Ok, I promised myself I’d not be
cynical when the AACTA Nominations were announced. After all, I’ve had a few
years of being cynical about the AACTA Nominations and subsequent award winners
(it’s what you get when the ‘Best Australian Film’ is awarded to supremely
Aussie stories such as The Great Gatsby and
Hacksaw Ridge). So, let’s wade into
this years’ nominations with glee and wonder, and point out the most deserving
Warwick Thornton’s masterpiece is the best film of 2018,
there’s simply no contest about it. This devastating slice of Australiana slams
the history of injustices that the first nation people had to suffer in the
face of the viewer. Nominated for Best Film, Best Director – Warwick Thornton,
Best Lead Actor – Hamilton Morris, Best Supporting Actress – Natassia Gorey-Furber,
Best Original Screenplay – David Tranter & Steven McGregor, Best
Cinematography – Warwick Thorton, Best Editing, Nick Meyers, Best Sound – David
Tranter, Thom Kellar, Sam Gain-Emery & Will Sheridan, and Best Costume
Design – Heather Wallace, as well as Anousha Zarkesh for Best Casting – making it
a total on ten well deserved nominations.
Yeah, I’d have loved to have seen Sam Neill, Ewen Leslie,
Trevon Doolan, and Bryan Brown, all get nominated for Best Supporting Actor, as
they all deliver career best performances (Ewen Leslie is particularly
stunning), but at least the work of Hamilton Morris and Natassia Gorey Furber
was recognised. This is the film I’m championing the most this year and I’ll be
damned if it loses the top prize.
This category is a relatively new one – arguably implemented after Ozflix introduced a similar category with their awards last year. The line-up is great, with Jirga, Brothers’ Nest, and West of Sunshine all receiving well deserved nominations. But, the nomination that gets me excited the most is the nomination for Strange Colours.
One of the smaller films up for consideration, this film is
also one of the most devastating and beautiful films I’ve seen this year. It’s
a powerful slice of cinema that has a turbulent undercurrent running through
its expose of masculinity. Kate Cheel’s performance drives Strange Colours, with impressive turns by Justin Courtin and Daniel
P. Jones to help support her work. Alena Lodkina is a director to keep an eye
on. While I’m not hopeful that Strange
Colours will win, the mere fact that it was nominated is enough.
Damian Hill and Daniel Monks are recognised in
the Best Actor category.
The late, great Damian Hill received a well deserved Best Actor nomination for his work in West of Sunshine. Hill delivers a performance that is full to the brim with urgency and unfocused anxiety. When paired with his AACTA nominated performance in Pawno, you realise that Hill was collating an impressive catalogue of what it means to be a working class man in modern Australia. The fact that West of Sunshine garnered a swag of nominations is testament to the talent that Hill had.
Daniel Monks film Pulse
is one that flew under the radar of almost everybody. Granted, it suffered
from the same fate as many Australian films – no funding for distribution meant
a lack of knowledge that the film even existed. Here’s hoping that Daniels
nomination in the Best Actor field changes that. His performance in Pulse is one that many actors wish they
could deliver. He’s engaged with the narrative (which he wrote) on an deep
level, showcasing a character that feels lived in and real. Daniel Monks is a
genuine talent that needs to be given more work to explore.
a fair few nominations.
While Upgradedidn’t get the nominations that I’d hoped it would (namely, in the Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor categories – seriously, Logan Marshall Green’s performance is one of the best of the year), it did at least garner a few technical nominations.
Leigh Whannell’s script got a well deserved nomination in
the Best Original Screenplay category, with Andy Canny’s editing getting a nod
alongside the superb sound design by P.K. Hooker, Will Files, and Andrew
Ramage. Jed Palmer’s score also received a nomination (going up against Peter Rabbit, would you believe). Felicity
Abbott and Katie Sharrock gained nominations in the Production Design category,
while Chiara Tripodi and Larry Van Dyunhoven were nominated for Best Hair and
Makeup. Finally, Upgrade goes up
against Black Panther, The LEGO Ninjago Movie and Peter Rabbit for Best Visual Effects or
Animation, with the team at Cutting Edge being nominated in this category.
Upgrade may look
like a basic genre flick, but it’s a genre flick done damn well, so it’s nice
to see it being rewarded amply in the tech categories with a total of seven nominations.
Fayssal Bazzi gets a Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Merger.
While I didn’t love The
Merger as much as I hoped I would, I did certainly love Fayssal Bazzi’s
heartfelt performance in a wonderful comedy. Bazzi gave a very different
performance in the darkly comedic Down
Under, so it’s great to see his work in The
Merger gain a nomination as a refugee trying to make a positive life for
himself and his family in rural Australia. If only more people went and saw
this flick, then maybe there’d be a bit more bloody empathy for those in need
in this country.
earning a truckload of documentary nominations.
Another small film getting nominated for a bunch of awards. Ghosthunter may have slipped under the
radar of many, but it’s well worth seeking out. A story about a humble Aussie
bloke who lives a life as a ghost hunter, and in turn, thanks to the help of
director Ben Lawrence, helps expose the ghosts in his own life. Ghosthunter explores the death rattle of
PTSD and how it echoes through generations in a devastating shockwave. Powerful
stuff that will leave you speechless, this film is a necessary look into the
effects of toxic masculinity in Australian society.
They’re the nominations I’m pleased with. Overall, it’s a
solid year of Australian content with the expected nominees gaining Best
Picture nominations – although Cargo getting
in was a very welcome surprise. I can’t argue with many of the nominees in that
category (I’m still yet to see Ladies in
Black, although it is doing great numbers at the box office, so that’s
Now a short list of the nominations that should have
I’d hoped that Watch
the Sunset would gain a nomination or three – Tristan Barr was greatly
deserving of a nomination in the Best Actor category – but I fully expected it
to get a Best Cinematography nomination. A disappointing omission.
It’s great to see Simon Baker’s debut film get a bunch of
nominations. This slice of West Australia is a visually stunning film that
captures the raw energy of the South West. While Baker and costar Elizabeth
Debicki gained nominations, it’s a shame that the talent of Samson Coulter and
Ben Spence weren’t given their due. They carry the film perfectly, with Ben Spence’s
Loonie carrying a lot of the emotional energy of Tim Winton’s text. It’s a
shame that these kids weren’t given their due as they’re genuinely brilliant.
Look, no offence to Jimmy Barnes and his life story, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the brilliance of Island of the Hungry Ghosts and Backtrack Boys. These two documentaries are not only some of the finest films to come out of Australia this year, but they’re some of the finest films that the world has seen this year. It’s a genuine shame that the work of these films wasn’t recognised over a Jimmy Barnes doco and another doco about mountains from Jennifer Peedom (don’t get me wrong, I loved Mountain, it’s just not as impactful as Sherpa was).
Kate Cheel for Strange Colours.
Yeah, I’ll keep banging this drum til the year is over and then I’ll just carry on banging it. Kate Cheel gives one of the best performances of the year as Milena in Strange Colours. I’ve gone on about it a bunch already, but would it have hurt to have included her in the Best Actress category? I’m certain that Rooney Mara is not all that and a bag of chips in Mary Magdalene.
This darkly comedic flick got a very small handful of nominations, with the biggest one being for Best Indie Film. But, part of the reason why Brothers’ Nestis an eerily endearing film is the core performances from Shane and Clayton Jacobson.Both are brilliant as a pair of brothers embarking on a task they both don’t entirely want to engage in. Lynette Curran is also superb in a small turn.
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