AUSTRALIANS can be forgiven for becoming blase about the Academy Awards. For 11 consecutive years, an Australian actor has been nominated, or won, in one of the four Oscar acting categories. That record can only be matched, obviously, by the home team, the US, and Britain, thanks largely to Judi Dench and Kate Winslet’s six nominations each.
As our actors continue to reap Academy Award recognition, the Aussie crew members that support them have also collected bucketloads of nominations and awards. Australia averaged four Oscar nominations a decade during the 1940s, ’ 50s, ’ 60s and ’ 90s, and five a year this decade. Gauging by Oscar recognition, it is clear the Australian film diaspora has spread rapidly.
So much so, one of its members, Michael Carlin, went largely unnoticed when he was nominated last month for his art direction on The Duchess . Australian media attention focused on Heath Ledger’s posthumous nomination and those of previous nominees and winners: The Dark Knight ’ s Lee Smith, Iron Man’s Ben Snow and Australia ’ s Catherine Martin, cited for their editing, visual effects and costuming respectively. ( Indeed, at the time of writing, Carlin was still not recognised on Screen Australia’s website).
‘‘ I started getting irate emails from family and friends in Australia accusing me of renouncing my citizenship,’’ Carlin laughs from Prague, where he’s in pre-production on the World War II adventure film Red Tails . ‘‘ I said, ‘ What do you want me to do? Put out a press release?’ ’’
In days gone by, a press release wasn’t necessary. We pored over and celebrated every possible opportunity for Hollywood to recognise the few Australians working abroad, or in some instances, at home on films such as Shine or Babe . After all, our creativity was nothing if not recognised abroad.
Today, Australians are a little more selfassured. We have to be, because much of our talent has headed overseas.
‘‘ Years and years ago when I started working overseas, I thought I was a complete novelty in the industry,’’ Smith says. ‘‘ I felt people were
Oscars of Oz: Clockwise from main, Tony Curtis with Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly on the set of Some Like It Hot , Catherine Martin with partner and director Baz Luhrmann in 2001, visual-effects editor Ben Snow, make-up artist Nikki Gooley and production designer Michael Carlin