Nominations for the inaugural Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) — a re-jigged AFI Awards — were announced this afternoon. Director Daniel Nettheim‘s Tasmanian-set cross-country drama The Hunter, starring Willem Dafoe, leads the pack with 14 nominations. Fred Schipisi’s The Eye of the Storm follows with 12, Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown with 10 and Kriv Krenders’s crowd-pleaser Red Dog with eight.

Contenders for Best Film are The Eye of the StormThe HunterSnowtownOranges and SunshineRed Dog and Mad Bastards.

It was sad and surprising to see one of the finest Australian films of the year, Michael Rymer’s Face to Face, virtually snubbed, collecting a meagre one nom for Best Supporting Actor (Robert Rabiah) despite a terrific central performance from Luke Ford and the best screenplay adapted from a David Williamson play in many, many years.

Wasted on the Young — the trailblazing debut of writer/director Ben C Lucas — also picked up only one nomination, unfortunately not surprising given this bold, edgy and socially explorative film was criminally under-rated by critics and, in turn, AFI members. They rightfully nominated it, however, for Best Editing.

Gettin’ Square writer/director Jonathan Teplitzky‘s scorching drama Burning Man will not contend in this year’s awards, due to a release date that fell outside the eligibility period (despite opening in cinemas November 17).

High on the list of AACTA’s priorities should be changing the rules so that an accurate calendar year can be reflected in the nominations. It’s ridiculous that a film that opens mid November 2011 should be considered a 2012 release. It’s also unfair, given the cold reality about awards ceremonies is that factors such as media attention and momentum inevitably come into play.

Every film buff will invariably have gripes with any list of nominations. It’s important to remember that nominations are not the organisation’s choice, per se, but the voters. If you want to join the crew, sign up for an AFI membership here.

Overall, not a bad list of list of films. Not bad at all.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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