Aussie film awards reach for stars

WITH George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep nominated, never has Australia's main film awards seemed so international.

WITH George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep nominated, never has Australia's main film awards seemed so international.

The new Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, which has evolved out of the Australian Film Institute, announced its first global nominations in simultaneous ceremonies in Sydney and Los Angeles yesterday.

The 10 contenders for best international film include all the Golden Globe and Oscar front runners, including The Artist, The Descendants and Hugo as well as the edgier dramas Melancholia, The Tree of Life and We Need to Talk about Kevin.

The best actor field includes Clooney for The Descendants, DiCaprio for J. Edgar and Pitt for Moneyball, with Streep leading the best actress nominees for The Iron Lady alongside Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia and Australia's sole contender, Mia Wasikowska, for Jane Eyre.

The first batch of Australian Academy Awards, largely for behind-the-scenes categories, were presented at the Sydney lunch.

The adaptation of Patrick White's The Eye of the Storm won both best production design and costume design; the Tasmanian drama The Hunter claimed best cinematography and original music score; and the intense true crime drama Snowtown collected best editing and sound.

The AFI Members' Choice Award went to box office hit Red Dog. The award was accepted by the film's producer, Nelson Woss, who left his canine star, Koko, at home.

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