As it's Australia Day on Friday, I thought I'd share with you seven of my favourite Australian films that you should check out this weekend. While our film industry is small, we've certainly produced some amazing films that not only showcase our talented actor and actresses, but also show off our beautiful country. From comedies and musicals to dramas and mysteries, Australia has covered most of the film genres, producing some pretty great viewing material. Okay, so we aren't as brilliant as Hollywood, but we've put our own mark on the film industry with the films we've put out in the world.
There's so many amazing Australian films, many of which I'm still yet to see and I'm sure are just as great as the ones I talk about below. So, if you're favourite film isn't on this list, chances are I haven't seen it, or it only just missed the cut!
The Castle (1997)
The Castle has become one of Australia's most loved films and has ingrained itself into our culture. The film follows the Kerrigan family, who's house is almost located on the runway at Melbourne airport. When the government and airport authorities decide to purchase more of the surrounding land and housing, patriarch Darryl Kerrigan takes a stand, taking his case all the way to the High Court of Australia in order to save his beloved family home.
It's honestly a ridiculously hilarious film that gave Aussies some iconic quotes - "how's the serenity?", "this is going straight to the pool room", and "tell him he's dreamin'". Watching this film is like a right of passage and brings together the likes of Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Anthony Simcoe, Sophie Lee, Wayne Hope, Tiriel Mora and Eric Bana for a feel-good Aussie comedy.
Tomorrow, When The War Began (2010)
Based off the first book in John Marsden's Tomorrow Series, Tomorrow, When The War Began is an interesting look at 'what if Australia was invaded?' Seven teens decide to spend the weekend camping, only to return home to find their families missing, held hostage at the local showgrounds. The reason? Overnight, a foreign army has invaded Australia, using their small town as a way to infiltrate the rest of the continent. Banding together, and with no knowledge about warfare, they try to do their bit to fight back and survive.
The book series is fantastic, and as far as book-to-movie adaptations go, this is a pretty good one. It's filled with action, adventure and a great cast with the likes of Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lincoln Lewis, Deniz Akdeniz, Phoebe Tonkin, Chris Pang and Ashleigh Cummings portraying our kick-arse teens. It's unfortunate that the rest of the books were never adapted because it's truly a fantastic series, but just having this one movie is better than having none.
Charlie & Boots (2009)
If there's one thing Australian's can do it's comedy, and Charlie & Boots brings two comedy geniuses together - Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson. After the passing of his wife, Charlie begins to withdraw from farm-life until his son, Boots, makes the snap decision to take him on a fishing trip. But it's not just any fishing trip. For years, they've dreamed about traveling from their home in southern Victoria, all the way up to Cape York to fish off the northern most tip of Australia. It's the road trip of a lifetime filled with laughter, shenanigans, tears, arguments and new friends.
Honestly, the film just feels like Paul and Shane went on a road trip, rather than their actual characters. There's laughs at ever turn, with a few arguments and tears thrown in for good measure. It also shows off some of the Australian landscape and tourist spots along the eastern states. It's such a feel-good film about family and that it's never too late to set out and achieve a dream.
Rabbit Proof Fence (2002)
The heartbreaking true story that everyone needs to watch. Based off Doris Pilkington's book Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence, the film gives viewers a look into a dark chapter in Australian history - that of the Stolen Generation which saw hundreds of Aboriginal children taken from their families and communities in order to integrate them into white society. The story follows sisters Molly, Daisy, and their cousin Grace in 1931 when they are taken over 1000 miles away from their family. Upon their arrival at the settlement camp they struggle with the new world they've been forced into and Molly eventually leads her sister and cousin in an attempt to escape, following the 3,000km long rabbit-proof fence back home while chased by the authorities.
This is such a moving story that really sheds light on a importantly dark point in Australian history. And the fact that it's based off a true story, in which Molly actually ended up escaping twice, makes it even more moving. Evelyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury and Laura Monghan give amazing performances as our three leads, while Kenneth Branagh brings A.O. Neville, our story's villain, to life. With Aboriginal films in short supply, this is a must-watch by all Australians and non-Australians alike.
Bran Nue Dae (2010)
Music, comedy and the Australian outback - what more could you want! Bran Nue Dae is a film take on the 1990 stage production, introducing the story to a new generation of Aussies. Set in the Summer of 1969, Aboriginal teen Willie returns to Catholic boarding school in Perth, with his mother hoping he will one day become a Priest. But when he falls in love with his friend Rosie and deals with some incidents at school, he realises that he doesn't want to be a Priest, but to be back home in Broome with his mother, Rosie, and his friends. And so he starts his road trip journey home with the help of Uncle Tadpole and two hippies in a Kombie Van, in what is a hilarious journey about love, friendship and family.
This is another of those feel-good Aussie comedies that will leave you in stitches and singing along to the wonderful soundtrack. With a stellar Aussie cast consisting of Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins, Geoffrey Rush, Deborah Mailman and Magda Szubanski, it'll have you wanting to go home to Broome. Trust me when I say you'll have the song 'Nothing I Would Rather Be' stuck in your head long after the film finishes.
The Sapphires (2012)
Clearly there's a bit of pattern going on here - another Aboriginal musical featuring Jessica Mauboy that is based off a 2004 stage play and loosely based on a true story! Set in 1968, four talented Aboriginal girls manage to win a spot to entertain the US troops in Vietnam. Having grown up loving singing, it's the trip of a lifetime, but infighting combined with the war have them each on a bit of soul searching quest as they treat the US Army to a bit of Soul. There's love, laughter, friendship and a killer soundtrack that'll have you singing along.
Like Bran Nue Dae, this is a fantastic musical comedy that shines the spotlight on our very talented Aboriginal actors and musicians. Jessica Mauboy, Deborah Mailman, Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens are fantastic in our leading roles, bringing to life the family dynamic of our characters. Chris O'Dowd adds a great comedic element too, and he's sure to make you laugh while the girls will have you singing along with them.
The Tracker (2002)
This final film, I feel, is probably the most underrated of these seven films. It's also the most artist, with a cast of just five and relying more on the visuals to tell the story. Set in 1922, an aboriginal man, The Fugitive, is on the run after being accused of murdering a white woman. Three white men - The Fanatic, The Follower and The Veteran - are tasked with mission on getting him back so he can face trial. Guiding them through the outback is another aboriginal - The Tracker - who has more power over these men than anyone realises.
It's such an interesting film that has little dialogue exchanged between our four main characters. It's also a confronting film as it shows different, yet similar, interactions between white men and the natives. Like in Rabbit Proof Fence, David Gulpilil gives an amazing performance, accompanied by Gary Sweet, Damon Gameau and Grant Page. Each of our main characters have their own interesting stories that we see slowly weaved throughout the film, and their dynamic is one that is both angering, sad and intriguing. Another must-watch for those wanting to see the darker side of Australian history.
I'd love to know your thoughts on these films, and also some of your favourites, so drop them in the comments below! As I said at the start of this post, there are many other films that I've really enjoyed and also a tonne that I know I'm going to love when I finally get around to watching them, so I'm sure I'll make another post next year with some different films.
I'll be back on Friday with another Aussie post!
See You Soon!
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