Missed out: Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes in Strangerland. Missed a deserved nomination: Abbey Lee with Patrick Brammall in Reuben Guthrie.
Kate Winslet, Charlize Theron nominated for AACTAsFull list of AACTA nomineesMovie session timesFull movies coverageAwards snubs for Hardy, Kidman and Lee
Just as the nominations for n Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards are a triumph for rising star Joel Jackson – with dual best actor nominations for the TV dramas Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door and Deadline Gallipoli – there are some striking snubs for big-name actors in n films.
Nicole Kidman missed a nomination for her intense performance as the troubled mother of two missing children in the outback drama Strangerland. Although Charlize Theron received a best actress nod for playing a one-armed warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road – and has to be favourite to win – there was no recognition for Tom Hardy, who did a lot with few words as Max.
French star Vincent Cassel also missed out for his charismatic turn in the little-seen drama Partisan, which he took over late when Oscar Isaac withdrew.
Although there were other big name actors in contending films, there were no expectations that Simon Pegg would be nominated for the comic thriller Kill Me Three Times orJacki Weaver for Last Cab to Darwin.
The unluckiest omission has to be Abbey Lee, who impressed as a supermodel with a conscience in Ruben Guthrie. Like Craig Stott, who went from schoolboy star footballer to emaciated AIDS victim in Holding the Man, she deserved recognition for a key performance.
And the 12 nominations for The Dressmaker could not be more timely. They come on the day director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s comic drama opens on 384 screens – 284 cinemas – around the country.n screenwriter backs director in Oscars drama
n screenwriter John Collee has backed French director Jean-Jacques Annaud in the controversy over the Academy Awards eligibility of the historical drama Wolf Totem.
The French-Chinese co-production was replaced as China’s official entry for best foreign language film when the academy decreed it not Chinese enough, stating that films have to be “largely in the hands” of filmmakers from the nominating country.
An upset Annaud, who won a foreign-language Oscar with Ivory Coast submission Black and White in Colour in 1977, told The Hollywood Reporter that the decision was confusing and arbitrary.
“American movies are made by global talent but they are still American movies,” he said. “Why is it that foreign language movies are treated differently?”
The historical drama is an adaption of Chinese writer Jiang Rong’s bestseller about a Beijing youth who adopts a wolf cub in Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution. It has been a hit in China, taking more than $US100 million ($138 million), but has no n release date at this stage.
For Annaud, it is “a movie in Chinese with Chinese actors, with a Chinese story from a Chinese bestseller” despite having a French director, cinematographer and editor and an American composer.
Collee, whose movies include Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and Happy Feet, tells Short Cuts he wrote a final script at the request of the Hong Kong cast, who wanted a screenwriter whose first language was English. Earlier drafts were written by Chinese screenwriter Lu Wei and Annaud with his writing partner Alain Godard.
Collee insists that Wolf Totem is “a Chinese story made with Chinese cast, Chinese special effects, Chinese everything”.
“It’s a story of inner Mongolia and those relatively disenfranchised communities aren’t going to tell their stories except through the agency of western filmmakers,” he says. “There has to be some kind of transition process where key creatives take their skills and collaborate with these remote communities in order to tell their stories.
“If it’s done well then it remains effectively their stories and their experience. And Wolf Totem is a true story of the Cultural Revolution so it’s very authentic to that place and the time in which it is set.”
Collee also questions the replacement of Wolf Totem at the Oscars with the Chinese comedy Go Away Mr Tumour.
“The film that’s eligible is a kind of a copy of a western film in its style and content,” Collee says. “If cultural integrity counts for anything, maybe that should be part of the judgement process on whether it qualifies.”Mad Max in Oscars frame
Edgar Wright, the English director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs The World, has thrown his support behind Mad Max: Fury Road being recognised at the Oscars.
A new member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he has tweeted about his affection for director George Miller’s hit movie, saying he did not even need a voting form.
“Put me down for Fury Road in all categories,” he wrote. “Even documentary.”Martian still tops chart
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi drama The Martian has stayed on top of the n box office for an impressive four weekends now, taking another $2.2 million to reach $20.9 million.
And the near $US400 million the movie has taken around the world is a timely nudge for the NSW government during negotiations to bring his next movie, another Alien instalment, to Sydney’s Fox Studios.
When Scott visited for the premiere of Black Hawk Down in 2001, he told this columnist he had decided to pick up the pace and direct more often. Up to that point, he had shot 13 movies in 24 years including such classics as Alien, Bladerunner, Thelma and Louise and Gladiator.
Since then, the legendary British filmmaker has directed another 10 movies in 14 years. And The Martian looks like his biggest hit in this period as it closes in on Prometheus’ $US403 million.
Scott has publicly said he wants to shoot in Sydney so with federal government support locked in, it seems like a case of negotiating additional funding from the state government.
Once that happens, it will be a big year for international movies with the new Alien joining Thor: Ragnorak and Kong: Skull Island, which will shoot in Queensland. And no doubt the value of the n dollar and willingness of the federal government to top up the 16.5 per cent location offset will interest other Hollywood producers.Bridge of Spies does well, too
On another relatively quiet weekend in cinemas outside of The Martian, Steven Spielberg’s latest collaboration with Tom Hanks, the Cold War drama Bridge of Spies, opened solidly with $1.76 million.
The n cross-cultural rom-com Alex and Eve had a soft opening with $88,000 in 32 cinemas, reaching $124,000 including previews. While it has not worked in suburban multiplexes, it has reportedly done well in art-house cinemas.
The family comedy Oddball has reached an impressive $10.1 million. And despite festival acclaim, the surreal comedy The Lobster from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos took just $66,000 in eight cinemas.Emo crowdfunding campaign closing
It’s down to begging. The producers of Emo the Musical are in the final few days of a crowdfunding campaign to turn their 2013 short into a feature film.
Writer-director Neil Triffett and producer Lee Matthews have been seeking $40,000 to add to Screen funding announced last month. And with three days to go, they had pledges for more than $26,000.
The film is described as a story about a holy war between Satan-loving Goths and happy-clappy Christians at an n high school – “think Romeo + Juliet without the suicide ending”.
Matthews has described the crowdfunding campaign as strategic: “It’s a way of helping us fill the gap but more importantly it’s a way of building an audience, and hopefully a loyal following.”Designs on The Dressmaker
The striking look of The Dressmaker will be the subject of two behind-the-scenes sessions over the next fortnight.
At Melbourne’s Docklands Studio, production designer Roger Ford, art director Lucinda Thomson and set decorator Lisa Thompson will discuss the design of director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s comic drama on November 11.
And the dressmaker behind The Dressmaker, costume designer Margot Wilson, will introduce a session at Sydney’s Palace’s Verona Cinema this Friday.Festival entries open
It seems like it finished only five minutes ago but entries have opened for next year’s Sydney Film Festival. After a successful year both critically and commercially, the festival is inviting submissions for feature films, documentaries and short films. It also has a new board member, media entrepreneur Deanne Weir, who is also deputy chair of Screen .