Australasian Cinema > awards > AACTAs 2019. See also: 2019 releases in date order.

AACTA Awards 2019:
Feature Films in Competition

The 34 feature films in competition are: Acute Misfortune, Angel Of Mine, Animals, Bilched, Book Week, Buoyancy, Celeste, Chocolate Oyster, The Combination: Redemption, Danger Close: The Battle Of Long Tan, Emu Runner, Escape And Evasion, Hearts And Bones, Hotel Mumbai, I Am Mother, Judy & Punch, Juvenile Delinquents, The King, Locusts, The Naked Wanderer, Nekrotronic, The Nightingale, Outback, Palm Beach, Pimped, Promised, Reflections In The Dust, Ride Like A Girl, Sequin In A Blue Room, Slam, Storm Boy, Suburban Wildlife, Top End Wedding and Undertow.


Acute Misfortune

Acute Misfortune (Thomas M. Wright, 2018) wr. Erik Jensen, Thomas M. Wright; Daniel Henshall, Toby Wallace, Gillian Jones, Geneviève Lemon

The film adaptation of Erik Jensen's award-winning biography of Adam Cullen is the story of the biographer and his subject, as it descends into a dependent and abusive relationship.


Angel of Mine

Angel of Mine (Kim Farrant, 2019) wr. Luke Davies, David Regal, prod. Su Armstrong, Brian Etting, Josh Etting, dp Andrew Commis; Yvonne Strahovski, Luke Evans, Noomi Rapace; psych thriller; released 5Sept

A woman grieving over the death of her daughter loses grip of reality when she begins to think her girl may still be alive.


Animals (Sophie Hyde, 2019) wr. Emma Jane Unsworth, from her novel; prod. Rebecca Summerton, Sophie Hyde, Sarah Brocklehurst; Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat, Fra Fee, Dermot Murphy, Amy Molloy; dramedy; Adelaide FF 5Apr, Sydney FF 8Jun; released 12Sept

After a decade of partying, Laura and Tyler's friendship is strained when Laura falls in love. But what is really stopping her from fulfilling her dreams?



Bilched (Jeremy Cumpston, 2019) wr. Hal Cumpston; Hal Cumpston, Frederick Du Rietz, Mitzi Ruhlmann; filmed Tamarama; released 23 May

It is sleepy anti-hero Hal's final days of year 12, and the normally studious and responsible elder sibling of a one-parent family has been granted the chance to finally let his hair down.


Book Week

Book Week (Heath Davis, 2019) wr. Heath Davis; Jolene Anderson, Toby Schmitz, Susan Prior

A jaded high school English teacher is forced to re-evaluate his life when his novel is passed over for one of his students.



Buoyancy (Rodd Rathjen, 2019) wr. Rodd Rathjen, prod. Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton; Sarm Heng, Thanawut Karso, Mony Ros; slavery drama; premiere Berlin 8Feb; released 26Sept

14-year-old Chakra is sold as a slave labourer to the captain of a Thai fishing vessel. The captain's rule on board is cruel and arbitrary.



Celeste (Ben Hackworth, 2018) Radha Mitchell, Thomas Cocquerel, Nadine Garner, Odessa Young, Emm Wiseman; music drama

Celeste is a love story set in the tropical splendor of far north Queensland. It is a story of a family falling apart coming together again and their last chance to keep a decaying world alive. Celeste is a renowned opera diva who retired early for the man she loved to live on a crumbling and beautiful estate in the heart of a rainforest in Far North Queensland. Ten years after the tragic death of her husband Celeste is set to return to the stage for her final performance. Her stepson Jack, still haunted by the past, arrives amidst the preparations for the performance and finds Celeste is as he remembered. Celeste wants Jack to stay at the estate, but needs him to perform one last request. Celeste is set in a bohemian world of opera and showcases a stunning and unseen part of the world.

Chocolate Oyster

Chocolate Oyster

Chocolate Oyster (Steve Jaggi, 2018) wr. Steve Jaggi; Rosie Lourde, Anna Lawrence, Aaron Glenane

Chocolate Oyster follows twenty-somethings Ellie (Anna Lawrence) and Taylor (Rosie Lourde), who live in Bondi apartments they can't really afford, and pursue their dreams in a city that seems intent on thwarting them. Taylor chases a dance career by day and works as a waitress at night, while supporting her new boyfriend Henry (Ryan Harrison), an aspiring playwright. Tired of being with a dependent and juvenile boyfriend, Ellie ends her relationship and begins to see Craig (Aaron Glenane), a chef who dreams of creating a signature dish that will make his name. With the story work shopped between actors and director, and a great deal of improvisation, the monochrome Chocolate Oyster has a breezy quality that reflects both the beauty and difficulty of life in Sydney.


The Combination: Redemption

Combination: Redemption, The (David Field, 2019) wr. George Basha; Rahel Romahn, George Basha, Simon Elrahi, Neveen Hanna, George Papura, Troy Honeysett, Johnny Nasser, Brendan Donoghue, Tony Ryan; Lebanese culture in Sydney

Six years on and John is still haunted by the death of his younger brother. The choices he faces will push him to the edge like never before.


Danger Close

Danger Close: the Battle of Long Tan (Kriv Stenders, 2019) wr. Paul Sullivan, Karel Segers, Jack Brislee, James Nicholas; Travis Fimmel, Richard Roxburgh, Nicholas Hamilton; Vietnam War

Late afternoon August 18, 1966 South Vietnam - for three and a half hours, in the pouring rain, amid the mud and shattered trees of a rubber plantation called Long Tan, Major Harry Smith and his dispersed company of 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers are fighting for their lives, holding off an overwhelming enemy force of 2,500 battle hardened Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. With their ammunition running out, their casualties mounting and the enemy massing for a final assault each man begins to search for his own answer - and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honour, decency and courage.

emu runner

Emu Runner

Emu Runner (Imogen Thomas, 2018) wr. Imogen Thomas; Rhae-Kye Waites, Stella Carter, Mary Waites; TorontoIFF 7Sep18, AdelaideFF 14Oct18; released 7Sept2019

Emu Runner is a lyrical story about the impact a mother's death has on an Aboriginal family living in an isolated community, which is perched on an ancient river and surrounded by sprawling plains. The story is seen through the eyes of Gem, a spirited eight-year-old girl, who deals with the grief of her mother's death by forging a bond with a wild emu, a mythical bird of her ancestors. This spiritual dreaming is a bond she will do anything to keep, but one that puts her at odds with the new social worker.


Escape And Evasion

Escape And Evasion (Storm Ashwood, 2019) wr. Imogen Thomas; Rena Owen, Firass Dirani, Hugh Sheridan

After his men are killed in Burma, a lone soldier returns home in search of solace. Hiding a dark secret and confronted by an unrelenting journalist, he's forced to face the ghosts of his past one last time.


Hearts And Bones

Hearts And Bones (Ben Lawrence, 2019) wr. Beatrix Christian, Ben Lawrence; Hugo Weaving, Andrew Luri, Hayley McElhinney

In Ben Lawrence's beautifully acted debut feature, a war photographer Hugo Weaving and a refugee Andrew Luri discover a photograph that threatens to destroy them both. Dan Fisher returns home, and despite his partner's protests, prepares for his next dangerous overseas assignment. At the same time, he is preparing for an upcoming retrospective exhibition of his work from the world's war zones. South Sudanese refugee, Sebastian Aman Luri has built a life in Australia, living happily with his wife and young child. When he learns that Daniel's exhibition may display photographs of a massacre in Sebastian's village 15 years earlier, he finds Daniel and appeals to him to exclude those photographs. An unlikely friendship develops between the two men, but it is severely tested when Daniel makes a shocking discovery. Hearts and Bones centres around the relationship of these two men, from very different backgrounds, who bond over their shared trauma. Andrew Luri, who has never acted before and was driving a garbage truck when he auditioned for the role, and Hugo Weaving both brilliantly convey the intricate relationship between the men. With these two powerful performances at its centre, Ben Lawrence has made an intelligent, morally complex and deeply moving film.

Hotel Mumbai

Hotel Mumbai (Anthony Maras, 2018) Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Tilda Cobham-Hervey; dramatisation of 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks on Taj Mahal hotel

The true story of the Taj Hotel terrorist attack in Mumbai. Hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families.

The shootings in Christchurch, Friday 15 March 2019, would have had a negative effect on the box office, which was, nevertheless, AU$3.3mill.


I Am Mother

I Am Mother (Grant Sputore, 2018) wr. Michael Lloyd Green, prod. Kelvin Munro, Timothy White; Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank, Clara Rugaard; scifi

A teenage girl (Rugaard) is raised underground by a kindly robot 'Mother' (Byrne's voice) - designed to repopulate the earth following the extinction of humankind. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger (Swank) arrives with alarming news.

Judy and Punch

Judy and Punch (Mirrah Foulkes, 2019) wr. Mirrah Foulkes; Damon Herriman, Mia Wasikowska, Benedict Hardie, Terry Norris; drama; release tba, but will be 2019

Seaside (nowhere near the sea) puppeteers Judy and Punch are trying to resurrect their marionette show in an an anarchic town on the brink of mob rule.

Juvenile Delinquents [?]

the king

The King

The King (David Michôd, 2019) wr. Joel Edgerton, David Michôd; Robert Pattinson, Timothé Chalamet, Lily-Rose Depp

Hal, wayward prince and heir to the English throne, is crowned King Henry V after his tyrannical father dies. Now the young king must navigate palace politics, the war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life - including his relationship with his closest friend and mentor, the aging alcoholic knight, John Falstaff (Joel Edgerton).



Locusts (Heath Davis, 2018) wr. Angus Watts, prod. Angus Watts, dp Chris Bland; Jessica McNamee, Ben Geurens, Peter Phelps; crime

Two estranged brothers who are reluctantly reunited in their remote hometown at their father's funeral, become the target of an extortion scam at the hands of a gang of violent local thugs.


The Naked Wanderer

Naked Wanderer, The (Alan Lindsay, 2019) wr. Callan Durlik; Angus McLaren, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, John Cleese; WA; released 5Sept

Dumped by his girlfriend and sponsored by media scoundrel Brian King, desolate Jake walks all-but-naked up Western Australia's coast for charity, in the hope his gesture will win back Jasmine, until he meets mesmerizing backpacker Valerie.



Nektronic (Kiah Roache-Turner, 2018) wr. Kiah Roache-Turner, Tristan Roache-Turner; Monica Bellucci, Tess Haubrich, Goran D. Kleut, Ben O'Toole; horror

A man discovers that he is part of a secret sect of magical beings who hunt down and destroy demons in the internet.


The Nightingale

Nightingale, The (Jennifer Kent, 2018) wr. Jennifer Kent, prod. Kristina Ceyton, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky; Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood; drama set Tasmania 1829; screened VeniceFF 6Sept18, AdelaideFF 13Oct18, and SydneyFF 9 Jun19; released 29Aug19

Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.



Outback (Mike Green, 2019) wr. Mike Green, Brien Kelly; Brendan Donoghue, Taylor Wiese, Lauren Lofberg

Down Under for an adventure-filled vacation, a young American couple quickly find themselves stranded in the unforgiving Australian outback.

palm beach 2

Palm Beach

Palm Beach (Rachel Ward, 2019) prod. Bryan Brown, Deb Balderstone, wr. Joanna Murray-Smith, Rachel Ward; Richard E. Grant, Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Greta Scacchi, Jacqueline McKenzie, Claire van der Boom, Aaron Jeffrey, Heather Mitchell, Matilda Brown, Frances Berry, Charlie Vickers; dramedy; released 8 August

Lifelong friends reunite for a party at Sydney's Palm Beach.



Pimped (David Barker, 2018) Ella Scott Lynch, Benedict Samuel, Heather Mitchell, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Robin Goldsworthy; thriller; festival release Aug18

Two twisted housemates lure an unbalanced woman into a sexual trap, with murderous results.



Promised (Nick Conidi, Tony Ferrieri, Nathan Primmer, 2019) wr. Nick Conidi; Paul Mercurio, Antoniette Iesue, Mirko Grillini, Tina Arena

In 1953, two young Italian children are promised in marriage by their fathers. Twenty one years on - despite changing times, fading traditions and 1970s liberation - the pair are expected to marry, or face the consequences.


Reflections In The Dust

Reflections In The Dust (Luke Sullivan, 2018) wr. Luke Sullivan; Robin Royce Queree, Sarah Houbolt, Aldo Fedato, Sage Godrei, Ali Aitken

A blind girl struggles to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland with her father - an emotionally abusive clown.


Ride Like a Girl

Ride Like a Girl (Rachel Griffiths, 2019) wr. Andrew Knight, Elise McCredie, dp Martin McGrath; Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill, Sullivan Stapleton; Michelle Payne biopic

Michelle Payne rode Prince of Penzance to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015.

sequinSequin In A Blue Room

Sequin In A Blue Room (Samuel Van Grinsven, 2019) wr. Jory Anast, Samuel Van Grinsven; Conor Leach, Simon Croker, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor

After a chance encounter at an anonymous sex party, a sixteen year old boy hunts through the world of a hook-up app to track down the mystery man. Favouring the instant gratification of anonymous, no-strings sexual encounters over meaningful relationships, high schooler Sequin is part of the always logged-on, but never-engaged, hook-up generation. He ghosts ex-partners and remains emotionally unavailable. That's until he finds his way to an anonymous sex party, where a whole new dizzyingly alluring world unfolds before him. In one scene, Sequin connects with a mysterious stranger, but they are separated suddenly. Utterly fixated on this man, Sequin sets off on an exhilarating and perilous mission to track him down. Cowritten by Jory Anast and Samuel Van Grinsven, Sequin in a Blue Room is a highly-accomplished queer coming-of-age tale and a breath of fresh air from the Australian independent film scene.


Slam (Partho Sen-Gupta, 2018) wr. Partho Sen-Gupta; Adam Bakri, Rachael Blake, Rebecca Breeds

Ricky Nasser is a young Australian whose peaceful suburban life turns into hell when sister Ameena, a slam poet, disappears without a trace.


Storm Boy

Storm Boy (Shawn Seet, 2019) wr. Justin Monjo, prod. Michael Boughen, Matthew Street; Geoffrey Rush, Jai Courtney; SA

Box office would have been negatively affected due to the inability to use Geoffrey Rush in publicity because of the 'scandal' in which he was involved at the time, but the film garnered nearly AU$5mill.

Themes of loss, grief and separation are pitched at just the right level to resonate with children and adults alike. Seet brings everything to a moving and meaningful conclusion with a lovely piece of magic realism. Richard Kuipers, Variety.

Safran’s film looked up to the skies, evoking the wonderful flying creature as a symbol of eternal beauty, its wings flapping in hearts and minds as much as in the universe. But in the new film, by literally creating a bust of the bird – as if a clump of stone or plaster could compare with the natural majesty of wings and feathers – the meaning has been accidentally inverted: a story about how something can never die becomes about how it will never live again. Luke Buckmaster.


Suburban Wildlife

Suburban Wildlife (Imogen McCluskey, 2019) wr. Béatrice Barbeau-Scuria, Imogen McCluskey; Maddy McEilliam, Hannah Lehmann, Priscilla Doueihy

Following their recent graduation, four friends distract themselves from the looming responsibilities of adulthood. But as the boundaries between real and surreal blur, they are faced with decisions that will define the rest of their lives.

Top End Wedding

Top End Wedding (Wayne Blair, 2019) wr. Miranda Tapsell, Joshua Tyler; Gwilym Lee, Miranda Tapsell, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Shari Sebbens, Ursula Yovich; comedy; released 2 May

Lauren and Ned are engaged, and they have just ten days to reunite her parents for their dream wedding - which actually takes place in Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island - so it's really Wurrumiyanga Wedding.


Undertow (Miranda Nation, 2018) wr. Miranda Nation; Olivia DeJonge, Josh Helman, Rob Collins

Thanks to IF Mag.

I make these lists every year as a way of keeping in touch with what one might assume are the best Australian feature films at the time. I do the same with Oscar possibilities for the same reason, mutatis mutandem. But ...

In 2012, The Sapphires - about an Aboriginal singing group - won eleven PC awards. Blind Freddy could have seen that Burning Man was the best film that year.

In 2013, The Great Gatsby won best film and six craft awards, tho it has nothing to do with Australia. Leonardo DiCaprio won best actor! WTF?

In 2016, another American story, Hacksaw Ridge, won most of the awards. It's a war film set in Okinawa. There are no Australian characters in the story.

In 2017, Lion won 12 of the 14 awards, and it wasn't the best film - but at least one-third of it was actually set in Australia.

In 2018, the 'best' film was a western in which the main character was played by a non-actor - who was also voted 'best actor'.

Just guessing that front runners will include Danger Close, Hotel Mumbai, The Nightingale, Ride Like a Girl, Storm Boy, Palm Beach, Top End Wedding, I Am Mother.

Garry Gillard | New: 10 September, 2019 | Now: 12 September, 2019