AACTA today announced nominations for 15 television categories – including performance nominations – with a total of 58 television productions receiving nominations so far.
This year’s nominees have captivated audiences of all ages, from Australia’s most-watched programs of the year – including MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA and LEGO® MASTERSAUSTRALIA –through to quirky new comedies which were quick to build fanbases, such as UPRIGHTand LOL: LAST ONE LAUGHING, and gritty dramas, such as STATELESS and WENTWORTH, with its cult fan-following continuing to grow worldwide.
The AACTA Award for Best Entertainment Program struck just the right note with audiences of all ages, offering light moments and the humour needed to endure the challenging year that was. Last year’s winner, LEGO® MASTERS AUSTRALIA, is again nominated this year, and once again proved a ratings winner, with the finale averaging 1.22 million viewers. It competes with EUROVISION: AUSTRALIA DECIDES – GOLD COAST 2020, HARD QUIZ, THE VOICE, THE WEEKLY and HAVE YOU BEEN PAYING ATTENTION, which this year celebrated its 200th episode, and today receives its first AACTA nomination.
The AACTA Award for Best Factual Entertainment Program sees last year’s winner, YOU CAN’T ASK THAT, again compete with GOGGLEBOX AUSTRALIA and WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, both nominated in 2019. Also nominated are HAMISH & ANDY’S “PERFECT” HOLIDAY, THE PROJECT and newcomer LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM, hailed by critics and audiences for its unique insights into the lives and dating journeys of people with autism.
Again likely reflecting the impacts of COVID-19 and spending more time at home in 2020, home renovations and food dominate the AACTA Award for Best Lifestyle Program, with 2019 nominee SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA competing with BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS, THE LIVING ROOM and RESTORATION AUSTRALIA, alongside JIMMY SHU’S TASTE OF THE TERRITORY and LUKE NGUYEN’S RAILWAY VIETNAM.
Reality television also proved a salve to the challenging year that was, as reflected by record ratings – including for perennial fan favourite MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA. The popular cooking contest not only recorded its highest-rating premiere of the past five years in 2020, but has also become
Australia’s most nominated reality TV program of the past decade, with today’s nomination for the AACTA Award for Best Reality Program (which it has won three times), bringing its total AACTA nominations and wins to 14 nods since 2010.
MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA faces tough competition from fellow past Best Reality Program winners AUSTRALIAN SURVIVOR: ALL STARS (which won in 2019 for its CHAMPIONS VS CONTENDERS series), and THE AMAZING RACE AUSTRALIA (chasing its 2013 win) – both of which attracted nearly 1 million viewers for their tense season finales. Also competing are 2019 nominee THE BLOCK and I’M A CELEBRITY… GET ME OUT OF HERE!, along with newcomer series THE REAL DIRTY DANCING.
In a year when we needed it most, Australia’s best loved and most acclaimed comedians shone across the television comedy categories, spanning long-running series, to COVID-inspired lockdown laughs.
In light of the expanding talent and innovating formats within Australian TV comedy, AACTA this year created two new comedy awards – Best Comedy Series, and Best Comedy Entertainment – to be inclusive of broader formats such as stand-up and panels, alongside more traditional formats of narrative and sketch comedy.
Nominations for the AACTA Awards for Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Performer see tight competition, with new lockdown-lifestyle parody AT HOME ALONE TOGETHER – which had a strong debut with almost half a million viewers – competing in both categories with well-established and newcomer odd couple series ROSEHAVEN and UPRIGHT.
The Best Comedy Performer category sees past winner Celia Pacquola nominated with fellow ROSEHAVEN actor Luke McGregor, alongside UPRIGHT’S Tim Minchin and Milly Alcock, and comedian Anne Edmonds – nominated for her performances as Dr. Dianne Strize and the emotionally unstable ‘sa-wrong, sa-right’-clad Helen Bidou in AT HOME ALONE TOGETHER.
Having received a nomination every year since 2017, ROSEHAVEN this year competes for the AACTA Award for Best Comedy Series with fellow past nominee BLACK COMEDY and THE OTHER GUY, along with UPRIGHT and AT HOME ALONE TOGETHER.
The AACTA Award for Best Comedy Entertainment sees ensemble performances across a mix of innovative formats and past AACTA-winning series. Biting current affairs satire SHAUN MICALLEF’S MAD AS HELL goes head-to-head with comedians trying to keep a straight face in LOL: LAST ONE LAUGHING hosted by Rebel Wilson, comedians taking to drink on DRUNK HISTORY AUSTRALIA, Melbourne International Comedy Festival stars in AUSTRALIAN LOCKDOWN COMEDY FESTIVAL, and stand-up stalwarts showcased on AUSTRALIAN AMAZON ORIGINAL STAND-UP SPECIALS.
While MYSTERY ROAD season two leads the race alongside the emotionally-charged refugee drama STATELESS, each securing seven nominations, WENTWORTH has become one of Australia’s most accoladed TV dramas of the decade, with two nominations today bringing the gritty prison drama’s total to 21 wins and nominations since the series began in 2013 (just one win/nomination short of the record set by TOP OF THE LAKE).
MYSTERY ROAD and WENTWORTH are competing for the coveted AACTA Award for Best Drama Series alongside BLOOM season two, which was also nominated last year, and first-time nominees DOCTOR, DOCTOR, THE HEIGHTS and HALIFAX: RETRIBUTION, a reprisal of the ‘90s fan favourite HALIFAX F.P.
STATELESS is one of five nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Telefeature or Miniseries, competing alongside noirish police procedural THE GLOAMING, multicultural supernatural drama HUNGRY GHOSTS, cold war-era comedy/drama OPERATION BUFFALO, and suspenseful thriller THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS.
The AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama sees last year’s winner, Ewen Leslie, nominated for OPERATION BUFFALO, alongside Aaron Pederson and Bryan Brown – again nominated for their roles as Jay Swan (MYSTERY ROAD) and Ray Reed (BLOOM) – and STATELESS performers Fayssal Bazzi and Jai Courtney, today receiving his first AACTA nomination.
Having won the AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama in 2015, Pamela Rabe is again nominated for her WENTWORTH role as Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson. She competes alongside first-time nominee Jada Alberts (MYSTERY ROAD), Rebecca Gibney (HALIFAX: RETRIBUTION), and past winner Asher Keddie, who is nominated alongside fellow STATELESS performer Yvonne Strahovski, today receiving her first AACTA nomination.
Multi-award-winning Damon Herriman is nominated for The AACTA Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama for his role in the climate crisis drama, THE COMMONS. He competes with Darren Gilshenan (STATELESS), Ed Oxenbould (BLOOM), and Rob Collins and Callan Mulvey (MYSTERY ROAD).
Competition for the AACTA Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama is tight, with two nominations for BLOOM performances (Jacqueline McKenzie and Jacki Weaver – also nominated for her performance as Gwen Reed in 2019), and two for MYSTERY ROAD performances (with nods for first-time nominee Ngaire Pigram, and Tasma Walton, nominated for the same role in 2018). Also nominated is Cate Blanchett for her performance in STATELESS, marking Blanchett’s first AACTA nominations in television categories (with Blanchett also today nominated for her producer credit on STATELESS).
Documentary or Factual
The quest for survival is a common theme among many of the six nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Documentary or Factual Program, albeit spanning a myriad of topics.
FIGHT FOR PLANET A: OUR CLIMATE CHALLENGE sees members of the AACTA-winning WAR ON WASTE team reunite to tackle the climate crisis, while LINDY CHAMBERLAIN: THE TRUE STORY and MURDER IN THE OUTBACK: THE FALCONIO AND LEESMYSTERY present new perspectives on harrowing experiences which captivated the nation.
SHAUN MICALLEF’S ON THE SAUCE explores Australia’s turbulent relationship with alcohol, AMBULANCE AUSTRALIA provides heart-racing insights into everyday, though unexpected, trauma, and MARALINGA TJARUTJA (made as a condition for filming Best Telefeature of Miniseries nominee, OPERATION BUFFALO, on Maralinga Tjarutja Country), captures the impact of nuclear testing and beyond in a story of dispossession and survival.
Australian children’s television continues to build its reputation for excellence at home and abroad, with BLUEY receiving an International Emmy® Kids Award earlier this year, and today receiving a nomination for the AACTA Award for Best Children’s Program, chasing last year’s win. Also competing are past nominees THE INBESTIGATORS and MUSTANGS FC, along with indigenous animation LITTLE J & BIG CUZ, living history series ARE YOU TOUGHER THAN YOUR ANCESTORS? and transgender high school-set drama FIRST DAY.
NOTE: Further television nominations are to come, with craft nominations to be announced on Thursday 12 November.
From catchy kids’ tunes to viral workouts, the nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Online Entertainment, which was introduced last year, boast millions of YouTube subscribers globally and billions of views per channel.
Receiving their first AACTA nomination today are Newcastle family THE NORRIS NUTS, sharing the lives and times of teen surfing, skating and YouTube sensation Sabre Norris, her five siblings and parents Brooke and Justin Norris. After creating one of Australia’s top 10 globally-trending YouTube videos in 2019 (with their ‘LETTING THE KIDS TURN 21’ video alone generating more than 24 million views), and having secured 1.5 million new subscribers in the last 12 months, THE NORRIS NUTS YouTube channel now has 5 million subscribers, and regularly generates more than 20 million views per video.
Also competing are Shannon Jones’ family favourite BOUNCE PATROL, nominated for a second year running, global fitness guru CHLOE TING, whose online workouts attracted 13 million new subscribers during lockdown, and larrikin brothers Lachlan Fairbairn and Jaxon Fairbairn, whose parody and insights into Australian life in FAIRBAIRN FILMS is generating strong local and US engagement in particular.
Also nominated is popular comedy podcast DO GO ON, which ventured into filmed episodes this year, finding new online audiences for hosts Matt Stewart, Jess Perkins and Dave Warneke, and MIGHTY CAR MODS, with hosts Marty Mulholland and Blair ‘Moog’ Joscelyne reaching more than three million people via Australia’s number one automotive YouTube channel, and one of the most watched DIY automotive programs in the world.
Online Drama and Comedy
A total of six productions are nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Online Drama or Comedy, collectively amassing millions of views on YouTube, ABC and Tencent Video.
Producer/writer/performer Tim Spencer’s comedy DING DONG I’M GAY has garnered a dedicated fanbase, with close to three million views. Based on Spencer’s 2018 shorts of the same name, the series sees the neurotic Cameron try to guide his newly-out cousin, Toby (Brayden Dalmazzone).
Writer/director Grace Feng Fang Juan’s bilingual comedy GIRL, INTERPRETED, which sees newbie Mandarin interpreter Lillian (Jenny Zhou) caught up in unexpected assignments, has found audiences at home and abroad, with pick up by streaming giants Tencent Video and iQiyi for distribution in China.
AACTA Award-winning duo Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope return with the COVID-inspired LOVE IN LOCKDOWN, featuring Eddie Perfect and Lucy Durack, while Indigenous filmmaker brothers, Dan Riches and Luke Riches, make their writer/director debuts with KGB, featuring a top cast including past AACTA nominee Mark Coles Smith.
Vonne Patiag’s comedy HALAL GURLS, featuring Aanisa Vylet and Bryan Brown, sees three 20-something Hijabis living their best lives, despite everyday culture clashes between their faith and desire, while Blake Fraser’s Melbourne Web Fest award-winning horror PATRICIA MOORE rounds out the nominations, with a stellar cast including Danielle Cormack.
A total of 21 feature films have received nominations for the 2020 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel. While the shattering coming-of-age film BABYTEETH leads the race with 12 nominations, competition is fiercely followed by TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG with 10 nominations, H IS FOR HAPPINESS with nine nominations, and THE INVISIBLE MAN and I AM WOMAN close behind with eight and seven nominations respectively.
Six films are competing for the highly coveted AACTA Award for Best Film presented by Foxtel: BABYTEETH, H IS FOR HAPPINESS, I AM WOMAN, THE INVISIBLE MAN, TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG and RELIC.
Marking an impressive feature film directorial debut for Shannon Murphy, BABYTEETH received nods for 12 out of 13 film categories, including Best Direction, drawing comparisons with past AACTA winners THE SAPPHIRES and LION, which were also helmed by first-time feature film directors, Wayne Blair and Garth Davis, and which secured 13 and 12 nominations respectively for AACTA’s domestic awards.
Also joining Murphy as first-time feature film directors and Best Direction nominees are John Sheedy for feel-good young adult favourite H IS FOR HAPPINESS, which won a special prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, and Natalie Erika James for the arresting horror RELIC, which enjoyed international success following its premiere at Sundance Film Festival.
Rounding out the nominations for Best Direction are Leigh Whannell with THE INVISIBLE MAN, which topped the global box office within weeks of its international release earlier this year, and Justin Kurzel with TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, seeing Kurzel chase his AACTA win for SNOWTOWN in 2012.
Whannell and James (along with RELIC co-writer Christian White) are also nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Screenplay, alongside first-time nominee Rita Kalnejais (BABYTEETH), Shaun Grant (TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, and past recipient for SNOWTOWN) and past nominee Abe Forsythe, receiving a nod for the edgy ‘zom-com’ LITTLE MONSTERS.
Adding anticipation to the performance categories, competition is split between first-time nominees and some of the world’s most acclaimed acting talent.
Having received top honours last year as recipient of the AACTA Longford Lyell Award, Sam Neill returns with a nomination for the AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor for RAMS. Neill is nominated alongside multi-AFI and AACTA Award winners Hugo Weaving (MEASURE FOR MEASURE) and Richard Roxburgh (H is for HAPPINESS), and Toby Wallace (BABYTEETH), whose break-out performance in LUCKY COUNTRY earned an AFI Young Actor Award nomination in 2009. Also nominated is British performer George MacKay for his role as the infamous outlaw Ned Kelly in TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG.
The AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress sees Tilda Cobham-Hervey nominated for her portrayal of Helen Reddy in I AM WOMAN, facing fierce competition from past AACTA winner Elisabeth Moss (THE INVISIBLE MAN) and Lupita Nyong’o (LITTLE MONSTERS) – previously nominated for an AACTA International Award. Also competing are first-time nominees Eliza Scanlen (BABYTEETH), whose international career has skyrocketed following her beginnings on HOME AND AWAY, and Laura Gordon, nominated for her obsessive character Claire in UNDERTOW.
The AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actor category features globally-awarded performers alongside first-time nominees, with Russell Crowe (TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG), Ben Mendelsohn (BABYTEETH), Aaron Jeffery (THE FLOOD) and Fayssal Bazzi (MEASURE FOR MEASURE) competing alongside young actor Wesley Patten (H IS FOR HAPPINESS).
H IS FOR HAPPINESS also sees two performers nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actress – Deborah Mailman and Emma Booth. They compete alongside Essie Davis (BABYTEETH), and first-time nominees Doris Younane (MEASURE FOR MEASURE) and Bella Heathcote (RELIC).
Representing Australia’s top independent filmmakers, six films are nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Indie Film: A BOY CALLED SAILBOAT, HOT MESS, KOKO: A RED DOG STORY, A LION RETURNS, STANDING UP FOR SUNNY and UNSOUND.
Other films to receive nominations include ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA and BLOODY HELL (both nominated for Best Cinematography), DIRT MUSIC (with a nod for Best Original Score) and MISS FISHER AND THE CRYPT OF TEARS (nominated for Best Production Design).
This year, six documentaries are competing for the AACTA Award for Best Documentary, following successful festival runs on the Australian and international circuits.
FIRESTARTER – THE STORY OF BANGARRA by directors Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin charts the story of Bangarra Dance Theatre and its core trio Stephen, Russell and David Page in creating one of Australia’s pivotal arts and cultural organisations.
Billed as ‘a songline for 21st century Australia’, director Steven McGregor’s LOOKY LOOKY HERE COMES COOKY takes a fresh look at the Captain Cook story from a First Nations’ perspective.
From rock ‘n’ roll to country music, two of this year’s Best Documentary nominees capture trailblazing women musicians. Liam Firmager’s SUZI Q portrays the story of singer-songwriter Suzi Quatro, celebrated for re-defining women in rock ‘n’ roll from her break-out in 1973, while Kriv Stender’s SLIM & I provides a poignant insight into the legacy of Australia’s ‘Queen of Country Music’, Joy McKean, and her 50 year partnership with music legend Slim Dusty.
Continuing the theme of powerful, trailblazing women, fellow Best Documentary nominee BRAZEN HUSSIES explores the revolutionary Women’s Liberation Movement in Australia (1965 -1975), marking a directorial debut for Catherine Dwyer.
In addition to his nomination for SLIM & I, Kriv Stenders is also nominated for BROCK: OVER THE TOP, chronicling the life and achievements of Australia’s greatest racing car driver, Peter Brock.
NOTE: Further documentary nominations are to come, with craft nominations to be announced on Thursday 12 November.
From Soviet Russia to suburban Australian swimming pools, the six nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Short Film bend genres, span decades and entertain with a rich slate of stories told from diverse cultural perspectives – marking a first-time AACTA nomination for each director.
The darkly comedic CHICKEN explores a mother-daughter relationship through the lens of adjusting as a recently arrived migrant, earning writer/director Alana Hicks a Flickerfest win for Best Direction in an Australian Short Film.
CHLORINE by writer/director Melissa Anastasi sees 11-year-old Keira (young actress Clementine Bell) steal from pregnant women at her local pool in a desperate bid for attention. A Dollhouse Pictures production, the film also features MYSTERY ROAD nominee Tasma Walton.
A speculative documentary love letter to Russian constructivist women, I WANT TO MAKE A FILM ABOUT WOMEN by writer/director Karen Pearlman brings to life revolutionary women artists of the 1920s, imagining their worlds had it not been for Stalin’s suppression.
Pearlman was a recipient of the Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) short film fund, alongside director Joel Kohn – also announced today as a Best Short Film nominee for THE MIRROR.
Capturing the story of a young girl who discovers a mysterious antique mirror which opens a window between time, crossing over into war-torn Nazi-occupied Poland, THE MIRROR was inspired by the story of Kohn’s Holocaust survivor grandparents.
Fresh from its win for Best Australian Short Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival, THE MOOGAI is an Aboriginal psychological horror about a family terrorised by a child-stealing spirit. The film is written and directed by Jon Bell, whose credits include THE GODS OF WHEAT STREET and CLEVERMAN – with strong performances by Shari Sebbens (THE HEIGHTS, TOP END WEDDING) and Meyne Wyatt (BLACK COMEDY, REDFERN NOW).
The final Best Short Film nominee is IDOL by writer/director Alex Wu. The story of a young Chinese celebrity who is called into an emergency meeting after a fan commits suicide, IDOL marks Wu’s first Mandarin-language film, and has received awards in New York and at Sydney Film Festival.
FURTHER NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCEMENTS
In addition to further television and documentary craft nominations, nominations for visual effects or animation, casting, hair and make-up, and the subscription television presenter category will be announced on Thursday 12 November, along with the Asian film category.
Nominations for the AACTA Byron Kennedy Award will also be announced in the coming weeks.
Reflecting on the 10 years since the Australian Academy launched, AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said 2020 was a year of great achievement, despite the challenges faced, and a record year for diversity in Australian screen.
“As we celebrate a decade of Australian screen entertainment success since we launched AACTA, what stands out in this year’s nominees is the breadth and depth of diversity across all platforms, including from debut talent, which we hope signifies is the new norm.
“In addition to women writers and feature film directors making their debut to great acclaim, including director Shannon Murphy’s BABYTEETH written by Rita Kalnejais becoming one of our most nominated films of the decade – competing alongside fellow first-time feature director Natalie Erika James for RELIC – we’ve also seen directorial debuts by women in documentary, with Catherine Dwyer’s BRAZEN HUSSIES, and in online content with Grace Feng Fang Juan’s bilingual comedy GIRL, INTERPRETED.
“A record nine Indigenous stories and Indigenous-led productions are nominated this year across television, documentary short film and online content, with one of our highest years for Indigenous practitioners nominated yet, including break-through writer/director brothers Luke and Dan Riches with their online series KGB, and cast and crew from series two of the stand-out drama MYSTERY ROAD.
“A record 14 productions also feature CALD, LGBTIQA+ and disability storylines and talent, including online series DING DONG I’M GAY, TV series LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM which features people with autism looking for love, FIRST DAY, a transgender high-school television drama, and IDOL, our first short film nominee to be filmed entirely in a language other than English.
“What also stood out this year is the remarkable resilience of our screen industry which, against the odds of a global pandemic, found innovative ways to continue to deliver the laughs and entertainment we needed to get us through this challenging year.
“Reality television again captivated audiences of all ages, drawing millions of viewers, and we congratulate MASTERCHEF Australia for becoming the most nominated reality TV program of the decade. On the drama side, WENTWORTH is just one nomination short of a record, and all eyes will be on our next round of AACTA 2020 nominations to see if the fan and critic favourite will exceed the record set by TOP OF THE LAKE.
“By expanding our comedy categories to reflect the growing breadth and depth of Australia’s talent and formats across various platforms, we’re delighted to see recognition for new productions, such as LOL: LAST ONE LAUGHING, and established past winners, such as SHAUN MICALLEF’S MAD AS HELL. We also congratulate Celia Pacquola on becoming the most nominated writer/performer/producer of the past 10 years, today adding to her impressive tally with two nominations for ROSEHAVEN.
“Having introduced awards recognising online entertainment just 12 months ago, we’ve already had a great response, and we’re thrilled to promote the talented and innovative Australians generating millions of views globally, including teen YouTube sensation Sabre Norris and her family in THE NORRIS NUTS, with their content regularly receiving more than 20 million views per video, and global fitness guru, CHLOE TING, who secured 13 million new subscribers during lockdown.
“Lastly, this being AACTA’s 10th anniversary, I wanted to thank the industry, the public and our partners for their support over the last decade, including our incredible foundation partner, Destination New South Wales, and our amazing presenting partner, Foxtel.
“This support has allowed us to increase our awards categories by almost a third, allowing better representation of Australia’s dynamic and evolving screen industry. It has also extended AACTA’s footprint into the world’s top three screen markets, and we now reach one in five Australians annually via our year-round events, membership and broadcast of the AACTA Awards, as well as many millions of people internationally via our online content, promoting Australian screen and our talent globally.
“We congratulate all nominees, with more to be announced soon, and we look forward to sharing an exciting new AACTA Awards broadcast format on Wednesday 2 December in celebration of a decade of screen entertainment in Australia since AACTA launched,” Trewhella said.
The new AACTA ScreenFest will be held online from Friday 27 November to Wednesday 2 December 2020. Events are free, but bookings are essential at screenfest.com.au.
AACTA ScreenFest also incorporates AACTA’s two flagship Awards events – the AACTA Industry Awards presented by Foxtel, streaming online on Friday 27 November from 6.30pm, has been made possible by Cutting Edge. AACTA ScreenFest will include highlights from the 2020 AACTA Awards Ceremony presented by Foxtel, to be held on Monday 30 November.
A reimagined broadcast celebrating a decade of Australian screen since AACTA launched will feature on Channel 7 on Wednesday 2 December, along with highlights from the 2020 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel Ceremony.