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The AACTA Awards nominees have been announced

Nick Dent

Australia’s answer to the Oscars takes place in Sydney again in December, offering the industry’s highest accolades for filmmaking as well as awards for television and online content, and the nominees in all categories have just been announced.  

Leading the pack in the film categories is Bruce Beresford’s nostalgic period drama Ladies in Black, about employees at a David Jones-style store in Sydney in the 1950s. It’s been nominated for 11 AACTA Awards including all the biggies: Best Film, Best Director, two for Best Lead Actress (Julia Ormond and Angourie Rice), Supporting Actress (Noni Hazlehurst), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, et cetera.

Its competition for Best Film are Joel Edgerton’s US-set drama Boy Erased (which got 7 nominations); Simon Baker’s Tim Winton adaptation Breath (9); the powerful zombie thriller Cargo (5); and Warwick Thornton’s acclaimed western Sweet Country (10 nominations).

For the first time, the AACTAs are giving out an award for Best Indie Film. The five nominees are Brothers’ Nest, the Jacobsen Brothers’ black crime comedy; Jirga, Benjamin Gilmour’s impressive drama about redemption set in Afghanistan; The Second, Mairi Cameron’s three-handed thriller for the Stan platform; Strange Colours, Russian-born director Alena Lodkina’s portrait of the denizens of Lightning Ridge; and Jason Raftopoulos’ story of gambling addiction West of Sunshine, whose star, the late Damian Hill, also received a posthumous nomination for Best Lead Actor.

They’ve also introduced an award for Best Casting. The award spans both film and TV, and the nominees are Breath and Sweet Country up against Easybeats miniseries Friday on My Mind and gay rights saga Riot.   

Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton all got acting nominations for supporting roles in Boy Erased. Americans Lucas Hedges and Rooney Mara were nominated for performances in Boy Erased and Mary Magdalene respectively.

Edgerton and Simon Baker have tied to become the first people to be nominated for both directing and acting in an Australian film in the same year (Boy Erased and Breath). Other feature movies that scored nominations include 1%, The Merger, Pulse, Peter Rabbit and Winchester.

The nominees for Best Feature Documentary are Ghosthunter, Gurrumul, Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible, Mountain and Working Class Boy.

So, who got stiffed? Leigh Whannell’s amazing cybernetic thriller Upgrade scored five nominations in technical categories, but was shut out of Best Film and Best Director. 

Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) gave a truly stunning performance as the lead in Cargo but missed out on an acting nod, as did his co-star Susie Porter. And while Hamilton Morris and Natassia Gorey-Furber got nominated for Sweet Country, excellent performances in that film by Sam Neill and Bryan Brown were ignored.

Speaking of ignored, Stephan Elliott’s outrageous comedy Swinging Safari got nada. While it was not everyone’s cup of Lipton, you could have sworn Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue were going to get in with acting noms.

The awards will be given out at the Star Event Centre, Sydney on December 3 and 5. You can buy tickets and read the full list of nominees (including the TV categories) at the AACTA website.

Itching to see a great movie? Read reviews of the best films screening in Melbourne here.

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