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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

'Nitram' Has Been Named the Best Australian Film of the Year at the 2021 AACTA Awards

Exploring the events leading up to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, the drama nabbed the awards' eight major film prizes, including best actor for Caleb Landry Jones.
By Sarah Ward
December 09, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
December 09, 2021
  shares

The first time that filmmaker Justin Kurzel and screenwriter Shaun Grant tackled a recent dark chapter in Australia's history, in 2011's Snowtown, they both earned AACTA awards for their efforts — and their film picked up six gongs in total. Ten years later, they've bettered the feat with Nitram, which explores the lead up to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Both Kurzel and Grant again collected trophies, while the feature nabbed eight awards all up.

One of those prizes: the AACTA for Best Film, beating out The Dry, The Furnace, High Ground, Penguin Bloom and Rams. Nitram also swept all four acting prizes in the film fields, with its four key cast members — Cannes Film Festival Best Actor-winner Caleb Landry Jones, plus Aussies Judy Davis, Anthony LaPaglia and Essie Davis — emerging victorious.

That's the big story from the 2021 AACTA Awards, which announced its nominees back at the beginning of November, then handed out its trophies on Wednesday, December 8. Nitram scooping the pool isn't surprising, given that it's powerful, haunting and the best Aussie movie of the year — and that AACTA has a history of going all on features it loves. Last year's Best Film recipient, Babyteeth, won seven awards, while The Nightingale picked up six the year before, Sweet Country did the same the year before that and Lion nabbed 12 in 2017. (Thanks to the likes of Hacksaw Ridge, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dressmaker, The Great Gatsby and The Sapphires before that, the trend goes on.)

The Academy's gongs also span television — so, if you've watched The Newsreader or Fisk this year, then you've seen 2021's Best Drama and Best Narrative Comedy Series.

Across both the big and small screens, other winners include Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt) for Best Indie Film, My Name Is Gulpilil for Best Documentary, and Fires for Best Telefeature or Miniseries.

Here's a rundown of the major nominations — and you can check out the full list on AACTA's website:

AACTA NOMINEES 2021

FILM AWARDS:

BEST FILM

BEST INDIE FILM

BEST DIRECTION

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

BEST LEAD ACTOR

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

BEST LEAD ACTRESS

  • Rose Byrne, Peter Rabbit 2
  • Judy Davis, Nitram — WINNER
  • Noni Hazlehurst, June Again
  • Genevieve O'Reilly, The Dry
  • Naomi Watts, Penguin Bloom

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Monica Zanetti, Ellie and Abbie (& Abbie's Dead Aunt)
  • Roderick McKay, The Furnace
  • Chris Anastassiades, High Ground
  • JJ Winlove, June Again
  • Shaun Grant, Nitram — WINNER

BEST SCREENPLAY

  • Rob Connolly and Harry Cripps, The Dry — WINNER
  • Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps, Penguin Bloom
  • Will Gluck and Patrick Burleigh, Peter Rabbit 2
  • Jules Duncan, Rams

BEST DOCUMENTARY

TELEVISION AWARDS:

BEST DRAMA SERIES

BEST TELEFEATURE OR MINISERIES

BEST NARRATIVE COMEDY SERIES

BEST COMEDY ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM

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

BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

  • Rudi Dharmaligam, Wakefield
  • Guy Pearce, Jack Irish
  • Sam Reid, The Newsreader
  • Richard Roxburgh, Fires
  • Scott Ryan, Mr Inbetween — WINNER

BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

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

BEST COMEDY PERFORMER

  • Mark Samual Bonanno, Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun
  • Kitty Flanagan, Fisk — WINNER
  • 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 SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

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

BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

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

Published on December 09, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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