Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons in 'The Power of the Dog'. (Image: Kirsty Griffin/Netflix)

This year’s Academy Award nominations are a showcase of Australian and New Zealand talent, with Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog leading the race with 12 nominations, and further nods for Nicole Kidman, Dune cinematographer Greig Fraser and the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings VFX team.

An Australian-New Zealand co-production between See-Saw Films, Brightstar, BBC Films, Big Shell Films and Max Films for Netflix, The Power of the Dog is nominated for Best Picture alongside Belfast, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Drive My Car, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, and West Side Story.

With 12 nominations, The Power of the Dog is now the most nominated Australian film in history, surpassing Mad Max: Fury Road, which received 10.

The second most nominated film this year is Dune, recognised 10 times, though director Denis Villeneuve was surprisingly snubbed.

The Power of the Dog is Campion’s first film to be nominated for Best Picture, and the third nomination for See-Saw Films producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, previously recognised in 2017 for Lion and 2011 for The King’s Speech, which won.

Speaking to IF, Sherman said it was beyond his “wildest imaginings” to see the film nominated 12 times.

“To see so many of the great contributors to the film get recognised is so heartening. It’s just everything you could ever hope for as a film producer.”

The Power of the Dog was shot in New Zealand and entirely post-produced within Australia, and Sherman said its success was a testament to the two industries as well as the creative and financial support of Netflix.

“It’s great to continually remind ourselves and our industry that we work at a truly global level every day,” he said.

“We’ve drawn on the government incentives that are there and available for Australian and New Zealand films and had great support. We couldn’t have made this film without that; it’s really essential to be able to make risky cinema, which The Power of the Dog is – it’s a complex, but ultimately very rewarding piece of cinema. It’s got great twists and turns, great psychodrama… To have realised the full vision of Jane, it needed the support from Australia and New Zealand governments. It just shows when the system works together how far we can go.”

In addition to Best Picture, Campion is nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Already one of just seven women to have been nominated for the director prize, for The Piano in 1994, Campion makes history today as the first woman to ever have been nominated for the award twice.

The Power of the Dog is also well represented across the acting categories, including for lead Benedict Cumberbatch, Aussie Kodi-Smit McPhee and Jesse Plemons each up for best supporting actor, and Kristen Dunst up for best supporting actress.

Nicole Kidman’s turn as Lucille Ball in Being The Ricardos has earned her fifth Oscar nomination, vying against Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer).

Best Cinematography sees two Australians nominated in Dune‘s Fraser and The Power of the Dog‘s Ari Wegner, with the latter being just the second ever woman nominated in the category following Rachel Morrison in 2018 for Mudbound. It is Fraser’s second Academy Award nomination, having previously been recognised for Lion.

“Working with Denis Villeneuve and the entire cast and crew of Dune is an honour that often only happens once in a lifetime. Frank Herbert’s story resonates with so many readers worldwide and I can’t think of a better team of artists to have made this interpretation of his legendary words,” said Fraser in a statement.

“Warner Bros. and Legendary Films have supported our aesthetic vision from day one and to now be recognised by our colleagues with this nomination is the icing on the cake!”

Another Australian acknowledged is The Power of the Dog editor Peter Sciberras, who will compete with those who cut Don’t Look Up, Dune, King Richard and Tick, Tick… Boom!

The Power of the Dog‘s Trans Tasman sound team, including Australians Robert MacKenzie and Tara Webb and Kiwi Richard Flynn, will vie for Best Sound with the teams from Belfast, Dune, No Time To Die, and West Side Story. MacKenzie has previously won an Oscar for Hacksaw Ridge.

New Zealand production designer Grant Major and set decorator Amber Richards have also been recognised for their work on The Power of the Dog, and will compete for Best Production Design with those behind Dune, Nightmare Alley, The Tragedy of Macbeth and West Side Story.

In visual effects, Australians Dan Oliver and Joe Farrell and New Zealander Sean Walker are nominated with colleague Christopher Townsend for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, up against the maestros behind Dune, Free Guy, No Time To Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Oliver has previously been nominated for Mad Max: Fury Road and Farrell for Hereafter.

Other nominations for The Power of the Dog include Best Original Score, by UK composer Jonny Greenwood.

The 94th annual Academy Awards will be held March 27 in Los Angeles at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre (March 28 Australian time).

The full list of nominees can be viewed here.

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  1. Brilliant achievement for cinematographer Ari Wegner, only the 2nd woman EVER to be nominated for a Cinematography Oscar. Congratulations to her and all the other Australian and New Zealander nominees alongside all others nominated.

  2. Congratulations Ari Wagner. Your cinematic eye with this film breathtakingly brilliantly Outstanding

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