You might be surprised at the amount of quality Hollywood projects helmed by Australian directors, because cinema in this region never gets the recognition it deserves. After emerging in a highly commercial fashion during the 1980s, Australian cinema turned to critical acclaim with independent films throughout the 1990s.

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Some of these names have made multiple movies in one year, while others have worked with the biggest actors their area has ever seen: Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, and Geoffrey Rush to name a few. And even if you don’t get to know the creators’ behind-the-scenes names, you’ll undoubtedly recognize a few from the films throughout their career. All that said, these are the ten greatest Australian directors of all time, ranked.

10 Chris Noonan

Universal Pictures

Off the bat, the most famous project of his career Chris Noonan Will be luscious (1995), the popular family-oriented comedy from the mid-1990s. For his efforts, Noonan has received nominations at the Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay (based on the novel of the same name by Dick King Smith), and justifiably so.

But it should be noted that he wrote the script with his fellow Australian director who would appear later. Chris Noonan never really stood out from his contemporaries, however luscious It was a brave enough effort to secure this spot at the beginning of the list.

9 Rolf D’Her

Ten Canoes (2006) by Rolf D'Her
Cinema and cinema palace

Although the filmography Rolf D’Her Not holding a candle to Noonan in terms of name value, the handy director has put out more critically acclaimed projects during his tenure in the film industry. Ten boats (2006) was the most notable, although it was co-directed with Peter Djigirr. Other notable darlings are among them Bad Boy Papi (1993), tracker (2002) and country charlie (2013), each featuring a strong narrative and creative behind-the-scenes filmmaking elements.

And while he has produced nearly two dozen feature films to date, Rolf de Heer does not seem to have gained right name value internationally. However, it deserves this listing based on a careful balance between quality and quantity, ultimately ranking ninth.

8 Gregor Jordan

Heath Ledger in Two Hands (1999)
REP distribution

In his famous debut as a director, Gregor Jordan released condemns (1999), for which he also wrote the screenplay. It features Heath Ledger’s underrated performance, and the project as a whole garnered five wins out of ten nominations at the Australian Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards (also called the AFI Awards). Among the wins were Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Jordan, while Heath earned a Best Actor nod. The two worked together again with Ned Kelly (2003), albeit to a lesser degree.

Aside from his collaboration with Heath, the most notable release of Jordan’s career is Buffalo Soldiers (2001) with Joaquin Phoenix. But he was also made informers (2008) with Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, and Mickey Rourke, along with The unimaginable (2010) starring Samuel L. Jackson. The former was panned across the critical panel, while the latter went down as an underrated release. But those two efforts aside – Gregor Jordan has long cemented his place among the Australian greats thanks to releases from his early career.

7 Philip Noyce

Clear and Present Danger (1994) by Philip Noyce
Paramount Pictures

Perhaps the most notable of the two titles of his entire career Philip Noyce — at least, in terms of name value — his entries in the Jack Ryan franchise of book adaptations would be: Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and present danger (1994). With Harrison Ford in starring roles as the franchise’s titular protagonist, both achieved impressive numbers in ticket sales, of course. But they are also generally considered high-quality projects, with interesting plots and great performances.

However, they are far from the only noteworthy features of Noyce’s career. He has made nineteen feature films in all, with other major titles to come dead calm (1989), Bone collector (1999) and Quiet American (2002). Although there is no value to the name itself, Noyce undoubtedly deserves a place on the list.

6 Kate Shortland

Black Widow (2019) by Kate Shortland

Despite the apparent lack of popularity, Somersault (2004) and Berlin syndrome (2017) Two of the best Australian films ever made. They received widespread acclaim from audiences and critics alike, even receiving multiple nominations (in a row) at the AFI Awards. And they really do come off as essential Kate Shortland cut with Somersault Known as a poignant romantic drama and Berlin syndrome It is classified as psychological horror.

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But it was also made knowledge (2012) and, more importantly, Black Widow (2021). The latter is, of course, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it has made huge profits in theaters and brought much more fame to the Shortland name. Little do the public know, she has other staples as an Australian filmmaker.

5 Alex Proyas

Dark City (1998) by Alex Proyas
New Line Cinema

In terms of sheer quality, the best films under the Australian director’s belt Alex Proyas must be the crow (1994) and dark city (1998). The former is a classic superhero movie starring Brandon Lee at the final turn of his career, while the latter comes down as a neo-sci-fi thriller with a fascinating plot through and through.

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I’m a robot (2004), the adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s 1950 short story collection of the same name, to critical acclaim. But it is mostly noteworthy for its face value. And despite some lackluster releases in his later years, Bruyas has long cemented himself as the greatest Australian of all time.

4 Baz Luhrmann

Nicole Kidman as Satine and Ewan McGregor as Christian in Moulin Rouge!
Twentieth Century Fox

As a writer and director, Baz Luhrmann stands out on the list for being best known as an auteur. He writes the scripts – to an extent, either by himself or with a co-writer – for every film he directs, which has resulted in a consistent style and distinctive voice throughout his critically acclaimed career. And even if you don’t know him by name, you will undoubtedly recognize his movies.

His “Red Curtain Trilogy” stands out as the title highlight, perhaps not collectively. but with Strictly dance floor (1992), Romeo + Juliet William Shakespeare (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001), these titles individually are known worldwide. And all in all, whether you’re in love with his filmography – including other titles like Australia (2008), The great Gatsby (2013) and Elvis (2022) – Luhrmann is a staple when it comes to Australian cinema.

3 Bruce Beresford

Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Majestic Films International

thanks for the Driving Miss Daisy (1989), director Bruce Beresford She was thrown into the center of the Hollywood map. But he’s been active throughout the decade leading up to it, and it’s his most influential release. Among the most prominent was Morant cutters (1980), which garnered ten wins out of thirteen nominations at the AFI Awards.

while, Giving mercy (1983) and crimes of the heart (1986) both earned them multiple nominations at their respective Academy Awards. The former even ranked first in two of those categories, with other nominations for Best Director. But despite these fine features, it was undoubtedly Beresford’s best directorial effort Driving Miss DaisyFamous Mission with Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, and Dan Aykroyd. His other movies (which he’s still making today) help land him here at #3.

2 George Miller

Furiosa From Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Warner Bros

Right off the bat, it’s worth mentioning the two popular franchises of George Miller: Not only Mad Maxbut also Happy feet. The former is a fan-favorite action franchise with an apocalyptic setting, while the latter is going down as a popular animated series. Certainly, a sequel to Happy feet (2006) was not nearly as successful, with the former notching huge numbers at the worldwide box office, and even winning Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

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the original Mad Max (1979) was polarizing upon release, but has gained significant traction with more recent reviews. It of course had direct sequels in Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max: Beyond Thunder (1985). But the latest version in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) really set this franchise and the director himself apart from his fellow Australian directors. Well, all of them except for one, that is.

1 Peter Weir

Dead Poets Society (1989) by Peter Weir
Touchstone Pictures

In terms of critical acclaim, this can hardly come close. Gallipoli (1981), a witness (1985), fearless (1993) – these are all well-respected titles with at least one nomination to their names at the Academy Awards. But there are three films in particular that grant Peter Weir Coolest placements: Dead Poets Society (1989), The Truman Show (1998) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003).

These are three of the biggest and most critically acclaimed films of their years. They stars Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, and Russell Crowe, respectively. And the last of these playwrights is also one of the biggest names Australia has ever produced: the film industry. Peter Weir of course has other noteworthy assignments, such as Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and The way back (2010). The former is an essential part of Australian new wave cinema. But in general, his filmography is undeniable. Weir is without a doubt the finest Australian film director of all time.


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