Media Room

Final Nominees Announced for the 2020 AACTA Awards Presented by Foxtel

19 November

Competition is fierce, with the final nominees for the nation’s top screen entertainment celebration announced today.


On the drama front, leading the charge is STATELESS with 18 nominations.

MYSTERY ROAD’S Wayne Blair and Warwick Thornton compete with each other for the coveted AACTA Award for Best Direction in a Television Drama or Comedy, alongside Simon Francis nominated for AUSTRALIAN AMAZON ORIGINAL STAND-UP SPECIALS, and Emma Freeman and Jocelyn Moorhouse, together nominated for STATELESS.

The AACTA Award for Best Screenplay in Television nominees include Kodie Bedford nominated for MYSTERY ROAD, competing alongside Julie Kalceff for FIRST DAY. Also nominated are Peter Duncan (OPERATION BUFFALO), Shelley Birse (THE COMMONS), and Elise McCredie (STATELESS).

Nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Production Design in Television include THE NEW LEGENDS OF MONKEY (with a nomination for Nick Williams), Cold War-era 1950s South Australia with OPERATION BUFFALO (Colin Gibson), a remote immigration detention centre with STATELESS (Melinda Doring), the unforgiving outback with MYSTERY ROAD (Herbert Pinter) and to a slightly fast-forwarded Sydney struggling with climate change in THE COMMONS (Tim Ferrier).  

Today’s nomination for Best Original Score in Television sees Antony Partos (OPERATION BUFFALO) become one of Australia’s most recognised film composers of the last decade, with a total of six nominations and five wins. Partos is nominated alongside past winners Cornel Wilczek (STATELESS) and Kit Warhurst (ROSEHAVEN), along with Joff Bush (BLUEY), and siblings Diego, Nora and Lionel Baldenweg, nominated for their work on teenage action-adventure series, ITCH, backing up their 2019 nomination. 

The AACTA Award for Best Sound in Television sees two nominations for Wes Chew and Luke Mynott, both nominated for MYSTERY ROAD (with Michael Newton and Trevor Hope) and OPERATION BUFFALO (with Guntis Sics). Also competing are Dean Ryan, Andrew Neil, Ralph Ortner and Lee Yee for THE GLOAMING, and Tom Heuzenroeder, Pete Smith, Michael Darren and Des Kenneally for STATELESS. They face competition from Paul Pirola, Brendan Croxon, James Harvey and Andrew Ramage nominated for their work on HALIFAX: RETRIBUTION.

Nominations across the Best Cinematography in Television category include Marden Dean nominated for THE GLOAMING, Earle Dresner receives a nomination for THE COMMONS followed by Martin McGrath who is nominated for OPERATION BUFFALO. Warwick Thornton receives a nod for MYSTERY ROAD, and Bonnie Elliott is nominated for STATELESS.  

Following her Daytime Emmy Awards win last year, Liz McGregor today received a nomination for the AACTA Award for Best Costume Design in Television for THE NEW LEGENDS OF MONKEY, bringing a new generation into the re-imagined world of 1970s cult-classic, MONKEY MAGIC. Also nominated are Tim Chappel (THE MASKED SINGER), Xanthe Heubel (THE COMMONS), Mariot Kerr (STATELESS) and Wendy Cork (OPERATION BUFFALO), who was last awarded for her stunning work on LADIES IN BLACK.


From lockdown laughs, to stunning sea change properties, this year’s nods for the AACTA Award for Best Subscription Television Presenter see a mix of regular and first-time nominees.

Co-hosts Shaynna Blaze and Andrew Winter are each nominated for presenting SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA, with the popular home renovations show also competing in the Best Lifestyle Program category. Perennial favourites, this marks the fifth year in a row that Blaze has been nominated, and the fourth year for Winter, and both have previously won, with Winter’s nomination also recognising his role on LOVE IT OR LIST IT AUSTRALIA.

Foxtel dominated nominations in the Best Subscription Television Presenter category, with nods also going to Deborah Hutton for FIND ME A BEACH HOUSE, exploring stunning coastal locations for holiday and relocation abodes, and Tyson Mayr for BEAR – KOALA HERO, which moved audiences as Mayr and his canine companion Bear scoured Queensland’s burnt-out bushland searching for sick and injured koalas. 

Also joining Hutton and Mayr as a first-time AACTA nominee is Rebel Wilson, receiving a nod for her role presenting Amazon Prime’s ensemble comedy series LOL: LAST ONE LAUGHING AUSTRALIA, which has also been nominated for Best Comedy Entertainment Program in this year’s Awards. 


Competition in the documentary and factual categories is tight.

Having already received a nomination for Best Documentary or Factual Program, MARALINGA TJARUTJA – which captures the impact of nuclear testing and beyond on Maralinga Tjarutja Country in a story of dispossession and survival – has a total of three nominations, today receiving nods for Best Direction in Nonfiction Television and Best Editing in a Documentary.

Also with three nominations each are: AUSTRALIA’S OCEAN ODYSSEY: A JOURNEY DOWN THE EAST AUSTRALIAN CURRENT, charting a landmark exploration from the Great Barrier Reef to Antarctica; THE TEST: A NEW ERA FOR AUSTRALIA’S TEAM,a behind-the-scenes look at how one of the world's best cricket teams strived to reclaim its title and integrity after a dramatic fall from grace; BRAZEN HUSSIES, which explores the revolutionary Women's Liberation Movement in Australia; and FIRESTARTER – THE STORY OF BANGARRA, taking a deep dive into the Bangarra Dance Theatre and its core trio Stephen, Russell and David Page.

The AACTA Award for Best Original Score in a Documentary sees five-time AACTA winner Matteo Zingales – one of Australia’s most awarded screen composers of the decade – nominated for his work on artificial intelligence documentary MACHINE. Fellow regular AACTA nominee, Amanda Brown, receives two nominations – one for BRAZEN HUSSIES, and one for QUILTY – PAINTING THE SHADOWS, shared with Damien Lane. Also competing are first-time nominees Hylton Mowday with AUSTRALIA’S OCEAN ODYSSEY: A JOURNEY DOWN THE EAST AUSTRALIAN CURRENT and Guy Sebastian for GUY SEBASTIAN – THE MAN THE MUSIC, a behind-the-scenes look at the life of Sebastian as one of Australia’s most successful male solo artists.    

Adding to their previously announced nominations are LINDY CHAMBERLAIN: THE TRUE STORY and LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM, both nominated for Best Direction in Nonfiction Television, and SUZI Q, nominated for Best Sound in a Documentary.

Also receiving nominations today are: WILD THINGS, that follows a new generation of environmental activists, REVELATION, a ground-breaking series which lays bare the crimes of Catholic Church priests, in their own words; SEA LIONS – LIFE BY A WHISKER, bringing us up-close-and-personal with one of the world’s rarest marine mammals; CAN ART STOP A BULLET: WILLIAM KELLY’S BIG PICTURE, which asks some of the world's most socially engaged artists if art can temper violence where politics fails; and VIVA THE UNDERDOGS, following the self-managed Australian heavy metal band, Parkway Drive, on their 15 year underdog journey. 


Continuing Australia’s international reputation for creating some of the world’s most iconic VFX sequences and animation, this year’s nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Visual Effects or Animation span US, Chinese and home-grown blockbusters, including global box office winners. Nominations see fierce competition, with two nominations for Rising Sun Pictures, for FORD V FERRARI and THE EIGHT HUNDRED, and two nominations for Method Studios, for IT CHAPTER 2 and JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL. Also competing is Cutting Edge Features & Television with THE INVISIBLE MAN


The AACTA Award for Best Casting presented by Casting Networks sees nominations span Australia’s biggest films and television dramas of the year. Nikki Barrett received two nominations – one each for TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG and I AM WOMAN, following her win last year for THE NIGHTINGALE. Also nominated are Allison Meadows (STATELESS), who won in 2018 for casting RIOT, Jane Norris (H IS FOR HAPPINESS), and Kirsty McGregor and Stevie Ray (BABYTEETH). A credit to the casting by these nominees, each of these productions received performance nominations.


Nominations for the AACTA Award for Best Hair and Makeup presented by HASK took us on a journey across vastly different looks of the decades, spanning the 1800s with TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG (Kirsten Veysey), the 1950s with OPERATION BUFFALO (Sheldon Wade, Kerryn Flewell-Smith, Cheryl Williams), and the 1970s with I AM WOMAN (Nikki Gooley, Wendy de Waal, Cassie O’Brien). The horror of RELIC was brought to life by looks created by Angela Conte, Larry Van Duynhoven and Bec Taylor, and the mayhem of time and place-bending US cult-hit PREACHER (filmed in Melbourne), was made all the more convincing thanks to hair and makeup by Chiara Tripodi, Toni Ffrench and Larry Van Duynhoven (complementing his nomination for RELIC).


Nominations for the AACTA Award for Best Asian Film are again dominated by China and India – each receiving three nominations – alongside two nominations for South Korea and one for Japan.

Chinese nominees are noted for their critical and commercial success, both at home and abroad. Brutal school bullying meets romantic fantasy in Kwok Cheung Tsang’s BETTER DAYS, while crime thriller THE WILD GOOSE LAKE sees a small-time gangster on the run, garnering Diao Yinan a nomination for the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Guan Hu’s war epic THE EIGHT HUNDRED is currently the world’s highest grossing film for 2020, depicting the story of patriotic Chinese soldiers defending the Sihang Warehouse in the battle for Shanghai.

While spanning comedy through to hard-hitting dramas, this year’s Indian nominated films all explore prescient societal issues. Anubhav Sinha‘s THAPPAD questions the status quo of the patriarchy amidst a domestic abuse storyline, while Meghna Gulzar’s CHHAPAAK was inspired by the story of acid attack survivor, Laxmi Agarwal. Marking Hitesh Kewalya’s feature directorial debut with director Rohit Sharma, SHUBH MANGAL ZYADA SAAVDHAN, delivers a battle of conservatism versus freedom in the quest for love, as a queer couple seek family validation in this meaningful romantic-comedy.

Drawing comparisons to the post-apocalyptic world of MAD MAX, Yeon Sang-ho’s zombie cult film TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA is set in a virus-ravaged South Korea, some four years after the original TRAIN TO BUSAN, which was nominated for an AACTA Award in 2017. Marking a strong debut from fellow South Korean Kim Yong-hoon, BEASTS CLAWING AT STRAWS is a neo-noir crime drama based on an adaptation of a novel by Japanese author, Keisuke Sone.

Finally prolific veteran Japanese director Takashi Miike is nominated for FIRST LOVE – a signature genre romp foray into the underworld.

Speaking of the nominations announcements, AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said:

“Despite this challenging year, the number of productions nominated across a record number of Awards shows the resilience and ingenuity of the Australian industry in finding ways to continue to work, creating the outstanding content that our audiences needed more than ever before.

“I congratulate the many standout achievements, including MYSTERY ROAD’S record number of nominations over the past decade – a remarkable result on an outstanding production which is not only cementing the careers of multi-award winning practitioners, but also launching the careers of emerging talent, with many first-time nominations too.

“On the documentary front, it’s fantastic to see such diverse ground covered, highlighting the critical, confronting, liberating, heart-warming and entertaining stories that capture and fuel the Australian spirit and story. 

“We also congratulate this year’s Best Asian Film nominees, noted for their audience and critical acclaim internationally, and their rich storytelling, bringing us new perspectives which resonate around the world.

“We look forward to celebrating our nation’s top talent and the outstanding screen entertainment which helped see us through this year at the AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel in Sydney in two weeks’ time,” Trewhella said.

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said: “Despite the immense challenges faced this year, this outstanding list of nominees in the film, television, documentary and online categories reflects the true professionalism and resilience of our screen industry. All the nominees should be proud of their achievements and I wish them all the best of luck for the upcoming 2020 AACTA Awards.”   


For a full list of nominees, production synopses, publicity stills and further information, click here.

To read the media release announcing the first slate of nominees competing for the 2020 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel, issued on Sunday 1 November 2020, click here.


The AACTA Awards are supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.


The new AACTA ScreenFest will be held online from Friday 27 November to Wednesday 2 December 2020. Events are free, but bookings are essential at

AACTA Industry Awards presented by Foxtel will be streaming at ScreenFest on Friday 27 November at 6.30pm AEDT and also on Foxtel Arts, Friday November 27 at 6.30pm AEDT.

AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel Ceremony will be on Foxtel Arts, Sunday 6 December at 7.30pm AEDT.

Australia Decides: AACTA’s Best of the Decade is a reimagined broadcast celebrating a decade of Australian screen and highlights from the 2020 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel Ceremony will be on Channel Seven, Wednesday 2 December at 8.30pm AEDT and encore on Foxtel Arts, Sunday 6 December at 9.30pm AEDT.


Official hashtags: #AACTAs #screenfest | Instagram: @aacta | YouTube: /AFIAACTA | AACTA Connect: Twitter: @aacta | Facebook: /AACTAawards | Web:


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