Smit-McPhee – nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category – is one of two Australian actors vying for an Oscar this year, with Nicole Kidman also securing a nod for her turn as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos.
The Power of the Dog, released on Netflix just before Christmas, scored a total of 12 nominations, including for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography. Smit-McPhee’s fellow cast members Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons are also up for awards.
Smit-McPhee has been performing in film and television productions for more than 15 years. One of his early roles was in the 2009 post-apocalyptic film The Road, and he has since appeared in movies such as the Australian sci-fi thriller 2067 (which was filmed in Adelaide and premiered at the 2020 Adelaide Film Festival), X-Men: Apocalypse, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Dark Phoenix.
The Adelaide actor has received widespread acclaim for his performance as the complex Peter in The Power of the Dog – New Zealand director Jane Campion’s first film in 12 years.
South Australian Film Corporation CEO Kate Croser welcomed the news of his Oscar nomination.
“For me, his standout, breakout role was The Road with Viggo Mortensen,” she said this morning. “He is often cast in quite dark roles which are complex, intelligent, aware and at times manipulative characters, and require a depth of performance to deliver.
“These roles speak to his exceptional qualities as an actor. He’s got the most fascinating face – he makes you feel like you can see the depths of his soul behind his eyes.”
Croser said the SAFC was proud to welcome Smit-McPhee back to Adelaide in 2018 to shoot the film 2067, which was supported by the corporation and Adelaide Film Festival: “Kodi comfortably carried the film  as its star, and it has gone on to find a significant audience on Netflix.”
The Power of the Dog was produced by British-Australian company See-Saw Films, which was also responsible for the multiple-Oscar-winning 2010 film The King’s Speech.
Another strong frontrunner in the 94th Academy Awards is Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic Dune, which scored 10 nominations spread out largely in the technical categories that rewarded the craft of his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel.
The nominees for Best Picture are: Belfast; CODA; Don’t Look Up; Drive My Car; Dune; Licorice Pizza; King Richard; Nightmare Alley; The Power of the Dog and West Side Story.
Lady Gaga, star of House of Gucci, was overlooked in the uber-competitive Best Actress category. Nominated instead were Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye; Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter; Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers; Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos; and Kristen Stewart, Spencer.
Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s masterful three-hour Japanese drama, scored major nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Steven Spielberg, whose West Side Story landed seven nominations, became the first filmmaker nominated for Best Director in six different decades.
Will Smith, who plays the father of Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard, notched his third Oscar nomination. Also up for Best Actor are Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick … Boom!) Javier Bardem (Being The Ricardos) and Denzel Washington, who was nominated in the category for his seventh time for his performance in The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Along with Dunst, the nominees for Best Supporting Actress were a trio of first-timers – Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) — and one veteran: Judi Dench, who earned her eighth Oscar nod for her performance in black-and-white family drama Belfast by fellow nominee Kenneth Branagh.
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