2021 AACTA Nominations Announced

Australia's Academy reveals all the Awards nominees for film and TV, as well as a date with the Opera House.

[Updated 5 November]

The Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts (AACTA) has now announced all the AACTA Nominations, including the categories of Best Film and Best TV Drama and the acting categories, as well as all the nominees for the Technical Craft Awards, including cinematography, editing, sound, costume and production design.

Congratulations to them all.

It’s in the technical categories that the real grimy heroes of the industry get to shine for a moment and show how busy they’ve been. Just some of the frequent winners and nominees include costume designer Cappi Ireland (nominated this year for New Gold Mountain, Fires, and The Dry), and DOP Bonnie Elliot (nominated for Fires, Freeman and Step into Paradise). Screen Composer Cornel Wilczek is nominated for both Clickbait and Fires; while Caitlin Yeo is nominated for Playing with Sharks and New Gold Mountain. In Sound, Emma Bortignon is nominated for both Clickbait and Fires.

Fourteen feature films and 65 television productions are competing for the AACTA Awards in 2021. Up for Best Film are The Dry, The Furnace, High Ground, Nitram, Penguin Bloom and Rams; while in the Best Indie film category, the nominees are Disclosure, Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), Lone Wolf, Moon Rock for Monday, My First Summer, and Under My Skin.

Leading in the film nominations is Nitram, with a total of 14, followed by High Ground and The Dry, both with 11.

In TV, The Newsreader – a six-part ABC drama about a 1980s TV newsroom – has the most nominations and is in the running for 16 awards including Best Drama Series, with director Emma Freeman and actors Anna Torv, Sam Reid, William McInnes, and Stephen Peacocke among those up for gongs, and technical craft nominations including Best Casting and Best Production Design in Television. The final seasons of Wentworth, Mr Inbetween, and Jack Irish are also recognised this year.

AACTA continues its love affair with laughs, and this year the Best Comedy Performer category expands to eight nominees and a new category of Best Stand-Up is added with nominees Hannah Gadsby, Tom Gleeson, Celia Pacquola, Rhys Nicholson, Lano & Woodley, Anne Edmonds and Lloyd Langford.

Instead of a distinct Short Film category, this year short film is being considered alongside short form web/digital content in the Best Short Form category, which are divided between drama and comedy.

An Opera House Ceremony and a Virtual Industry Awards

This year’s Ceremony for the 11th AACTA Awards, will be held at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday 8 December and the telecast will be broadcast this year on Channel Ten, at 7.30pm on Wednesday, December 8.

The split between the big red carpet Ceremony and the technical or ‘industry’ awards is always tricky and this year with Covid capacity restrictions it’s even more so. Most controversially, some key acting prizes such as best supporting actor and actress in film, best direction in TV drama and comedy, and the screenplay awards, are being presented at the low key virtual industry event, while a number of completely populist ‘Audience Awards’ get their go at the Opera House. The AACTA Industry Awards are held two days earlier on Monday, December 6, delivered online at AACTA TV  and broadcast on BINGE and Foxtel Arena at 6.30pm.

An Opera House event is a glamorous and good get for AACTA, which first launched its inaugural awards for the new Academy (born from and incorporating the Australian Film Institute) with much fanfare at the Sydney Opera House in January 2012. Since then, it has mainly been held at the casino.

AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said: ‘AACTA is proud to be able to host and honour the work of Australia’s established and emerging talent; whose work kept us entertained and connected for the past year. 2021 has been a challenging year for many Australian industries and ours is no exception.

‘We are privileged to be able to host an event that brings together some of Australia’s most talented and creative practitioners and allows us to recognise the people who have kept us entertained over the past year. Being able to do this at the iconic Sydney Opera House is icing on the cake.’

Read: Nominees announced for the 54th AWGIE Awards

Below is the complete list of 2021 AACTA Nominations, and a list of which awards will be presented at each event.

FILM

Best Adapted Screenplay in Film

  • The Dry – Rob Connolly & Harry Cripps
  • Penguin Bloom – Shaun Grant & Harry Cripps
  • Peter Rabbit 2 – Will Gluck & Patrick Burleigh
  • Rams – Jules Duncan

Best Cinematography in Film

  • The Dry – Stefan Duscio
  • High Ground – Andrew Commis
  • Mortal Kombat – Germain McMicking
  • Nitram – Germain McMicking
  • Penguin Bloom – Sam Chiplin


Best Costume Design in Film

  • The Dry – Cappi Ireland
  • High Ground – Erin Roche
  • Mortal Kombat – Cappi Ireland
  • Nitram – Alice Babidge
  • Rams – Tess Schofield

Best Direction in Film

  • The Dry – Rob Connolly
  • The Furnace – Roderick MacKay
  • High Ground – Stephen Maxwell Johnson
  • Nitram – Justin Kurzel
  • Penguin Bloom – Glendyn Ivin

Best Editing in Film

  • The Dry – Nick Meyers & Alexandre de Franceschi
  • Friends and Strangers – James Vaughan
  • High Ground – Jill Bilcock, Karryn de Cinque & Hayley Miro Browne
  • Nitram – Nick Fenton
  • Peter Rabbit 2 – Matt Villa

Best Film

  • The Dry
  • The Furnace
  • High Ground
  • Nitram
  • Penguin Bloom
  • Rams

Best Indie Film

  • Disclosure
  • Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt)
  • Lone Wolf
  • Moon Rock For Monday
  • My First Summer
  • Under My Skin

Best Lead Actor in Film

  • Simon Baker – High Ground
  • Eric Bana – The Dry
  • Caleb Landry Jones – Nitram
  • Ahmed Malek – The Furnace
  • Jacob Junior Nayinggul – High Ground

Best Lead Actress in Film

  • Rose Byrne – Peter Rabbit 2
  • Judy Davis – Nitram
  • Noni Hazlehurst – June Again
  • Genevieve O’Reilly – The Dry
  • Naomi Watts – Penguin Bloom

Best Original Score in Film

  • The Dry – Peter Raeburn
  • June Again – Christopher Gordon
  • Nitram – Jed Kurzel
  • Penguin Bloom – Marcelo Zarvos
  • Rams – Antony Partos

Best Original Screenplay in Film

  • Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) – Monica Zanetti
  • The Furnace – Roderick MacKay
  • High Ground – Chris Anastassiades
  • June Again – JJ Winlove
  • Nitram – Shaun Grant

Best Production Design in Film

  • 2067 – Jacinta Leong
  • Mortal Kombat – Naaman Marshall
  • Nitram – Alice Babidge
  • Penguin Bloom – Annie Beauchamp
  • Peter Rabbit 2 – Roger Ford


Best Sound in Film

  • Ascendant – Angus Robertson & Peter Purcell
  • The Dry – Chris Goodes
  • Mortal Kombat – Robert McKenzie, Steve Burgess & Phil Heywood
  • Nitram – Steve Single, Dean Ryan & James Ashton
  • Peter Rabbit 2 – Kevin O’Connell, Robert Mackenzie, Andy Wright & Ben Osmo

Best Supporting Actor in Film

  • Michael Caton – Rams
  • Baykali Ganambarr – The Furnace
  • Anthony LaPaglia – Nitram
  • Sean Mununggurr – High Ground
  • Jack Thompson – High Ground

Best Supporting Actress in Film

  • Essie Davis – Nitram
  • Claudia Karvan – June Again
  • Esmerelda Marimowa – High Ground
  • Miranda Tapsell – The Dry
  • Jacki Weaver – Penguin Bloom

TELEVISION

Best Children’s Program

  • 100% Wolf: Legend of the Moonstone
  • Bluey
  • The Bureau of Magical Things
  • Dive Club
  • Hardball
  • Kangaroo Beach

Best Cinematography in Television

  • A Sunburnt Christmas – Dylan River
  • Bump (Episode 1: Sorpresa!) – Garry Phillips
  • Clickbait (Episode 6: Simon) – Marden Dean
  • Fires (Episode 2: Everything’s Gone) – Bonnie Elliot
  • The Newsreader (Episode 1: Three, Two, One…) – Earle Dresner

Best Comedy Entertainment Program

  • Dom and Adrian 2020
  • Hard Quiz
  • The Moth Effect
  • Spicks And Specks
  • The Weekly

Best Comedy Performer

  • Mark Samual Bonanno – Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun
  • Kitty Flanagan – Fisk
  • Tom Gleeson – Hard Quiz
  • Broden Kelly – Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun
  • Sarah Kendall – Frayed
  • Nakkiah Lui – Preppers
  • Luke McGregor – Rosehaven
  • Celia Pacquola – Rosehaven


Best Costume Design in Television

  • Dancing With The Stars: All Stars (Episode 6) – Tim Chappel
  • Fires (Episode 2: Everything’s Gone) – Cappi Ireland
  • Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries (Episode 1: Death By Design) – Penny Dickinson
  • New Gold Mountain (Episode 1: Propriety) – Cappi Ireland
  • The Newsreader (Episode 1: Three, Two, One…) – Marion Boyce

Best Direction in Drama or Comedy

  • Fires (Episode 2: Everything’s Gone) – Ana Kokkinos
  • Mr Inbetween (Episode 6: Ray Who?) – Nash Edgerton
  • The Newsreader (Episode 1: Three, Two, One…) – Emma Freeman
  • Wakefield (Episode 5) – Kim Mordaunt
  •  Wakefield (Episode 8) – Jocelyn Moorhouse

Best Direction in Non-Fiction Television

  • Brazen Hussies – Catherine Dwyer
  • Hannah Gadsby – Douglas – Madeleine Parry
  • Love on the Spectrum (Episode 4) – Cian O’Clery
  • Ms Represented with Annabel Crabb (Episode 1: Getting There) – Stamatia Maroupas
  • You Can’t Ask That (Episode 1: Cheaters) – Kirk Docker

Best Documentary or Factual Program

  • Brazen Hussies
  • EXPOSED: The Ghost Train Fire
  • Life in Colour with David Attenborough
  • Ms Represented with Annabel Crabb
  • Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds
  • The School That Tried to End Racism

Best Drama Series

  • Clickbait
  • Jack Irish
  • Mr Inbetween
  • The Newsreader
  • Total Control
  • Wakefield
  • Wentworth

Best Editing in Television

  • Clickbait (Episode 1: Five Million Hits) – Rodrigo Balart
  • Fires (Episode 2: Everything’s Gone) – Mark Atkin
  • The Newsreader (Episode 5: No More Lies) – Angie Higgins
  • Total Control (Episode 1: Aftermath) – Nicholas Holmes
  • Wakefield (Episode 8) – Gabriel Dowrick

Best Entertainment Program

  • Australian Ninja Warrior
  • LEGO® Masters Australia
  • The Masked Singer
  • Mastermind
  • Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2021
  • The Voice

Best Factual Entertainment Program

  • Australia Talks
  • Courtney Act’s One Plus One
  • Gogglebox Australia
  • Love on the Spectrum
  • The Project
  • You Can’t Ask That

Best Lead Actor in a Drama Presented by Foxtel

  • Rudi Dharmalingam – Wakefield
  • Guy Pearce – Jack Irish
  • Sam Reid – The Newsreader
  • Richard Roxburgh – Fires
  • Scott Ryan – Mr Inbetween

Best Lead Actress in a Drama Presented by Foxtel

  • Deborah Mailman – Total Control
  • Mandy McElhinney – Wakefield
  • Miranda Otto – Fires
  • Pamela Rabe – Wentworth
  • Anna Torv – The Newsreader

Best Lifestyle Program

  • Adam and Poh’s Malaysia in Australia
  • The Cook Up with Adam Liaw
  • Gardening Australia
  • Grand Designs Australia
  • The Living Room
  • Love it or List it Australia

Best Miniseries or Telefeature

  • A Sunburnt Christmas
  • The End
  • Fires
  • New Gold Mountain
  • The Unusual Suspects

Best Narrative Comedy Series

  • Aftertaste
  • Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun
  • Fisk
  • Frayed
  • Preppers
  • Rosehaven

Best Production Design in Television

  • Fires (Episode 2: Everything’s Gone) – Jo Ford
  • Jack Irish (Episode 1) – Carrie Kennedy
  • Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries (Episode 1: Death By Design) – Ben Bangay
  • New Gold Mountain (Episode 1: Propriety) – Paddy Reardon & Adele Flere
  • The Newsreader (Episode 1: Three, Two, One…) – Melinda Doring

Best Reality Program

  • The Amazing Race Australia
  • Australian Survivor: Brains v Brawn
  • The Block
  • Luxe Listings Sydney
  • MasterChef Australia
  • The Real Housewives of Melbourne

Best Original Score in Television

  • Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun (Episode 1: Housemates) – Tom Armstrong
  • Clickbait (Episode 1: Five Million Hits) – Cornel Wilczek
  • Fires (Episode 2: Everything’s Gone) – Cornel Wilczek
  • Frayed (Episode 1) – Bryony Marks
  • New Gold Mountain (Episode 1: Propriety) – Caitlin Yeo

Best Screenplay in Television

  • Mr Inbetween (Episode 6: Ray Who?) – Scott Ryan
  • The Newsreader (Episode 1: Three, Two, One…) – Michael Lucas
  • The Newsreader (Episode 5: No More Lies) – Kim Ho & Michael Lucas
  • Total Control (Episode 1: Aftermath) – Stuart Page
  • Wakefield (Episode 5) – Sam Meikle

Best Sound in Television

  • Clickbait (Episode 1: Five Million Hits) – Emma Bortignon, Stephen Witherow, Nigel Croyden & John Wilkinson
  • Fires (Episode 2: Everything’s Gone) – Emma Bortignon, Paul Pirola & Roger Van Wensveen
  • Frayed (Episode 1) – Paul Finlay, Robert Sullivan, James Andrews & Dino Giacomin
  • The Newsreader (Episode 1: Three, Two, One…) – Nick Godkin
  • Total Control (Episode 1: Aftermath) – Phil Keros, Stuart Waller, Andy Wright & Diego Ruiz

Best Stand-Up Special

  • Anne Edmonds and Lloyd Langford – Business with Pleasure
  • Celia Pacquola – Let Me Know How It All Works Out
  • Hannah Gadsby – Douglas
  • Lano and Woodley in Lano and Woodley
  • Rhys Nicholson Live at the Athenaeum
  • Tom Gleeson – Lighten Up

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

  • Harry Greenwood – Wakefield
  • William McInnes – The Newsreader
  • Matt Nable – Mr Inbetween
  • Stephen Peacocke – The Newsreader
  • Justin Rosniak – Mr Inbetween

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

  • Michelle Lim Davidson – The Newsreader
  • Marg Downey – The Newsreader
  • Harriet Dyer – Wakefield
  • Rachel Griffiths – Total Control
  • Noni Hazlehurst – The End

SHORT FORM NOMINEES

Best Short Form Comedy Presented by Facebook

  • A Life in Questions: Wisdom School with Aaron Chen
  • All My Friends Are Racist
  • Celebration Nation
  • Hug the Sun
  • Jimmy Rees
  • Samantha Andrew

Best Short Form Drama

  • Beautiful They
  • The Bends
  • Dwarf Planet
  • Grace
  • The Tailings
  • You and Me, Before and After

Best Short Form Entertainment

  • Chopsticks or Fork?
  • Gourmet Lazy
  • Nat’s What I Reckon
  • Ozzy Man Reviews
  • Strong Women
  • Woven Threads – Stories from Within

DOCUMENTARY

Best Documentary

  • Girls Can’t Surf
  • I’m Wanita
  • My Name is Gulpilil
  • Playing with Sharks
  • Strong Female Lead

Best Cinematography in a Documentary

  • After The Night (Episode 1: The End of Innocence) – Jim Frater
  • The Beach (Episode 1: Too Mad Too Shy) – Dylan River
  • The Bowraville Murders – Nathan Barlow
  • FREEMAN – Bonnie Elliott
  • Step into Paradise – Bonnie Elliott


Best Editing in a Documentary

  • FREEMAN – Daniel Wieckmann
  • My Name is Gulpilil – Tania M. Nehme
  • Playing With Sharks – Adrian Rostirolla
  • Under The Volcano – Karen Johnson
  • When the Camera Stopped Rolling – Ray Thomas


Best Original Score in a Documentary

  • FREEMAN – James Henry
  • Playing With Sharks – Caitlin Yeo
  • Step into Paradise – Amanda Brown & Nick Wales
  • The Beach (Episode 1: Too Mad Too Shy) – Megan Washington & Kristin Rule
  • When the Camera Stopped Rolling – Kyls Burtland


Best Sound in a Documentary

  • The Bowraville Murders – Richard Boxhall
  • FREEMAN – Byron Scullin
  • Life in Colour with David Attenborough (Episode 1: Seeing in Colour) – Wayne Pashley
  • My Name is Gulpilil – Tom Heuzenroeder
  • When the Camera Stopped Rolling – Sam Petty

OTHER


Best Casting Presented by Casting Networks

  • The Dry – Jane Norris
  • High Ground – Anousha Zarkesh
  • The Newsreader – Nathan Lloyd
  • Nitram – Nikki Barrett, Alison Telford & Kate Leonard
  • Wakefield – Marianne Jade

Best Hair and Makeup presented by HASK

  • Australian Gangster – Sheldon Wade
  • Mortal Kombat – Nikki Gooley
  • Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries – Lynn Wheeler
  • New Gold Mountain – Cheryl Williams, Helen Magelaki & Ian Loughnan
  • Nitram – Fiona Rees-Jones


Best Visual Effects or Animation

  • Jungle Cruise (Rising Sun Pictures)
  • Mortal Kombat (Method Studios)
  • Mortal Kombat (Rising Sun Pictures)
  • Peter Rabbit 2 (Animal Logic Entertainment)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Method Studios)

Round 2 voting closes on Sunday 7 November. For more information or to watch the nominees on AACTA TV, visit AACTA.

The Two Events

The AACTA awards being presented at the 2021 AACTA Awards Ceremony presented by Foxtel Group in Sydney at the Opera House on December 8 include:

  • AACTA Award for Best Comedy Entertainment Program
  • AACTA Award for Best Comedy Performer
  • AACTA Award for Best Direction in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Documentary
  • AACTA Award for Best Drama Series
  • AACTA Award for Best Entertainment Program
  • AACTA Award for Best Factual Entertainment Program
  • AACTA Award for Best Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Drama presented by Foxtel
  • AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress in a Drama presented by Foxtel
  • AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Lifestyle Program
  • AACTA Award for Best Miniseries or Telefeature
  • AACTA Award for Best Reality Program
  • AACTA Award for Best Screenplay in Television
  • AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
  • AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
  • Byron Kennedy Award
  • Favourite Australian Actor
  • Favourite Australian Competition Reality Show
  • Favourite Australian Digital Comedy Creator 
  • Favourite Australian Entertainment Show
  • Favourite Australian Film
  • Favourite Australian TV Drama 
  • Favourite Australian TV Host
  • Longford Lyell Award

The list of AACTA awards being presented at the 2021 AACTA Industry Awards Virtual Ceremony presented by Foxtel Group (broadcast on December 6) include:

  • AACTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Casting presented by Casting Networks
  • AACTA Award for Best Children’s Program
  • AACTA Award for Best Cinematography in a Documentary
  • AACTA Award for Best Cinematography in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Cinematography in Television
  • AACTA Award for Best Costume Design in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Costume Design in Television
  • AACTA Award for Best Direction in Drama or Comedy
  • AACTA Award for Best Direction in Nonfiction Television
  • AACTA Award for Best Documentary of Factual Program
  • AACTA Award for Best Editing in a Documentary
  • AACTA Award for Best Editing in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Editing in Television
  • AACTA Award for Best Hair and Makeup presented by HASK
  • AACTA Award for Best Indie Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Narrative Comedy Series
  • AACTA Award for Best Original Score in a Documentary
  • AACTA Award for Best Original Score in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Original Score in Television
  • AACTA Award for Best Original Screenplay in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Production Design in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Production Design in Television
  • AACTA Award for Best Short Form Comedy presented by Facebook
  • AACTA Award for Best Short Form Drama
  • AACTA Award for Best Short Form Entertainment
  • AACTA Award for Best Sound in a Documentary
  • AACTA Award for Best Sound in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Sound in Television
  • AACTA Award for Best Stand-Up Special
  • AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actor in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actress in Film
  • AACTA Award for Best Visual Effects or Animation

Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram