This Australia Day, we’re firing up the DVD player and celebrating the best of Australia’s on-screen culture, with our favourite list of Australia’s all-time best films.This was no easy task, and the selections will not be without controversy. Film Critic Keeva Stratton recommends these ten cult classics.
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1. Mad Max (1979)
It may not be my personal favourite genre, but what a showcase of creativity and grit. With a young Mel Gibson as the titular character, I think we’d be mad to leave this sci-fi dystopic thriller, fresh from George Miller’s wild imagination, off the list.
2. Animal Kingdom (2010)
While we’re embracing darker themes, you can’t go past the chilling yet brilliant Animal Kingdom. Jackie Weaver’s matriarch still haunts me, as David Michod’s underworld crime thriller gave us all a taste of what goes on in Australia’s crime families.
3. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert (1994)
Fabulous and emotive, if it’s been a while, it’s definitely time to dust off your sequins and give this larger than life look into Australia’s drag culture another go. Terrance Stamp’s performance is sublime, and again Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce remind us just how incredibly talented and transformative they are.
4. The Sapphires (2012)
While your sequins are out, The Sapphires certainly earns its place as a heart-warming tale of an all-girl band, struggling to find their place in the limelight, during the racially charged 1960s. Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman showcase womanhood, with all its glory and its challenges, in this uplifting drama.
5. Strictly Ballroom (1992)
Baz Luhrman is nothing short of a national filmmaking treasure, and while any number of his films would place rightfully on this list, there’s a magic to the low budget Strictly Ballroom that’s lasted. This sweet story of a young lady who finds her beauty and confidence through dance still delivers lots of feels.
6. Little Fish (2005)
A list on Australian cinema could not be complete without Cate Blanchett. In Little Fish she portrays a woman on the edge, battling a drug-invested path and trying to escape the clutches of suburban poverty. It’s an incredible performance, and a uniquely Australian film that deserves greater attention.
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7. Wolf Creek (2005)
I still am yet to drive across the Nullabor after watching this chilling serial killer thriller, that’s inspired by the crimes of Ivan Milat. Not only did it take Play School’s John Jarrat and cast him in frightening form, it was terrifying from start to blood-soaked finish.
8. Ten Canoes (2006)
A beautifully told story, which captures indigenous Australia with warmth and humour. If you’ve not yet experienced Ten Canoes, do so. It’s a story in two parts—capturing the challenges of becoming a man, and also the challenges of having three wives, in this comedic drama.
9. Puberty Blues (1981)
This Australian coming of age film still resonates today, and features a female-centric story that explores the heady teenage days of sexual exploration and self-discovery. It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years, but there’s a reason why it still features on many high school reading and viewing lists.
10. The Castle (1997)
Does Michael Caton’s Darryl Kerrigan ever get old? I’d say not. This is a truly Australian comedy, and it has inspired many a colloquialism that speaks to the fabric of our self-deprecating humour. Have a laugh at this truly ‘straylian family, which you can’t help but fall in love with.
Australia punches well above its weight when it comes to quality filmmaking. And just as easily films like Lantana, The Dish, Kenny, Bad Boy Bubby, Happy Feet, Looking for Alibrandi, Shine, Moulin Rouge, Rabbit Proof Fence, Red Dog or Babe could have fit easily on this list. Let us know what your favourite Australian film is?