Australian Films in World Cinema

Which Australian films are well-regarded internationally?

In the last 20 years, a number of publications have begun to produce lists of the ‘1,000 greatest films ever made’. High profile lists have are been produced by the New York Times (2004), Halliwell’s Film Guide (2005), The Guardian (2007), Empire movie magazine (2013), the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die series of books  (2003-2015) and the online film statistics site They Shoot Movies Don’t They (2005-2015).

27 Australian films have been included in at least one of these lists, as shown in the table below. The most commonly chosen are the films of our 1970s film renaissance – Walkabout, Picnic At Hanging Rock, Mad Max 1 and 2, Gallipoli, Breaker Morant, the Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, My Brilliant Career, Wake in Fright, Newsfront and The Last Wave.

However a number of films from the 1990s Second Wave directors have also been listed, such as Strictly Ballroom, Shine, Muriel’s Wedding, The Castle, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Romper Stomper and Bad Boy Bubby.

Finally some more recent films from the current century made the lists, particularly Lantana and Rabbit-Proof Fence, but also Chopper, Snowtown and Animal Kingdom.

It should also be mentioned that Ten Canoes, Rolf De Heer’s 2006 film, which was the first feature completely in an Aboriginal language, also made Empire magazine’s top Foreign Language film list in 2013.

Australian films make up slightly over 1% of the almost 2,000 films included on one of the six lists, which doesn’t seem too bad, considering the dormant state of our industry during the 1940s, 50s and 60s when the US, Europe and Japan were experiencing classic eras. The oldest Australian film listed is The Overlanders from 1946, which was somewhat generously included on the New York Times list only. 16 Australian films made the Empire magazine’s list of 500 films which had a much more modern slant than the other lists (which took many more films from the classic 1940-1970 era), and our films made up over 3% of the Empire list.


If you can’t read the table above in your reader, here it is in list form (symbols explained below):

Walkabout  (1971)        H(114), T(463), N, M

Picnic at Hanging Rock  (1975)      H(192), T(556), M, G

Mad Max (1979)         E(362), N, M, G, T(1001+)

Lantana  (2001)       H(565), E(456), M, G

The Year of Living Dangerously  (1983)     E(167), M, G, T(1001+)

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior   (1981)    E(288), T(515), N

Gallipoli  (1981)       E(317), N, M, T(1001+)

‘Breaker’ Morant  (1980)    H(310), E(488), N

Shine  (1996)     H(515), E(382), M

Rabbit-Proof Fence  (2002)    H617), E(366), M

My Brilliant Career  (1979)       H(917), M, G, T(1001+)

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)  H(118), M

The Castle  (1997)      E(72)

Strictly Ballroom  (1992)     H(632), M

Babe (1995)         H(924), M, T(1001+)

Romper Stomper (1992)    E(392), M

Wake in Fright  (1971)        E(442), M, T(1001+)

The Adventures of Priscilla, QOTD (1994)   E(417), M

Crocodile Dundee  (1986)     E(449), G

Newsfront  (1978)        H(460)

Snowtown (2011)        E(232)

Chopper (2000)       E(299)

Animal Kingdom (2010)     E(345)

The Last Wave (1977)        M, T(1001+)

Dead Calm (1989)          N

The Overlanders  (1946)        N

Muriel’s Wedding  (1994)     M

Bad Boy Bubby  (1993)       G


H – Halliwell’s Top 1000 with ranking number

E – Empire’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time  with ranking number

T – They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? (TSPDT) 1,000 Greatest Films with ranking number

N – New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made

M – 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

G – The Guardian 1000 Films to See Before You Die

T(1001+) – They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? (TSPDT) unranked list of films ranked between 1,000 and 2,000

Information on the lists

Ranked lists (where the author has ranked films from 1 to 500 or 1000)

These include:

Halliwell’s Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown (2005) Halliwell’s Movie Guide was a prestigious movie guide to up to 24,000 movies published annually between 1977 and 2008. In 2005 Halliwell’s released its top 1000 movies ranked from 1 to 1000. (See here and here). The book included 11 Australian films.

Empire’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time (2013) Empire is a British film magazine published monthly since 1989. In 2013 it published a list of its 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, ranked from 1 to 500 (see here and here) which included 16 Australian films.

They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? (TSPDT) 1,000 Greatest Films (2015) They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? (TSPDT) is an online film resource dedicated to the art of motion picture film-making. It produces an annual 1,000 Greatest Films list which it claims is one of the most referenced film lists on the internet. This list is distilled from a claimed 2,800 other lists (see here) and ranks films from 1 to 1000. The 2015 list included only 3 Australian films in the top 1000, but another 8 in its unranked list of films in the top 2000.

Unranked Lists

New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made (2004) Released in book form in 2004 (see here), this unranked list contained 8 Australian films

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (2014) This is a film reference book edited by Steven Jay Schneider with original essays on each film contributed by over 70 film critics, and has been occasionally issued in updated editions since 2003. (see here and here). The 2014 list contained 16 Australian films.

The Guardian 1000 Films to See Before You Die (2007). This list was released online here and has been put on a single page here.  The list contained 7 Australian films.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. dbmoviesblog says:

    What a great blog you have! I just love The Year of Living Dangerously. I also did a review on it, and I was practically brought up on Crocodile Dundee. I am so pleased I have found your blog; long live Australian films!

    Liked by 1 person

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