40 best Australian movies every respectable Aussie should watch

40 best Australian movies every respectable Aussie should watch

Australian filmmakers have produced numerous Australian movies, some of which have gained recognition internationally. Among all the film productions, there are outstanding ones that every Aussie should watch at least once in their lifetime. They are not only entertaining, but the viewer also learns something new from the story-lines.

Australian movies

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What is the most popular movie in Australia? Avatar was ranked as the highest-grossing film of all time in Australia after grossing $115,767,244 as of January 2020. On the list of top 50 films of all time, Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Australia (2008) were the only Australian movies. The two were produced in this country.

Best Australian movies every Aussie should watch

Are you looking for the best Australian movies to watch in 2020? There are good Australian films ranging from horror to thriller and war films.

The best Australian films are those whose story-lines are engaging and with simple story-lines. They also have great characters, fantastic endings, and pay attention to the little details.

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40. Harvie Krumpet

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  • Release: 2003
  • Runtime: 23 minutes
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Genre: Animation/ Comedy/ Short
  • Director: Adam Elliot

Harvie Krumpet is an odd biography of a man who has Tourette's Syndrome. He also has chronic bad luck, nudist habits, menial jobs, and a book of "fakts" hung around his neck.

39. Tomorrow, When the War Began

  • Release: 2010
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Drama
  • Director: Stuart Beattie

Tomorrow, When the War Began is one of the best Australian movies since 2000. It is about a country that is invaded and families are separated, so a group of teenagers unite to fight the enemy, even if they are not trained for war.

38. The Last Wave

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  • Release: 1977
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Drama/ Fantasy/ Mystery
  • Director: Peter Weir
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The Last Wave is one of the Aussie movies that are full of mystery. As higher-than-average rainfall is recorded, a lawyer is summoned to represent and defend five Aboriginal persons in a case about a ritualized taboo murder, and in the process, he discovers unsettling things about himself.

37. Lantana

  • Release: 2001
  • Runtime: 121 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Drama/ Mystery/ Romance
  • Director: Ray Lawrence

This Australian movie explores the relationships between four different couples. The relationships unravel after the body of a young woman is discovered in a Lantana bush in suburban Sydney.

36. Ghosts... of the Civil Dead

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  • Release: 1988
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Genre: Crime/ Drama
  • Director: John Hillcoat

Ghosts... of the Civil Dead is one of the best Australian movies 1980s, and it is set in a jail where there are no rules but there is high security. The prison gangs collide in the clean and efficient maximum security wing, and violence erupts.

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35. Looking for Alibrandi

  • Release: 2000
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy/ Drama/ Romance
  • Director: Kate Woods

What movies were filmed in Australia? Looking for Alibrandi is one of them, and it is about a female teenager who faces the traumas of everyday life, including her relationship with her single mom. Her father returns unexpectedly, and she faces romantic dilemmas over two very different boys.

34. Dark City

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  • Release: 1998
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller
  • Director: Alex Proyas

Dark City is one of the must-watch Australia movies of all time. It is about a man who struggles with the memories of his past life, including a spouse he remembers not. He is a nightmarish world, where no one else seems to be waking up.

33. Muriel's Wedding

  • Release: 1994
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Comedy/ Drama
  • Director: P.J. Hogan
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In Muriel's Wedding, a young social outcast wants to go on vacation, so she steals some money from her parents. She hopes to find happiness and, perhaps, love, during her holiday.

32. The Black Balloon

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  • Release: 2008
  • Runtime: 97 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama/ Romance
  • Director: Elissa Down

The Black Balloon is about an adolescent who desires to have a normal life, but his autistic brothers hinders him from experiencing this. He struggles to accept his brother’s condition.

31. The Mule

  • Release: 2014
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy/ Crime/ Drama
  • Directors: Tony Mahony and Angus Sampson

The Mule is one of the recent Australian movies that you must watch. After traveling to Thailand, a first-time drug mule finds himself under police custody. He has to convince the police officers that he is innocent.

30. The Castle

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  • Release: 1997
  • Runtime: 85 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Comedy/ Drama
  • Director: Rob Sitch

The Castle is about a Melbourne-based working class family that is ordered to vacate their family home due to infrastructural expansion. The family members fight the city hall.

29. Crocodile Dundee

  • Release: 1986
  • Runtime: 97 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Comedy
  • Director: Peter Faiman

What Australian movies are on Netflix? Crocodile Dundee is one of them, and it is about an American reporter who visits the Australian outback to meet a crocodile poacher. He invites the poacher to New York City.

28. The Little Death

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  • Release: 2014
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Director: Josh Lawson

In The Little Death, five Sydney-based suburban couples reveal their fetishes. Afterward, they have to deal with the implications of sharing this information.

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27. The Proposition

  • Release: 2005
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Crime/ Drama/ Western
  • Director: John Hillcoat

The Proposition is about a lawman who apprehends a notorious outlaw. He gives the outlaw nine days to murder his older brother, and if he fails to do it, his younger brother will be executed instead.

26. The Year of Living Dangerously

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  • Release: 1982
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Drama/ Romance/ War
  • Director: Peter Weir

The Year of Living Dangerously is one of the top Australian war movies of all time. In the film, a young reporter tries to navigate the political chaos of Indonesia during the era of President Sukarno with the aid of a photographer.

25. Breaker Morant

  • Release: 1980
  • Runtime: 107 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Drama/ History/ War
  • Director: Bruce Beresford
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In this film, three lieutenants are tried by a court martial for executing prisoners. This is a way of deflecting attention from war crimes committed by their superiors.

24. Bad Boy Bubby

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  • Release: 1993
  • Runtime: 114 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy/ Crime/ Drama
  • Director: Rolf de Heer

This film is about Bubby, who has spent thirty years in the same small room, tricked by his mother. He escapes one day and, deranged and naive in equal measure, his adventure into the modern life starts.

23. Kenny

  • Release: 2006
  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Director: Clayton Jacobson

Kenny is a funny mockumentary film that follows the many misadventures of a porta-john worker. Both his personal and professional life, including a glamorous excursion to the Pumper and Cleaner Expo in Nashville, TN, are explored.

22. The Rover

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  • Release: 2014
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Action/ Crime/ Drama
  • Director: David Michôd

The Rover is one of the best Australian movies on Netflix today. It is set in a muddled future, and it follows loner Eric's vile ordeal when a criminal gang takes his car and leaves him in the middle of nowhere with nothing.

21. Walkabout

  • Release: 1971
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: GP
  • Genre: Adventure/ Drama
  • Director: Nicolas Roeg

Walkabout is about two city-born siblings who are stranded in the Australian Outback. They learn to survive with the help of an Aboriginal boy on his "walkabout.” Do they survive?

20. Mad Max

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  • Release: 1979
  • Runtime: 88 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi
  • Director: George Miller

Mad Max is set in a self-destructing world, where a vengeful Australian policeman decides to stop a violent motorcycle gang. Does he succeed in this dangerous mission?

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19. The Shiralee

  • Release: 1987
  • Runtime: 180 minutes
  • Genre: Drama/ Family

The Shiralee is about Macauley, who is a swagman on the road in the 1940s. He's a laid back man in search of work. He gets landed with his daughter after his drunken play-girl wife in Adelaide makes him face up to his responsibilities, but neither he nor his daughter are ready for each other.

18. Saw

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  • Release: 2003
  • Runtime: 9 minutes
  • Genre: Short/ Horror/ Thriller
  • Director: James Wan

Saw is one of the must-watch short Australian horror movies. David, an orderly at a hospital, tells his horrific story of being kidnapped and how he was forced to play a despicable game to survive.

17. The Year My Voice Broke

  • Release: 1987
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama/ Romance
  • Director: John Duigan
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The Year My Voice Broke is set in a rural area in the 1960s. A boy watches as his best friend falls in love with a small-time criminal. This marks the beginning of a series of violent events.

16. The Tracker

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  • Release: 2002
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Genre: Drama/ History/ Western
  • Director: Rolf de Heer

The Tracker is a 1922 story that starts when a Native Australian man is accused of murdering a white woman. The Fanatic, The Follower and The Veteran, all White, are assigned the mission of capturing the accused with the help of The Tracker. They go, not knowing that their racism-related wrangles are more dangerous than hunting for the accused.

15. Blue Murder

  • Release: 1995
  • Runtime: 198 minutes
  • Genre: Crime/ Drama

In Blue Murder, Detective Sergeant Roger Rogerson is famous because he knows how to take care of the most dangerous criminals. His success is partly due to his unsettling alliance with violent underworld figures, who have police protection in exchange for tips and money.

14. Wake in Fright

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  • Release: 1971
  • Runtime: 109 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Drama/ Thriller
  • Director: Ted Kotcheff

In Wake in Fright, a schoolteacher’s life is under threat. This comes after a bad gambling bet, so the teacher is abandoned in a town full of drunk and violent men who threaten to make him one of them. Does he save himself?

13. Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!

  • Release: 2008
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Documentary/ History
  • Director: Mark Hartley

This movie tells the tale of the Australian exploitation cinema of both the 1970s and 1980s. At the time, the cinema showed an explosion of sex, action, horror, and violence. It includes some of the lessons in maverick film-making.

12. Kill Me Three Times

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  • Release: 2014
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Action/ Comedy/ Crime
  • Director: Kriv Stenders

Kill Me Three Times is a about a professional hit-man named Charlie Wolfe. He finds himself in three stories of murder, blackmail and vengeance after a failed contract assignment.

11. The Water Diviner

  • Release: 2014
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Drama/ History/ War
  • Director: Russell Crowe

The Water Diviner is about a man who travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to try and locate his three missing sons. In Turkey, he forges a relationship with the beautiful woman who owns the hotel in which he stays. He has to travel across the war-torn landscape to find his kids.

10. The Piano

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  • Release: 1993
  • Runtime: 121 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Drama/ Music/ Romance
  • Director: Jane Campion

The Piano is set in the mid-19th century, when a mute woman goes to New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano. She is supposed to be in arranged marriage with an affluent landowner, but a local worker on the plantation lusts after her.

9. Mental

  • Release: 2012
  • Runtime: 116 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy/ Drama
  • Director: P.J. Hogan

Mental is about a alluring but crazy hothead who transforms a family's life when she becomes the nanny of five girls. The girls’ mother has gone mental because of her husband's political ambitions as well as his infidelity.

8. Shine

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  • Release: 1996
  • Runtime: 105 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Genre: Biography/ Drama/ Music
  • Director: Scott Hicks

Shine tells the story of pianist David Helfgott, who is pushed by his father and teachers to the point where he suffers a breakdown. Many years later, he returns to the piano, and he gets popular if not critical acclaim.

7. The Loved Ones

  • Release: 2009
  • Runtime: 84 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Horror/ Thriller
  • Director: Sean Byrne

The Loved Ones focuses on Brent, who killed his father, so he is fighting his inner demons. He uses marijuana to cope with his pain. Later, he declines his classmate Lola's invitation to the prom. Out of anger, she plans a crazily violent plan for vengeance. Does Brent survive her wrath?

6. Picnic at Hanging Rock

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  • Release: 1975
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Drama/ Mystery
  • Director: Peter Weir

Picnic at Hanging Rock is set in the summer, at a rural location on Valentine's Day in 1900. A few students and a teacher from an Australian girls' school disappear without a trace during a picnic. Their absence frustrates and haunts everyone who is left behind.

5. Happy Feet

  • Release: 2006
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy
  • Directors: George Miller, Warren Coleman and Judy Morris

Happy Feet is an exciting film that takes the viewer into the planet of the Emperor Penguins. They find their soul mates through song.

However, there is a penguin who cannot sing like the rest and he does not have a heart-song, but he can tap dance like no one else can. Will he find his soul-mate?

4. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

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  • Release: 1994
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Comedy/ Music
  • Director: Stephan Elliott

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is about two drag performers and a transgender woman who have secured a gig. The trio travels across the desert to perform their unique style of cabaret using their lavender bus named Priscilla, but on their way, they realize that the contractor is one of their wives.

3. Romper Stomper

  • Release: 1992
  • Runtime: 94 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Crime/ Drama

Romper Stomper tells the story of a group of skinheads who become shocked at the way their neighborhood is changing. Can they mitigate the drastic changes that they are witnessing?

2. Animal Kingdom

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  • Release: 2010
  • Runtime: 113 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Crime/s Drama

Animal Kingdom is an interesting film that focuses on a 17-year-old as he navigates his survival. He lives with an explosive criminal family, after the demise of his mother, who had shielded him from his criminal relatives. There is a detective who thinks he can save him from his hostile family.

1. Chopper

  • Release: 2000
  • Runtime: 94 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Biography/ Crime/ Drama

Chopper is a film that tells the tale of Mark "Chopper" Read, who is a legendary criminal. He writes his autobiography dubbed From the Inside while serving a jail sentence. The film is based on the novel with the same title as his autobiography.

Numerous Australian movies have been produced so far, but the compilation above gives you the top films which are a must-watch. Which among the 40 are your favorites, and why? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section.

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