Five festive flicks for film fanatics

There’s nothing better than spending the Christmas holiday period surrounded by family and friends – providing you all get along. If not, then it can be a complete living nightmare.

One of the best ways to escape the fluff of Christmas, and your great aunty pinching your cheeks even though you’re almost 30, is to escape with a movie. It’s also a great way to give your wallet a well earned break.

If you’re after a little inspiration then here’s our top five Aussie films to help you start the day, waste away an afternoon or enjoy a summer night’s breeze comforted by the glow of your television. 

Most of our picks are available as legal (or illegal) downloads. I mean, who wants to get in their car and drive all the way to the video shop and run the risk of getting branded by your scorching hot seatbelt in the searing summer heat of an Aussie Christmas day. Unless you live in Melbourne, then in that case you might risk ice burn.

1. For the Kids Bush Christmas

Directed by Henri Safran
Starring Nicole Kidman, John Howard & John Ewart
Released during the same year as BMX Bandits, another film staring Kidman, Bush Christmas was a mild box office success earning $122,035 at the Australian box office.
The film is a remake of a 1947 film of the same name and based on a novel by Ralph Smart and Mary Cathcart Borer.
Struggling to keep their farm from foreclosure the Thompson family hopes to use the winnings from the New Year’s Cup in which their horse is racing. When the horse is stolen the Thompson kids Helen and John go looking for the crooks to get back their horse.
A great adventure flick to show the kids and teach them about life pre most modern technologies.

2. For the Older Kids Blackrock

Directed by Steve Vidler
Starring Laurence Breuls, Linda Cropper, Simon Lyndon, Rebecca Smart & Heath Ledger
Nominated for 5 AFI awards, Blackrock was the feature film debut of Heath Ledger who has a minor role in the film alongside childhood friend Simon Lyndon as Ricko.
Based on a 1995 play of the same name, the film opened to a few controversies because of its similarities to the real life rape and murder of a young Victorian girl. Sometimes controversy can be a great marketing tool as the film went on to gross $1,136, 983 at the Australian box office. Heath Ledger was the only cast member to move on to greener pastures but his performance in this film was shadowed by Lyndon, Lynda Cropper as struggling single mother Diane and Rebecca Smart as Cherie, the best friend of murdered school-girl, Tracy.
One of the heaviest films of the 90’s, Blackrock succeeds at creating a dark, moody piece of cinema perfect for a teenage audience going through a few growing pains of their own.
(Seems to be no trailer for this film online anywhere. Sorry, folks.)

3. Adults Only Animal Kingdom

Directed by David Michod
Starring Ben Mendolsohn, Guy Pearce, James Frecheville & Jacki Weaver
One of the most internationally recognised Australian films of the last five years, Animal Kingdom received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for Jacki Weaver which she unfortunately lost to Melissa Leo.
Animal Kingdom has a monster Australian cast including Ben Mendolsohn, Guy Pearce, Dan Wylie, Luke Ford, Joel Edgerton and Weaver as the sinister matriarch of a violent Melbourne crime family who are out for revenge after the murder of brother Barry by a couple of local cops.
Adoration’s James Frecheville makes his feature film debut as Joshua Cody, an adoptee of his grandmother Smurf.
A pivotal scene in the film is said to be based loosely on the Walsh Street police shootings that occurred in Melbourne in 1988.
An impressive debut from Director Michod who was previously an editor for Inside Film magazine.
(American trailer above.)

4. With the Family The Castle

Directed by Rob Sitch
Starring Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Bud Tingwell & Eric Bana
Considered by many as one of the greatest Australian films of all time, The Castle is still a strong favourite for film goers of all ages.
This Working Dog Productions flick Starred Eric Bana in his first feature film role and grossed over ten million dollars at the Australian box office.
The Kerrigans are the quintessential Australian family. Blue collar and full of love their livelyhood is threatened when developers attempt the compulsory acquisition of their house to expand the neighbouring Melbourne Airport. The Kerrigans show true Aussie pride and fight for their rights to keep the home.
Creators Rob Sitch and Tom Gleisner where invited to show the film to Robert Redford during a private screening at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

5. For Christmas Day Crackers

Directed by David Swann
Starring Warren Mitchell, Pete Rowsthorn, Susan Lyons & Daniel Kellie
Crackers is one of our favourite Australian films of all time. Everyone will find something to relate to as a dysfunctional family try to get through a Christmas together interrupted but some very humorous disasters including the cremation of a family dog.
The whole film is riddled with perfect comic performances but it’s Pete Rowsthorn’s comedic genius that shines the most as newcomer Bruno whose trying to make an impression on his potential in-laws.
Crackers is a film that’s sure to have the whole family wetting themselves with laughter and will make the perfect end to any kind of Christmas day – good or bad.

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