The Best Aussie Films of All Time

True classics
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Crocodile Dundee (1986)

Australia would probably still be confused with “Austria” today if it wasn’t for this international hit, which put us on the map (along with all the clichés we’re still known for).

This classic fish-out-of-water film featured Paul Hogan as Mick Dundee playing the original crocodile hunter who wielded a giant knife – “that’s not knife, this is a knife” and wrestled reptiles for a living until being whisked away to New York by an American reporter.

The film remains our highest grossing at $47, 707, 045, which adjusted for inflation in 2014, would amount to $118. 3 million.

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Australia (2008)

Referred to as the “Australian version of Gone With the Wind”, the epic historical drama by Baz Luhrman starred Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

The film, which explores Indigenous history and World War 2, was paid particular attention to its historical accuracy as Luhrmann scoured north Queensland for any authentic 1930’s furniture and vehicles four weeks prior to filming.

Oprah Winfrey also heavily promoted the film when she famously jetted off her entire studio audience down under.

Ronin Films

Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Australia’s all-time favourites would definitely have to include the largely theatrical, Strictly Ballroom, by Baz Luhrmann, featuring Paul Mercurio. 

The film, which encountered many struggles during its production, took three years to complete due to lack of funding. The final scene was even shot during the lunch break at a real ballroom dancing championship.

Despite its production battles, the film’s world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992 received a 15-minute standing ovation.

Universal Pictures

Babe (1995)

Hailed as the kid’s movie (based on Dick King-Smith’s novel, The Sheep-Pig) that delighted viewers of all ages by George Miller was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture.

The imaginative film was seen as an advance in special effects, launching a wave of live-action, talking-animal flicks, so it’s no surprise it won an Oscar for “Best Visual Effects”.

Reportedly over 48 different piglets played the role of Babe as they outgrew the part so quickly during the film’s production.

Warner Brothers Pictures

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

The fourth installment to the popular Max Max series received great critical acclaim with some even calling it one of the greatest action movies ever made.

The apocalyptic film, which was in development for 10 years, drew particular praise for showcasing strong female leads like Charlize Theron’s shaven-headed Imperator Furiosa.

Its success was proven as it walked away with six awards at the 2016 Oscars, more than any film that year.

20th Century Fox

Moulin Rouge (2001)

As the first musical to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 10 years, Baz Luhrmann’s distinct, grandiose style of filmmaking was loved by critics during his 2001 film of Moulin Rouge!

Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, the film’s first screening was near Luhrmann’s hometown of Taree, New South Wales with tickets sold at the local pharmacy.

Kidman’s necklace was the most expensive piece of jewellery ever made for film at the time, containing 1,308 diamonds, reportedly worth more than $1 million.

Warner Brothers Pictures

Happy Feet (2006)

Another George Miller marvel, was the computer animated musical film about a dancing penguin called Mumble.

The film, which was voiced by an all-star cast, was lauded by critics on their animation, yet received mixed reactions regarding its environmental messages.

One scene was even voiced by Steve Irwin, who plays an albatross, which was included in the special features section of the DVD in honour of Irwin’s memory.

Gramercy Pictures

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

In a similar style to Baz Luhrman, Stephan Elliott’s dazzling musical set in Alice Springs, became a cult classic and worldwide smash hit.

The film put the LGBTQI+ community at the forefront when it depicted drag queens and transsexuals to mainstream audiences.

Despite receiving Academy award recognition for its costume design, the film’s wardrobe was, in fact, rather cost-efficient with Hugo Weaving’s famous thong dress costing only $7 using materials purchased from Target.

Miramax Films

Muriel’s Wedding (1994)

The Aussie classic about the socially awkward, ABBA-obsessed, Muriel, launched the career of the then unknown, Toni Collette in 1994.

Despite it being the first film PJ Hogan ever directed; the heartfelt, yet quirky comedy raked in almost $60 million worldwide, becoming an international success.

The iconic film is set to become a musical, headlining the 2017 season of the Sydney Theatre Company.

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Gallipoli (1981)

Before Mel Gibson rose to Hollywood superstardom, he played Frank Dunne in the heart-warming, yet tragic First World War drama, Gallipoli.

Listed as one of GQ’s ’50 films that make men cry’, the film follows Western Australian boys, Frank Dunne and Archy Hamilton who enlist in the army and meet their fate at the beach in Gallipoli.

The coming-of-age film is now part of the Australian school curriculum.


Village Roadshow

The Castle (1997)

Rob Sitch’s tale of big-hearted, blue-collar heroes became one of Australia’s most widely quoted and lovable comedies.

The film grossed more $10,326,428 million at the Australian box office, making more than 13 times its $750,000 budget. When it was released in the US, some of the famous dialogue was unfortunately redubbed to suit American audiences.

The iconic house in the film, which was sourced after filmmakers door knocked homes near the airport, is now reportedly being moved from Strathmore, Victoria to Corowa, in southern New South Wales.

As Darryl Kerrigan would say, “location, location, location”.


Sony Pictures Classics

Animal Kingdom (2010)

Jacki Weaver probably wouldn’t have played Dolores in Silver Linings Playbook if it weren’t for her Academy Award nomination for her supporting actress role in Animal Kingdom.

With Quentin Tarantino giving the tick of approval, the gangland drama was inspired by the real-life events of Melbourne’s Pettingill family received much critical recognition. 

Currently, Netflix is streaming the American television reboot of the film.

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