The Weekend Australian - Review - - Cover Story -

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

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