Entertainment Movies Cate Blanchett leads the Aussie Oscars charge

Cate Blanchett leads the Aussie Oscars charge

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It was an Oscar nomination ceremony filled with surprises and snubs, but the outcome was great for Australia with Cate Blanchett, Catherine Martin and a posse of other Aussies picking up invites to Hollywood’s grandest night.

The films American Hustle and Gravity were the big winners with 10 nominations each.

Best picture favourite 12 Years a Slave had nine.

Among American Hustle’s haul of nominations was Sydney costume designer Michael Wilkinson, who has received rave reviews for the 1970s costumes worn by the comedy-drama’s stars Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper.

The four actors, along with director-screenwriter David O Russell, were also nominated.

“What a morning,” Wilkinson, who studied architecture at Sydney University for one year before dropping out and pursuing a career as a costume designer, told AAP.

“It doesn’t get any better. I have to bottle this feeling and sell it on the sidewalk because it’s pretty powerful.”

The Los Angeles-based Wilkinson had little time to celebrate on Thursday.

Just a few hours after hearing he was an Oscar nominee he was back at work designing the Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman costumes for director Zack Snyder’s much-anticipated 2015 release, Batman vs Superman.

Wilkinson’s biggest threat for the Oscar is fellow Aussie Martin, who just like in 2002 for Moulin Rouge!, picked up two nominations.

Martin, for her work on The Great Gatsby, was nominated for costume design and production design.

Martin’s Australian production design collaborator on The Great Gatsby, set decorator Beverley Dunn, was also nominated.

The Sydney-born 48-year-old Martin has become a prolific collector of Oscar nominations, with her tally now at six.

They have all come on husband Baz Luhrmann’s films, with Martin winning two Oscars for Moulin Rouge! and nominated previously for Australia and Romeo + Juliet.

It was another dry Oscar nomination ceremony for Luhrmann, with the Academy bypassing him for directing and best picture nominations for The Great Gatsby.

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films have been great for Australian visual effects wizard Dave Clayton, who was nominated last year for the first of the films based on the JRR Tolkien book.

Clayton received another nomination on Thursday for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

It was a tough morning for Australian producer Ian Collie and screenwriter Sue Smith, who were contenders for Saving Mr Banks, the comedy-drama about the Australian author PL Travers and her reluctance to sell the Mary Poppins film rights to Walt Disney.

The Academy wasn’t a fan of Saving Mr Banks, handing it just one nomination for original score.

The film failed to pick up a best picture nomination, despite the Academy choosing nine: American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; Her; Nebraska; Philomena; 12 Years a Slave; and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Not only was Saving Mr Banks snubbed for best picture and original screenplay, but lead actress Emma Thompson, who played Travers, and supporting actor Tom Hanks, as Walt Disney, were both left out in the cold.

Blanchett, for her performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, is the favourite to win the best actress Oscar.

Blanchett, 44, has been nominated five previous times – Elizabeth in 1999, The Aviator (2005), Notes on a Scandal (2007), I’m Not There (2008) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2008).

The Aviator, as supporting actress, was her only win.

Blanchett’s short odds favouritism comes despite the best actress category being loaded with talent.

The other best actress nominees are: Adams (American Hustle); Sandra Bullock (Gravity); Judi Dench (Philomena); and Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).

The lead actor Oscar race is also filled with big names: Bale (American Hustle); Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street); Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave); Bruce Dern (Nebraska); and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club).

Notable omissions in the best actor category were Hanks for Captain Phillips, Robert Redford for All is Lost and Forest Whitaker for The Butler.

Australians who could feel disappointed about also feeling Oscars’ cold shoulder include former Neighbours’ starlet Margot Robbie, who was an outside supporting actress chance for The Wolf of Wall Street, The Great Gatsby hairstylist Kerry Warn and Chris Hemsworth for his performance as British formula one ace James Hunt in the biopic Rush.

Hemsworth didn’t get a nomination, but he was on stage at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters in Beverly Hills on Thursday to announce the nominations.

The Academy Awards ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 2.

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