It may be surprising to realise that 47 Oscars have been awarded to Australians in the history of the Academy Awards to date.
It all began in 1942 when Damien Parer’s evocative documentary Kokoda Front Line was presented with the best Documentary Oscar, a film produced by Ken Hall, a major filmmaker in Australia then. The film portrayed the devastating war conditions in Papua New Guinea, and trumped some of the censored footage the Americans had been shooting during World War II. The other documentary Oscar winners were Eva Orner and Alex Gibney for their film Taxi to the Dark Side (2007). Other winners include: Catherine Martin, a four time Oscar winner for both her production design and costume design for Moulin Rouge (2001) and The Great Gatsby (2013), both for director Baz Luhrmann. The other major winner for Costume Design, is Orry-Kelly (subject of Gillian Armstrong’s fine documentary Women He’s Undressed, 2015) who won three Oscars for: An American In Paris (1951), Les Girls (1957) and Some Like It Hot (1959). Also winners in Costume Design are: John Truscott (Camelot, 1968), who also won for Production Design, and Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel for Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1995).
Cate Blanchett has received two Oscars, one for Best Actress in Blue Jasmine (2013) and the other for Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator (2004). Nicole Kidman won for Best Actress in 2002 for The Hours. The Acting awards are interesting as two of them have been awarded posthumously. One to Peter Finch for Network (1976) and the other, as supporting actor, for Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008). Also, Geoffrey Rush won Best Actor for Shine (1996), and Russell Crowe was best actor for Gladiator (1999).
Animation has been a good category for Australians. George Miller won the Best Animated Feature award in 2006 for Happy Feet, while in the Short Animation category, Suzanne Baker and Bruce Petty won for Leisure (1977), Adam Elliot won for Harvie Krumpet (2003), and Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann won for The Lost Thing (2010).
There have been six Australian cinematographers who have received Oscars: Robert Krasker (The Third Man, 1950), Dean Semler (Dances With Wolves, 1990), John Seale (The English Patient, 1996), Andrew Lesnie (Lord of the Rings – Fellowship of the Ring, 2001), Russell Boyd (Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World, 2003), and Dion Beebe (Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005).
In the Editing category, Kirk Baxter won two Oscars: The Social Network (2010) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011). For Music, Peter Allen received an Oscar for cowriting the Best Original Song for the film Arthur (1981).
For Original Screenplay, Jane Campion won for The Piano (1993), while for Adapted Screenplay, John Farrow won for Around the World in 80 Days (1956). Best Sound Design went to the team involved with The Matrix (1999), while the team for that film also won Best Visual Effects. The other Australian winner for Visual Effects was the team involved with Babe (1996).
Peter is the Former Chair of the Australian Film Critics Association, hosts a weekly film radio program in Melbourne: Movie Metropolis, and is a film journalist and film festival consultant. He can be contacted on: email@example.com