With hits like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dressmaker leading the charge, Aussie films have collectively taken $84 million at the local box office, or 7.7 per cent of the total. In raw dollar terms, that’s the highest haul ever, and the best share since 2001.
Not surprisingly both films also lead the nominations for the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) awards, Australia’s equivalent of the BAFTAs.
English beauty Kate Winslet is nominated for best actress for her role in The Dressmaker as the girl from the bush, who made it big as a designer in Paris before returning home. The film itself received the most nominations with 12 in total.
Veteran director George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth instalment of the Mad Max extravaganza starring Charlize Theron, received 11 nods and has already cleared up at the AACTA’s industry dinner, winning six prizes: best cinematography, editing, production design, original music score, sound and visual effects.
The industry awards – the lead-up to the main televised ceremony – reflects major achievements in screen craftsmanship and is said to give an indication of those films with a shot of landing an Oscar nomination for best editing, production design and visual effects announced in January.
In television, the ABC did well out of the awards – Sarah Ferguson’s gripping three-part series The Killing Season, about the turmoil of the Rudd-Gillard leadership years, won best documentary television program. The Weekly With Charlie Pickering won best light entertainment television series and the award for best children’s series also went to an ABC program, Ready For This.
Seven’s Peter Allen – Not The Boy Next Door won best direction in a drama, or comedy, and best costume design. The World War I drama Deadline Gallipoli also won two awards – best cinematography and best sound in television.
As for the best film – to be announced at the awards ceremony which is televised on Seven – The Dressmaker and Mad Max: Fury Road will be vying with the harrowing euthanasia road film Last Cab to Darwin, which received eight nods, the gay romantic drama Holding the Man (six) and the family drama Paper Planes (five).
Michael Caton, at age 72, is the sentimental favourite to win the country’s top acting award for the first time for Last Cab to Darwin. He was nominated for the 1997 classic comedy The Castle, but lost to Richard Roxburgh for Doing Time for Patsy Cline.
For a full list of the nominees in each category, visit aacta.org.
Australia’s most popular films at the box office in 2015 were:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road ($21.67 million) – action blockbuster
2. The Dressmaker ($15.23 million) – rural period comedy drama
3. Oddball ($10.8 million) – family film with animals
4. The Water Diviner ($10.18 million) – rural period war saga
5. Paper Planes ($9.65 million) – family film
6. Last Cab to Darwin ($7.32 million) – dying with dignity drama
7. Blinky Bill the Movie ($2.89 million) – kids animation
8. That Sugar Film ($1.71 million) – documentary
9. Holding the Man ($1.24 million) – gay drama
By Kirsty Holyman