Bill Hunter did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Major Barton in Gallipoli.
The real meat of Hunter's performance comes when the light cavalry is finally put into action as infantry who must attempt to take the enemy position by running across no man's land. Hunter is terrific in the scene as he shows the way Major Barton changes just through the course of initiating the plan. At the beginning Hunter keeps Barton as the likable enough superior, as a man it is completely understandable why he would allow Frank to take Archy's place as message carrier simply because of Archy's plead to him. Hunter begins with Barton with the humanitarian bent as he shows concern that the enemies turret guns have not been displaced, but Hunter still portrays the military restrictions as the man as he still is determined to proceed with the plan.
The last sequence of the film is amazing held together brilliantly by the performances of Gibson, Lee and Hunter who actually is equally important to the power of this end. Where Archy just has to wait until being called to make the run for the enemy lines, Frank also must follow orders to transfer the messages only allowed slight sway in the proceedings, and even Major Barton must follow orders although is allowed to think about it for a little longer. Hunter is exceptional in portraying the increasing desperation in Major Barton as he sees that his men barely make it on the field before being quickly killed by the onslaught of machine gun fire that rains down upon them.
Where Lee's Archy is the unfortunate soldier, and Gibson shows the futile attempt of a man to make a difference, Hunter shows the unfortunate reality of the chain of command in his performance as Major Barton. Barton could have easily been made to be a foolish lifeless man ordering the deaths of others, but the writing and Hunter's take on the major makes the ending of the film far more powerful. Hunter shows the humanity still in Barton and you can see how every death is tearing him apart to the point where he becomes a shaking mess of despair, but nevertheless Hunter still shows that restrictions in the man that forces him to follow his orders even in his emotional devastation. Hunter gives a remarkable performance by making Major Barton a good man who allows the deaths of men because it is his orders to do so.