This is the second installment in the Ozflicks Guide to the top Australian films and covers films ranked 51 to 100 in my Ranking List. For the top 50 films, see Ozflicks Guide to the Top 50 Australian Films. The films are in the order of the Ozflicks Ranking List, and the numbers after the film suggestions are also from this list. Spoilers have been avoided as far as possible in the information about the top 100 Australian films. This page was updated in December 2018 and will probably be updated annually.
51. The Year My Voice Broke (1987) (John Duigan)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 51/333
Genre: Coming of Age Drama
Set in: Rural Southern Tablelands of NSW (filmed in Braidwood) in 1962
Cast: Noah Taylor, Loene Carmen, Ben Mendelsohn, Graeme Blundell, Lynette Curran, Malcolm Robertson, Judi Farr, Tim Robertson, Bruce Spence, Harold Hopkins, Nick Tate, Vincent Ball
Synopsis: An adolescent, nerdish boy in a small town, falls in love with a girl, who unfortunately is in love with a local bad boy.
Why See This Film: This is a fine drama about the pain of adolescence, of first love and heartbreak, of the isolation of small towns, of life in Australia in the 1960s, and the unfairness of life. Noah Taylor does a fine job as Danny, the skinny, bookish teenager in love with his friend Freya, who thinks of him only as a friend and confidant, while she fancies Trevor, the football-playing, car-stealing larrikin, played by Ben Mendelsohn. The film vividly captures the small-town experience of childhood and adolescence, and the trials of becoming an adult. The film won the 1987 AFI awards for best film and best director, and Ben Mendelsohn won the award for best actor.
If you liked this film, try: Flirting (113), The Big Steal (95), Nostradamus Kid (124), Looking for Alibrandi (69), The Heartbreak Kid (141), Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger (173), December Boys (127), September (147), The F.J. Holden (233)
52. Bliss (1985) (Ray Lawrence)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 52/333
Set in: North Coast NSW and Sydney in the 1980s
Cast: Barry Otto, Lynette Curran, Gia Carides, Miles Buchanan, Helen Jones, Tim Robertson
Synopsis: Following a near-death experience, advertising executive, Harry Joy, starts to see the world and his family from a different point of view, imagining he is now in Hell.
Why See This Film: This is a highly entertaining, witty and innovative film, with elements of surrealism and layers of satire. The film is adapted from Peter Carey’s award winning 1981 novel Bliss (one of Ozflicks’ favourite Oz novels) and is the first film of Ray Lawrence, who won the AFI awards for Best Film and Best Director for this film (as well as for his second, Lantana, 16 years later). Lawrence is not prolific (with only three films in 20 years), but he does bring a daring imagination to his films. The film has a surreal beauty unmatched in Australian cinema. Barry Otto (a favourite actor of mine from Belvoir theatre in the 80s, but underused in films) is also great in the title role.
If you liked this film, try: Lantana (7), Oscar and Lucinda (99), The Dressmaker (26), Children of the Revolution (58)
53. Cloudstreet (2011) (Matthew Saville)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 53/333
Set in: Perth in the 1940s & 1950s
Cast: Essie Davis, Stephen Curry, Todd Lasance, Emma Booth, Shannon Lively, Kerry Fox, Geoff Morrell, Callan McAuliffe
Synopsis: Two poor families move into one large house on the outskirts of Perth after World War Two. The film follows the fortunes of all the family members as the children grow and one family starts to prosper.
Why See This Film: This film is adapted from the Tim Winton book that was voted Australia’s favourite Oz novel in a 2003 ABC poll. And it’s a very successful adaptation too, capturing the humanity, the humour, the mysticism and the absurdity of Winton’s story. Actually, this was a 3-part TV mini-series, but it works very well as a seamless four-hour film, so I’m breaking my self-imposed rule against mini-series, and I’m including it due to its quality and my love for Tim Winton’s work. It’s full of surprising, touching and amusing stories that are very Australian and capture the struggle of that era. Kerry Fox, Geoff Morrell and Essie Davis are all excellent, and the acting is good all round. The cinematography is outstanding capturing both the stark beauty and occasional softness of the West Australian landscape.
If you liked this film, try: The Turning (52), One Night the Moon (81), My Brother Jack (128)
Recommended Review: David Knox
54. Sunday Too Far Away (1975) (Ken Hannam)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 54/333
Set in: Outback Australia in the 1970s.
Cast: Jack Thompson, Reg Lyle, Max Cullen, Robert Brunning, Peter Cummins, John Ewart, Sean Scully, Graeme Smith, Jerry Thomas, Lisa Peters, Gregory Apps
Synopsis: The story of a group of shearers, led by Jack Thompson, and their isolated life on outback farms.
Why See This Film: This film, one of the first of the 70s New Wave of Australian Cinema, gives a different view of the Australian bush to the earlier Wake in Fright. The film portrays in a more sympathetic and realistic way the tough life of the shearers, working on isolated sheep stations, away from their families and with only the company of their fellow shearers and the occasional visit to local towns for a drinking session, laced with gambling and a bit of a fight, to relieve the boredom. But the film is not boring itself, dealing with the struggle for better wages from station owner, and the relationships between the various characters. Jack Thompson is truly marvellous in this film, the one that established him as our best actors of the time. The film won three 1975 Australian Film Institute awards: Best Film, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Thompson) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Reg Lye.
If you liked this film, try: Wake in Fright (12), The Overlanders (48), The Man From Snowy River (70), Gallipoli (3), ‘Breaker’ Morant (9)
55. Mystery Road (2013) (Ivan Sen)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 55/333
Genre: Crime Drama
Set in: Rural Queensland in 2010s
Cast: Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Tony Barry, Ryan Kwanten, David Field, Damian Walshe-Howling, Tasma Walton, Zoe Carrides, Robert Mammone, Samara Weaving, Roy Billing
Synopsis: An Aboriginal detective returns to his outback hometown where he starts to investigate the murder of a young Aboriginal girl.
Why See This Film: This 2013 film is another of Ivan Sen’s excellent films examining contemporary Aboriginal life in Australia. Aboriginal detective Jay, played with a wonderful laid-back sincerity by Aaron Pedersen, is the only Aboriginal policeman in a local force consisting of cynical white long-timers who are struggling to contain problems of drugs, violence and prostitution among the black and poor white populations. Jay meets suspicion from other Aboriginal people, and racism from some of the white people. Shot in outback Queensland (Winton) this film shows both the beauty, but more often the harshness and desolation of the semi-desert country and the people who inhabit it. Though at times the clues seemed to fall into place a little too easily, the film builds to an epic, memorable final confrontation. Overall, an impressive and memorable film, though it adds to the list of films that portray the Outback as a difficult and forbidding place.
If you liked this film, try: Beneath Clouds (24), Dead Heart (35), The Interview (46), The Square (104), The Broken Shore (90)
56. Children of the Revolution (1996) (Peter Duncan)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 56/333
Genre: Black Comedy/Drama
Set in: Sydney from the 1950s to the 1990s
Cast: Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Richard Roxburgh, Geoffrey Rush, Rachel Griffiths, F.Murray Abraham, Russell Kiefel, John Gaden.
Synopsis: Judy Davis plays a Sydney communist who met Stalin. Her son may or may not be Stalin’s love child. The question of his parentage persists as he rises to power in Australia.
Why See This Film: This film is full of fun and ideas and is a marvellous fantasy which pokes fun at political figures and ideas, while warning of their serious dangers. The cast is excellent with some of our best actors, particularly Judy Davis as the true believer, a role for which she won the 1996 AFI Best Actress award. Some find the switch from comedy to drama during the film disconcerting, but both halves work well in their own way.
If you liked this film, try: My Brilliant Career (8), The Dressmaker (26), The Rage in Placid Lake (30), Bliss (55), Kangaroo (110), Hell Has Harbour Views (158), High Tide (165)
57. Romper Stomper (1992) (Geoffrey Wright)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 57/333
Set in: Melbourne in the 1990s
Cast: Russell Crowe, Daniel Pollock, Jacqueline McKenzie, Alex Scott, Leigh Russell, Daniel Wyllie, James McKenna, Tony Lee
Synopsis: A racist skinhead leads his gang against the local Vietnamese community, but conflicts arise with his girlfriend and best mate.
Why See This Film: It’s a confronting examination of a racist, violent skinhead gang in Melbourne in the 1990s. It’s a good examination of the largely inarticulate rage of a group of unemployed working-class youth who adopt a skinhead culture for solidarity and community in a world whose values they reject. It’s violent and sometimes senseless, but the characters are convincing and even comprehensible. Russell Crowe is chillingly forceful the skinhead leader, Hando, and Jacqueline McKenzie and Daniel Pollack are excellent as Hando’s girlfriend, and best mate Davey. The film starts with some brutal bashings which escalates with unexpected results. At the same time, Wright examines the internal dynamics of the gang with its member’s loves, hates and rivalries on show. It’s a wild, nihilistic ride with these frustrated kids.
If you liked this film, try: Animal Kingdom, The Proposition, Mad Max, Bad Boy Bubby, The Boys
Recommended Reviews: Guardian’s ‘Rewatching Classic Australian Film‘ series, Ozmovies, Margaret and David (4.5 stars from Margaret, but David controversially refused to rate it due to the violence), Urban Cinephile
58. Russian Doll (2001) (Stavros Kazantzidis)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 58/333
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Set in: Bondi (Sydney) in the 2000s
Cast: Hugo Weaving, Natalia Novikova, David Wenham, Sacha Horler, Rebecca Frith
Synopsis: A young Russian Jewish woman trying to stay in Australia after the death of her fiancé, shares the flat of a pessimistic, non-Jewish private detective who works mainly on adultery cases.
Why See This Film: Australia makes relatively few rom-coms, and even fewer successful ones. This is one of our best in my opinion (as Look Both Ways is more drama than rom-com and Muriel’s Wedding is more comedy). It is full of humour, charm and eventual romance. It is set mainly in the famous beachside suburb of Bondi, and Bondi and the surrounding suburbs have never looked so good on film. But besides the beach, Bondi is also (incongruously) home to a large Russian Jewish community, and it is this community who provide much of the culture-clash humour in the film. This is one of very few Australian films which features Australia’s Jewish community, in marked contrast to Hollywood where Jewish characters and stories abound. Hugo Weaving is great (as usual) as Harvey, the non-Jewish private detective who has lost faith in humanity; Natalia Novikova is very funny as the spunky Russian, full of life but without a visa; David Wenham moves away from his dry Anglo-Australian roles to play Harvey’s orthodox Jewish friend (not entirely successfully) and Sacha Horler is fantastic playing a Russian vamp. I really enjoyed this film for the comedy and the various familiar locations from my home city of Sydney which appear in the film.
If you liked this film, try: Danny Deckchair (37), Look Both Ways (1), Love and Other Catastrophes (97), Dating the Enemy (131), Peaches (92), Me Myself I (150)
59. Malcolm (1986) (Nadia Tass)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 59/333
Set in: Melbourne in the 1980s
Cast: Colin Friels, John Hargreaves, Lindy Davies, Chris Haywood, Beverly Phillips, Charles Tingwell.
Synopsis: Colin Friels is a somewhat odd gadget builder at a loss after his mother dies and he loses his job for building his own mini-tram. He takes a boarder, Frank (Hargreaves) who turns out to be a criminal, and when Frank’s girlfriend Judith moves in, Malcolm’s life is turned upside down.
Why See This Film: This debut feature from Nadia Tass won a swag of AFI awards, including best film, director, and actor (Colin Friels). It’s an upbeat caper comedy in a downbeat part of Melbourne about a socially-challenged inventor. It’s a heap of fun, an interesting look at less salubrious parts of Melbourne in the 80s and one of Colin Friel’s best and most exuberant roles. The film won AFI awards in 1986 for best film and best director, and Colin Friels won the best actor award.
If you liked this film, try: The Castle (25), Crackerjack (13), Bad Eggs (139), The Dish (79), The Rage in Placid Lake (30), The Big Steal (95)
60. The Dish (2000) (Rob Sitch)
Ozflicks Rating: 4/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 60/333
Set in: Parkes, NSW in 1969
Cast: Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long, Patrick Warburton, Genevieve Mooy, Tayler Kane, Roy Billing, Bille Brown
Synopsis: A bunch of everyday Aussies at the radio telescope at Parkes get to play a vital role in the 1969 Apollo moon landing.
Why See This Film: This excellent comedy was made by the same team that had such success with The Castle (as well as a string of TV hit comedies such as The D-Generation, The Late Show, Frontline and more recently political satires including The Hollowmen and Utopia). This is another big hearted comedy about simple Aussie blokes caught up in an international event. It’s another triumph and did very well at the box office.
If you liked this film, try: The Castle (25), Crackerjack (13), Bad Eggs (139), The Rage in Placid Lake (30), Crocodile Dundee (33), Muriel’s Wedding (4), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (47)
61. The Getting of Wisdom (1978) (Bruce Beresford)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 61/333
Genre: Period drama
Set in: Rural Victoria and Melbourne in the 1890s.
Cast: Susannah Fowle, Hilary Ryan, Sigrid Thornton, Patricia Kennedy, Sheila Helpmann, John Waters, Candy Raymond, Alix Longman, Terence Donovan, Barry Humphries, Julia Blake, Maggie Kirkpatrick, Kerry Armstrong
Synopsis: A teenage girl, Laura Rambotham, is sent from her isolated farm to attend boarding school in Melbourne, where she tries to fit into the society of richer girls.
Why See This Film: This is an engaging film about growing up a girl in 19thcentury Australia, and is carried along by the enthusiasm of Susannah Fowle’s Laura. The era is beautifully realised by Bruce Beresford, one of our great 1970s directors, and by Donald McAlpine, one of our great cinematographers, both of whom later went to Hollywood. The film also includes some of our young actors who would later achieve fame – Sigrid Thornton, Kerry Armstrong and John Waters. This is still an enjoyable experience all these years later
If you liked this film, try: My Brilliant Career (8), Picnic At Hanging Rock (2), Oscar and Lucinda (99)
62. Animal Kingdom (2010) (David Michôd)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 62/333
Genre: Crime Thriller
Set in: Melbourne in the 2000s
Cast: Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton, James Frecheville, Daniel Wylie, Anthony Hayes, Susan Prior, Clayton Jacobson, Anna Lise Phillips
Synopsis: A 17-year-old boy who goes to live with his mother’s family after her death, finds himself caught between his violent criminal uncles and the suspicious police trying to catch them.
Why See This Film: This is a gripping believable story of Melbourne’s criminal underworld, of working-class crims and the rough, tough mum who loves them, of innocent youths who get gradually drawn into the criminal world, of corrupt cops and good cops trying to outdo each other, and of the difficulty of escaping this world once you’ve been caught up in it. This film won the AFI awards for Best Film and Best Director, Ben Mendelsohn won the Best Actor award and the chance to play lots of other bad dudes in Hollywood; Jacki Weaver won the Best Actress award and went on to become a Hollywood fixture, playing Robert de Niro’s wife two years later as well as with Woody Allen; and Joel Edgerton won the Best Supporting Actor award and has also since become a Hollywood regular. This film was a real springboard for all involved. The film has recently been adapted as a US TV series.
If you liked this film, try: The Boys (169), The Square (104), Chopper (85), Little Fish (101), Prime Mover (149), Kiss or Kill (84), Two Hands (119), The Broken Shore (90)
63. The Hunter (2011) (Daniel Nettheim)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 63/333
Set in: Tasmania
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Frances O’Connor, Sam Neill, Dan Wyllie, Sullivan Stapleton, Callan Mulvey, Jacek Koman, Morgana Davies, Finn Woodlock, John Brumpton
Synopsis: William Defoe is a hunter sent to find the last Tasmanian Tiger and kill it for a European biotech company. He finds himself caught between the woodcutters, the environmentalists, the widow of his predecessor and someone who is watching him as he roams the Tasmanian wilderness laying traps for an animal that may no longer exist.
Why See This Film: An interesting eco-thriller, set in the vast Tasmanian wilderness of wet forest and heath country. Defoe’s lack of expression, sometimes annoying elsewhere, works well in this role as a self-sufficient loner, and Frances O’Connor is also good as the widow who knows more than she seems to but less than she needs to. This is a particularly cerebral kind of action picture, and you don’t get the real picture for quite a while. The wilderness also looks fantastic.
If you liked this film, try: The Broken Shore (90), Lantana (8)
64. The Turning (2013) (17 Directors)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 64/333
Set in: Coastal West Australia and Perth in the 2000s
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Myles Pollard, Rose Byrne, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto, Richard Roxburgh, Susie Porter, Harrison Gilbertson, Robyn Nevin, Callan Mulvey, Mirrah Foulkes, Matt Nable, James Fraser, Brenna Harding, Eva Lazzaro, Wayne Blair, Dean Daly Jones
Synopsis: 17 short stories by 17 directors from Tim Winton’s book The Turning, set in coastal areas of WA and Perth, and about a variety of characters struggling to change.
Directors: David Wenham, Robert Connolly, Tony Ayres, Warwick Thornton, Jonathan auf der Heide, Mia Wasikowska, Claire McCarthy, Justin Kurzel, Rhys Graham, Jub Clerc, Shaun Gladwell, Anthony Lucas, Ian Meadows, Stephen Page, Ashlee Page, Marieka Walsh, Simon Stone
Why See This Film: Winton’s characters are imperfect but real, dealing with some failure in their lives, struggling to build or maintain their relationships, or placed in situations of loss or tragedy. The stories are mostly not related to each other, though a few follow the same characters at different times of their lives. As a 3-hour epic, the film is inevitably uneven, as some stories are better than others, but it is an interesting overview of Australian life, and worth seeing for the array of our best actors. Rose Byrne won the AACTA best actress award for this film.
If you liked this film, try: Cloudstreet (15), One Night the Moon (81)
65. The Fringe Dwellers (1986) (Bruce Beresford)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 65/333
Set in: Murgon, Queensland in the 1980s
Cast: Justine Saunders, Kristina Nehm, Bob Maza, Ernie Dingo, Kath Walker, Kylie Belling, Malcolm Silver, Denis Walker, Bill Sandy, Michelle Torres, Michelle Miles, Marlene Bell
Synopsis: A Qld aboriginal family living on the edge of an outback town attempts to move into a town house.
Why See This Film: Beresford’s film provided one of the first glimpses on film into the current situation of Aboriginal people trying to co-exist with a mainstream white society that has largely supplanted their own ancient culture. Given the past tragedies and current levels of deprivation faced by many Aboriginal people, particularly those on the fringes of country towns, this film could have been quite a downer, but Beresford manages to make the film not only insightful, but entertaining and surprisingly upbeat. The little-known actors bring a naturalism to these imperfect characters, and help us understand their predicaments in a sympathetic way. The film was nominated for the AFI Best Film award.
If you liked this film, try: Radiance (123), Beneath Clouds (24), Samson and Delilah (77), The Sapphires (18), The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (27), Walkabout (17), Rabbit-Proof Fence (32), Charlie’s Country (98)
66. The Removalists (1975) (Tom Jeffrey)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 66/333
Set in: Melbourne in the 1970s
Cast: Peter Cummins, John Hargreaves, Jacki Weaver, Kate Fitzpatrick, Martin Harris, Chris Haywood
Synopsis: Two policemen, a grizzled veteran and a rookie, attend a domestic violence case, and get caught up in an argument between the wife, the husband and the wife’s elder sister.
Why See This Film: This is another film of a classic David Williamson play, and is typically hilarious and outrageous in equal measure. Full of sexual politics, class conflict, police brutality, working-class cheek, upper-class snobbery, jealousy and contempt, this is classic David Williamson. The cast is excellent with future stars John Hargreaves, Jacki Weaver and Chris Haywood as well as stage actress Kate Fitzpatrick, ensuring the dialogue is quick-fire, clever and cutting.
If you liked this film, try: Don’s Party (19), The Club (36)
67. Looking for Alibrandi (2000) (Kate Woods)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 67/333
Genre: Comic drama with romantic elements
Set in: Sydney in the 1990s
Cast: Greta Scacchi, Anthony LaPaglia, Elena Cotta, Kerry Walker, Pia Miranda, Kick Gurry, Matt Newton, Leanne Carlow, Diane Viduka, Leeanna Walsman, Graeme Blundell
Synopsis: A young Italian-Australian teenager comes of age in Sydney, dealing with love, death, her absent father and her Italian family.
Why See This Film: This is an entertaining and charming film about growing up Italian and coming of age in Sydney in the 90s. Pia Miranda shines as the enthusiastic but irritable teenager trying to negotiate the usual teenage things of friendship, identity and romance, with additional angst about her Italian family with their unusual, noisy customs, and the bitterness of her father’s absence. Greta Scacchi and Anthony LaPaglia are good as the parents and Mathew Newton and Kick Gurry are fine as the boys in her life, but it is Miranda’s energy that drives the film. She won the AFI Best Actress award for this performance, and Greta Scacchi won the Best Supporting Actress Award.
If you liked this film, try: Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger (173), Caterpillar Wish (86), The Year My Voice Broke (51), Flirting (113), The Heartbreak Kid (141), Garage Days (229)
68. The Man From Snowy River (1982) (George Miller II)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 68/333
Set in: Snowy Mountains in the 19th century
Cast: Tom Burlinson, Sigrid Thornton, Kirk Douglas, Jack Thompson, Terence Donovan, Tony Bonner, Lorraine Bayly, Gus Mercurio, Bruce Kerr, David Bradshaw, Tony Bonner, June Jago, Chris Haywood
Synopsis: Jim Craig, a young mountain horseman, tries to prove himself to other tough mountain ranchers following his father’s death, and falls in love with the rich station owner’s daughter.
Why See This Film: This is Australia’s best western, a retelling of the famous Banjo Patterson poem about a mountain horseman and his chase of the wild bush brumbies. Beautifully filmed in the Victorian high country it follows the story of Jim Craig who is driven off the high country after his father’s death and goes to work for a large cattle-farmer, Harrison (played incongruously, but well by Kirk Douglas) whose daughter he falls in love with – Sigrid Thornton is at her most glowing in this film. The film features spectacular mountain scenery and breathtaking horse-riding and was a great favourite with Australian audiences when it was released, earning over $17 million (equivalent to over $57 million today) at the local box office. Jack Thomson also plays a fine role as Clancy, the veteran mountain horseman.
If you liked this film, try: The Man From Snowy River II (242), Phar Lap (228), The Lighthorsemen (225), Robbery Under Arms (162 & 163), Ned Kelly
69. Jedda (1955) (Charles Chauvel)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 69/333
Genre: Outback Drama
Set in: Northern Territory (filmed at Coolibah Station (SW of Katherine) as well as at Stanley Chasm, Ormiston Gorge and Mary River) sometime before 1955.
Cast: Ngarla Kunoth, Robert Tudawali, Betty Suttor, Paul Reynall, George Simpson-Lyttle, Tas Fitzer, Hugh Wason Byers, Willie Farrar, Margaret Dingle
Synopsis: An Aboriginal woman, Jedda, is torn between black and white society. Jedda is raised by a white family on a cattle station but, when she gets older she becomes more interested in Aboriginal culture, and in particular a certain Aboriginal man.
Why See This Film: This movie, one of our very few 1950s movies, set many landmarks for Australian cinema: it was the first Australian feature film to employ Aboriginal actors (Robert Tudawali and Ngarla Kunoth) in leading roles, the first by an Australian director to be shot entirely in colour (an American film Kangaroo shot in South Australia beat it by three years to being the first colour feature shot in Australia), the first to be invited to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and probably the first film to take the emotional lives of Aboriginal people seriously. It was also the last film made by Australia’s great pioneer director, Charles Chauvel. The story, of an Aboriginal girl torn between two societies, raised for the first time on film many important issues concerning race relations between White Australians and Aboriginal people, issues of assimilation, dispossession, paternalism and racism, that continue to affect Australia today. This film looks dated and shockingly condescending, but reflects the world view of most Australians up to that time. The story is an interesting one, concerning cultural differences both between White and Aboriginal culture, but also within Aboriginal society. The film also captures the magnificent landscape, although the colour sometimes has a garish aspect. While flawed in many ways, Jedda was a vital first step on the road to White society’s understanding of Aboriginal people.
If you liked this film, try: Rabbit Proof Fence (32), The Tracker (6), Walkabout (17), Ten Canoes (40), Charlie’s Country (98), The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (27), We of the Never Never (108), The Fringe Dwellers (53)
70. Ali’s Wedding (2017) (Jeffrey Walker)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 70/333
Synopsis: A young Shia Australian-Iranian boy tries not to disappoint his father by pretending he got into medicine at Melbourne University. As his lies compound, he finds he also loves a Sunni Lebanese girl which compounds his problems.
Cast: Osamah Sami, Don Hany, Helena Sawires, Robert Rabiah, Khaled Khalafalla, Shenaveh, Rodney Afif, Ghazi Alkinani, Majid Shokor
Why See This Film: This is a refreshing ethnic rom-com from writer-actor Osamah Sami which depicts the life of a young Iraqi-Australian boy who ends up in a heap of trouble when he lies about his HSC result to avoid disappointing his father and digs himself into deeper messes while also falling in love with a Lebanese-Australian girl rather than the girl chosen for him from his own community. The film portrays the Shia community in Melbourne in a comic but affectionate way, full of flawed characters trying to deal with the issues of life in Australia for young and older Muslims trying to live good lives but beset by the same issues of pride, ambition, prejudice and bad choices as other Australian communities. This is a portrayal of Muslims which should help change some people’s attitudes in this age of anxiety about Muslim immigration, but more than that it is an entertaining comedy with a host of sympathetic characters.
If you liked this film, try: Looking for Alibrandi (67), Lucky Miles (84), Flirting (136)
71. Danny Deckchair (2003) (Jeff Balsmeyer)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 71/333
Set in: Sydney and Bellingen (NSW) in 2000s
Cast: Rhys Ifans, Miranda Otto, Justine Clarke, Rhys Muldoon, John Batchelor
Synopsis: A truck-driver’s experiment with helium balloons and a deckchair carry him away from suburbia to a new life in the bush.
Why See This Film: This is a sweet quirky romantic comedy about breaking away from mundane lives to find magic. The story is based on the urban-legend about a man tying balloons to his chair and managing to fly a considerable distance. Welsh actor Rhys Ifans is completely convincing as an inventive Aussie truck-driver, Miranda Otto is very good (and more cheerful here than in most roles she gets) as the woman into whose life Danny falls, and Justine Clarke is marvellous as the ambitious ex-girlfriend. In addition, the north coast town (Bellingen renamed Clarence) has a cast of local eccentrics that would make Doc Martin or Hamish MacBeth feel right at home. Wonderful location filming in Sydney (Earlwood and Charing Cross) and Bellingen, looking idyllically verdant, as indeed it is in real life. The flying deckchair scenes are fun as well.
If you liked this film, try: The Rage in Placid Lake (30), The Castle (25), Crackerjack (13), The Man Who Sued God (100)
Recommended Reviews: Margaret and David (3½ and 3 stars respectively)
72. Not Suitable for Children (2012) (Peter Templeman)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 72/333
Set in: Inner-city Sydney (Newtown) in the 2010s
Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Sarah Snook, Ryan Corr, Bojana Novakovic, Alice Parkinson, Daniel Henshall, Clare Bowen, Kathryn Beck
Synopsis: A young hedonist, who is told he has testicular cancer and has only 3 weeks before he becomes infertile, has to think fast.
Why See This Film: This film works really well, despite its unexpected premise, due to its smart script and likable characters. Ryan Kwanten, Sarah Snook and Ryan Corr show that Australia has a promising new generation of actors. The story is resolved amusingly, but (unlike most Hollywood comedies) believably. Plus, for Sydneysiders, it is a particular pleasure to see the action taking place in some of our favourite areas of Newtown!
If you liked this film, try: Look Both Ways (1), Love and Other Catastrophes (97), The Rage in Placid Lake (30), Any Questions for Ben (224), Russian Doll (14), Better than Sex (80), My Year Without Sex (60)
73. A Town Like Alice (1956) (Jack Lee)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 73/333
Set in: Malaya and Alice Springs between 1942 and 1950
Cast: Peter Finch, Virginia McKenna, Kenji Takaki, Tran Van Khe, Jean Anderson, Marie Lohr, Maureen Swanson, Renée Houston, Nora Nicholson, Eileen Moore, John Fabian, Vincent Ball
Synopsis: This black and white British production tells the World War 2 story of a British woman and an Australian man taken prisoner by the Japanese in Malaya in 1942. The woman is one of a group of women forced to march from town to town in search of a Japanese officer who will house them. The Australian, played by Australian actor Peter Finch, is a truck-driver/mechanic forced to transport materials for the Japanese. They meet from time to time and fall in love.
Why See This Film: This is an excellent old film, crisply filmed by British director Jack Lee, who went on to make Robbery Under Arms in Australia the following year. The film details the situation of British civilians and Australian soldiers captured by the Japanese in Malaya. It shows the well-known cruelty of the Japanese Army but also the humanity of individual Japanese; it shows English colonial attitudes as well as English perseverance and it shows Australian larrikinism as well as Australian resourcefulness. The film details the ways in which the protagonists survive the war, and meet many years later in Australia. I didn’t think of it as a particularly Australian film, as most of the characters and the director are British. However, since one of the main characters is an Australian (played by an Australian actor), it can qualify as an Australian film according to my main criterion for an Australian film.
If you liked this film, try: Robbery Under Arms (163); The Overlanders (45), The Odd Angry Shot (117)
Recommended Review: Oz Movies Dossier
74. Goldstone (2016) (Ivan Sen)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 74/333
Set in: Rural Queensland in 2010s
Cast: Aaron Pedersen, David Wenham, Jacki Weaver, Alex Russell, Kate Beahan, Michael Dorman, David Gulpilil, Max Cullen, Tommy Lewis
Synopsis: A troubled Aboriginal detective comes to the outback town of Goldstone looking for a missing Asian tourist, and unearths a mountain of corruption, drime and exploitation.
Why See This Film: This is an excellent sequel to Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road, and sees the return of Aboriginal detective Jay, played with a wonderful laid-back sincerity by Aaron Pedersen, battling depression and drink, but on the case of a missing tourist. This time he meets a number of corrupt characters from the local council and a big mining company. Jay is forced to find allies among the little folk of the town, as he uncovers murders and sex-trafficking as well as big-money manipulation of the local government and the local Aboriginal community. Beautifully filmed at a relaxed place interspersed with action scenes, this is another great portrayel of contemporary outback Australia with all its problems and potential.
If you liked this film, try: Mystery Road (55), Beneath Clouds (24), Dead Heart (35), The Interview (46), The Square (104), The Broken Shore (90)
75. My Year Without Sex (2009) (Sarah Watt)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 75/333
Set in: Altona (suburban Melbourne) in the 2000s
Cast: Sacha Horler, Matt Day, Jonathan Segat, Portia Bradley, Maude Davey, Nick Farnell, Christine Moffat, Brett Robson, Sonya Suares
Synopsis: A mother of two documents the year in which she is forbidden excitement such as sex while recovering from a cerebral aneurysm.
Why See This Film: This enjoyable follow-up to director Watt’s brilliant Look Both Ways, does not reach the heights of its predecessor, but works as a thoughtful comedy about relationships in a similar way, with lots of wry observations of the human condition in general and of Australians in particular. The ever-feisty Sacha Horler (always a prickly favourite) plays the woman, Natalie, and the ever-reliable Matt Day plays the husband. It’s always a good sign when these two are in a picture. Sadly it was Sarah Watt’s last film, so we have been deprived of more of her wise, beautiful, funny gems.
If you liked this film, try: Look Both Ways (1)
76. The Black Balloon (2008) (Elissa Down)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 76/333
Set in: Sydney’s western suburbs in the 2000s
Cast: Rhys Wakefield, Gemma Ward, Luke Ford, Erik Thomson, Toni Collette
Synopsis: A family with an intellectually disabled teenage son makes sacrifices to cope with him, while the other son struggles to grow up and worries whether his new girlfriend will accept his brother.
Why See This Film: This 2007 AFI winner is an effective and affecting portrait of the difficulties faced by a family with an intellectually disabled teenage son, Charlie. Charlie rampages around the house, knocking things over, shouting, laughing, crying, running away etc.. Charlie’s 15-year-old brother Thomas is the film’s focus, as Thomas tries to balance adolescence, a new school, new friends and a budding first romance, with his responsibilities towards his brother. Though the family remains loving, and the boy finds a smart girlfriend who can cope with Charlie, the overall impression is of the exhausting nature of caring for an intellectually disabled teenager. Beautifully filmed and acted, this film has much to teach us. The film won the 2007 AFI Best Film and Best Director awards, and Luke Ford and Toni Collette won the best supporting actor and actress awards for the film.
If you liked this film, try: Caterpillar Wish (86), Lilian’s Story (89), Beautiful Kate (38), The Turning (52), Clubland (146), Somersault (31), Lantana (7)
77. Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997) (Cherie Nowlan)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 77/333
Set in: Sydney in the 1990s
Cast: Richard Roxburgh, Cate Blanchett, Frances O’Connor, Linden Wilkinson, John Gaden, Genevieve Mooy
Synopsis: A man on his wedding day reconsiders his previous relationship.
Why See This Film: Richard Roxburgh, Cate Blanchett and Frances O’Connor are all good in this sometimes comic, sometimes poignant film about a man’s remembrance of his previous lover on his wedding day, but O’Connor is the most memorable as the witty, affectionate ex-lover who is changed by the loss of her relationship. The film has a lot to say about loss, luck, mistakes and regret in relationships. The film also shows parts of Sydney not often seen on film. Cate Blanchett won an AFI award for best supporting actress.
If you liked this film, try: Russian Doll (14),The Last Days of Chez Nous (50), Kiss or Kill (84)
78. Country Life (1994) (Michael Blakemore)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 78/333
Genre: Period drama/romance/comedy
Set in: Inland rural NSW in 1919
Cast: Sam Neill, Greta Scacchi, John Hargreaves, Kerry Fox, Patricia Kennedy, Michael Blakemore
Synopsis: Australian Alexander Voysey returns to the family farm in the bush after many years in London as an effete theatre critic to laze around the farm putting on airs. His brother-in-law and daughter are at first in awe of his success but this gradually fades.
Why See This Film: This successful 1994 adaptation of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya to the Australian bush in 1919 is appropriately witty and touching. John Hargreaves as Uncle Jack is wonderful as the provincial brother-in-law in whose awe of Alexander later turns to disgust. Sam Neill is also great as the town doctor, a progressive and intelligent man, stuck in a conservative backwater. Both Jack and the doctor fall for Alexander’s beautiful young wife played well by Greta Scacchi, who has become disillusioned with her self-important husband. Kerry Fox is also wonderful as Sally, Alexander’s daughter whom he left behind, whose love for the doctor is not reciprocated. It’s an attractive, thoughtful and entertaining production which successfully locates the story from Tsarist Russia to the political and economic environment of post-World War One Australia.
If you liked this film, try: My Brilliant Career (8), The Getting of Wisdom (61), Oscar and Lucinda (99), Picnic At Hanging Rock (2), Dad and Dave: On Our Selection (88)
79. Mullet (2001) (David Caesar)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 79/333
Set in: Kiama/Gerringong NSW in the 1990s
Cast: Ben Mendelsohn, Susie Porter, Andrew S. Gilbert, Belinda McClory
Synopsis: A young local rebel/layabout, nicknamed Mullet (after the unappetising fish he likes to catch), suddenly returns to his hometown south of Sydney three years after he abruptly disappeared, and has to deal with all the loose ends he left behind, as well as the fact that his old girlfriend has married his brother.
Why See This Film: This wonderfully dry, laconic comedy/drama is not for everyone, but if you get on its wavelength, it is full of wonderful observations of the Australian character. Ben Mendelsohn is delightfully surly as Mullet, the ex-star of the local football team, who seems to have lost his way. His nickname Mullet not only refers to the low-value fish he likes to catch, but also to the alleged stupidity of fish in a bowl, which as they circle the bowl don’t realize that they have seen it all before. Director David Caesar is an astute observer of Australians, their language and the way they communicate, or fail to, and this movie is full of small delights.
If you liked this film, try: Dirty Deeds (116), Prime Mover (149), Return Home (203), Idiot Box (NR), Oyster Farmer (160), Feeling Sexy (167), Crackerjack (13), The Dish (79)
80. Dead Letter Office (1998) (John Ruane)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 80/333
Set in: Victoria in the 1990s
Cast: Miranda Otto, George DelHoyo, Nicholas Bell, Syd Brisbane, Georgina Naidu, Barry Otto, Jane Hall, Mark Wilson, Jillian O’Dowd, Vanessa Steele, Guillermina Ulloa, Franko Milostnik
Synopsis: A lonely girl searching for her lost father gets a job in the Post Office’s Dead Letter Office where she meets another worker haunted by his refugee past.
Why See This Film: Miranda Otto provides another winning performance as a sweet introvert in this charming little Oz romance, where characters whose lives are fractured by migration or broken families search for love and stability. The pace of the movie is slow and restrained, like its characters, and may be too slow for some, but if you like Otto’s nervous charm, you’ll love this.
If you liked this film, try: Love Serenade (39), Danny Deckchair (37), Peaches (92), Russian Doll (14), South Solitary (93)
81. Cosi (1996) (Mark Joffe)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 81/333
Set in: Rozelle in Sydney in the 1990s
Cast: Ben Mendelsohn, Toni Collette, Barry Otto, Rachel Griffiths, Colin Friels, Aden Young, Bruno Lawrence, Pamela Rabe, Paul Chubb, Colin Hay, Jacki Weaver, David Wenham, Kerry Walker, Tony Llewellyn-Jones
Synopsis: The inmates of a psychiatric hospital (Rozelle) put on the opera Cosi Fan Tutte.
Why See This Film: This film is a real hoot, a magnificent ensemble piece with many great performances, particularly from Toni Collette and Barry Otto. Based on a Louis Nowra play, the film mixes pathos with mirth and succeeds through the wonderful combination of some of our best actors.
If you liked this film, try: Muriel’s Wedding (4), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (27), Shine (21), Mental (54), Lilian’s Story (89), Strictly Ballroom (10), Dimboola (91), Me Myself I (144)
82. Evil Angels (also called A Cry in the Dark) (1988) (Fred Schepisi)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 82/333
Set in: NT and QLD in the 1980s
Cast: Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, Bruce Myles, Neil Fitzpatrick, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Maurie Fields, Nick Tate
Synopsis: The true story of Lindy Chamberlain, a mother whose baby disappeared on a camping trip in 1980, who was later tried and wrongly convicted of murder.
Why See This Film: Meryl Streep puts on a pretty good broad Queensland accent in this 1988 film about media hysteria and failure of the justice system in Australia. Streep plays Lindy Chamberlain, who was imprisoned for killing her baby in 1982, only to be released after three years, when new evidence was found to support her claim that a dingo took her baby from their tent. Streep plays Lindy as a down-to-earth Christian mother of three who is unable to understand the intense media and public interest in her case, and who was convicted partly because a media campaign against her (The media portrayed her cool demeanor during years of questioning and scrutiny, as ‘unfeeling’ and ‘unnatural’, and helped arouse public suspicion over her membership of a fringe Christian group). The film, made by Fred Schepisi on his return to Australia from Hollywood, captures Lindy’s straightforwardness when confronted by both the tragedy of her loss and the media campaign against her, as well as by the injustice of the court case. The film won the AFI awards for Best Film and Best Director, and Streep and Neil won the Best Actress and Best Actor awards.
If you liked this film, try: The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (27), The Devil’s Playground (48), Eye of the Storm (20)
83. Jasper Jones (2017) (Rachel Perkins)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 83/333
Set in: The fictitious rural town of Corrigan in Western Australia in 1969.
Cast: Levi Miller, Aaron McGrath, Angourie Rice, Toni Collette, Hugo Weaving, Dan Wyllie, Matt Nable, Myles Pollard, Susan Prior, Wilson Moore, Gabrielle Chan, Ferdinand Hoang, Cooper van Grootel, Alexandra Jones
Synopsis: A young white boy Charlie, and an older mixed race boy, Jasper Jones, try to investigate the death of Jasper’s white girlfriend.
Why See This Film: This adaptation of a popular Craig Silvey novel about a young boy in 1969 covers a lot of ground – murder-mystery, racial prejudice in small-town Australia, young love, family secrets, infidelity and community. And it succeeds due to good direction, great cinematography and excellent acting from the child actors as well as some of our best adult actors. If you haven’t read the story, the mystery unfolds engrossingly as young Charlie finds himself pulled this way and that by the other characters in the story: by the young Aboriginal outsider Jasper Jones, whose white girlfriend is found hanging from a tree, by the girl’s sister who is Charlie’s friend, by his best friend, the cricket-mad Chinese/Vietnamese kid who chats non-stop about all manner of ideas, and by Charlie’s demanding mother (Toni Collette in fine form) who is constantly ordering him about. But the movie is best in its depiction of 1960s small town Australia, with its sense of community and suppressed tensions.
If you liked this film, try: Picnic at Hanging Rock (2), Storm Boy (19), Mystery Road (69)
84. Lucky Miles (2007) (Michael James Rowland)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 84/333
Genre: Comedy with a serious message
Set in: Western Australian desert in the 2000s.
Cast: Kenneth Moraleda, Rodney Afif, Sri Sacdprascuth, Glenn Shea, Don Hany, Sean Mununggurr, Sawung Jabo, Arif Hidayat
Synopsis:. Three fugitives, one Iraqi asylum-seeker, one Cambodian looking for his Australian father and one Indonesian sailor wander the West Australian desert together looking for Australians or at least a bus to Perth. Meanwhile three blokes from the Army Reserve attempt to locate them.
Why See This Film: This is a witty film about a big issue, the flight of asylum seekers to western countries such as Australia. Made in the middle of Australia’s debates about onshore and offshore detention of asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australia, this film humanises the situation, not as melodrama, but as comedy – a comedy with a serious message of course. The film works well, examining cultural differences as well as human commonalities. The landscape is beautifully filmed and reminds us of the vast emptiness of much of Australia. An entertaining look at a serious issue.
If you liked this film, try: Unfinished Sky (87), Japanese Story (23), Bran Nue Day (82), Walkabout (17), The Year of Living Dangerously (129)
85. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) (George Miller)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 85/333
Genre: Action/Distopian drama
Set in: In post-apocalyptic Australia in the future
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Richard Carter, John Howard, iOTA, Angus Sampson, Jennifer Hagan, Megan Gale, Melissa Jaffer, Melita Jurisic, Gillian Jones, Joy Smithers
Synopsis: In post-apocalyptic Australia, Max Rockatansky escapes from the clutches of a crazy warlord, Immortan Joe, and tries to make it to safety, accompanied by Imperator Furiosa, one of Immortan Joe’s women ex-lieutenants, and a handful of others.
Why See This Film: This fourth episode of George Miller’s series of post-apocalyptic action flics, is light on for plot and character but has some amazing vehicles, costumes and action sequences in what is basically two hours of driving, fighting and exploding vehicles. Despite being filmed in Namibia, the film is implicitly set in Australia. For the first time, Max is not played by Mel Gibson, but by Tom Hardy, who has to share the glory with Charlize Theron, who plays a woman warrior escaping from the warlord’s clutches. The film was nominated for the Acadamy Awards for Best Film and Best Director and won six production Oscars, more than any other Australian film. It also won AACTA awards for Best Film and Best Director, Miller’s first and second respectively. The film also includes among its many strange vehicles an echidna-spiked vehicle which seems to be based on a vehicle featured in Peter Weir’s 1974 The Cars That Ate Paris.
If you liked this film, try: Mad Max (96), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (57), Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (235), The Cars That Ate Paris (238)
86. Samson and Delilah (2009) (Warwick Thornton)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 86/333
Set in: Alice Springs and nearby settlements in the 2000s
Synopsis: Two young Aboriginal teenagers struggle to find meaning and survive in an isolated Northern Territory community. Finding themselves excluded after a fight with the boy’s brother, they flee to Alice Springs, where they camp on the outskirts and try to work something out.
Why See This Film: This important film provides a grim insight into the problems of the isolated Northern Territory communities, especially the poverty, petrol-sniffing and alcohol addiction, and into social relations and restrictions in those communities. Wonderfully acted by the two young first-timers, and beautifully filmed in this stark landscape, the film reflects a bleak reality. It’s a tough watch, but an important one if you want to understand Aboriginal realities in isolated communities. The film brings us their pain, and though the viewer wants these kids to succeed and find a better life, the film shows how easy it is to fail. The film won AFI awards in 2009 for best film and best director.
If you liked this film, try: Yolngu Boy (164), Beneath Clouds (24), Charlie’s Country (98), Satellite Boy (105), Cunnamulla (199), Rabbit-Proof Fence (32)
87. Better Than Sex (2000) (Jonathan Teplitzky)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 87/333
Genre: Romantic Drama/Comedy
Set in: Sydney in the 1990s
Cast: Susie Porter, David Wenham, Kris McQuade, Catherine McClements
Synopsis: When a one night stand turns into a three-day affair, two people face the emotional attachments that grow from physical intimacy.
Why See This Film: David Wenham and Susie Porter are both excellent in this intelligent romantic drama about sex and love. Teplitzky in his debut film, takes an unusual approach as the characters’ best friends give their opinions to the camera on love and sex throughout the film. Teplitzky has gone on to make more interesting Australian films and is now making films in England and TV series for the BBC.
If you liked this film, try: Burning Man (49), Gettin’ Square (126), Russian Doll (14), Love and Other Catastrophes (97), Lantana (8), The Last Days of Chez Nous (50), Look Both Ways (1), Dating the Enemy (131)
88. One Night the Moon (2001) (Rachel Perkins)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 88/300
Genre: Musical Drama
Set in: The Flinders Ranges, South Australia in 1932
Cast: Paul Kelly, Kaarin Fairfax, Kelton Pell, David Field, Chris Haywood, Ruby Hunter, Memphis Kelly
Synopsis: A little girl gets lost one night in the bush chasing the moon. Her father organises a search party but will not have the Aboriginal tracker on his land.
Why See This Film: This is a poetic song of a film, as mythic as Picnic at Hanging Rock or Walkabout, about the disappearance of a child bewitched by the moon, and the anguished searching of his parents. It’s also about racism and the different attitudes to belonging in the beautiful but harsh outback. With haunting music and songs by Australian musical legends Paul Kelly (who also plays the father, singing as he searches) and Kev Carmody as well as Mairead Hannan, this is an unusual and satisfying experience. At under 60 minutes, it does really not qualify as a feature film, but it did play at cinemas in Australia, so I’m including it in my list.
If you liked this film, try: Picnic at Hanging Rock (2), Walkabout (17), Bran Nue Day (82), Radiance (123), The Fringe Dwellers (53), Mabo (130)
89. The Big Steal (1990) (Nadia Tass)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 89/333
Genre: Teen comedy/action/romance
Set in: Melbourne in the 1990s
Cast: Ben Mendelsohn, Claudia Karvan, Steve Bisley, Marshall Napier, Damon Herriman
Synopsis: Danny, a car-obsessed teenager, dreams of owning a Jaguar and having a date with Joanna. He trades in his parent’s car but gets ripped off and has to come up with another plan with the help of his mates.
Why See This Film: This is an enjoyable suburban teenage car movie, about car-obsessed boys and men and the girls who fancy them. The boy gets the car and the girl, but it’s by no means a straightforward process, with lots of laughs along the way. It’s well made with a heap of good actors, especially the still young Ben Mendelsohn and Claudia Karvan. Director Tass didn’t sweep up all the AFI awards with this as she did with Malcolm, but it’s still a lot of fun.
If you liked this film, try: Malcolm (78), Flirting (113), The F.J. Holden (224), The Year My Voice Broke (51), The Heartbreak Kid (141), The Castle (25), Bad Eggs (139), The Dish (79), The Rage in Placid Lake (30)
90. Kiss or Kill (1997) (Bill Bennett)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 90/333
Genre: Oz Noir/Thriller with a splattering of black humour
Set in: Adelaide and the South Australian outback in the 1990s
Cast: Frances O’Connor, Matt Day, Chris Haywood, Andrew S. Gilbert, Barry Langrishe, Max Cullen, Barry Otto
Synopsis: A couple of confidence tricksters are chased across the desert after a theft goes wrong, then start to mistrust each other.
Why See This Film: This is a tense, unpredictable crime movie about two likeable but seemingly untrustworthy characters fleeing across the Nullabor leaving people they encounter inexplicably dead. Both start to wonder if they are travelling with a killer, or being followed by one. A very enjoyable, wry film that’ll keep you guessing. It won both the AFI awards for Best Film and Best Director in 1997. Both Frances O’Connor and Matt Day prove what consistently wonderful talents they both are, and the film contains many great supporting characters, often cut too short by their untimely deaths.
If you liked this film, try: Animal Kingdom (83), Lantana (7),
91. Chopper (2000) (Andrew Dominik)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 91/333
Set in: Melbourne from the 1970s to the 1990s
Cast: Eric Bana, Simon Lyndon, Vince Colosimo, David Field, Dan Wyllie, Bill Young, Kenny Graham, Kate Beahan
Synopsis: Looks at the life and crimes of Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, the hit-man who spent a lot of time in jail, but was never convicted of murder, and later wrote a best-seller about himself and became a stand-up ‘gangster’ comedian.
Why See This Film: This imaginatively structured film gives insights into the articulate but crazy hitman known as ‘Chopper’ whose grisly exploits fascinated the Australian media and public. Bana creates an amazingly believable Chopper, a man able to disconnect himself from and articulately rationalise his violent deeds. The film contains violence, but also humour – a strange mix which mirrors Chopper’s personality. The film won Dominik the AFI Best Director award and Bana won the Best Actor award.
If you liked this film, try: Animal Kingdom (83), Bad Boy Bubby (16), Dirty Deeds (), Gettin’ Square (126),
92. Mad Max (1979) (George Miller I)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 92/333
Genre: Action/Dystopian drama
Set in: The Outback in the near future
Cast: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley, Tim Burns, Roger Ward, Vincent Gil
Synopsis: “Mad” Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is a lawman in a world slipping out of control and full of nasty feral types. He cruises the countryside, nursing his grudges, hoping for some kind of revenge, engaging in car chases and shootouts, and trying to stay alive.
Why See This Film: This landmark film was successful worldwide, launched Mel Gibson into Hollywood and prompted three bigger and weirder follow-ups. It’s classic action film with millions of fans around the world, though unfortunately, action is not one of my favourite genres.
If you liked this film, try: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (57), Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (235), Roadgames (152)
93. Bran Nue Day (2009) (Rachel Perkins)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 93/333
Genre: Musical Comedy/Drama/Romance
Set in: Broome (WA) in the 1960s
Cast: Rocky McKenzie, Ernie Dingo, ‘Missy’ Higgins, Tom Budge, Geoffrey Rush, Magda Szubanski, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Ningali Lawford
Synopsis: An Aboriginal teenager is sent away by his religious mother to a Catholic boarding school near Perth but escapes to return to his family and the girl he loves.
Why See This Film: This is one of Australia’s few ‘real’ musicals (where characters burst into song to express their thoughts and feelings as opposed to films about musicians like The Sapphires or Dogs in Space), and it works pretty well on that level. It’s lively, funny and pretty strong musically, starring singers Jessica Mauboy and Missy Higgens, as well as top Oz actors Geoffrey Rush, Magda Szubanski, and Deborah Mailman along with a host of newcomers. This film and Perkin’s previous film One Night the Moon (see above) are much better than our few other ‘real’ musicals such as Moulin Rouge (which fails my ‘Australian film’ test anyway), Starstruck and Oz. The film’s joyous celebration of Aboriginal identity is a rarity in Australian cinema.
If you liked this film, try: One Night the Moon (81), The Sapphires (18), Radiance (123), The Fringe Dwellers (53), Mabo (130)
94. Mental (2012) (P.J. Hogan)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 94/333
Set in: Fictional Australian coastal suburb of Dolphin Heads (Gold Coast/Ballina) in the 2000s
Cast: Toni Collette, Liev Schreiber, Anthony LaPaglia, Caroline Goodall, Kerry Fox, Rebecca Gibney, Deborah Mailman, Bethany Whitmore, Sam Clark, Lily Sullivan, Nicole Freeman, Rob Carlton
Synopsis: A non-conformist hitchhiker is hired by a small-town politician as a nanny for his five girls who all think they have mental problems after their mother is sent to an institution.
Why See This Film: This 2013 follow-up by PJ Hogan to his 1994 Muriel’s Wedding has many similarities to his earlier film, but enough differences to make it enjoyable. Also set in a dysfunctional (‘mental’) family of a domineering Gold Coast politician, this film takes The Sound of Music rather than Abba as its theme. This time Toni Collette plays the outsider who rescues the women of the family from their victimhood, allowing them to revel in their ‘mental-ness’ rather than be disabled by it. This is a real romp, covering familiar territory to Muriel’s Wedding, but in a different way, and with different results.
If you liked this film, try: Muriel’s Wedding (4), The Dressmaker (26), Bliss (55), The Rage in Placid Lake (30), Crackerjack (13)
95. Love and Other Catastrophes (1996) (Emma-Kate Croghan)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 95/333
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Set in: Melbourne in the 1990s
Cast: Frances O’Connor, Alice Garner, Rhada Mitchell, Matthew Dyktinski, Matt Day, Kym Gyngell, Suzy Dougherty, Suzanne Dowling, Torquil Neilson, Christine Stephen-Daly, Dominic McDonald
Synopsis: Five university students try to sort out their love-lives and accommodation, not to mention their studies.
Why See This Film: This is a joyful romp, capturing the heady confusing life of young people at Uni, with likable characters making poor choices, but things working out eventually. The writing is smart and nimble, the dialogue quick and believable, the style hand-held and immediate and the acting top-notch. Frances O’Connor is effervescent as the gay Mia and Matt Day always plays his straight shy role to perfection. This reminded me a bit of an Oz version of Reality Bites (which I also like). It’s definitely one of our best rom-coms.
If you liked this film, try: Russian Doll (14), The Rage in Placid Lake (30), Danny Deckchair (37), Look Both Ways (1), Dating the Enemy (131), Me Myself I (150), Muriel’s Wedding (4)
96. Unfinished Sky (2007) (Peter Duncan)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 96/333
Genre: Drama/ Romance
Set in: Rural Queensland in the 2000s
Cast: William McInnes, Monic Hendrickx, David Field, Bille Brown, Roy Billing, Christopher Sommers
Synopsis: A Queensland farmer takes in an Afghan woman who has fled from criminals.
Why See This Film: This is a very effective drama about a dour middle aged farmer whose life is changed when an escaped Afghan woman seeks refuge from her exploiters. They grow to trust each other, but the danger from her pursuers closes in. This film is tense, tender and thought-provoking, coming during the debates about accepting refugees, particularly Muslim refugees in Australia. William McInnes transcends his wooden style, and Dutch actress, Monic Hendrickx, is very effective as the Afgan woman (interestingly, she also played a Polish woman in an earlier Dutch version of this story, The Polish Bride). McInnes and Hendrickx picked up the AFI best actor and actress awards for this film.
If you liked this film, try: Lantana (7), Look Both Ways (1), Kiss or Kill (84), Dead Letter Office (74), Peaches (92), South Solitary (93)
97. Charlies Country (2013) (Rolf de Heer)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 97/333
Set in: Arnhem Land in the 2010s
Cast: David Gulpilil, Peter Djigirr, Luke Ford, Bobby Bunungurr, Frances Djulibing
Synopsis: An elderly Aboriginal man living in Arnhem land, not content with living on the fringes of white consumer culture under whitefella laws, yearns to return to the traditional life on the land he remembers from his youth, but encounters difficulties.
Why See This Film: This is a slow, deliberate film giving insight into the frustrations faced by Aboriginals today, even those who have retained a connection with their land, with David Gulpilil giving an award-winning performance as Charlie. Charlie’s encounters in Arnhem Land and Darwin show the difficulty in continuing a traditional life and the alienation of tribal people in large towns. Gulpilil expresses the anguish of Aboriginal people in a country dominated by an alien culture. Though a little too slow at times, the film has some interesting messages. Gulpilil won another AFI best actor award, proving what a fine actor he has been for over 40 years.
If you liked this film, try: Satellite Boy (105), Walkabout (17), Yolngu Boy (164), Beneath Clouds (24), Rabbit-Proof Fence (32), Bran Nue Day (82), Radiance (123), The Fringe Dwellers (53)
98. Oscar and Lucinda (1997) (Gillian Armstrong)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 98/333
Genre: Period drama
Set in: Sydney and North Coast NSW (actually shot in Tasmania) in the 19th century
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Cate Blanchett, Clive Russell, Peter Whitford, Tom Wilkinson, Josephine Byrnes, Billie Brown, Ciaran Hinds, Barry Otto
Synopsis: A wayward English clergyman with a gambling habit meets a young Australian woman with a love of glass and a glass factory when he comes to live in Sydney.
Why See This Film: This adaptation of Peter Carey’s enjoyable but flawed novel (flawed, in my opinion, by its denouement) makes a flawed (for the same reason) but enjoyable film about two nineteenth century misfits in Sydney, who find then lose love. Cate Blanchett is wonderful, and Ralph Fiennes is his usual twitchy, strangely handsome self, which some will adore. The production looks lovely as well.
If you liked this film, try: My Brilliant Career (11), Kangaroo (110), The Getting of Wisdom (61), Picnic At Hanging Rock (2), We of the Never Never (108), Country Life (71), The Dressmaker (26)
99. The Man Who Sued God (2001) (Mark Joffe)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 99/333
Set in: Bermagui and Sydney in the 2000s
Cast: Billy Connolly, Judy Davis, Colin Friels, Wendy Hughes, John Howard, Bille Brown, Steve Jacobs, Blair Venn, Vincent Ball, Frank Whitten, Peter Whitford, Linal Haft
Synopsis: A man whose boat is destroyed by lightning, and whose insurance claim is denied as the lightning was an ‘act of God’, brings a court case against the major churches as representatives of God on earth.
Why See This Film: This film is an entertaining comedy about another Aussie battler (this time played by extroverted Scot Billy Connelly) and with Judy Davis in an unusual but welcome comic role. The writing by political speechwriter and prolific author on all things Australian, Don Watson and the great Kiwi satirist John Clarke, is top notch and ensures the film has social comment to augment the comedy. The film is attractively shot and enhanced by sunny its NSW South Coast and Sydney settings.
If you liked this film, try: Crackerjack (13), Bliss (55), The Rage in Placid Lake (30), The Castle (25), The Dish (79), Crackers (103), Horseplay (197), Bad Eggs (131), Muriel’s Wedding (4), The Dressmaker (26)
100. The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) (Peter Weir)
Ozflicks Rating: 3.5/5 — Ozflicks Ranking: 100/333
Genre: Political Drama/Action/Romance
Set in: Indonesia in 1965
Cast: Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hunt, Michael Murphy, Noel Ferrier, Paul Sonkkila, Bill Kerr, Mike Emperio, Bembol Roco, Domingo Landicho, Kuh Ledesma
Synopsis: A young Australian journalist arrives in Indonesia in 1965, just in time to witness the lead-up to the failed Communist coup, the aftermath of which included bloody reprisals against the Communists and the Chinese, in which perhaps one million Indonesians died.
Why See This Film: This gripping political drama captures the intrigues and chaos of Indonesia in the Sukarno years prior to the catastrophe of the coup attempt and subsequent massacres. Mixed with this strong political intrigue is a slightly forced love story between Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver as two Westerners, caught in a culture and events they don’t really understand. The Year of Living Dangerously was the first Australian film to be financed by an American studio (MGM), and the film stars two American actresses, Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt. Hunt won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her magnificent portrayal of Chinese-Australian cameraman, Billy Kwan, who tries to help the Australian journalist, play by Gibson, to tell the world what was happening in Indonesia. The film was also Weir’s last Australian film before he moved to Hollywood, and also Gibson’s last Oz film before his Hollywood career (although he did return to play in the third Mad Max film in 1985).
If you liked this film, try: Gallipoli (3), Breaker Morant (8), Far East (315), The Last Wave (174)
- For the top 50 films, see Ozflicks Guide to the Top 50 Australian Films
That’s it for now. Happy watching!