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Best Australasian Films

My top 100.
See also my top ten.
See also my best list by date. (This list is in alpha order. )
(All merely my opinion. You might want to compare this list with the AFI's best films.)
I have a silly list of worst films too.
See also my list of second-best films (another 50).

The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliott, 1994) Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce

One of the ABBA films: amazing that there are two (as well as the doco about the actual band); this film has flair (and flares).

Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, 2010) Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver; crime; Cannes

Superficially like the The Boys - and at least as good as it is, which is saying something. But it's different; and even darker.

Bad Blood (Mike Newell, 1981) Jack Thompson, Carol Burns; NZ; drama; VHS; 113 min.

This has the single most powerful performance by an actor in any Australasian film—from Jack Thompson.

Beneath Clouds (Ivan Sen, 2002) Damian Pitt, Dannielle Hall

A personal favourite: this shows what life is like for many rural (but not remote) First Australians - and also vignettes of their relations with (some) non-Aboriginal people. It's beautifully photographed - the director started as a stills photographer.

The Big Steal (Nadia Tass, 1990) wr. David Parker with Max Dunn, dp David Parker; Ben Mendelsohn, Claudia Karvan, Steve Bisley, Marshall Napier, Tim Robertson; romantic comedy, revenge fantasy

Another charming film from the Tass-Parker partnership, about a young man and his Jaguar, and his father's Cedric (that's another car).

Blackfellas (James Ricketson, 1993) Day of the Dog, novel by Archie Weller; John Moore, David Ngoombujarra, Jaylene Riley, Ernie Dingo, Julie Hudspeth, John Hargreaves

Mostly distinguished by the fine performance of David Ngoombujarra.

The Boys (Rowan Woods, 1997) prod. Robert Connolly, John Maynard; David Wenham, Toni Collette, John Polson, Lynette Curran, Anthony Hayes, Jeanette Cronin, Anna Lise

A very dysfunctional family, and a heinous crime: tough going.

Breaker Morant (Bruce Beresford, 1980) dp Don McAlpine; Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson, John Waters, Bryan Brown, Allan Cassell, Terry Donovan, Charles Tingwell, John Waters

Aussies against the Boer (and the British) - fine performances, sustained seriousness.

Burning Man (Jonathan Teplitzky, 2011) Matthew Goode, Bojana Novakovic, Essie Davis, Rachel Griffiths, Kerry Fox, Kate Beahan

I can't think of another film with so many fine performances from women. Pity about the leading actor.

The Cars that Ate Paris (Peter Weir, 1974) wr. Peter Weir, dp John McLean; Terry Camilleri, John Meillon, Chris Haywood, Max Gillies, Kevin Miles, Tim Robertson, Bruce Spence; thriller

The finest of Australian gothic.

The Castle (Rob Sitch, 1997) Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Anthony Simcoe, Sophie Lee, Wayne Hope, Tiriel Mora, Eric Bana, Charles Tingwell

Possibly the most popular Australian film ever (with Australians), it's actually cutting satire, but somehow appeals to nationalism.

Charlie's Country (Rolf de Heer, 2013) wr. Rolf de Heer, prod. Nils Erik Nielsen, dp Ian Jones; David Gulpilil, Luke Ford, Ritchie Singer, Peter Djigirr

Pretty close to being a documentary of Gulparil in the last years of his life (though nominally fictive) de Heer's film gives you an invaluable insight into the life of a man between cultures.

Chopper (Andrew Dominik, 2000) Eric Bana, Vince Colosimo, Simon Lyndon, David Field

Eric Bana is scary; apparently the real Chopper Read approved - which is even scarier.

Cosi (Mark Joffe, 1996) wr. Louis Nowra (also play); Barry Otto, Ben Mendelsohn, Toni Collette, Pamela Rabe, Jacki Weaver, Paul Chubb, Colin Hay, David Wenham, Colin Friels, Aden Young, Rachel Griffiths, Kerry Fletcher

Based on Nowra's own experience working in an institution, this provides an opportunity for great performances from a large number of Australian actors: I think it's Wenham's best work, along with The Boys.

Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, 1986) Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon, David Gulpilil

I hardly need to tell you about the most successful Australian film ever.

Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998) wr. Alex Proyas; Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly; SF

Very good SF.

Dead Calm (Phillip Noyce, 1989) wr. Terry Hayes, novel Charles Williams, The Deep; Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Billy Zane

Excellent suspenser.

The Devil's Playground (Fred Schepisi, 1976) dp Ian Baker; Simon Burke, Arthur Dignam, Tom Kenneally, John Diedrich, Sheila Florance, Nick Tate

Catholic culture oppressing both the priests and the boys in a seminary.

The Dish (Rob Sitch, 2000) comedy; Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long

The second film from the team that made The Castle: not quite as successful, but still very good, and in the same ways.

Don's Party (Bruce Beresford, 1976) wr. David Williamson, dp Don McAlpine; Ray Barrett, Claire Binney, Pat Bishop, Jeanie Drynan, John Hargreaves, Harold Hopkins, Graham Kennedy, Graeme Blundell, Veronica Lang, Candy Raymond

From a David Williamson play, this offers a comedic take on bourgeois life with boozing, sexual shenanigans, and party politics - in the context of an election party meant to celebrate a left-wing win.

Gallipoli (Peter Weir, 1981) wr. David Williamson, dp Russell Boyd; Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Hunter, Robert Grubb, Bill Kerr, David Argue, Harold Hopkins

The ANZAC film we had to have: it's much better than it might have been; unforgettable ending.

The Goddess Of 1967 (Clara Law, 2000) dp Dion Beebe; Rose Byrne

By far the best of the Japanese-meets-Australian films, this one was shot by Oscar-winning Dion Beebe. (The goddess is a Citroën DS.)

Goldstone (Ivan Sen, 2016) prod. David Jowsey, Bunya Productions, Aaron Pedersen, Jacki Weaver, Alex Russell, David Gulpilil, David Wenham, Tom E. Lewis; spinoff from Mystery Road; shot Winton, Qld

More or less a continuation of Mystery Road; with the same high quality we expect from all of Ivan Sen's extraordinary work.

Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson, 1995) Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet; NZ

True story about a girl who killed her parents: anything made by Peter Jackson is at least interesting.

High Tide (Gillian Armstrong, 1987) prod. Sandra Levy, wr. Laura Jones; Judy Davis, Claudia Karvan, Jan Adele, Colin Friels; woman accidentally rediscovers her daughter, who has been brought up by her paternal grandmother

I'm interested in family melodramas, and this is one of the better ones: how could it not be good, with both Judy Davis and Colin Friels?

Idiot Box (David Caesar, 1996) Ben Mendelsohn, Jeremy Sims, John Polson, Susie Porter; Kev and Mick rob a bank cos it seems like a good idea at the time

A sordid little tale; but a beautifully crafted film: it's what David Caesar does.

Interview, The (Craig Monahan, 1998) Hugo Weaving, Tony Martin, Aaron Jeffrey, Paul Sonkkila

One room, two men: excellent police procedural on a very small scale.

Japanese Story (Sue Brooks, 2003) wr. Alison Tilson, prod. Sue Maslin, ed. Jill Bilcock; Toni Collette, Gotaro Tsunashima; set and shot in Perth and the Pilbara; well-connected Japanese executive comes to Western Australian to inspect iron-ore mining and is driven into the bush by geologist (Collette)

Good try, especially from Collette: Japanese viewers see Hiro as too stereotypical.

Jedda (Charles Chauvel, 1955) Ngarla Kunoth, Robert Tudawali, Betty Suttor, Paul Reynall; stolen generations story, with young Aboriginal woman raised by white family and torn between two cultures

The Noble man who is too Savage to live; and the little girl torn between cultures: an important film, and not just because it was the first to be shot in colour.

Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence, 2006) wr. Beatrix Christian; Gabriel Byrne, Laura Linney, Deborra-Lee Furness, Chris Haywood, John Howard, Max Cullen, Leah Purcell

It's possible to see this as (merely) a bourgeois relationship morality drama, but the (black-white) cultural clash (tho a bit separate - as is the thriller aspect) is worth attending to.

Kiss or Kill (Bill Bennett, 1997) dp Malcolm McCulloch; Matt Day, Frances O'Connor, Chris Haywood, Barry Otto, Andrew S. Gilbert, Barry Langrishe, Max Cullen, Syd Brisbane

As I said about Idiot Box, it's a sordid little tale; but a beautifully crafted film. If it's not in my top ten, it'll have to be in the top twelve: Bill Bennett will prolly never make a better film, tho David Caesar might.

Lantana (Ray Lawrence, 2001) wr. Andrew Bovell; Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake, Vince Colosimo, Russell Dykstra, Daniella Farinacci, Peter Phelps, Leah Purcell, Glenn Robbins

One of the best films ever written in Australia, this one allows an insight into half a dozen urban relationships of different kinds.

The Last Days of Chez Nous (Gillian Armstrong, 1992) wr. Helen Garner; Lisa Harrow, Bruno Ganz, Kerry Fox, Miranda Otto, Kiri Paramore, Bill Hunter

Two sisters, but only one Frenchman - not to mention a father and a daughter - and my favourite 'tourism' scene.

The Last Wave (Peter Weir, 1977) Richard Chamberlain, David Gulpilil; thriller

Weird, but memorable.

Lilian's Story (Jerzy Domaradzki, 1996) novel Kate Grenville 1984, based on Bea Miles; Ruth Cracknell, Barry Otto, Toni Collette

Powerful film with the two best actresses of their generations playing the same character at different ages. Warning: incest.

Little Fish (Rowan Woods, 2005) Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Sam Neill, Martin Henderson, Dustin Nguyen, Joel Tobeck, Noni Hazlehurst, Lisa McCune, Susie Porter; woman tries to escape her past as a heroin addict and set up a business in Sydney's west

Cabramatta, heroin, Little Saigon, Blanchett.

Long Weekend (Colin Eggleston, 1979) wr. Everett de Roche, dp Vincent Monton; John Hargreaves, Briony Behets; thriller

This was remade in 2008 with the same writer (tho shdn't've been: the later film is trash); the earlier one is a truly remarkable film: creepy, surprising - and it has John Hargreaves: what's to not like?

Love in Limbo (David Elfick, 1993) Craig Adams, Aden Young, Maya Stange, Samantha Murray, Russell Crowe, Rhondda Findleton; three boys drive to Kalgoorlie WA to try to lose their virginity

Charming film with lovely 1950s production design.

Love Serenade (Shirley Barrett, 1996) wr. Shirley Barrett, dp Mandy Walker; Miranda Otto, Rebecca Frith, George Shevtsov, John Alansu; two sisters compete for the attentions of DJ new to small town, Sunray

A personal favourite: I like the quirky portrait of the country town, and the surrealist ending.

Lucky Miles (Michael James Rowland, 2007) Kenneth Moraleda, Rodney Afif, Sri Sacdpreseuth, Don Hany, Sean Mununggurr; illegal immigrants landed on remote WA coast by Indonesian people smugglers

The best Boat People film, it also has fun with its Australian characters.

Mad Max (Dr George Miller, 1979) Mel Gibson, Steve Bisley, Vince Gil, Hugh Keays-Byrne

George Miller's first film is still very popular: great stunts.

Mad Max 2 (Dr George Miller, 1981) aka The Road Warrior, dp Dean Semler; Mel Gibson, Emil Minty, Kjell Nilsson, Max Phipps, Mike Preston, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells, Virginia Hey, William Zappa, Arkie Whitelely

Some people think the second one is better.

Malcolm (Nadia Tass, 1986) dp David Parker; Colin Friels, John Hargreaves, Lindy Davies, Chris Haywood, Charles Tingwell

David Parker had a lot of fun making the gadgets for this one, a portrait of a 'special person' engagingly created by the dependable Colin Friels - and the late great John Hargreaves is in it.

Man of Flowers (Paul Cox, 1983) wr. Paul Cox, Bob Ellis, dp Yuri Sokol; Norman Kaye, Alyson Best, Chris Haywood, Sarah Walker, Julia Blake, Bob Ellis, Barry Dickins, Patrick Cook, Victoria Eagger, Werner Herzog

This is the best of the Australian 'art' films, in all the meanings of the term.

Monkey Grip (Ken Cameron, 1982) novel by Helen Garner; Noni Hazlehurst, Colin Friels, Alice Garner, Tim Burns, Michael Caton, Harold Hopkins, Candy Raymond

Written from life by Helen Garner, this is an investigation of drug addiction (inter alia) with more depth than a mere melodrama.

Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) ed. Jill Bilcock; Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, John Leguizamo

Spectacular! Baz will never make a better film, or have a better editor: Jill Bilcock.

Mullet (David Caesar, 2001) wr. David Caesar; Ben Mendelsohn, Susie Porter, Andrew S. Gilbert, Belinda McClory, Tony Barry, Kris McQuade

Young man returns to country town, but, more to the point, to his mildly dysfunctional but basically loving family.

Muriel's Wedding (P. J. Hogan, 1994) Toni Collette, Bill Hunter, Rachel Griffiths, Sophie Lee

A (melodramatic) comedy, so not particularly realistic; but deservedly memorable: 'You're terrible, Muriel.'

Mystery Road (Ivan Sen, 2013) wr. dp ed. Ivan Sen, prod. David Jowsey; Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Ryan Kwanten, Tony Barry, Tasma Walton, Damian Walshe-Howling, Siobhan Binge, David Field, Robert Mammone, Trisha Whitton; shot in Winton, Qld; release 17Oct13

It has to have a plot; everything else is superb.

Ned Kelly (Gregor Jordan, 2003) Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Joel Edgerton, Anthony Hayes, Naomi Watts

Best of the many Kelly films. Not saying much.

Newsfront (Phillip Noyce, 1978) wr. Phillip Noyce, orig. script Bob Ellis, dp Vincent Monton; Bill Hunter, Wendy Hughes, Gerard Kennedy, Chris Haywood, John Ewart, Bryan Brown

I'm can't think of a better film from the 1970s. This has religion breaking up families, an ugly American, the Redex Trial, and it's a dramatised doco of the newsreel wars of the 1940-50s. Plus my friend Sharon as an extra in the water polo scene - right next to Gerard Kennedy.

Nightingale, The (Jennifer Kent, 2018) wr. Jennifer Kent, prod. Kristina Ceyton, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky; Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Magnolia Maymuru; drama set Tasmania 1829

Too violent for me, but it won four AACTAs, including the top two awards in 2019, so it was thought to be very good indeed.

Nitram (Justin Kurzel, 2021) wr. Shaun Grant; Caleb Landry Jones, Judy Davis, Essie Davis, Anthony LaPaglia, Sean Keenan; screened Cannes

Nitram won Best Film at the AACTAs; Jones won best actor. Although a (Port Arthur mass murderer) Martin Bryant biopic, he is not named.

Once Were Warriors (Lee Tamahori, 1994) Temuera Morrison (Jake the Muss), Rena Owen; NZ

Temuera Morrison does some real acting in this: apparently it cost him. Kitchen-sink.

Oyster Farmer (Anna Reeves, 2004) wr. Anna Reeves, dp Alun Bollinger; Alex O'Lachlan, Kerry Armstrong, David Field, Diana Glenn, Jack Thompson, David Kelly, Jim Norton, Claudia Harrison, Alan Cinis; romantic comedy set in Australian-style frontier country (shot on NSW Central Coast, around Brooklyn) with eighth-generation oyster farmers

A quirky and charming little film; fine cinematography from Kiwi Bollinger: shot on the Hawkesbury.

Patrick (Richard Franklin, 1978) wr. Everett de Roche, dp Don McAlpine; Susan Penhaligon, Rod Mullinar, Robert Helpmann, Bruce Barry, Julia Blake

A genuine thriller from a Hitchcock-trained director; the eponymous character never speaks - or closes his eyes.

Pear ta ma 'on maf (Vilsoni Hereniko, 2004) aka The Land Has Eyes; Sapeta Taito, Rena Owen, John Fatiaki

One of a kind: possibly the only feature from Fiji, and certainly the only one from Rotuma (a remote island which is technically part of Fiji).

Perfect Strangers (Gaylene Preston, 2003) wr. Gaylene Preston, dp Alun Bollinger; Sam Neill, Rachael Blake, Joel Tobeck; prod. Huntaway Films (Sam Neill, John Clarke, Jay Cassells); NZ

I've seen this several times: it's fascinating.

The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993) prod. Jan Chapman; Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin, Sam Neill, Harvey Keitel, Kerry Walker, Genevieve Lemon, Tungia Baker

Deserved its Oscars: how often can you say that? Campion's crazy idea for a big film paid off: she'll prolly never make a better: it is so impressive.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975) novel by Joan Lindsay, dp Russell Boyd; Kirsty Child, John Fegan, Vivean Gray, Dominic Guard, John Jarratt, Anne Lambert, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Ingrid Mason, Garry McDonald, Helen Morse, Rachel Roberts, Martin Vaughan, Jacki Weaver; thriller

Possibly the classic Aussie film? The basic idea - a parallel universe, or something - is nuts, but it makes for a slightly creepy and very beautiful film. Much better than anything Weir has done since he's been slacking off in Hollywood.

Proof (Jocelyn Moorhouse, 1991) Hugo Weaving, Genevieve Picot, Russell Crowe, Heather Mitchell

This is a gem.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (Phillip Noyce, 2001) wr. Christine Olsen, based on book by Doris Pilkington Garimara, dp Christopher Doyle; Everlyn Sampi, Kenneth Branagh, David Gulpilil, Tianna Sainsbury, Ningali Lawford, Laura Monaghan, Deborah Mailman; Molly Kelly and Daisy Kadibil appear briefly at the end; based on true story about Aboriginal children escaping custody in the 1930s

This is the Stolen Generations film we had to have: it's an emotional experience.

Radiance (Rachel Perkins, 1998) wr. Louis Nowra, play and screenplay, dp Warwick Thornton; Deborah Mailman (Nona), Rachael Maza (Cressy), Trisha Morton-Thomas (Mae); story of reunion between three Aboriginal sisters

Another Louis Nowra play very successfully transferred to the screen.

Rain (Christine Jeffs, 2003) Sarah Peirse, Marton Csokas, Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, Alistair Browning, Aaron Murphy; NZ

A special little coming-of-age film.

Razorback (Russell Mulcahy, 1984) wr. Everett de Roche, dp Dean Semler; Gregory Harrison, Arkie Whiteley, Bill Kerr, Chris Haywood, David Argue, Judy Morris

Can be seen as an OTT melodramatic gothic romp, but it's set apart by a number of things, and especially the photography of Dean Semler.

Red Hill (Patrick Hughes, 2010) western; Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley, Tommy Lewis

Definitely the best western made in Australia.

Return Home (Ray Argall, 1990) wr. Ray Argall; Dennis Coard, Frankie J. Holden, Ben Mendelsohn, Micki Camilleri, Rachel Rains; two brothers reunited

Just a good little suburban social-realistic movie.

Roadgames (Richard Franklin, 1981) wr. Everett DeRoche, from short story by Richard Franklin, Everett De Roche, dp Vincent Monton; Stacey Keach, Jamie Lee Curtis, Marion Edward, Grant Page, Thaddeus Smith, Alan Hopgood

Hitchcock-like thriller, but with human interest in the relationship between the characters played by American actors Curtis and Keach - and his dingo.

Romper Stomper (Geoffrey Wright, 1992) Russell Crowe, Daniel Pollock, Jacqueline McKenzie

Powerful performances from all three leads. Anyone who runs down Russell Crowe hasn't seen this film. Just in case you don't already know: it's has neo-Nazis, inter alia.

Shine (Scott Hicks, 1996) wr. Jan Sardi; Geoffrey Rush (AA), Noah Taylor, John Gielgud, Googie Withers, Lynn Redgrave; young David Helfgott is traumatised by martinet father

Oscar(s) deserved.

Somersault (Cate Shortland, 2004) aka More Than Scarlet (working title); prod. Anthony Anderson, Jan Chapman, dp Robert Humphreys; Abbie Cornish, Sam Worthington, Lynette Curran, Erik Thompson, Anne Louise Lambert; premiere MIFF Wed 21 July 2004; discovery of the difference between sex and love in Jindabyne, an Australian winter ski resort town; standing ovation at Cannes 2004; Toronto FF September 2004; general release 9 Sept 2004; won all 13 awards at the AFIs 29 October 2004; review: Richard Luck, Empire, 43, October 2004: 27; see also: 35; 106 min.

Won more awards than it deserved, but is a genuinely good film.

Spotswood (Mark Joffe, 1992) Anthony Hopkins, Ben Mendelsohn, Alwyn Kurts, Bruno Lawrence, John Walton, Rebecca Rigg, Toni Collette, Russell Crowe; mocassin factory shaken by arrival of time-and-motion expert

Charming little film, the only one to bring Hopkins and Crowe together.

Stone (Sandy Harbutt, 1974) wr. Sandy Harbutt; Ken Shorter, Sandy Harbutt, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Vincent Gil; Stone is an undercover cop who infiltrates a bikie gang when several of its members are murdered

A powerful film that I imagine bikies would like: it has real bikies in it. Tho Sandy Harbutt played a main part, as well as writing and directing it, it was the last film on which he ever worked.

Storm Boy (Henri Safran, 1976) from novel by Colin Thiele, dp Geoff Burton; Greg Rowe, David Gulpilil, Peter Cummins, Judy Dick, Grant Page; white boy befriends pelican and outcast Aborigine, Fingerbone Bill, banished by his Kunai people

Gulpilil's most attractive character.

Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann, 1992) dp Steve Mason; Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Pat Thomson, Gia Carides, Peter Whitford, Barry Otto, Antonio Vargas

Baz's first red curtain film: the start of something.

Sunday Too Far Away (Ken Hannam, 1975) prod. Gil Brealey, Matt Carroll, South Australian Film Corporation, wr. John Dingwall, dp Geoff Burton, music Patrick Flynn; Jack Thompson, Max Cullen, Robert Bruning, Jerry Thomas, Peter Cummins, John Ewart, Sean Scully, Reg Lye, Graham Smith, Ken Shorter, Lisa Peers

Such a realistic portrayal of a shearer's life in the 1950s that it might almost be considered to be a documentary, this film was messed about with by the distributors, so a couple of strands in the narrative look odd.

Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr, 2006) wr. Rolf de Heer; performed entirely in the Ganalbingu language of David Gulpilil's Yolngu people and "one of the few Australian feature films to rely on English subtitles"

Much more than a pseudo-anthropological film, it has a great voice-over by David Gulpilil.

Vacant Possession (Margot Nash, 1995) Pamela Rabe, John Stanton, Olivia Patten as Millie provides the commentary on the actual relationship of white and black

This undeservedly forgotten film comments on European presence in Australia since 1788 in a unique way. Vacant possession = terra nullius, and it's actually set in modern Botany Bay. I hope it's not forgotten, and soon released on DVD; it's very good.

Waiting (Jackie McKimmie, 1991) Noni Hazlehurst (AFI Best Actress), Deborra-Lee Furness, Frank Whitten, Helen Jones, Denis Moore, Fiona Press, Ray Barrett

Little ripper of a film, mostly about women: Hazlehurst really was pregnant, as you'll see (if you can ever get hold of a copy).

Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971) aka Outback (US); wr. Evan Jones, novel Kenneth Cook, dp Brian West, ed. Anthony Buckley; Gary Bond, Donald Pleasance, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson, John Meillon

So dark in style that it goes beyond realism, this film, directed by a Canadian, presents a bleak view of life in the more remote parts of Australia (whites only).

Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971) wr. Edward Bond, novel James Vance Marshall, dp Nicolas Roeg; Jenny Agutter, Lucien John [Roeg], David Gulpilil, John Meillon; UK production about two white Australian children stranded in desert and helped to safety by young Aborigine

Another view of Australia from a foreigner - before we had any views ourselves - this remains admirably poetic - despite some Roegish exploitation.

Walking on Water (Tony Ayres, 2002) Vince Colosimo, Maria Theodorakis, Nathaniel Dean, Judy Farr, Nicholas Bishop, David Bonney, Daniel Roberts, Anna Lise Phillips

Tony Ayres's first film has a gay subject: it's not claiming much to suggest that it's the best 'gay' film to that date, as there were not very many.

Wolf Creek (Greg McLean, 2005) John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Nathan Phillips, Kestie Morassi; three backpackers unwisely accept help from a seemingly friendly local in the Australian outback

Loosely based on the real-life Ivan Milat and Peter Falconio stories, this comes to very scary life with the astonishing performance of John Jarratt - one of the best in Australian film, yet not rewarded in the AFIs that year. Hugo Weaving won it for Little Fish. Jarratt was robbed, and he knew it.

The Year My Voice Broke (John Duigan, 1987) Noah Taylor, Loene Carmen, Ben Mendelsohn, Graeme Blundell, Lynette Curran

Duigan's other coming-of-age-in-country-town story: see also Flirting. He meant to make three, but didn't.

Yolngu Boy (Stephen Johnson, 2001) Sean Mununggur, John Sebastian Pilakui, Nathan Daniels

Covers some of the same ground as Samson and Delilah, but does much more also, and does it much better.

References and Links

Peter Morrow's personal list of 600 Australian features ranked from best to worst.

Peter Morrow's page of professional critics' ratings of Australian feature films from 5 stars down.

Garry Gillard | New: 12 May, 2007 | Now: 15 January, 2023