"Australia" -- the second-highest-grossing homegrown film in Oz history after "Crocodile Dundee" -- failed to land a best picture nod at the AFI Awards. This snub is even more pronounced given that the Australian Film Institute expanded the category to six films from the usual four.
"Australia" stars Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman were also left off the list of nominations as was helmer Baz Luhrmann. However, Brandon Walters did land a supporting actor nod as well as a bid for best young actor. In that latter category, he faces off against, among others, Marissa Gibson and Rowan McNamara, the leads of best pic contender "Samson and Delilah." That love story about two Aboriginal teenagers earned 13 noms and is Australia's Oscar entry for foreign language film.
"Balibo" - an intense drama about the 1975 execution of five Australian journalists in East Timor - earned the most nominations with 14, including a best picture bid. Other top contenders are "Beautiful Kate" -- the directorial debut of actress Rachel Ward -- with 10 noms and "Mao's Last Dancer" from helmer Bruce Beresford with nine nods. Rounding out the best-picture race are "Blessed" and "Mary and Max," each of which earned four nominations. Last year's big winner was "The Black Balloon," which took home six awards, including best picture.
The 51st edition of the AFI awards will be held on Dec. 12 at the Regent's Theater in Melbourne and broadcast that night on the Nine Network. For the full list of nominees, including those on the TV front, visit the AFI website.
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox