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AACTA Awards shape as a night for both Mad Max and The Dressmaker

First round goes to Mad Max: Fury RoadMovie session timesFull movies coverage

On the way to what could be a swag of Oscar nominations, will Mad Max: Fury Road take the top prize at the country’s main film and television awards?

Or will The Dressmaker, which led the nominations at the fifth n Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards with 12, fly the flag for a new generation of female-centred films?

In a rare best film field full of popular films, including Last Cab to Darwin, Holding the Man and Paper Planes, there could also be surprise winner at Sydney’s The Star on Wednesday night.

With due respect to the television nominees – among the awards being announced are best drama, comedy and reality series – a record year at the box office means the main interest will be in the film contenders. BEST ACTOR

Ryan Corr and Michael Caton are both up for best actor in the film categories at the AACTA Awards. Photo: Brendan Esposito

There is only one certainty at the awards this year – Michael Caton, who was surprisingly overlooked for best actor for The Castle when Richard Roxburgh won for Doing Time for Patsy Cline in 1997, will win best actor.

His performance as a dying man who discovers life in Last Cab to Darwin – heartfelt, touching and real – is too exceptional to be overlooked.

His strongest competition will be Ryan Corr, who was a gay playwright and actor in Holding the Man, with the field rounded out by Patrick Brammall, an advertising executive giving up booze in Ruben Guthrie, and Sullivan Stapleton , a hard case crim in Cut Snake.

Likely winner: Michael Caton for Last Cab to Darwin. Should win: Michael Caton for Last Cab to Darwin.BEST ACTRESS

Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker.

English Oscar winner Kate Winslet, who played an internationally successful designer who returns home to right some wrongs in The Dressmaker, is warm favourite to win best actress but there are also claims for Ningali Lawford-Wolf, who was a livewire neighbour in Last Cab to Darwin, and another Oscar winner, Charlize Theron, who was a fierce one-armed warrior in Fury Road.

The outsider is Robyn Butler for playing a suburban woman dealing with a difficult house guest in Now Add Honey, with Abbey Lee, who was a supermodel with a conscience in Ruben Guthrie, unlucky to miss a nomination.

While Lawford-Wolf impressed in a small but pivotal role, Winslet carried her film in spirited fashion.

Likely winner: Kate Winslet for The Dressmaker. Should win: Kate Winslet for The Dressmaker or Ningali Lawford-Wolf for Last Cab to Darwin. BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Judy Davis in The Dressmaker.

Judy Davis was a cut above the field with a brilliant comic performance as that successful designer’s batty mother in The Dressmaker.

She should win her seventh n Film Institute-AACTA award – from 11 nominations – over Sarah Snook, who played a mousy soul transformed in the same film, Deborah Mailman, a competition organiser in Paper Planes, and Emma Hamilton, a backpacking nurse in Last Cab to Darwin.

Likely winner: Judy Davis for The Dressmaker. Should win: Judy Davis for The Dressmaker. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Hugo Weaving in The Dressmaker.

In a much tighter category, Hugo Weaving, who played a country cop with a taste for fashion in The Dressmaker, up against Mark Coles Smith, a charismatic drifter in Last Cab to Darwin.

Completing the field are Anthony LaPaglia, a troubled father in Holding the Man, and Alex Dimitriades, a pleasure-seeking houseguest in Ruben Guthrie.

While Weaving is always popular with awards voters – winning four AFI-AACTA Awards from nine previous nominations – Coles Smith is an impressive young talent. He is nominated for the first time and could spring a surprise.

Likely winner: Hugo Weaving for The Dressmaker or Mark Coles Smith for Last Cab to Darwin. Should win: Hugo Weaving for The Dressmaker or Mark Coles Smith for Last Cab to Darwin. BEST DIRECTOR

George Miller in his office with a model of one of the vehicles from his fourth Mad Max film. Photo: Tim Bauer

By world standards, has a strong record for recognising female directors at its awards, with Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) last year joining Elissa Down (The Black Balloon), Sarah Watt (Look Both Ways), Cate Shortland (Somersault) and Sue Brooks (Japanese Story) to make five wins in 12 years.

Directing her first film in almost two decades, Jocelyn Moorhouse will poll strongly for The Dressmaker. If she wins, it would repeat her success with Proof, her first film, in 1991.

She is up against George Miller (Fury Road), Neil Armfield (Holding The Man) and Jeremy Sims (Last Cab To Darwin).

Miller’s achievement in directing Fury Road should deliver his first best director award at the AFI-AACTAs since Max Max 2 more than three decades years ago. He persevered through countless setbacks over 12 years to deliver an action film that has been acclaimed worldwide.

Likely winner: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Should win: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road.BEST FILMMad Max: Fury Road.” src=”http://www.smh杭州龙凤论坛m.au/content/dam/images/g/j/e/7/z/p/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1449021134329.png” title=”” width=”100%” />

Tom Hardy as Max in Mad Max: Fury Road.

After last year’s somewhat controversial tie for best film, AACTA changed the voting system to follow the American and British Academy model. A majority rather than preferential vote should favour Fury Road given The Dressmaker’s bold shifts in tone have unsettled some viewers.

Last Cab to Darwin, Holding the Man and Paper Planes could easily have won in another year but have to be outsiders.

At a time when Screen is encouraging women filmmakers telling female-centric stories, the passionate support for The Dressmaker that saw it dominate the nominations could easily deliver the top award.

But it feels like the overall quality of Fury Road – its ambition, the imagination behind its creation, the technical excellence in its execution and its critical and commercial success – should deliver that rarests of things: an action sequel winning a best film award.

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road. Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road.

A fearless prediction about this year’s AACTA Awards: there will be no tie for best film.

Having won six prizes at the Industry Awards last week – best cinematography, editing, production design, original music score, sound and visual effects – Fury Road seems set to collect more gold on the way to what could be a handful of Oscar nominations next month.

The AACTA Awards will be televised on the Seven network on Wednesday at 8.30pm.

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