Best Screenplay

Should Have Been Nominated: Acute Misfortune – adapted, Top End Wedding – original

Should Win: The Nightingale

Will Win: The Nightingale

Given the bullshit silence from the Academy about their decision to reduce the screenplay category to one award rather than adapted and original, I’ve got no choice but to jump back on my high horse and whinge about this decision entirely.

Right, so not only have they removed the ability for at least four films to be honoured in either category, they’ve also further reduced the chance that an indie film might get nominated somewhere. So, that means that the excellent script by Erik Jensen and Thomas M. Wright for Acute Misfortune is thrown out the window. Then, because they’ve only nominated four scripts here, the excellently hilarious script by Miranda Tapsell and Joshua Tyler for Top End Wedding gets ignored completely.

I’m genuinely surprised more filmmakers and screenwriters aren’t up in arms about this decision. It’s ridiculous, uncalled for, and offensive.

Anyhow, Jennifer Kent will win again, and deservedly so.

Best Cinematography

Should Have Been Nominated: Acute Misfortune

Should Win: The Nightingale

Will Win: The Nightingale

There’s a moment in Acute Misfortune where Adam Cullen and Erik Jensen are out in a field shooting things. It’s so vividly shot that you cannot shake it from your mind. The way Stefan Duscio and Germain McMicking powerfully present a fog that has embraced them both is reason enough for that film to be nominated. But, alas, it wasn’t.

I know I began this prediction piece mentioning how the AACTA Awards feel like they’ve only recognised five films this year, and I realise that my continual mentioning of Acute Misfortune feels like I’m just adding a sixth film to the list, which I want to stress isn’t the case. Equally deserving in this category was Michael Latham’s (aka, one of the finest cinematographers in the Australian film industry right now) work in Buoyancy, Hugh Miller’s empathetic work with Hearts and Bones, or Ryan Barry Cotter’s claustrophobic work with Reflections of the Dust.

Needless to say, all of those films were deserving of a nomination here. And they would have been up against stiff competition. Ben Nott puts you right in the midst of the battle in Danger Close, allowing you to feel every bullet whiz past the trapped soldiers. Nick Remy Matthews equally sticks you right in the heart pounding action with Hotel Mumbai. Adam Arkapaw cements his talent with the iconic Battle of Agincourt in The King.

But it’s Radek Ladczuk’s overwhelming cinematography in The Nightingale that deserves to win, and will win. Displaying Tasmania in all its rugged beauty, Ladczuk manages to make the wilderness as foreboding and deadly as the colonialists hunting down Clare and Billy. Honestly, the visuals alone are reason enough for The Nightingale to sweep this ceremony, and Radek Ladczuk deserves every ounce of praise they get.

Best Editing

Should Have Been Nominated: Animals

Should Win: Hotel Mumbai

Will Win: The Nightingale

Admittedly, I don’t have much to say about the editing in this years category. I’d have liked Animals to be nominated given how expressive the editing is in that film, but honestly, the films nominated here are all deserving. Maybe I Am Mother or Danger Close could have gotten in too, but it’s a tight category.

With that said, I believe that Hotel Mumbai’s editing was exemplary, helping build tension and anxiety as the film rolled on. I’d like that to win, but I feel that the build up in The Nightingale will be enough for that film to secure the win here.

Best Sound

Should Have Been Nominated: Buoyancy and I Am Mother

Should Win: Hotel Mumbai

Will Win: Hotel Mumbai

I’m genuinely surprised that Grant Sputore’s sci-fi film I Am Mother didn’t secure a nomination here. Rose Byrne’s android ‘mother’ has such a distinctive, mood setting sound in the way she moves that I was certain it would get a nomination. Equally so, I was surprised that Buoyancy didn’t appear here, with the way that the sounds of the ocean and the slop of the trash fish immerses the viewer in the horrific world of modern slavery.

However, even if both of those films were nominated, I’d still be picking Hotel Mumbai for the win for the way the sound hammers the violence of the terrorists actions home. The echo in the hotel lobby is unforgettable, and each shot rings through the building like a warning siren. Intense and powerful.

Best Score

Should Have Been Nominated: Hearts and Bones

Should Win: Hotel Mumbai

Will Win: Hotel Mumbai

I can’t honestly say that many of the scores for Australian films this year have stuck with me. I’m sorry to say that, but when I look over the potential nominees, none have stuck out. That is, outside of Hearts and Bones. I’m genuinely surprised that film didn’t get a nomination here, given how much of the films emotion is carried through by its score and music.

For those nominated, the one that I can recall having a major presence in the film and actually delivering the right emotional impact was Volker Bertelmann’s score for Hotel Mumbai.

Best Production Design

Should Have Been Nominated: I Am Mother or Nekrotronic

Should Win: Judy & Punch

Will Win: The King

It seems that the AACTA’s are taking the Oscars line by not nominating a sci-fi film for Best Production Design. That can be the only reason I assume that I Am Mother and Nekrotronic weren’t nominated.

The production design that was nominated are all well and truly deserving, and one could see any of these films winning. I would say that Judy & Punch’s ability to transform Australia into period era England would be enough to get the win, but then again, The King’s design created 15th Century England and France impeccably.

Best Costume Design

Should Have Been Nominated: Animals

Should Win: Judy & Punch

Will Win: The King

The same applies for Costume Design as it does Production Design. I believe that Judy & Punch should win, but I think that The King’s frilly era specific clothing will do the trick.

But, for once, I really wish that the kind of costumes that works as extension of the characters like the ones in Animals would get nominated. It reminds me of critic William Bibbiani’s request for A Simple Favor to get an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. It is the character, and each dress or outfit becomes an extension of their mood. That’s not easy to do, and it works so well in Animals.

Best Documentary

Should Have Been Nominated: Happy Sad Man or 2040

Should Win: The Final Quarter

Will Win: In My Blood it Runs

Finally, the documentary category. I’m always a bit confused by this one as so many great films don’t get nominated. Take Damon Gameau’s 2040, a call to action, a vital film about the climate emergency we find ourselves in. Nowhere to be found. I’m also surprised that a film like Happy Sad Man is found wanting.

Instead, we get two very important documentaries about Adam Goodes. I like them both, but for my money, I’d go with The Final Quarter over The Australian Dream. However, I feel they’ll both cancel each other out and the award will go to the equally deserving In My Blood it Runs. Plus, when the star of your documentary addresses the United Nations, well… that’s worth an award at least.

So that’s it! My predictions for the 2019 AACTA Awards.

The awards will be presented over two days. First up at the Industry Luncheon on Monday 2nd of December, and then the remaining major awards at the Foxtel Ceremony on Wednesday 4th of December. I believe the awards will be televised on Foxtel, but I will confirm this closer to the date.

Let me know what you think will win, what you wish was nominated, and what you want to win below!