Talk to Me, The New Boy and The Newsreader lead AACTA Award nominations

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Even after nabbing 11 AACTA Award nominations for his debut feature, director Danny Philippou still feels like an imposter.

“I still don’t feel like a real director,” he says, from the set of his next project, a documentary about death match wrestling.

Danny and Michael Philippou are the twin-brother creative duo behind A24 horror hit Talk to Me.Credit: james Brickwood

It’s just one of the projects he and his co-director, twin brother Michael, have on the boil after the runaway success of their debut, the horror movie Talk to Me (others include a sequel and a Street Fighter adaptation).

They’re set on continuing to make movies in Australia.

“I just feel really comfortable there,” Philippou says.

He recalls weighing up whether to make Talk to Me with a Hollywood studio. “They were giving a bunch of notes that were veering the creative in a more typical direction, and they were starting to hint that we shouldn’t shoot in Australia because they were saying that Australian films don’t make money,” he says. “It just never felt right.”

After its premiere at Sundance in January, Talk to Me was picked up by American distributor A24, and soon became its second highest-grossing film ever, after Oscars smash Everything Everywhere All at Once, raking in a global box office of approximately $139 million.

Sophie Wilde is up for an AACTA for her role in teen horror Talk to Me.Credit: Umbrella Entertainment

It’s possible the Philippou brothers will continue their dream run with a couple of AACTAs at February’s ceremony, but it won’t be their first: having risen to fame as RackaRacka on YouTube in the mid-2010s, they picked up their first AACTA in 2017, for best online video or series.

“It was a lot bigger than I thought it was gonna be,” Philippou recalls. “I remember just imagining what it would be like to win for our actual film.”

While Talk to Me is not the leading nominee in the film categories – that’s Warwick Thornton’s third feature film The New Boy, with 12 – it is part of a wave of debut features leading the AACTA nominations, alongside Noora Niasari’s immigrant drama Shayda and Jub Clerc’s coming-of-age drama Sweet As.

All four movies, alongside Kitty Green’s outback thriller The Royal Hotel and Goran Stolevski’s wistful queer romance Of an Age, are up for both best film and best direction. It’s stiff competition: Green has previously won two AACTAs, for her documentaries Ukraine Is Not a Brothel and Casting JonBenet; while Thornton’s last feature, Sweet Country, won six in 2018, including best film.

Thornton’s latest, The New Boy, premiered at Cannes in May and stars 11-year-old newcomer Aswan Reid as an orphan sent to a remote monastery for Aboriginal boys, run by Cate Blanchett’s Sister Eileen. Among the movie’s 12 nominations, including for Blanchett, Deborah Mailman and Wayne Blair, is a nod for Reid as best lead actor – up against industry mainstay Simon Baker (for Ivan Sen’s Limbo).

Aswas Reid behind the scenes of The New Boy.

Thornton is especially proud of the acknowledgement for Reid. “Come on, Aswan. Win that bastard!” Thornton cheers. “That kind of nomination, for a young boy like him, especially coming from a very small community in the middle of nowhere, I think’s gonna help him with his career and empower him.”

He recalls how winning the Camera d’Or at Cannes for Samson and Delilah, his debut film, in 2009 kick-started his own career.

“It completely changed my life. No one knew who I was and no one really cared. But after winning that award, people watched that movie. It did open a lot of doors for me, and it mentally empowered me to think that I’m doing something that I might be good at.”

Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy leads the AACTA movie nominations, with 12.Credit: James Brickwood

The second season of ABC’s The Newsreader leads the TV nominations, with a total of 15, including best drama series, best lead actor for Sam Reid and best lead actress for Anna Torv. In 2021, its first season swept the AACTAs, winning five from 16 nominations, including best television drama series.

Series creator and writer Michael Lucas and executive producer Joanna Werner are not anticipating replicating their success of 2021. Instead, they’re effusive about the other contenders for best drama, including Bay of Fires, Bump and Love Me.

“I think it’s an amazing time for Australian television at the moment. It’s fabulous just to be a part of that,” says Werner.

The Newsreader executive producer Joanna Werner and series creator and writer Michael Lucas.Credit: Simon Schluter

Lucas gives some of the credit for the current high watermark in Australian television to the increase in the commissioning of local dramas by streaming platforms.

“You only need to go back six or seven years and that just didn’t exist,” he says. “On a streamer, you have the capacity to do more niche content, which just expands the kinds of stories that are being been told and also who gets to tell those stories.”

But that doesn’t diminish the role of the ABC in the TV landscape – the network leads the nominations for both best drama series and best narrative comedy series.

“Whilst we’ve got other places to pitch shows now, the ABC really supports and has a passion for drama,” says Werner.

Lucas adds: “Every Australian can access the ABC and it’s completely free to them. And it’s just really wonderful to have your program on a platform like that.”

The most-nominated comedies are Colin from Accounts and Deadloch, with 10 nods each, including for best narrative comedy series. The former has earned rave reviews across the globe, and took out Logies for most outstanding comedy program and most outstanding actor and actress for its creators Patrick Brammall and Harriet Dyer.

A real-life couple, Brammall and Dyer are both vying for best acting in a comedy, and are joined by their co-star Helen Thomson. They’re up against the stars of Fisk, Kitty Flanagan and Julia Zemiro; and Deadloch, Kate Box and Nina Oyama, as well as Celeste Barber from the recently cancelled Netflix series Wellmania.

The rest of the TV acting categories are stacked with well-known names, including Hugo Weaving and Heather Mitchell for Love Me, Richard Roxburgh for Bali 2002, Teresa Palmer for The Clearing, Brooke Satchwell and Travis Fimmel for Black Snow, and American actor Sigourney Weaver for The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

The AACTA industry awards are on February 8, with the main ceremony on February 10.



Best Film
Of an Age, Shayda, Sweet As, Talk to Me, The New Boy, The Royal Hotel

Best Direction
Goran Stolevski (Of an Age), Noora Niasari (Shayda), Jub Clerc (Sweet As), Danny and Michael Philippou (Talk to Me), Warwick Thornton (The New Boy), Kitty Green (The Royal Hotel)

Julia Garner has earned an AACTA nod for her role in The Royal Hotel.

Best Indie Film
A Savage Christmas, Limbo, Monolith, Streets of Colour, The Rooster, The Survival of Kindness

Best Lead Actress
Zar Amir Ebrahimi (Shayda), Shantae Barnes-Cowan (Sweet As), Cate Blanchett (The New Boy), Julia Garner (The Royal Hotel), Sarah Snook (Run Rabbit Run), Sophie Wilde (Talk to Me)

Zar Amir Ebrahimi as Shayda and Selina Zahednia as Mona in Noora Niasari’s debut feature Shayda.Credit: Jane Zhang

Best Lead Actor
Elias Anton (Of an Age), Simon Baker (Limbo), Thom Green (Of an Age), Phoenix Raei (The Rooster), Aswan Reid (The New Boy), Osamah Sami (Shayda)

Best Supporting Actress
Alex Jensen (Talk to Me), Deborah Mailman (The New Boy), Tasma Walton (Sweet As), Mia Wasikowska (Blueback), Ursula Yovich (The Royal Hotel), Selina Zahednia (Shayda)

Best Supporting Actor
Mojean Aria (Shayda), Eric Bana (Blueback), Wayne Blair (The New Boy), Rob Collins (Limbo), Zoe Terakes (Talk to Me), Hugo Weaving (The Rooster)

Zoe Terakes is up for the award for best supporting actor for their role in Talk to Me.Credit: Maslow

Best Screenplay
Of an Age, Shayda, Talk to Me, The New Boy, The Royal Hotel


Best Drama Series
Bay of Fires (ABC), Black Snow (Stan), Bump (Stan), Erotic Stories (SBS), Love Me (Binge), The Newsreader (ABC)

Best Narrative Comedy Series
Colin from Accounts (Binge, Foxtel), Deadloch (Amazon Prime Video), Fisk (ABC), Gold Diggers (ABC), Upright (Foxtel), Utopia (ABC)\

Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall star as a couple brought together by an injured dog in Colin from Accounts.Credit: Lisa Tomasetti

Best Miniseries
Bad Behaviour (Stan), In Our Blood (ABC), Safe Home (SBS), The Clearing (Disney+), The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Amazon Prime Video), While the Men Are Away (SBS)

Best Lead Actor in a Drama
Tim Draxl (In Our Blood), Travis Fimmel (Black Snow), Joel Lago (Erotic Stories), Sam Reid (The Newsreader), Richard Roxburgh (Bali 2002), Hugo Weaving (Love Me)

Best Lead Actress in a Drama
Kate Box (Erotic Stories), Aisha Dee (Safe Home) Bojana Novakovic (Love Me), Teresa Palmer (The Clearing), Anna Torv (The Newsreader), Sigourney Weaver (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart)

Best Acting in a Comedy
Celeste Barber (Wellmania), Kate Box (Deadloch), Patrick Brammall (Colin from Accounts), Harriet Dyer (Colin from Accounts), Kitty Flanagan (Fisk), Nina Oyama (Deadloch), Helen Thomson (Colin from Accounts), Julia Zemiro (Fisk)

Nina Oyama and Kate Box are each vying for best acting in a comedy for their roles in Deadloch.Credit: Patrick Bradley/Prime Video

Best Entertainment Program
Dancing with the Stars (Seven Network), Eurovision Song Contest 2023 – Grand Final (SBS), Lego Masters: Grand Masters (Nine Network), Mastermind (SBS), The 1% Club (Seven Network), The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition (Network Ten)

Best Comedy Entertainment Program
Hard Quiz (ABC), RocKwiz (Foxtel), Taskmaster Australia (Network Ten), Thank God You’re Here (Network Ten), The Cheap Seats (Network Ten), The Weekly with Charlie Pickering (ABC)

Best Children’s Program
Barrumbi Kids (NITV, SBS), Beep and Mort (ABC), Bluey (ABC), Crazy Fun Park (ABC), The PM’s Daughter (ABC), Turn Up the Volume (ABC)

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