The Titanic star was named Best Lead Actress for her role in the acclaimed drama during the glitzy Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards ceremony in Sydney, and her co-stars Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis won supporting accolades.

The movie also landed the People's Choice Award For Favourite Australian Film, but it missed out on the night's top prize, Best Film, which went to Mad Max: Fury Road, and Best Direction, which was handed to Mad Max's George Miller.

Best Lead Actor went to Michael Caton for his role in Last Cab To Darwin.

During the prizegiving, Australian actress Cate Blanchett was honoured with a lifetime achievement prize for her contribution to the movie industry.

Cate broke down in tears as she accepted the Longford Lyell Award, the country's highest acting honour, and used her acceptance speech to encourage more Australians to pursue careers in films.

"Oh I've become one of those ridiculous people who cries... it's just a f**king award," she gushed as she fought to control her emotions, before adding of Australians in film, "It's not a quota... it needs to be fought for."

Cate was feted with tributes from directors Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese, who both insisted they want to work with the actress again, as well as Carol helmer Todd Haynes, who called her a "beacon, a galaxy and a mensch".

"You are brilliant and you do honour to your craft," Ron Howard added.

Other awards handed out during the ceremony included Best Television Drama Series, which went to Glitch, and acting honours for Pamela Rabe, who was named Best Lead Actress In A Television Drama for Wentworth.

Joel Jackson won the male equivalent for TV mini-series Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door.