Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger was posthumously honored with a top acting award by the Australian Film Institute for his final completed film role in The Dark Knight.

A native of Perth, Australia, Ledger, who died of an accidental overdose in January, earned AFI's international award for best actor on Sunday's ceremony, which also paid tribute to him, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The award was accepted on Ledger's behalf by his father, Kim; mother, Sally; and sister, Kate.

"It has been without a doubt the most difficult year, losing such a loved family member," Kate said. "We are so proud of him and humbly accept this award on behalf of his beautiful daughter [Matilda, 3, with ex Michelle Williams] who we will cherish forever."

The honor could be the first of many for the late star, whose chilling portrayal of The Joker is regarded as a solid bet for the supporting actor Oscar race. Co-star Michael Caine has repeatedly said Ledger, who was previously nominated in lead for 2005's Brokeback Mountain, would nab at least a nod.

Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 22 — the one-year anniversary of Ledger's death.