Tuesday, October 27, 2009

AFI Nominations Announced!

The Australian Film Institute have released their annual award nominations in the last hour and, as per usual, there are some oddities mixed in with the goodies. Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the Ana Kokkinos, shall we?

Balibo (John Maynard, Rebecca Williamson)
Beautiful Kate (Leah Churchill-Brown, Bryan Brown)
Blessed (Al Clark)
Mao’s Last Dancer (Jane Scott)
Mary and Max (Melanie Coombs)
Samson & Delilah (Kath Shelper)

Five of these felt like obvious nominees - Balibo, Beautiful Kate, Mao's Last Dancer, Mary and Max and Samson & Delilah - in this year's expanded category of six. However, the shocker is Blessed being nominated over the likes of Australia, Cedar Boys, Disgrace, My Year Without Sex and so on. The ego of Ana Kokkinos has been stroked yet again for such a mediocre film.

I imagine this is not a fun woman to be around :/

Australia (Baz Luhrmann, G. Mac Brown, Catherine Knapman)
Balibo (John Maynard, Rebecca Williamson)
Beautiful Kate (Leah Churchill-Brown, Bryan Brown)
Mao’s Last Dancer (Jane Scott)
Mary and Max (Melanie Coombs)
Samson & Delilah (Kath Shelper)

Quite tellingly, the non-professional members of AFI chose Baz Luhrmann's Australia over Ana Kokkinos' Blessed. Imagine that!

Robert Connolly, Balibo
Rachel Ward, Beautiful Kate
Bruce Beresford, Mao’s Last Dancer
Warwick Thornton, Samson & Delilah

Nothing really to note here. Thankfully Kokkinos didn't get nominated. It's a bit disappointing that Adam Elliot wasn't able to continue his run of luck that recently saw him win the Director's Guild of Australia award though, but these four are fine enough.

Anthony LaPaglia, Balibo
Ben Mendelsohn, Beautiful Kate
Hugo Weaving, Last Ride
Rowan McNamara, Samson & Delilah

All of these actors, excluding debut actor McNamara, could have done their performances in their sleep and I think LaPaglia and Weaving were weaker parts of their respective films, but it's obvious why they were nominated over the likes of Les Chantery (Cedar Boys) and Paul Hogan (Charlie & Boots). The big WTF moment is the snub of John Malkovich in Disgrace. Not just him, in fact, but the entire film. What happened there? I can't help but feel that AFI voters (of which I am one of, by the way) reacted against the fact that it's not an "Australian story".

Sophie Lowe, Beautiful Kate
Frances O’Connor, Blessed
Sacha Horler, My Year Without Sex
Marissa Gibson, Samson & Delilah

I could have predicted these nominees in my sleep. All worthy nominees, I gotta say. I would've preferred Jessica Haines for Disgrace, but... well... yeah.

Brandon Walters, Australia
Damon Gameau, Balibo
Oscar Isaac, Balibo
Bryan Brown, Beautiful Kate

The nomination for Walters is surprising, especially given the lack of major nominations Australia got, but the best surprise is Damon Gameau for Balibo, who I figured wouldn't be known enough to get in. Brown and Isaac were obvious and there really aren't any other true contenders. As usual with any Supporting Actor category at any award show.

Bea Viegas, Balibo
Maeve Dermody, Beautiful Kate
Rachel Griffiths, Beautiful Kate
Mitjili Gibson, Samson & Delilah

I'm a big fan of Dermody, but her inclusion here is disappointing since her character in Beautiful Kate is borderline horrific. Viegas is a nice surprise, but her role is miniscule and Gibson - Marissa's own grandmother - gets in on the wave of Samson & Delilah love. Griffiths will surely win, however, in a case of Toni Collette Syndrome. Vale Hanna Mangan-Lawrence who gave the finest supporting performance of the year and couldn't manage a nomination. Such a shame.

Hanna decides to run away before having a good cry over her lack of AFI nomination.

Russell Crowe, State of Play
Martin Henderson, House
Anthony LaPaglia, Without a Trace
Guy Pearce, Bedtime Stories

Bedtime Stories, really? I guess it's a nomination that can sit alongside it's Kid's Choice Award nominations for Favourite Movie and Favourite Movie Actor. Woohoo! I would have figured they'd go with Ryan Kwantan in True Blood or, more obviously, Eric Bana in Star Trek.

Rose Byrne, Damages
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Melissa George, In Treatment
Mia Wasikowska, In Treatment

I'd instantly say Toni Collette will win, but they gave her an award last year so maybe they'll go with Wasikowska who has been making a lot of news down here lately in regards to her Hollywood success.

Brandon Walters, Australia
Sebastian Gregory, Beautiful
Tom Russell, Last Ride
Toby Wallace, Lucky Country
Marissa Gibson, Samson & Delilah
Rowan McNamara, Samson & Delilah

Will probably be Gibson or Walters as makeup for not winning their acting categories, although I thought Tom Russell was fantastic in the otherwise dreadful Last Ride.

Cedar Boys, Serhat Caradee
Mary and Max, Adam Elliot
My Year Without Sex, Sarah Watt
Samson & Delilah, Warwick Thornton

I actually think this may be my favourite category of the lot. There is not one disappointing film here, and I'm extra happy that Serhat Caradee got something for Cedar Boys since it was so very good. This will probably go to Adam Elliot or Warwick Thornton and I'm leaning more towards Elliot as a sort of consolation prize. Plus it's far more wordy than S&D, which probably means something.

Balibo, Robert Connolly & David Williamson
Beautiful Kate, Rachel Ward
Blessed, Andrew Bovell, Melissa Reeves, Patricia Cornelius & Christos Tsiolkas
Mao’s Last Dancer, Jan Sardi

There were only seven adapted titles this year and when you erase Disgrace, which the AFI clearly did not like, these four seem like obvious nominees since the other adapted contenders were $9.99 and Closed For Winter, which obviously weren't getting anywhere near the AFI nominations.

Balibo, Tristan Milani ACS
Beautiful Kate, Andrew Commis
Last Ride, Greig Fraser
Samson & Delilah, Warwick Thornton

Apart from Greig Fraser - a current major contender for Oscar glory with Jane Campion's Bright Star, sure to be an AFI heavy hitter next year - these are all fine nominees. I'm not sure I'll ever quite understand what people aren't seeing in Mandy Walker's cinematography on Australia, but there ya go. Or what about Richard Michalak's work on Newcastle or Jules O'Loughlin and Lucky Country?

Balibo, Nick Meyers ASE
Blessed, Jill Bilcock ACE, ASE
Mao’s Last Dancer, Mark Warner
Samson & Delilah, Roland Gallois

The lesson to be learnt here is that if you have two time periods running parallel then you'll be nominated in this category since three of the nominees follow that well-travelled path. Jill Billcock surely got in here on name alone since the editing in that film was rote.

Australia, Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Wayne Pashley MPSE, Guntis Sics
Balibo, Sam Petty, Emma Bortignon, Phil Heywood, Ann Aucote
Mao’s Last Dancer, David Lee, Andrew Neil, Yulia Akerholt, Mark Franken, Roger Savage
Samson & Delilah, Liam Egan, David Tranter, Robert Sullivan, Tony Murtagh, Yulia Akerholt, Les Fiddess

Outside of the major categories, the Best Sound nomination for Samson & Delilah is perhaps the most impressive of all. What stunning work these people did on the soundscapes for that movie! So glad they noticed it alongside the heavies nominated alongside.

Australia, David Hirschfelder, Felix Meagher, Baz Luhrmann, Angela Little
Balibo, Lisa Gerrard
Mao’s Last Dancer, Christopher Gordon
Samson & Delilah, Warwick Thornton

I'll be honest and say that I don't remember the music to Samson & Delilah at all (outside of remembering those glorious song cues), but the other three nominations are all great. I'm personally hoping for Christopher Gordon who gave great Hollywood on the Mao's Last Dancer score. Interesting that Baz Luhrmann and Angela Little were nominated alongside Hitschfelder and Meagher. The original song "By the Boab Tree" was included in the "original music score" definition I presume.

Australia, Catherine Martin, Ian Gracie, Karen Murphy, Beverley Dunn
Balibo, Robert Cousins
Mao’s Last Dancer, Herbert Pinter
Mary and Max, Adam Elliot

So happy that Mary and Max was recognised for it's art direction, which is totally deserved. The other three are all worthy nominees, but I'm wondering if Catherine Martin can win here and in Best Costume Design or if ambivalence (or outright hatred) towards the film will stop what should be an easy get for her.

Australia, Catherine Martin, Eliza Godman
Balibo, Cappi Ireland
Lucky Country, Mariot Kerr
Mao’s Last Dancer, Anna Borghesi

Can't complaints here. Lovely to see Lucky Country here since I feel it deserved more.

Bastardy, Philippa Campey, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Lynn-Maree Milburn, Andrew de Groot
The Choir, Chris Hilton, Michael Davie
Glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts, Scott Hicks, Susanne Preissler
Lionel, Lizzette Atkins

All the other nominees - including ones such as "Best Direction of a Documentary Under 1 Hour" (yup) and all the TV nominations (basically the Underbelly and Review With Myles Barlow show there - what a wonderful treat in regards to the latter!) can be found at The Australian or the AFI website.

All in all it's a fine set of nominees, slightly hampered by movies like Blessed and Last Ride showing up where they have no right to. A lot will be made of Baz's Australia missing out on the big categories, but he'll have to console himself with making the second-highest grossing Aussie film of all time (after only Crocodile Dundee) and having a career making movies that people actually see. I'm sure he'll manage. It's also a shame to see Lake Mungo go unnoticed, especially since Black Water somehow managed to get through the genre bias to some major nominations. That film just can't catch a break!

Movies to be snubbed altogether are the aforementioned Lake Mungo and Disgrace as well as $9.99, Charlie & Boots (a really wonderful movie, but hard to nominate), Closed for Winter, The Combination, Dying Breed (a definite shocker), Stone Bros, Newcastle (a worthy-ish film), Sweet Marshall, Two Fists One Heart (I have a piece on that movie coming up hopefully today or tomorrow), Under a Red Moon, Van Diemen's Land (because it's crap) and The View from Greenhaven.


Drew said...

I think what disappoints me is that despite the fact that there's been a banner year for Australian cinema, there's not much diversity in the nomination list. I guess that's always to be expected with any awards ceremony.

"Disgrace" was a pretty terrible snub... the work Malkovich and Haines did was truly spectacular, and to me the film itself was better than "Balibo" or "Beautiful Kate" (although I am a big fan of both of those films as well).

Anonymous said...

"I imagine this is not a fun woman to be around :/"

- that's the funniest thing I've read all day! I think you might be right.

- Where is DISGRACE! John Malkovich, Jessica Haines and the script deserved to be nominated and perhaps even (in Malkovich's case) emerge in December as the winner. What a disgrace AFI voters!
- Doris Younane (Combination) and Ennio Fantastichini (Two Fists One Heart) should have nominated.
- Where is the cinematography nod for Mandy Walker for Australia?! Shameful!
- Adam Elliot should have been there for director.
- Paul Charlier deserved a score nod for Last Ride - whatever ppl say about the movie (I loved it) the music was fantastic!
- Jules O'Loughlin should have score a cinematography nod for Lucky Country - aweful film but beautifully and originally shot.
- Can't comment on the 'Blessed' inclusion for best film b/c i haven't seen it, but I have a feeling there were more deserving films... Disgrace.

The Good:
- Balibo and Samson and Delilah love.
- Brandon Walters.
- Oscar Isaac
- Mitjili Gibson - sure, she didn't do much but I thought she was fantastic.
- Young actor category looks solid.

Most of the nom's were pretty spot on, just a few misses though.

par3182 said...

mandy walker must be getting used to being overlooked by the afi - they ignored her brilliant work on lantana and love serenade as well

which film did you vote for?

Guy said...

Am I right in thinking this is the same bunch that blanked "Three Blind Mice" last year?

Australia's industry deserves better.

Glenn Dunks said...

Guy, I know. The entire country had such an ambivalent reaction to Three Blind Mice in general, receiving only 3 or 3.5/5 star reviews from critics. It really does mystify me.

Drew said...

For some reason Sophie Lowe's nomination just reminds me how badly Gemma Ward got snubbed last year.

Paul Martin said...

I usually don't weigh into discussions about AFI awards, but this year we have such a worthy line-up and I agree that the nominations are also mostly worthy. So here's my 2c worth:

Best Film
Samson & Delilah is easily the best film of the last three years, but Mao's Last Dancer is my pick of the most likely and worthy winners, given S&D's niche appeal. None of the others come close.

Best Director
As above

Best Actor
It'd have to be McNamara for S&D

Best Actress
Lowe was good, but it'd have to be Gibson for S&D

Best Support Actor
Oscar Isaac. None of the others come close. He is the best thing about Balibo.

Best Support Actress
Gibson for S&D is easily the best of the four, but I doubt she'll win.

Young Actor
Brandon Walters in Australia was good but Gibson and McNamara in S&D were excellent. There's strong competition here with Tom Russell in Last Ride.

Original Screenplay
Screenplay is not just words, so it'd have to be S&D, though I figure it'll probably go to Mary & Max or (heaven forbid) My Year Without Sex.

Adapted Screenplay
Mao's Last Dancer, no other contenders

It's a mystery that Australia wasn't nominated, given that it's one of the best looking films from anywhere. Of the nominations, Last Ride is very good, but I'd go for S&D once again.

Mao's Last Dancer or S&D? The latter. Forget the others.

Given that S&D is easily the best film and given that sound is one of the most powerful devices used so damn creatively, this award could only go to S&D. But it'll probably go to Mao's Last Dancer.

Original Score
no opinion

Production Design
At least Australia got a nomination for which it will probably win

Costume Design
no opinion

I only saw Bastardy, and I liked it.

Glenn Dunks said...

I think you're not giving enough consideration to Balibo, especially in categories like Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (I can't see McNamara winning tbh) and cinematography.

Paul Martin said...

As I said, I was just offering my 2c worth. I liked elements of Balibo, especially Oscar Isaac, but I can't think of anything in which it was 'best of'.

I think it's going to be a hard ask for Samson and Delilah to win anything, given it's a niche film, but they might surprise us.

Glenn Dunks said...

I thought that's what you were predicting, so my mistake.

gary day said...

to completely ignore the film DISGRACE proves to me what I have long suspected. that the AFI is vindictive and self serving. I sending the AFI award that I won back. In fact I can't wait to get it out of my house.

gary day said...

to completely ignore the film DISGRACE proves to me what I have long suspected. that the AFI is vindictive and self serving. I am sending the AFI award that I won back .. In fact I can't wait to get it out of my house

Anonymous said...

Reality check. Maeve Dermody played a character you describe as 'borderline horrific'; she herself has an entirely different character - brilliant, wise and generous; she is capable of portraying a wide range of humanity; and this is what is generally taken to be the mark of an actor, of a performance. If you confuse role and performance you must also believe the movies are real: do you? I trust not. Maeve's 'Toni' is a creation comparable with Karen Black's character in Five Easy Pieces - another 'borderline horrific' who was nothing like the woman playing her, and which won Black an Oscar.
Another point seemingly missed in this year's lineup of AFI nominations is that performances can be coaxed from non-actors who are cast as pretty much who they really are, or a variant on that. Frankly, the evidence so far is that Sophie Lowe is decidedly in this category, limited as an actor to 'acting' her fairly limited self. And if you saw the documentary on the making of Samson and Delilah screened on the ABC the night after the film's screening, you will be very aware that only the young girl playing Delilah falls outside this category. Warwick Thornton had a very testing time coaxing Samson and dear old Mitjili into moments that could work for the film, with much effort and good humour. But if you can mistake a role for the actor, perhaps you can also mistake a person being themselves for a performance.

Glenn Dunks said...

Anon, but Dermody (a fine, talented actress) wasn't given a CHARACTER to perform so much as a spoilt tantrum in human form. There was no chance for Dermody to add anything that wasn't screaming.

And I don't understand your point re Samson & Delilah. Although, it doesn't help that you can't type English.

Anonymous said...

Maeve is a good 'actor' that goes without saying and I am sure that lots of actors could have played the role of Toni just as well. But, Sophie Lowe is a natural talent on screen, she has a compelling and beautiful unique look. There are lots of Maeves out there but only one Sophie Lowe.
I guess only time will tell.