Wayne Blair's box office hit is the top nominee for next year's Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards.

The feature film nominations for the second annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts awards released today sprang several surprises as Academy members showed they are willing to ignore box-office results and the critics' responses.

It's no shock to see The Sapphires, already the 13th highest grossing title of all time with $14.3 million, lead the field with 12 nominations. But the B.O. flop Burning Man, which opened last November, scored 10 noms.

[ Read review of The Sapphires ]
[ Read review of Burning Man ]

Lore, a modest B.O. performer with $297,000, Wish You Were Here and Mental, which probably got more brickbats than bouquets from the critics but has earned a decent $4.07 million, all got eight nods.

[ Read review of Lore ]
[ Read review of Wish You Were Here ]
[ Read review of Mental ]

Puberty Blues, Redfern Now, Rake season 2 and Tangle season 3 will face off for best TV drama series, and Puberty Blues and Redfern Now dominate the TV acting and screenplay nominations.

All told, 13 feature films (out of 23 that were eligible), 16 documentaries, four animated shorts, four fiction shorts and 32 TV programs will compete. The awards will be presented on January 30 at The Star Event Centre in Sydney, preceded by the awards luncheon on January 28 when Al Clark will receive the AACTA Raymond Longford Award.

With two exceptions, all feature film nominees were determined by votes cast by AACTA's 15 chapters during round one voting in which Academy members voted according to their area of specialisation. The Best Young Actor and Best Visual Effects nominations were determined by juries of industry professionals. All AACTA members are now invited to vote on these nominees to determine the Award winners until December 13.

The Sapphires is in the running for Best Film, Best Direction (Wayne Blair), Best Lead Actress (Deborah Mailman), Best Lead Actor (Chris O'Dowd) and Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Mauboy). The musical drama about four Aboriginal girls who form a singing group in the 1960s has also been nominated for Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Warwick Thornton), Best Costume Design, Best Editing and Best Sound.

Burning Man will compete for Best Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (Jonathan Teplitzky), Lead Actor (Matthew Goode), Supporting Actress (Essie Davis), Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing and Sound.

Cate Shortland's Lore, the German language feature which is Australian's entry for Best Foreign Language feature at the Academy Awards, is up for Best Film, Direction, Production Design, Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design and Sound. The film's German lead actress, Saskia Rosendahl, who was 17 during filming, has been nominated for Best Young Actor.

Wish You Were Here, Kieran Darcy-Smith's debut feature set partly in Cambodia, which he co-wrote with his wife Felicity Price, is nominated for Best Film, Original Screenplay, Direction, Lead Actor (Joel Edgerton), Supporting Actor (Antony Starr), Supporting Actress (Felicity Price), Cinematography and Editing.

PJ Hogan's Mental will seek recognition in the categories of Lead Actress (Toni Collette), Supporting Actor (Liev Schreiber), Young Actor (Lily Sullivan), Supporting Actress (Rebecca Gibney, Deborah Mailman), Original Music Score, Original Screenplay (Hogan) and Costume Design.

Not Suitable for Children is in the race for Best Actress (Sarah Snook), Supporting Actor (Ryan Corr), Screenplay (Michael Lucas) and Original Music Score.

[ Read review of Not Suitable for Children ]

An official Australia/China co-production, Pauline Chan's 33 Postcards, has been nominated for Lead Actor (Guy Pearce) and Original Music Score.

[ Read review of 33 Postcards ]

Among other features, Iron Sky was nominated for Best Visual Effects, The King is Dead's Gary Waddell is up for Best Supporting Actor and Killer Elite is vying for Best Visual Effects and Production Design.

[ Read the review of Iron Sky ]
[ Read review of The King is Dead! ]

The nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary had already been announced: A Common Purpose, The Curse of the Gothic Symphony, Dr. Sarmast's Music School and Storm Surfers 3D.

[ Watch interview about Dr. Sarmast's Music School ]

With today's announcement of all remaining documentary nominees, Dr. Sarmast's Music School picked up four additional nominations in Best Direction in a Documentary, Best Cinematography in a Documentary, Best Editing in a Documentary and Best Sound in a Documentary. The film follows a Melbourne-based musicologist back to his homeland in Afghanistan where he attempts to reopen a Kabul music school shut down by the Taliban.
Storm Surfers 3D has also been nominated for Best Cinematography in a Documentary and Best Editing in a Documentary.

The four nominees for Best Documentary under one hour are All The Way (ABC1), which posits that Australia's biggest battle in the Vietnam War was in its relationship with its closest ally, the U.S.; I Can Change Your Mind About Climate (ABC1), which sees two Australians from different generations and points of view trying to convince each other about the divisive issue of climate change; The Man Who Jumped (SBS), which explores the case of the protesting asylum seeker who jumped into coiled razor wire at the height of the unrest at the Woomera Detention Centre in 2002; and Then The Wind Changed (ABC1), Strathewen resident and filmmaker Celeste Greer's account of the community's struggle to rebuild in the years following the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

SBS dominates the category of Best Documentary Series with three of the four nominees – Go Back to Where You Came From, Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta, and Singapore 1942 – End of Empire. Also competing in this category is Sporting Nation (ABC1), narrated and produced by John Clarke.

[ Watch season two of Go Back to Where You Came From ]
[ Watch Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta ]

Go Back to Where You Came From also garnered nominations for Best Direction in a Documentary and Best Cinematography in a Documentary. Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta is also nominated for Best Direction a Documentary, Best Editing in a Documentary and Best Sound in a Documentary. Singapore 1942 – End of Empire is also up for Best Sound in a Documentary.

The contenders for Best Telefeature or Mini Series are Beaconsfield (Nine Network), Devil's Dust (ABC1), Howzat! Kerry Packer's War (Nine) and Underground (Network Ten).

For more information go to: www.aacta.org