The Australian Film Institute, of which I am a member, released their 19 wide list of eligible films for this awards. It ranges from big budget action blockbusters to tiny, ultra low budget dramas and everything in between including horror, comedy and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Let's take a look.
Dir. Andrew Lancaster
Geena Davis stars in this Aussie made, American set dramady about a family besieged by tragedy and accidents. It flopped on release despite some nice marketing and don't see it having much success here.
Possible Nominations: Actress (Geena Davis), Young Actor (Harrison Gilbertson and/or Harry Cook) and maybe a tech nod or two.
Dir. David Michôd
In my year in preview column I called David Michôd's debut crime saga a "300lb gorilla of sorts from early word" and I was right. It's the most discussed Aussie film of the year here at Stale Popcorn (even if it's not my personal favourite) and is about to be released in America to, surely, much critical acclaim. I don't think anybody is under any illusion that Animal Kingdom won't win a tonne of AFI statues. My review.
Possible Nominations: Film, Direction (Michôd), Actor (Ben Mendelsohn), Actress (Jacki Weaver - the AFI have this thing where they upgrade the most prominent of each gender to lead roles. Weaver belongs in Supporting Actress, but she'll win Actress in a cake walk), Supporting Actor (Joel Edgerton and/or Guy Pearce and/or Sullivan Stapleton), Supporting Actress (Laura Wheelwright), Young Actor (James Frencheville), Original Screenplay (Michôd), Editing (Luke Doolan), Cinematography (Adam Arkapaw), Production Design (Jo Ford), Original Music (Antony Partos) and Sound.
Beneath Hill 60
Dir. Jeremy Sims
Australian filmmakers have finally cottoned on that local audiences might actually like to see movies about our history. Hence more war films arriving as of late such as this one, set during WWI when Australian diggers were responsible for a sneak attack underneath enemy forces.
Possible Nominations: Film, Direction (Sims), Actor (Brendan Cowell), Supporting Actor (Gyton Grantley), Young Actor (Harrison Gilbertson), Original Screenplay (David Roach), Editing (Dany Cooper), Cinematography (Toby Oliver), Production Design (Clayton Jauncy), Costume Design (Ian Sparke), Original Score (Cezary Skubiszewski) and Sound.
Dir. Michael Henry
A thriller starring Sophie Lowe, Kestie Morassi, Simon Stone, Damian de Montemas and Mark Leonard Winter, of whom I am a big fan right now, that has so far only screened at MIFF.
Possible Nominations: Could snag a Supporting Actress nod for Lowe, but other than that I wouldn't place any bets. If anybody saw this at MIFF and thinks it could snag something do pipe up in the comments.
The Boys are Back
Dir. Scott Hicks
I was surprised by this film about a man whose wife dies and who much now pick up his weight in the parenting department. I wasn't expecting to like it, but I did very much. Perhaps my aversion to deeply obvious sentimentality is weakening. It could make it into the top categories of Best Film and Best Direction, but I don't think there will be enough support for it when there's more exciting fare to be had.
Possible Nominations: Film, Direction (Hicks), Actor (Clive Owen), Supporting Actress (Julia Blake), Young Actor (Nicholas McAnulty), Adapted Screenplay (Alan Cubbitt) and Cinematography (Greig Fraser).
Bran Nue Dae
Dir. Rachel Perkins
This indigenous musical is, so far, the highest grossing local hit of the year (and I do mean hit) and I can't see why the the AFI wouldn't reward it accordingly with a swag of nominations. Is it too much to ask for a live performance on the night? My review.
Possible Nominations: Film, Direction (Perkins), Actor (Ernie Dingo), Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush), Young Actor (Rocky McKenzie), Adapted Screenplay (Reg Cribb, Rachel Perkins, Jimmy Chi), Editing (Rochelle Oshlack), Cinematography (Andrew Lesnie), Production Design (Felicity Abbott), Costume Design (Margot Wilson) and Sound.
Dir. Jane Campion
I hope the AFI organisation don't bestow a similar fate upon Jane Campion's gorgeous and beautiful Bright Star that almost every other awards body around the globe seems to have. I'm pulling for an Abbie Cornish win so she can stick it to those who don't take too kindly to tall poppies.
Possible Nominations: Film, Direction (Campion), Actress (Abbie Cornish), Actor (Ben Whishaw), Supporting Actor (Paul Shneider), Supporting Actress (Kerry Fox), Young Actor (Edie Martin) Editing (Alexandre de Franceschi), Cinematography (Grieg Fraser), Production Design (Janet Patterson), Costume Design (Janet Patterson) and Original Music (Mark Bradshaw).
Dir. Michael & Peter Spierig
This locally produced vampire flick did decent business here and overseas, but being a horror flick (and being a horror flick without arthouse gloss) it won't get much attention from the AFI.
Possible Nominations: Production Design (George Liddle), Original Music (Christopher Gordon), Visual Effects and Sound.
Dir. Steven Kastrissios
I was surprised to see that this gripping revenge tale was eligible and am glad it's here. I doubt many of the AFI voters will actually go along to the special screenings of it since, let's face it, they know what they like, but if they do I hope, hope, hope they take notice of Peter Marshall's extraordinary performance. My Review.
Possible Nominations: Er... Actor (Peter Marshall)? Unlikely, but I'll hold out hope.
I Love You Too
Dir. Daina Reed
Another movie that surprised me immensely. Yes, it's a standard romantic comedy with all the usual boxes checked along the way, but I really warmed to this movie. Brendan Cowell does not a romantic lead make, but those surrounding him (especially Peter Dinklage) are more than up to the challenge.
Possible Nominations: Actress (Yvonne Strahovski), Supporting Actor (Peter Dinklage), Original Screenplay (Peter Hellier) and Original Music (David Hirschfelder).
Dir. Belinda Chayko
Very small movie - what would you expect from Kojo? - about a family that takes in a elder family member with Alzheimer's Disease that didn't do well at the box office - what would you expect when it's up against movies like Animal Kingdom for arthouse dollars. I can't see it showing up anywhere apart from Young Actor, but you never know.
Possible Nominations: Actor (John Hurt), Young Actor (Lilly Bell-Tindley) and Cinematography (Hugh Miller).
The Loved Ones
Dir. Sean Byrne
Behind only Animal Kingdom in the buzz stakes, this violent, horrific twist on the teen romance genre is sick and twisted and, surprisingly, a lot of fun. It's grotesque and basically the final half hour of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre dragged out to feature length and covered in a hot pink dress, but it's an experience that's for sure! Could surprise in the same way that Wolf Creek did in 2005, although this year has much stronger competition so perhaps the AFI members won't feel necessary to go down this path. If nothing else, I just hope Robin McLeavy can get a Best Actress nomination since she is absolutely phenomenal!
Possible Nominations: Film, Direction (Byrne), Actress (Robin McLeavy), Original Screenplay (Sean Byrne), Editing (Andy Canny), Cinematography (Simon Chapman), Production Design (Robert Webb), Costume Design (Xanthe Heubel) and Sound.
Dir. Nadia Tass
This feels like it is going to be a chore to sit through, but sit through it I shall. Nadia Tass has provided some great Aussie cinema in her time (Malcolm, The Big Steal, Amy) but this tale of a mother trying to find a doner for her sick son feels laborious.
Possible Nominations: Actor (James Nesbitt), Actress (Jacinda Barrett), Supporting Actor/Young Actor (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Supporting Actor (Richard Roxburgh), Supporting Actress (Yvonne Strahovski), Original Screenplay (Lynn Renew and David Parker) and Original Music (Paul Grabowski).
Dir. Khao Do
Oh no! Not another Khao Do film!! Save me now. Let me guess, this one deals with yet another part of Do's childhood? And let me guess again, this time he's filmed the entire thing through the slit between two planks of wood on a refugee boat?
Possible Nominations: I don't care.
Dir. Sue Brooks
We seem to have hit a rough patch here, haven't we? Sue Brooks made the fantastic Japanese Story, but this real estate comedy (yes, you read correctly - REAL ESTATE COMEDY) looks dire. It flopped upon initial release last year and is now being re-released, which is very rare, so good on 'em for sticking with it.
Possible Nominations: None. I can't see this going anywhere.
Tomorrow, When the War Began
Dir. Stuart Beattie
Director Stuart Beattie (screenwriter on Australia, Collateral and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy amongst others) sure is diving into the deep end with his first film, an adaptation of the wildly popular Tomorrow series of books. It's like Red Dawn, but set in Australia. Cue explosions and pretty young local castmembers.
Possible Nominations: Film, Direction (Beattie), Actress (Caitlin Stasey), Adapted Screenplay (Beattie), Editing (Marcus D'Arcy), Cinematography (Ben Nott), Production Design (Robert Webb), Original Music (Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek), Visual Effects and Sound.
Dir. Julie Bertucelli
This Australian/French co-production was the closing night film at Cannes - quite prestigious - and has played both Sydney and Melbourne film festivals. It stars Charlotte Gainsbourg in the Aussie countryside whose children think their dead father's spirit has taken up residency is the giant tree on their property. Naturally. I feel this could go the way of last year's Disgrace and get nothing. We shall see.
Possible Nominations: Film, Actress (Charlotte Gainsbourg), Supporting Actor (Marton Csokas), Young Actor (Morgana Davies), Adapted Screenplay (Julie Bertucelli), Cinematography (Nigel Bluck), Production Design (Steven Jones-Evans), Original Music (Gregoire Hetzel) and Sound.
Dir. Marc Gracie
The one film in the lineup that I had never heard of before. Since it's production date on IMDb is 2008, I doubt it'll be very good. Every year there's one or two of these sort of unknown titles and they're almost always atrocious.
Possible Nominations: None.
The Waiting City
Dir. Claire McCarthy
A couple are forced to re-evaluate their lives when political paper-pushing stalls their adoption. I really liked this movie, neck and neck with Animal Kingdom at the moment for favourite Aussie film of the year (after The Horseman though) and I hope it does well. My review.
Possible Nominations: Film, Direction (McCarthy), Actor (Joel Edgerton), Actress (Radha Mitchell), Original Screenplay (McCarthy), Editing (Veronika Jenet), Cinematography (Denson Baker), Costume Design (Justine Seymour) and Original Music (Michael Yezerski).
And that's that. Curiously, a couple of films that would have easily qualified - South Solitary and The Kings of Mykonos: The Wog Boy 2 - weren't entered. Particularly odd for the former because it probably could have picked up a Costume Design nomination and maybe even a Best Actress nomination if enough AFI members like it (I did not). Considering The Horseman qualified I can only imagine movies such as Triangle and Savages Crossing weren't entered. Meanwhile I'm sure My Tehran For Sale, Playing for Charlie, Girl Clock! and The Marriage of Figaro were kept out by not playing the required cities for eligibility, which is a shame because we've had no way of seeing some of those titles around here.
We'll find out who's nominated in October. I can't wait!