AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role

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AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Presented byAustralian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA)
First awarded1971
Currently held bySophie Wilde, Talk to Me (2023)

The AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role is an award presented by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), a non-profit organisation whose aim is to "identify, award, promote, and celebrate Australia's greatest achievements in film and television".[1]

The award is presented annually at the AACTA Awards, which hands out accolades for achievements in feature films, television, documentaries, and short films.[2] From 1971 to 2010, the category was presented by the Australian Film Institute (AFI), the Academy's parent organisation, at the annual Australian Film Institute Awards (known as the AFI Awards).[3] When the AFI launched the AACTA in 2011, it changed the annual ceremony to the AACTA Awards, with the current award being a continuum of the AFI Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.[3]

From 1971 to 1975, it was presented as a special award, and was accompanied with a cash prize, before it became a competitive award from 1976 onward.[4][5] Judy Davis is the most nominated and winning actress in this category, with nine nominations, including six wins, most recently for her role in Nitram (2021).

Candidates for this award must be female, and cannot be nominated for the same role in the supporting actress category.[6]

Winners and nominees[edit]

In the following table, the years listed correspond to the year of film release; the ceremonies are usually held the same year.[A] The actress in bold and in dark blue background have received a special award; those in bold and in yellow background have won a regular competitive award. Those that are neither highlighted nor in bold are the nominees. When sorted chronologically, the table always lists the winning actress first and then the other nominees.[7][8]

  Winner of a special prize (1971–1975)
  Winner of a competitive award (1976–present)
Judy Davis is the most awarded and nominated actress in this category.

AFI Awards[edit]


Year Actor Film Character(s)
Monica Maughan A City's Child Woman
Jacki Weaver Stork Anna
Judy Morris Libido: The Child Sybil
(16th and
Julie Dawson Who Killed Jenny Langby? Jenny Langby
Helen Morse Caddie Caddie Marsh
Briony Behets The Trespassers Penny
Helen Morse Picnic at Hanging Rock Mlle. de Poitiers
Judy Morris The Trespassers Dee
Pat Bishop Don's Party Jenny
Jeanie Drynan Don's Party Kath Henderson
Sara Kestelman Break of Day Alice
Robyn Nevin The Fourth Wish Connie
Angela Punch McGregor The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith Gilda Marshall
Geraldine Fitzgerald The Mango Tree Grandma Carr
Wendy Hughes Newsfront Amy Mackenzie
Kim Krejus Mouth to Mouth Carrie
Michele Fawdon Cathy's Child Cathy
Ruth Cracknell The Night the Prowler Doris Bannister
Judy Davis My Brilliant Career Sybylla Melvyn
Sigrid Thornton Snapshot Madeline


Year Actor Film Character(s)
Tracy Mann Hard Knocks Samantha
Carmen Duncan Harlequin Sandra Rast
Judy Morris ...Maybe This Time Fran
Mawuyul Yanthalawuy Manganinnie Manganinnie
Judy Davis Winter of Our Dreams Lou
Jenny Agutter The Survivor Hobbs
Lorraine Bayly Fatty Finn Maggie McGrath
Noni Hazlehurst Myrtle Finn
Noni Hazlehurst Monkey Grip Nora
Wendy Hughes Lonely Hearts Patricia Curnow
Carol Kane Norman Loves Rose Rose
Angela Punch McGregor We of the Never Never Jeannie Gunn
Wendy Hughes Careful, He Might Hear You Vanessa
Lorna Lesley The Settlement Joycie
Kris McQuade Buddies Stella
Geneviève Picot Undercover Libby
Angela Punch McGregor Annie's Coming Out Jessica Hathaway
Carol Burns Strikebound Agnes Doig
Gosia Dobrowolska Silver City Nina
Wendy Hughes My First Wife Helen
Noni Hazlehurst Fran Fran
Debra Byrne Rebel Kathy McLeod
Lynette Curran Bliss Bettina Joy
Michele Fawdon Unfinished Business Maureen
Judy Davis Kangaroo Harriet Somers
Helen Buday For Love Alone Teresa
Judy Morris The More Things Change... Connie
Justine Saunders The Fringe Dwellers Mollie Comeaway
Judy Davis High Tide Lillie
Julia Blake Travelling North Frances
Loene Carmen The Year My Voice Broke Freya Olson
Wendy Hughes Echoes of Paradise Maria
Nadine Garner Mull Phoebe Mullens
Wendy Hughes Boundaries of the Heart Stella Marsden
Rosey Jones Afraid to Dance The Female
Jo Kennedy Tender Hooks Mitch
Meryl Streep Evil Angels Lindy Chamberlain
Judy Davis Georgia Nina Bailley and Georgia White
Geneviève Lemon Sweetie Dawn (Sweetie)
Irini Pappas Island Marquise


Year Actor Film Character(s)
Catherine McClements Weekend with Kate Kate Moir
Kerry Armstrong Hunting Michelle Harris
Rosanna Arquette Wendy Cracked a Walnut Wendy
Claudia Karvan The Big Steal Joanna Johnson
Sheila Florance A Woman's Tale Martha
Eri Ishida Aya Aya
Angie Milliken Act of Necessity Louise Coleman
Geneviève Picot Proof Celia
Lisa Harrow The Last Days of Chez Nous Beth
Claudia Karvan Redheads Lucy
Tara Morice Strictly Ballroom Fran
Miranda Otto Daydream Believer Nell Tiscowitz
Holly Hunter The Piano Ada McGrath
Claudia Karvan Broken Highway Catherine
Fiona Ruttelle Say a Little Prayer Angie
Jacqueline McKenzie This Won't Hurt A Bit! Vanessa Prescott
Toni Collette Muriel's Wedding Muriel Heslop
Tara FitzGerald Sirens Estella Campion
Kerry Fox Country Life Sally Voysey
Victoria Longley Talk Julia Strong
Jacqueline McKenzie Angel Baby Kate
Caroline Gillmer Hotel Sorrento Hilary Moynihan
Caroline Goodall Meg Moynihan
Lisa Harrow That Eye, the Sky Alice Flack
Judy Davis Children of the Revolution Joan
Gia Carides Brilliant Lies Susy Connor
Claudia Karvan Dating the Enemy Tash
Frances O'Connor Love and Other Catastrophes Mia
Pamela Rabe The Well Hester
Frances O'Connor Kiss or Kill Nikki Davies
Thank God He Met Lizzie Jenny
Miranda Otto The Well Katherine
Deborah Mailman Radiance Nona
Cate Blanchett Oscar and Lucinda Lucinda Leplastrier
Lynette Curran The Boys Sandra Sprague
Rachel Griffiths Amy Tanya Rammus
Sacha Horler Praise Cynthia
Jeanie Drynan Soft Fruit Patsy
Michela Noonan Strange Fits of Passion She
Maya Stange In a Savage Land Evelyn Spence


Year Actor Film Character(s)
Pia Miranda Looking for Alibrandi Josephine Alibrandi
Julia Blake Innocence Claire
Rachel Griffiths Me Myself I Pamela Drury
Susie Porter Better Than Sex Cin
Kerry Armstrong Lantana Sonja Zat
Alice Ansara La Spagnola Lucia
Nicole Kidman Moulin Rouge! Satine
Lola Marceli La Spagnola Lola
Maria Theodorakis Walking on Water Anna
Judy Davis Swimming Upstream Dora Fingleton
Rachel Griffiths The Hard Word Carol
Dannielle Hall Beneath Clouds Lena
Toni Collette Japanese Story Sandy Edwards
Helen Buday Alexandra's Project Alexandra
Rose Byrne The Rage in Placid Lake Gemma Taylor
Susie Porter Teesh and Trude Letitia (Teesh)
Abbie Cornish Somersault Heidi
Chloe Maxwell Under the Radar Jo
Olivia Pigeot A Cold Summer Tia
Leeanna Walsman One Perfect Day Alysse
Cate Blanchett Little Fish Tracy Louise Heart
Saskia Burmeister Hating Alison Ashley "Erk" Erica "Yuk" Yurken
Justine Clarke Look Both Ways Meryl Lee
Frances O'Connor Three Dollars Tanya
Emily Barclay Suburban Mayhem Katrina
Abbie Cornish Candy Candy
Laura Linney Jindabyne Claire
Teresa Palmer 2:37 Melody
Joan Chen The Home Song Stories Rose
Kerry Armstrong Razzle Dazzle Justine Morgan
Brenda Blethyn Clubland Jean Dwight
Franka Potente Romulus, My Father Christine
Monic Hendrickx Unfinished Sky Tahmeena
Noni Hazlehurst Bitter & Twisted Penelope Lombard
Emma Lung The Jammed Crystal
Veronica Sywak Ashley
Frances O'Connor Blessed Rhonda
Marissa Gibson Samson and Delilah Delilah
Sacha Horler My Year Without Sex Natalie
Sophie Lowe Beautiful Kate Kate


Year Actor Film Character(s)
Jacki Weaver Animal Kingdom Janine "Smurf" Cody
Abbie Cornish Bright Star Fanny Brawne
Morgana Davies The Tree Simone
Charlotte Gainsbourg Dawn

AACTA Awards[edit]


Year Actor Film Character(s)
Judy Davis The Eye of the Storm Dorothy de Lascabanes
Frances O'Connor The Hunter Lucy Armstrong
Charlotte Rampling The Eye of the Storm Elizabeth Hunter
Emily Watson Oranges and Sunshine Margaret Humphreys
Deborah Mailman The Sapphires Gail McCrae
Toni Collette Mental Shaz
Felicity Price Wish You Were Here Alice Flannery
Sarah Snook Not Suitable for Children Stevie
Rose Byrne The Turning Raelene
Carey Mulligan The Great Gatsby Daisy Buchanan
Tasma Walton Mystery Road Mary Swan
Naomi Watts Adoration Lil
Sarah Snook Predestination The unmarried mother
Kate Box The Little Death Rowena
Essie Davis The Babadook Amelia
Mia Wasikowska Tracks Robyn Davidson
(5th) [9]
Kate Winslet The Dressmaker Myrtle 'Tilly' Dunnage
Robyn Butler Now Add Honey Caroline Morgan
Ningali Lawford-Wolf Last Cab to Darwin Polly
Charlize Theron Mad Max: Fury Road Imperator Furiosa
Odessa Young The Daughter Hedvig
Maeve Dermody Pawno Kate
Maggie Naouri Joe Cinque's Consolation Anu Singh
Teresa Palmer Hacksaw Ridge Dorothy Schutte
Emma Booth Hounds of Love Evelyn White
Teresa Palmer Berlin Syndrome Clare
Helana Sawires Ali's Wedding Dianne
Sara West Don't Tell Lyndal
Angourie Rice Ladies in Black Lisa
Abbey Lee 1% Katrina
Rooney Mara Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene
Kate Mulvany The Merger Angie Barlow
Julia Ormond Ladies in Black Magda
Aisling Franciosi The Nightingale Clare Carroll
Nazanin Boniadi Hotel Mumbai Zahra
Teresa Palmer Ride Like a Girl Michelle Payne
Miranda Tapsell Top End Wedding Lauren
Mia Wasikowska Judy and Punch Judy


Year Actor Film Character(s)
Eliza Scanlen Babyteeth Milla Finlay
Tilda Cobham-Hervey I Am Woman Helen Reddy
Laura Gordon Undertow Claire
Elisabeth Moss The Invisible Man Cecilia Kass
Lupita Nyong'o Little Monsters Miss Audrey Caroline
Judy Davis Nitram Nitram's mother
Rose Byrne Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway Bea McGregor
Noni Hazlehurst June Again June
Genevieve O'Reilly The Dry Gretchen
Naomi Watts Penguin Bloom Sam Bloom
Leah Purcell The Drover's Wife Molly Johnson
Aisha Dee Sissy Cecilia/Sissy
Julia Savage Blaze Blaze
Tilda Swinton Three Thousand Years of Longing Alithea
Jackie van Beek Nude Tuesday Laura
Sophie Wilde Talk to Me Mia
Shantae Barnes-Cowan Sweet As Murra
Cate Blanchett The New Boy Sister Eileen
Zar Amir Ebrahimi Shayda Shayda
Julia Garner The Royal Hotel Hanna
Sarah Snook Run Rabbit Run Sarah


A^ : From 1958–2010, the awards were held during the year of the film's release. However, the 1974–1975 awards were held in 1975 for films released in 1974 and 1975, and the first AACTA Awards were held in 2012 for films released in 2011.[10][11]


  1. ^ "AACTA – The Academy". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Archived from the original on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  2. ^ "AACTA – The Academy – The Awards". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b "AACTA – The Academy – Background". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Retrieved 23 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ French, Lisa; Poole, Mark (2009). Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute. Australian Teachers of Media. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-876467-20-3.
  5. ^ "IMDb Australian Film Institute Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Part2: Rule 5.6 – Special Conditions for Feature Film; Special Rules for Acting Awards" (PDF). 2013 AACTA Awards Rule Book. Australian Film Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  7. ^ Winners and nominees by year:
  8. ^ Additional winners and nominees references:
    • French, Lisa; Poole, Mark (2009). Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute. Australian Teachers of Media. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-876467-20-3.
    • French, Lisa; Poole, Mark (2009). Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute. Australian Teachers of Media. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-876467-20-3.
    • French, Lisa; Poole, Mark (2009). Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute. Australian Teachers of Media. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-876467-20-3.
    • French, Lisa; Poole, Mark (2009). Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute. Australian Teachers of Media. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-876467-20-3.
  9. ^ "Winners & Nominees | AACTA".
  10. ^ "AACTA – Past Winners – 1970–1979 – 1974–1975". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  11. ^ Bodey, Michael (8 November 2011). "Industry academy announces new awards". The Australian. News Limited (News Corporation). Retrieved 5 June 2012.

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