Margot Robbie (Image: AAP/Ben Rushton)

Look, this is a process that surveyed all cinema in 2018 and decided there wasn’t a better movie than a chummy, ahistorical look at race relations in Jim Crow South directed by half the brains behind Dumb and Dumber. Let’s keep that in mind before we read too much into the objective quality an Oscar nomination represents.

The 92nd nominations are once again a decidedly conservative affair — no female directors and a supporting actor list that could easily have been from any year since about 1990.

Among all this is the continuing absence of Australian men.

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For her work in Bombshell, Margot Robbie earned Australian women their ninth collective acting nomination (her second individually) since 2010. In the same period, Australian men have managed a mere two, and none at all since 2012. Geoffrey Rush was nominated for his supporting turn in The King’s Speech and Hugh Jackman for his musical turn in Les Miserable.

The disparity is partly down to the creative choices of our biggest stars.

“Putting aside the well-deserved accolades our women actors are getting at the moment there are a couple of factors to consider here,” film writer Travis Johnson told Crikey.

Johnson said that older, established icons like Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving weren’t focusing on Oscar material — Weaving has been sticking closer to home and regularly gets local AACTA nominations, and Crowe just won a Golden Globe for his turn playing Fox News’ Roger Ailes in The Loudest Voice on the small screen.

“And the up and comers aren’t quite there yet — guys like Mojean Aria, Harry Greenwood and Kodi Smit-McPhee, aren’t quite landing the roles that might earn them serious awards attention,” Johnson added. “As for our two most high-profile male stars, Hugh Jackman’s last potential awards contender, The Front Runner, stalled, while the big hammer, Chris Hemsworth, has well and truly chosen the path to box office glory over awards consideration. Given he’s never made an Australian film, I doubt there’s an AACTA in his future either. “

Meanwhile Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Jacki Weaver — apart from their remarkable longevity — continue to star in “quality” fare beloved of the Oscars.

Of course, the world being as it is, this disparity of prestige isn’t reflected in remuneration. Hemsworth, Australia’s highest paid actor, made more than $110 million in 2019 (second only to Dwayne Johnson). Meanwhile, Robbie made a (comparatively) meagre $34 million, while her Bombshell co-star Kidman made $49 million.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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