Shannon Murphy’s feature debut Babyteeth leads the early AACTA Awards race, scoring nods in 12 out of 13 film categories, while Mystery Road and Stateless are ahead in television.
The Australian Academy revealed the first round of nominees for the annual awards over the weekend, to be presented across two ‘reimagined’ events later this month.
Television and documentary craft nominations, visual effects and animation, casting, hair and make-up and subscription television presenter categories are yet to be announced, expected on November 12.
Despite the disrupted year for film, some 19 narrative features are nominated so far.
However, six dominate alongside the aforementioned Babyteeth: Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang, with 10 nominations, John Sheedy’s H is for Happiness with nine, Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man and Unjoo Moon’s I Am Woman close behind with eight and seven nominations respectively, and Natalie Erika James’ Relic with five. Each will compete for the night’s top gong: Best Film, and Murphy, Kurzel, Sheedy, Whannell and James are up for Best Direction.
James has also earnt a nod for Best Screenplay, with co-writer Christian White, as has Whannell. The others in the category include Babyteeth’s Rita Kalnejais (who adapted her own stage play for the screen), True History of the Kelly Gang’s Shaun Grant and Little Monsters’ Abe Forsythe.
Up for Best Indie Film, which celebrates filmmaking under $2 million, are Cameron Nugent’s A Boy Called Sailboat; Lucy Coleman’s Hot Mess; Dominic Pearce’s Koko: A Red Dog Story; Serhat Caradee’s A Lion Returns; Steve Vidler’s Standing Up For Sunny and Ian Watson’s Unsound.
Battling for Best Lead Actor are True History of the Kelly Gang’s George McKay, RAMS’ Sam Neill; H is For Happiness’ Richard Roxburgh; Babyteeth’s Toby Wallace and Hugo Weaving for Measure for Measure.
The Best Lead Actress category sees Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (Little Monsters) and Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man) duke against local stars Tilda Cobham-Hervey (I Am Woman), Eliza Scanlen (Babyteeth) and Laura Gordon (Undertow).
Russell Crowe (True History of the Kelly Gang), Ben Mendelsohn (Babyteeth), Fayssal Bazzi (Measure for Measure), Aaron Jeffery (The Flood) and Wesley Patten (H is for Happiness) will each vie for Best Supporting Actor.
H is for Happiness co-stars Deborah Mailman and Emma Booth are both up for Best Supporting Actress, as are Essie Davis for Babyteeth, Bella Heathcote for Relic and Doris Younane for Measure for Measure.
In television, Playmaker Media’s Bloom (Stan) scores a consecutive nomination for Best Drama Series, squaring against Easy Tiger’s Doctor Doctor (Nine); Beyond Lone Hand’s Halifax: Retribution (Nine); Matchbox Pictures and For Pete Sake Productions’ The Heights (ABC); Bunya’s Mystery Road (ABC) and Fremantle’s Wentworth (Foxtel).
Matchbox Pictures has scored two nods in the Best Telefeature or Miniseries Category, for ABC’s Stateless (shared with Dirty Films) and SBS’s Hungry Ghosts. Also nominated are 2 Jons and Sweet Potato Films’ The Gloaming (Stan), Porchlight’s Operation Buffalo (ABC) and Lingo’s The Secret She Keeps (10).
Ewan Leslie been nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama for Operation Buffalo (he was up last year for The Cry), Bryan Brown and Aaron Pederson have also been nominated once again for their work in Bloom and Mystery Road respectively, while Bazzi is up for his second award of the night in Stateless, alongside co-star Jai Courtney.
Pamela Rabe is up for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama for Wentworth (she previously won the category for the same role in 2015), alongside Jada Alberts (Mystery Road), Rebecca Gibney (Halifax: Retribution), and Stateless co-stars Yvonne Strahovski and Asher Keddie.
Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama is a race between Damon Herriman (The Commons), Darren Gilshenan (Stateless), Ed Oxenbould (Bloom), and Rob Collins and Callan Mulvey (both of Mystery Road).
Bloom stars Jacki Weaver and Jacqueline McKenzie are up for Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama, as are Mystery Road’s Ngaire Pigram, and Tasma Walton, and Stateless’ Cate Blanchett.
This year sees comedy categories expanded, with two new awards: Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Entertainment. The move is designed to be inclusive of broader formats such as stand-up and panels alongside the traditional narrative or sketch comedy.
Up in the series category are the At Home Alone Together (ABC), Scarlett Pictures’ Black Comedy (ABC), What Horse?/Guesswork TV’s Rosehaven (ABC), Lingo Pictures’ Upright (Foxtel), and Aquarius Films/Wooden Horse’s The Other Guy (Stan).
In entertainment, Guesswork has earned two nods for its stand-up specials for both Amazon and Stan, up against Endemol’s LOL: Last One Laughing Australia, for Amazon, Giant Baby Productions’ Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell for the ABC and Eureka Productions’ Drunk History Australia for 10.
Best Comedy Performer is a battle between past winner Celia Pacquola and Rosehaven co-star Luke McGregor, alongside Upright leads Tim Minchin and Milly Alcock, and comedian Anne Edmonds – nominated for her performances as Dr. Dianne Strize and the Helen Bidou in At Home Alone Together.
The Emmy Award-winning Bluey (also last year’s AACTA winner), The InBestigators, Mustangs FC, Little J & Big Cuz, Are You Tougher Than Your Ancestors? and First Day are each up for Best Children’s Program.
In the race for Best Doco are two films helmed by Kriv Stenders: Slim & I and Brock: Over The Top. They will vie against Catherine Dwyer’s Brazen Hussies; Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair’s Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra; Steven McGregor’s LookyLooky Here Comes Cooky and Liam Firmager’s Suzi Q.
Up for Best Documentary or Factual Program are two shows from CJZ: Murder in the Outback: The Falconioand Lees Mystery (for Seven) and Shaun Micallef’s On The Sauce (for the ABC). Also in the category are Endemol Shine Australia/10’s Ambulance Australia; Lune Media/ABC’s Fight for Planet A: Our Climate Challenge; Easy Tiger/10’s Lindy Chamberlain: The True Story, and Blackfella Films/ABC’s Maralinga Tjaruta.
AACTA | AFI CEO Damian Trewhella noted the breadth and depth of diversity among the nominees, in what he hoped signalled a “new norm”.
“In addition to women writers and feature film directors making their debut to great acclaim, including director Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth written by Rita Kaljenais becoming one of our most nominated films of the decade – competing alongside fellow first-time feature director Natalie Erika James for Relic – we’ve also seen directorial debuts by women in documentary, with Catherine Dwyer’s Brazen Hussies, and in online content with Grace Feng Fang Juan’s bilingual comedy Girl, Interpreted.
“A record nine Indigenous stories and Indigenous-led productions are nominated this year across television, documentary short film and online content, with one of our highest years for Indigenous practitioners nominated yet, including break-through writer/director brothers Luke and Dan Riches with their online series KGB, and cast and crew from series two of the stand-out drama Mystery Road.
“A record 14 productions also feature CALD, LGBTIQA+ and disability storytlines and talent, including online series Ding Dong I’m Gay, TV series Love on the Spectrum which features people with autism looking for love, First Day, a transgender high-school television drama, and Idol, our first short film nominee to be filmed entirely in a language other than English.”
The AACTA Industry Awards (previously the Industry Luncheon) will be held Friday 27 November online, while the usual Ceremony will be held at The Star Sydney over two consecutive sittings November 30.
Highlights from the two ceremonies will be broadcast on Channel Seven on December 2.
This year the academy will also run a free online festival during the week of the awards, dubbed Screenfest. The full program is here.
Final round voting for the film, documentary, short film and online drama or comedy categories is now open, closing November 8.
The full list of nominees:
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST DRAMA SERIES
BLOOM David Maher, David Taylor, Glen Dolman, Sue Seeary—Playmaker Media (Stan)
DOCTOR DOCTOR Ian Collie, Ally Henville, Keith Thompson, Rodger Corser—Easy Tiger (Nine Network)
HALIFAX: RETRIBUTION Roger Simpson, Louisa Kors—Beyond Lone Hand (Nine Network)
THE HEIGHTS Warren Clarke, Peta Astbury-Bulsara, Debbie Lee, Que Minh Luu—Matchbox Pictures in association with For Pete’s Sake Productions (ABC)
MYSTERY ROAD David Jowsey, Greer Simpkin—Bunya Productions (ABC)
WENTWORTH Jo Porter, Pino Amenta—Fremantle (Foxtel)
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEFEATURE OR MINISERIES
THE GLOAMING Victoria Madden, John Molloy, Fiona McConaghy—2 Jons and Sweet Potato Films (Stan)
HUNGRY GHOSTS Stephen Corvini, Timothy Hobart, Debbie Lee, Sue Masters—Matchbox Pictures (SBS)
OPERATION BUFFALO Vincent Sheehan, Tanya Phegan, Peter Duncan—Porchlight Films (ABC)
THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS Helen Bowden, Jason Stephens, Paul Watters—Lingo Pictures (Network Ten)
STATELESS Cate Blanchett, Elise McCredie, Tony Ayres, Sheila Jayadev, Paul Ranford, Liz Watts, Andrew Upton—Matchbox Pictures, Dirty Films (ABC)
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST COMEDY SERIES
AT HOME ALONE TOGETHER Nick Hayden, Janet Gaeta, Nikita Agzarian, Dan Ilic—Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC)
BLACK COMEDY Kath Shelper, Mark O’Toole, Nakkiah Lui, David Woodhead—Scarlett Pictures (ABC)
THE OTHER GUY Angie Fielder, Polly Staniford, Jude Troy, Alice Willison—Aquarius Films, Wooden Horse (Stan)
ROSEHAVEN Andrew Walker, Kevin Whyte, Celia Pacquola, Luke McGregor—What Horse? And Guesswork Television (ABC)
UPRIGHT – Jason Stephens, Helen Bowden, Melissa Kelly, Chris Taylor, Tim Minchin—Lingo Pictures (Foxtel)
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST COMEDY ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM
AUSTRALIAN AMAZON ORIGINAL STAND-UP SPECIALS Todd Abbott, Frank Bruzzese, Kevin Whyte, Kathleen McCarthy—Guesswork Television (Amazon Prime Video Australia)
AUSTRALIAN LOCKDOWN COMEDY FESTIVAL Kevin Whyte, Jon Casimir, Todd Abbott—Guesswork Television (Stan)
DRUNK HISTORY AUSTRALIA Paul Franklin, Chris Culvenor, Sophia Mogford, Ashley Davies—Eureka Productions (Network Ten)
LOL: LAST ONE LAUGHING AUSTRALIA David McDonald, Marty Benson—Amazon Prime Video Australia, Endemol Shine Australia (Amazon Prime Video Australia)
SHAUN MICALLEF’S MAD AS HELL Shaun Micallef, Peter Beck, Gary McCaffrie—ITV Studios Australia, Giant Baby Productions (ABC)
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM
EUROVISION – AUSTRALIA DECIDES – GOLD COAST 2020 Paul Clarke, Stephanie Werrett, Josh Martin—Blink TV Production (SBS)
HARD QUIZ Chris Walker, Kevin Whyte, Charlie Pickering, Tom Gleeson, John Tabbagh—Thinkative Television (ABC)
HAVE YOU BEEN PAYING ATTENTION? Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Michael Hirsh, Rob Sitch—Working Dog Productions (Network Ten)
LEGO® MASTERS AUSTRALIA David McDonald, AJ Johnson, Mark Barlin—Endemol Shine Australia in association with Nine Network (Nine Network)
THE VOICE Leigh Aramberri, Chloe Baker, Jaala Webster, Beth Hart—ITV Studios Australia (Nine Network)
THE WEEKLY Kevin Whyte, Chris Walker, Charlie Pickering, Jo Long—Thinkative Television, Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC)
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST FACTUAL ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM
GOGGLEBOX AUSTRALIA Howard Myers, David McDonald, Kerrie Kerr— Endemol Shine, Network Ten, Foxtel (Foxtel, Network Ten)
HAMISH & ANDY’S “PERFECT” HOLIDAY Tim Bartley, Hamish Blake, Andy Lee, Ryan Shelton—Radio Karate (Nine Network)
LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM Cian O’Clery, Karina Holden, Jenni Wilks —Northern Pictures (ABC)
THE PROJECT Craig Campbell, Christopher Bendall, Sarah Ashley—Roving Enterprises, Network Ten (Network Ten)
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Maxine Gray, Michael Wilton—Warner Bros. International Television Productions (SBS)
YOU CAN’T ASK THAT Kirk Docker, Frances O’Riordan, Ali Russell—Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC)
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LIFESTYLE PROGRAM
BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS Russel Palmer, Rani Eaton—Seven Network (Seven Network)
JIMMY SHU’S TASTE OF THE TERRITORY Naina Sen, Sally Ingleton, Josh Martin—Indigo Productions and 360 Degree Films (SBS)
THE LIVING ROOM Sarah Thornton, Ciaran Flannery—Network Ten and WTFN (Network Ten)
LUKE NGUYEN’S RAILWAY VIETNAM Michael Donnelly, Josh Martin, John Hatcher, Clara O’Sullivan—Red Creative Media (SBS)
RESTORATION AUSTRALIA Brooke Bayvel—Fremantle (ABC)