The 10 best Australian movies and TV shows of 2022 – so far
ElvisBaz Luhrmann’s COVID-delayed biopic about the king of rock ‘n’ roll, is sure to be the most screaming and high-profile Australian film of 2022 – and the one with the most dodgy Dutch accent courtesy of Tom Hanks – but the year has already yielded a rich crop of silver gems (and small) screens.
And they were all cobbled together on budgets that wouldn’t cover George Miller’s daily mega-bucks budget. road of fury prequel, Furiosacurrently filming in outback NSW.
So if all you’ve seen in theaters so far this year are duds like Morbius and Unexplored, and your TV habits haven’t strayed beyond free pap streaming, you’ve got some serious catching up to do. Let us help you.
The Herdsman’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson
Cinemas, May 5
No one could accuse Leah Purcell of being coy in adapting Henry Lawson’s 1892 short story about a woman left to care for four children in a dilapidated outback hut.
Writer and director Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka first staged it as an award-winning play before turning it into a bestselling novel. And now she’s reimagined the saga as a feminist, gritty feature, delivering a powerful performance in the lead role.
It deservedly won the Grand Jury Prize at the Asia Pacific Film Awards and was nominated for the Sydney Film Prize at the 2021 Sydney Film Festival. Australiathis will put you on the right track.
How to please a woman
Cinemas, May 9
WA writer/director Renée Webster’s feature debut has a surprising emotional impact, given that its premise is a bored middle-aged woman (Sally Phillips, the Finnish PM of Veep) launching a cleaning service with young guys offering to do much more than dust the baseboards of their customers.
Cue 50 shades of female sexual liberation, guilt-free lovemaking and some broad brushstrokes of comedy. What elevates it is a witty, non-judgmental storyline that injects a bit of suburban pathos as it becomes clear to characters and audience that the message isn’t about sex with a cast of Low-end Magic Mike is about embracing your own sexuality. And having a nice clean kitchen to boot.
Cinemas, February 10
Continuing the proud tradition of Antipodian zombie films – Undead (2003), Plague (2014), Cargo (2017), little monsters (2019) – comes a belated sequel to the surprise hit from 2014 Wyrmwood: The Road of the Dead.
Jay Gallagher returns as an outback mechanic who had been forced to kill his zombified family with a nail gun for the first time and now discovers the authorities are experimenting on survivors to help find a cure.
Although some of the original’s exuberance and humor has rotted away, it’s still great and even has something meaningful to say. A zombie movie with brains – and not all splattered.
Cinemas May 26
Tiriki Onus grew up hearing colorful stories about his campaigning grandfather, Bill, the Australian PT Barnum of his day who hosted theatrical variety shows, championed “indigenous art” to tourists and became the first native television presenter.
But this doco explores whether newly discovered footage from the 1940s is proof that Bill Onus was also the first Indigenous filmmaker.
This journey of discovery is also a journey through some uncomfortable truths about post-war Australia in the run-up to the 1967 referendum on the inclusion of the world’s oldest continuous civilization in the census, a cause for which Bill fought hard.
Tiriki is an engaging undertaking and opens up a captivating window into a time and culture with few moving images to remember.
Stan, January 26
A mud-covered, bloated Zac Efron is simmered under the outback sun in a sadistic melodrama about greed, loyalty and endurance.
The not-so-pretty boy stumbles upon a huge chunk of gold while stuck in a desolate expanse of endless nothingness with a stranger he just met. Efron’s unnamed character guards their loot while his companion goes to get the tools needed to dig it up.
As he battles dingoes, flies, and his own demons, Efron’s relationship with reality becomes tenuous at best. The actor excels in his bravest role yet, wallowing in physical and mental deterioration and making up for an obvious lack of plot.
Stan, January 2
Not to be confused with the Depp/Jolie shambles, this tense, offbeat mystery stars Jamie Dornan as a Northern Irish tourist who wakes up in an Australian hospital with no idea who he is or how he got there.
As he tries to find clues to his identity, he encounters enough quirky and eccentric locals to fill a traveling circus, and slowly realizes that the sinister elements of his past are about to catch up with him.
So far so dark, but what makes this drama shine is its surreal humor. This is Fargo meeting Spielberg Duel meets Monty Python. At one point, Dornan gets stuck in traffic because two turtles randomly mate on the road.
ABC, February 27
A spirited entry into the mismatched-duet-reluctantly-solve-crime-then-link genre, troppo stars Nicole Chamoun and Thomas Jane as an ex-con and ex-cop entangled in a bizarre mystery where a man seemingly commits suicide by happily swimming through the jaws of a crocodile.
Adapted from the book by Australian thriller queen Candice Fox crimson lakeit slowly (sometimes too slowly) turns into a top-notch thrill ride with plenty of corpses and a handful of brooding larrikins hiding seedy secrets.
It is deftly held together by the bubbly chemistry of the two feuding leads and the lush Queensland locations.
wolf like me
Stan, January 13
A simple and touching love story by Australian actor Abe Forsythe about a widower (Josh Gadd) who falls in love with a widow (Isla Fisher) only to discover she is actually a werewolf who has killed and ate her husband. Well, I guess we all have baggage.
Despite his unseemly full moon activities, they continue to date, and the show settles into familiar rom-com territory, albeit a few shades darker than most.
The underrated Gadd brings welcome depth to his role, and there’s more than enough biting wit splashed across the six episodes to make it an evening-worthy binge.
The Prime Minister’s Daughter
ABC Me, January 1st
Mildly delinquent teenage activist Greta Thunberg (Cassandra Helmot) is more than a little miffed when her single mother becomes Prime Minister of Australia. Not least because her mother expects her to wear a bright yellow Hillary Clinton pantsuit and stop protesting climate change.
She changes her tune when she learns that Beyoncé might be about to visit The Lodge, but suddenly she and her friends uncover a nefarious plot to bring down the government.
The Prime Minister’s Daughter could be more oriented Gilmore Girls tragic than Gillard fans, but this 10 part is top-notch political satire with a lot more to say than most adult sitcoms.
On the Brink: Bon Scott
ABC, May 9
Forty-two years after his death, the legendary AC/DC leader’s fame shows no signs of waning. This impressive australian history doco is the first to persuade his close friends and family to speak up, and reveals much previously unknown information about his writing and the mental health issues that increasingly tormented him.
The electrifying concert footage recalls the absolute tragedy that arguably the greatest singer of all time passed away while his band was working on “Back In Black” and on the verge of global stardom.
A worthy tribute to Australia’s greatest musical icon.