The Australian film industry has produced some of the most memorable, thought-provoking and quirky movies in recent years. The producers might lack the budget of Hollywood, but they more than make up for it in production values. Here we countdown five of the best. How many of them have you seen?
Dirty Deeds (2002)
A crime caper featuring Sam Neil and John Goodman about the American mafia muscling in on a local criminal’s casino racket might not sound like your typical Australian fare. But make no mistake, this film wears its antipodean heart on its sleeve. In the current age when we are more familiar than ever with casinos through online offerings like Netent slots, this film provides an intriguing view of casino culture from a past generation. The US leads play an important role, but the Australian characters are all played by local actors, and Australian national broadcaster Channel 9’s first foray onto the big screen is an unmitigated success.
The Babadook (2014)
Claiming plaudits from such influential and hard-to-impress reviewers as the BBC’s Mark Kermode, this was the movie that proved that Australia can do horror. A surreal tale of something nasty lurking in a suburban home, it has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing from beginning to end, and nothing is quite as it seems. Anyone who thinks they are desensitised to horror should check this out for a good old fashioned scare.
Often unfairly referred to as simply that film Mel Gibson did before he was famous, Peter Weir’s First World War epic has it all. In its 110 minute run time, it manages to cover the futility of war, the coming-of-age of a group of young friends and even the famous Australian love affair with sport. True, Gibson became an international superstar soon after this, but many feel it was co-star Mark Lee who delivered the performance that really packs a punch, and it leaves viewers wondering why their careers took such divergent paths.
Alexandra’s Project (2003)
Any student of filmmaking should be required to watch Alexandra’s Project before they are allowed behind a camera. Steve returns from home on his birthday to find his wife and children gone and a videotape waiting for him. Over the following 90 minutes, his life unravels and we live and breath every moment of it with him. Uncompromising, raw and completely unforgettable.
What do you get if you cross the Terminator with Crocodile Dundee? The answer could be Mark “Chopper” Read, one of the most unsettling and violent criminals you could ever meet. All the more shocking, then, that it is based on the autobiography of a real-life Australian criminal. Like the man himself, the film doesn’t pull its punches. Eric Bana might be better known for Hulk, but Chopper is far more terrifying.
Published December 13, 2017