The Australian Film Critics Circle has nominated Australian Rules, produced by Mark Lazarus, Rabbit-Proof Fence (Phillip Noyce, Christine Olsen), The Tracker (Rolf de Heer, Julie Ryan), and Walking On Water (Liz Watts) for best film in this year's awards.

Noyce and de Heer have also been nominated for their role as directors as has Tony Ayres (Walking On Water) and Ivan Sen (Beneath Clouds). Walking On Water is the only one of the five films mentioned that is not wrapped around a strong indigenous theme.

Leading actors to receive nods are Toni Collette (Dirty Deeds), Dannielle Hall (Beneath Clouds), Everlyn Sampi (Rabbit-Proof Fence) and Marie Theodorakis (Walking On Water); and in the male category, Vince Colosimo (Walking On Water), David Gulpilil (The Tracker), Guy Pearce (The Hard Word), and Nathan Phillips (Australian Rules).

The nominations for best foreign film are Gosford Park, Monster's Ball and Mulholland Drive in the English language category, and The Circle, Italian For Beginners and Y Tu Mama Tambien in the non-English language category. The awards will be announced on October 31.

The critics' nominations kicks off awards season in Australia. The IF Awards and the AFI Awards announce their nominations next week with the IF Awards staging its ceremony on November 6.

The AFI Awards was scheduled for mid-November but negotiations are apparently still continuing over what date suits Network Ten, which is planning to broadcast the event.