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Critics named “Mad Max: Fury Road” the best Australian film of the 21st century

By Adam Epstein

Mad Max: Fury Road is one of cinema’s great success stories: After a decades-long stay in the depths of development hell (from which few films ever return), the film went on to receive 10 Oscar nominations (winning six), earning raves as one of the best action films of all time. And the accolades keep coming.

A group of 51 Australian film critics named George Miller’s 2015 post-apocalyptic action thriller the best Australian film of the 21st century, in a survey conducted by Australian film site Flicks. Other films in the top 10 included David Michôd’s crime drama Animal Kingdom and Jennifer Kent’s horror film The Babadook.

Each critic ranked their 10 top Australian films since 2000, determining for themselves what “Australian film” means (virtually all of the films were either made by Australian filmmakers or produced in Australia). Mad Max: Fury Road appeared in 33 of the 51 lists, making the top three in 22 of them and the #1 spot in 10.

Directed by Australian filmmaker George Miller, Fury Road is the fourth installment of the Mad Max franchise that Miller began in 1979 with Mel Gibson playing the titular character (Tom Hardy took over the role for Fury Road). Some scenes were shot in Australia, though much of the film’s famous desert wasteland setting was actually Namibia. Miller planned to shoot a lot more in the outback in New South Wales, Australia, but unexpected rains caused wildflowers to grow in the desert, forcing production to head to southwest Africa.

The film had a tumultuous path to the screen. Miller start working on it as early as 1997, but for a host of reasons—financial problems, security concerns, unlucky weather—production didn’t begin in earnest until 2012. Any potential sequels are already following a similarly chaotic path: Miller’s production company and Hollywood studio Warner Bros. are mired in a bitter legal battle over payouts from Fury Road, which could prevent more Mad Max movies from getting made.

Being named the best Australian film of the 21st century is a more impressive honor than it may seem at first glance. Long overshadowed by the films of other English-speaking countries, Australian cinema is perennially underrated, especially as a stalwart for crime stories and an incubator for talent. It’s also inspired some of America’s best films and TV shows.

Here’s the top 25:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
  2. Animal Kingdom (2010)
  3. Samson and Delilah (2009)
  4. Chopper (2000)
  5. Lantana (2001)
  6. The Babadook (2014)
  7. The Proposition (2005)
  8. Sweet Country (2017)
  9. Snowtown (2011)
  10. Mystery Road (2011)
  11. Moulin Rouge! (2001)
  12. Ten Canoes (2006)
  13. Look Both Ways (2005)
  14. Hail (2011)
  15. The Dressmaker (2015)
  16. The Dish (2000)
  17. Lion (2016)
  18. The Tracker (2002)
  19. Noise (2007)
  20. Kenny (2006)
  21. Sherpa (2015)
  22. Mary and Max (2009)
  23. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
  24. Wolf Creek (2005)
  25. Predestination (2014)