Just four Aussies in the running at this year’s Oscars

Hollywood's highest paid actress and producer, Margot Robbie, has is one of four producers nominated in the best picture category for <i>Barbie</i>.

Hollywood's highest paid actress and producer, Margot Robbie, has is one of four producers nominated in the best picture category for Barbie. Photo: Getty

Since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences launched the Oscars in 1929 for outstanding achievements in film, Australians have received 200 nominations and won a total of 58 awards.

Designer Catherine Martin – who frequently collaborates with her director and producer husband Baz Luhrmann – is our most decorated Australian.

She has won four Oscars from nine nominations, including best production design for Moulin Rouge! in 2001 and best costume design in 2013 for The Great Gatsby.

Other famous Australian members of this exclusive club include A-listers such as Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush, Russell Crowe, Heath Ledger and Mel Gibson.

But when stop-motion animation writer Adam Harvey won in 2003 for best animated short with Harvie Krumpet, George Miller for Happy Feet, and cinematographers Russell Boyd (Master and Commander) and RMIT alumni Greig Fraser for Dune in 2022, we realised the Aussie talent pool also extended behind the camera.

They write, produce and direct – and that’s where Australia’s 2024 Oscar nominees come in.

Ausfilm – the industry body that connects global film and TV-makers to the screen industry Down Under – has listed the four Australians nominated for an Oscar at Monday’s 96th Academy Awards.

They’re all worthy contenders. But it’s slim pickings this year after nine nominations last year and 10 in 2022.

Margot Robbie with her LuckyChap producing partners – husband Tom Ackerley, and Josey McNamara. Photo: Getty

Margot Robbie

Robbie, 33, has missed out in the best actress category at all of this season’s major awards ceremonies for her performance as the iconic Mattel doll in Barbie.

Controversially, she is not even nominated for a best actress Oscar. But she was one of four producers on the blockbuster – which was created by her production company LuckyChap – and Barbie has been nominated for best picture. So Robbie has a (slim) chance of taking to the stage to accept a gold statuette.

There are other consolations for the Queensland-born star. According to Forbes’ annual rundown of the highest paid stars in Hollywood, she is the youngest on the list by a decade and the second-highest earner, pocketing $US59 million ($90 million) for the year.

'Red, white and blue' trailer

Source: YouTube

Sara McFarlane (short film, live action)

The Australian-born American-based producer – known for I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020), Berlin Syndrome (2017) and Pig (2021) – collaborated on a 24-minute short called Red, White and Blue, written and directed by British filmmaker, Nazrin Choudhury.

It tells the story of a poor single mother, working as a waitress, who must travel interstate for an abortion after the landmark overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision.

A New York Times review said the film was the “clear standout” of this year’s nominees, “painstakingly constructed from small, telling details, the movie ends with the kind of sting that lingers longer than any news report”.

“Our film raises some tough issues and highlights the importance of everyone’s right to access healthcare,” McFarlane wrote on Instagram, adding that telling the story about a “global and domestic issue has been the highlight of my career”.

Tony McNamara (adapted screenplay, writing)

Born in Kilmore in regional Victoria, writer and producer McNamara has a nomination for his screenplay adaptation of the Yorgos Lanthimos-directed sci-fi drama, Poor Things.

It features US star Emma Stone (nominated for best actress) as Bella Baxter. She plays a young woman brought back to life by brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe).

It’s a fantastical tale with a Frankenstein edginess, as we watch Bella grow up and experience womanhood with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a slick and debauched lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents.

McNamara has extensive experience as a TV producer. He has worked on The Secret Life of Us and Love My Way and was behind the international hit starring Elle Fanning, The Great.

'The After' official trailer

Source: Netflix

Nicky Bentham (short film, live action)

Sydney-born producer Bentham studied film production in Australia before moving to Britain, where she started Neon Films.

She is producer of the Netflix short, The After, starring David Oyelowo, which was a winner at the HollyShorts Film Festival.

Bentham’s short film is about a shattered ride-share driver who witnesses a violent crime. Variety says it’s garnered “a mix of support, attracting as many admirers as it has critics”.

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