Jackman, Kidman up for AACTA awards

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts has nominated Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts for its international awards, jumping the gun on the Oscars.

By bringing forward its announcement to the day before the American Academy does the same, the Australian body has ensured recognition for a trio in the running for Oscar nods.

As well as Jackman being nominated for playing the noble Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Kidman for a trashy blonde in The Paperboy and Watts for a tsunami survivor in The Impossible, expat Ben Lewin is up for best director for The Sessions.

The AACTA international awards will be presented at a ceremony in Los Angeles later this month. At the Australian ceremony, The Sapphires will be up for 12 awards including best film and director.

The poignant American drama Silver Linings Playbook, about a teacher just out of a mental institution who moves back in with his parents, leads the international nominations with five, followed by the presidential biopic Lincoln and the hunting-Osama-bin-Laden action-drama Zero Dark Thirty with four.

Those three movies are up for best international film alongside the musical Les Miserables, the political thriller Argo and the literary adaptation Life of Pi.

All are leading contenders for best picture Oscar nominations when they are announced in Los Angeles on Thursday.

In what could easily be an expanded version of the Oscars field - six nominees rather than five – Jackman is vying for best actor with Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), John Hawkes (The Sessions), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) and Denzel Washington (Flight).

Both Kidman and Watts are up for best actress against Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) and veteran Emmanuelle Riva (Amour).

Lewin is easily the least-known nominee in a best director field studded with Oscar winners, including Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Ben Affleck (Argo) and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook).

Quentin Tarantino is up for best screenplay for Django Unchained alongside Chris Terrio (Argo), Tony Kushner (Lincoln), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty).

A film industry jury chose the international nominees to recognise what AACTA calls "film excellence regardless of geography".

Academy president Geoffrey Rush said the second international awards would build on the success of the first in Los Angeles last year, when The Artist was named best international film.

"As the Australian academy engages in the international awards conversation, it's brilliant to see Australian performers and practitioners nominated alongside international talent," he said. "Indeed, the talents of Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts and Ben Lewin stand on their own and will no doubt be honoured by our international screen peers."

The story Jackman, Kidman up for AACTA awards first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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