48 user 24 critic

My Brilliant Career (1979)

2:07 | Trailer
A proud young woman in early 20th century Australia must choose between marriage and independence.


Gillian Armstrong (as Gill Armstrong)


Eleanor Witcombe (screenplay), Miles Franklin (novel)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Judy Davis ... Sybylla Melvyn
Sam Neill ... Harry Beecham
Wendy Hughes ... Aunt Helen
Robert Grubb ... Frank Hawdon
Max Cullen ... Mr. McSwatt
Aileen Britton Aileen Britton ... Grandma Bossier
Peter Whitford ... Uncle Julius
Patricia Kennedy Patricia Kennedy ... Aunt Gussie
Alan Hopgood Alan Hopgood ... Father
Julia Blake ... Mother
David Franklin ... Horace
Marion Shad Marion Shad ... Gertie
Arron Wood Arron Wood ... Stanley
Sue Davies Sue Davies ... Aurora
Gordon Piper Gordon Piper ... Barman


Sybylla Melvyn is an independent young woman who soon after arriving to live with her grandmother, and aunt announces she'll never marry and plans on having a career instead. She attracts the interest of several suitors; bumbling Englishman Frank Hawdon, her handsome neighbour, the handsome young farmer, Harry Beecham, who she's attracted to. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes it is the things that bind us, that truly set us free. See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Judy Davis almost won the Cannes Best Actress Award for this film and only lost that award by only one vote. Davis also won two BAFTA Awards in the same year which were in relation to this film, one of them being for Best Actress. However, despite all this, Davis still didn't win her home country Best Actress Award at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, that gong went to Michele Fawdon for Cathy's Child (1979). See more »


[first lines]
Sybylla: Possum Gully, Australia. 1897. Dear fellow countrymen, just a few lines to let you know that this story is going to be all about me. So, in answer to many requests, here is the story of my career... here is the story, of my career... my *brilliant* career. I make no apology for being egotistical... because I am!
See more »


Referenced in Puttin' on the Show: The Making of 'Starstruck' (2004) See more »

User Reviews

Even twenty odd years after I first saw it, this film makes me want to cheer. Gillian Armstrong, if you're out there, thank you!
4 December 2000 | by wseSee all my reviews

My mother took me to see this film when I was ten, the year before she died. It changed my entire perspective on the world, set me free from the constraints of fairy tales and inspired me to do something worthwhile with my life (write). I've seen it a few times since then, and found it improved in pace with my understanding.

Apparently Judy Davis didn't like this character or sympathize with her. All I can say is that I'm glad she went ahead and took the role anyway. Sybylla is like Cinderella with a twist worthy of M. Night Shymalan.

The film is sometimes beautiful and lyrical, sometimes depressing and ugly. At all times it is believable because the forces driving Sybylla transcend time and place: creativity and independence. This film taught me that a gilded cage is still a cage.

Even twenty odd years after I first saw it, this film makes me want to cheer. Gillian Armstrong, if you're out there, thank you!

37 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 48 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.


Official Sites:






Release Date:

17 August 1979 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

My Brilliant Career See more »


Box Office


AUD800,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed