Writer-director Martin McDonagh's dark comedy-drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri got a leg up on the awards season race Friday night by winning the top prize at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. Making its debut in limited release in November and expanding to more theaters last month, Three Billboards has not only won huge acclaim from critics, it has also found nominations from several organizations as the nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards draws near.
Following the plight of an angry and frustrated mother (Frances McDormand) who takes the local chief of police (Woody Harrelson) to task when the murder of her daughter remains unsolved, Three Billboards has to date earned Best Actress nominations for McDormand from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Golden Globes (Drama) and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Sam Rockwell, who plays one of Harrelson's deputies, has also been honored by the same organizations with Best Supporting Actor nominations, while Harrelson joins him in the SAG race as he vies for the award in the same category.
Now, with nomination voting officially open for the Oscars, Three Billboards just got a high-profile boost from Australian film awards voters. According to Variety, Three Billboards won Best Picture at the 7th annual AACTA Awards Friday night in Los Angeles, as well as Best Supporting Actor for Rockwell and Best Screenplay for McDonagh.
Christopher Nolan was named Best Director by the AACTA for Dunkirk, while Best Actor went to Gary Oldman for his role as Prime Minister Winston Churchill for Darkest Hour. Margot Robbie captured the Best Actress trophy for playing disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, while Allison Janney, who plays Harding's hard-edged mother, took home the award for Best Supporting Actress.
Three Billboards faced some pretty stiff competition for the Best Picture race, facing off against four other Oscar frontrunners with Call Me By Your Name, Dunkirk, Lady Bird and The Shape of Water. Nolan topped Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name), Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water).
How much the nominations and winners of the AACTA will reflect on the Oscars is yet to be seen. It appears on the outset that the academy Down Under gave more credence to Aussie natives Hugh Jackman (who was nominated for Best Actor for Logan), Nicole Kidman (who scored a Best Supporting Actress nom for The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and Abbie Cornish (Best Supporting Actress for Three Billboards) than other awards bodies have to this point. Apart from that, the performers and filmmakers who received recognition with a nomination fall pretty much in line with the major awards bodies stateside.
Much like the BFCA (which hands out the Critics Choice Movie Awards) and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which hands out the Golden Globes), the AACTA membership body is much smaller than the Motion Picture Academy, with 150 screen professionals in its membership ranks.
Sources: Variety, AACTA