcements but fierce rival ABS-CBN finally found reason to smile when they collected the judges’ favour in Best Actress (Maja Salvador for Wildflower), Best Director (Theodore Boboral for Araw Gabi) and Best Single Drama or Telemovie for Maalaala Mo Kaya. GMA added Best Actor (Miguel Tanfelix for Kambal Karibal).

SACRED GAMES A JUDGING HEADACHE

Who would want to be on the Academy Judging Panel when you’re faced with two Best Actor nominations from the same show and they happen to be Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Saif Ali Khan for Sacred Games? Siddiqui got the nod but it must have been a close call. Tonight’s wins are on top of yesterday’s grab for Supporting Role Actor and Actress plus Best Editing. Its 7 National Wins for India position Sacred Games as the hottest drama series going into the international competition come December.

SINGAPORE SPREADS ITS BETS

The Singaporean based judges clearly went for diversity when 5 different shows collected their approval for the 5 drama categories. MediaCorp claimed 3 of the 5 but HOOQ stepped up to take Best Actress for Oon Shu Ann (How To Be A Good Girl) and HBO’s hit The Teenage Psychic claimed Best Drama Series. 

ASTRO’S CLEAN SWEEP

Malaysia’s Astro must be smiling this evening. They swept up all 5 National Wins on offer including Best Drama series Do[s]a.

SINGLE DRAMA OR TELEMOVIE

This category represents a tremendous showcase featuring Singapore’s Ninaivugul from Mediacorp, Luar Biasa from Astro representing Malaysia. Maalaala Mo Kaya from ABS-CBN for the Philippines and Dai Ai TV weighing in with the fancied The Silence of OM under the international banner of Chinese Taipei.