9 Award-Winning Australian Movies & Shows to Watch

John Farnham
Image Credit: Sony

Australia’s movie business has only gotten stronger over the years, delivering a wealth of critically acclaimed movies and TV shows that have snagged awards and won over audiences globally. 

Now, streaming giants like Netflix, Stan, and Amazon Prime are proving the best place to find big, buzzy films and old classics alike.

From intense dramas to fun comedies, Aussie producers, directors, and actors are proving their talent time and time again. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Australian cinema or just starting to explore it, we’ve got you covered with some of the best titles from the last decade. 

Here’s our list of 10 award-winning Australian movies and shows you absolutely need to watch – or rewatch – on popular streaming platforms. 

“Talk to Me” (2022) 

Watch on Netflix

A gripping horror film directed by Australian brothers Danny and Michael Philippou, “Talk to Me” is an instant classic and ripper of a directorial debut film. 

It follows the story of a group of friends who discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, leading to terrifying consequences. With its unique premise and chilling execution, “Talk to Me” was a hit at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and has been praised for its innovative approach to the horror genre – even taking out the 2023 AACTA Award for Best Indie Film. It’s a must-watch for fans of supernatural thrillers. 

“The Nightingale” (2018)

Watch on Amazon Prime

This period thriller, directed by Jennifer Kent, follows the journey of a young convict woman seeking revenge in the Tasmanian wilderness. Its strong female lead and raw portrayal of colonial violence make it a must-watch for anyone seeking intense, thought-provoking drama. 

When it was released in 2018, “The Nightingale” was instantly recognised for its powerful performances, making it a standout film in Australian cinema. It was a favourite in the feature film section at the 2019 AACTA Awards, winning Best Film, and Jennifer also took out Best Director and Best Screenplay awards. 

Variety writer Guy Lodge called it an “elemental revenge tale” in his review: “Following two such victims, a 21-year-old Irish convict woman and her reluctant Aboriginal tracker, in circuitous pursuit of the army officer who viciously wronged her family.” 

“Last King of the Cross” (2023)

Watch on Paramount+

“Last King of the Cross” is Paramount+’s most-watched Australian series, and it’s no wonder why. Following its outstanding success, the show earned multiple award nominations, including a Most Popular Actor nomination for lead actor Lincoln Younes at the Logie Awards.  

Inspired by John Ibrahim’s best-selling autobiography, the show explores Sydney’s gritty nightlife and underworld. Season two, which has begun filming, promises even higher stakes and dives deeper into the booming queer nightclub scene on Oxford Street in the 2000s. Catch up on season one now before the second season drops later this year. 

“The Great Gatsby” (2013)

Watch on Stan

If you haven’t yet seen this grandiose blockbuster, where have you been? Though based on the classic American novel and packed with American stars Leonardo Dicaprio, Toby Maguire and Carey Mulligan, Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is technically considered an Australian film. It swept the field of Australian awards the year it was released, winning six out of seven nominated categories at the 2013 AACTA Awards. 

Back in 2013, Variety’s Scott Foundas described the film as quintessentially ‘Luhrmann’: “Love it or hate it, take it or leave it, this is unmistakably his “Gatsby” through and through, and as with all such carte-blanche extravaganzas (increasingly rare in this cautious Hollywood age), it exudes an undeniable fascination.” Time for a rewatch. 

“The Dry” (2020) 

Watch on Netflix 

If you loved Jane Harper’s best-selling novel, the movie adaptation of “The Dry” is certainly worth a watch. A gripping crime thriller directed by Robert Connolly, the story follows federal agent Aaron Falk (played by Eric Bana) as he returns to his drought-stricken hometown to investigate a murder-suicide.

The film’s tense atmosphere and compelling narrative make it a must-watch. Bana’s powerful performance and the film’s evocative portrayal of rural Australia earned it the prize of Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2023 AACTA Awards. It also scored a nomination for Best Film and Eric Banner for Best Lead Actor. 

“Lion” (2016)

Watch on Apple TV+

Who doesn’t love a feel-good story? In the directorial debut by Garth Davis, “Lion” tells the incredible true story of Saroo Brierley, who was separated from his family as a child and adopted by an Australian couple. Years later, he goes on a journey to find his lost family using Google Earth. 

This biographical drama’s heart-warming story and outstanding cast, including Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel, have earned it widespread acclaim. Get the tissues ready before you sit down to watch. 

“Sweet Country” (2017)

Watch on Netflix 

“Sweet Country,” directed by Warwick Thornton, is a powerful drama set in the Australian outback amidst a racially divided 1929 community. It explores themes of racism and justice through the story of an Aboriginal man who goes on the run after killing a white man in self-defence. 

In his review when the film launched, Variety‘s Guy Lodge said of “Sweet Country”: “The spare, classical chase drama that ensues is seeded with barbed observations on colonialism, cultural erasure and rough justice, kept poetically succinct by Thornton’s lithe, soaring visual storytelling.”

The film’s stunning cinematography earned it 22 wins and 29 nominations at industry awards. It’s a gripping look at Australia’s historical and social complexities – one to add to your next watch list. 

“Babyteeth” (2019)

Watch on Netflix 

“Babyteeth” is a film about teenagers, but it’s not a ‘teen movie’. It tells the story of Milla, a terminally ill teen who falls in love with Moses, a small-time drug dealer. The mix of humour and heartache feels incredibly real, and the performances by Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace and Ben Mendelsohn are unforgettable. 

“I do feel like, in many ways, it’s the perfect teenage film, because it isn’t catered to you, it’s catered to people older,” director Shannon Murphy said on the Variety Critics Corner. “And that’s what you’re aiming for.”

The film won the AACTA Award for Best Film and Best Direction. It’s a must-watch for its honest take on love and loss, making it a deeply moving watch and the perfect pick for when you want a good cry. 

John Farnham: Finding the Voice (2023)

Watch on Amazon Prime 

In the mood for something real? This award-winning documentary offers an intimate look at the fascinating life and career of one of Australia’s most beloved music icons. 

The film takes you on a journey through John Farnham’s rise to fame, his struggles, and his incredible comeback with rare behind-the-scenes footage that gives viewers a deeper understanding of the man behind the music. It’s not just for fans of Farnham either, anyone who appreciates a story of resilience and passion will enjoy watching. Plus, it took out the AACTA Award for Best Documentary in 2023. A great tribute to an Australian legend. 

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (2023)

Watch on Amazon Prime 

Based on Holly Ringland’s best-selling novel, this limited series follows Alice Hart, a young girl who, after a tragic family event, goes to live with her grandmother (played by Sigourney Weaver) on a flower farm in regional Australia. There, she discovers hidden family secrets and learns the healing language of flowers. 

Just like the book, the show instantly draws you in. With its stunning visuals and heartfelt performances by Asher Keddie, Alycia Debnam-Carey and Alyla Browne, who plays the young version of Alice Hart, the adaptation beautifully brings the novel’s characters and emotional depth to life. It’s a must-watch for anyone who loves stories about resilience, healing, and the bonds of family.

Catch these titles and more on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Stan, Hayu, Britbox and Apple TV+ on Fetch from Telstra . Happy watching! 

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