Jane Campion’s dark western The Power Of The Dog, which has led the pack at the 94th Academy Award nominations, explores the complicated relationship between two men.
The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as cruel rancher Phil Burbank, Kodi Smit McPhee as timid young man Peter, as well as Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons.
It earned 12 nods at this year’s nominations, including best picture, best director, best actor for Cumberbatch, best supporting actress for Dunst and best supporting actor for both Plemons and Smit McPhee.
Based on a 1967 novel of the same name by Thomas Savage, the story takes place in Montana in 1925.
The Burbank brothers, Cumberbatch and Plemons, meet Rose Gordon and her son Peter, Dunst and Smit McPhee, during a cattle drive.
Plemons’ character is quickly taken by Dunst’s Rose and they later marry.
The pair are the first real life acting couple to be nominated for Oscars for the same film since Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? in 1967.
There is tension in the newly created family as Cumberbatch’s rancher is volatile and aggressive towards Smit McPhee’s character.
However, as time goes on, this initially hostile relationship softens and becomes more complex.
Cumberbatch was previously nominated for a best actor Oscar for The Imitation Game in 2015 but it is Smit McPhee’s first nod from the Academy.
Campion has made history as the first woman to be nominated for the best director Oscar twice, having been nominated for The Piano in 1994, and has landed her first best picture nomination.
The film’s producers, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, said it was an “incredible privilege” to have worked with Campion. They described her as “a visionary director and one of the world’s finest filmmakers”.
“Her artistry and graceful command of this story can be seen in every frame of the film and we are so grateful to The Academy for recognising it with 12 nominations,” the producers said.
Other nominations garnered by the film were best adapted screenplay, best cinematography, best editing, best original score, best production design and best sound.