Top 5 Australian films of 2016 – Plus the Cinema Australia 2016 Best Film Award winner announced

2016 saw another great year for Australian films in terms of quality.

Cinema Australia was lucky enough to catch a lot of great films from this year and next via cinema, home release, preview screeners and film festivals.

Here are our Top 5 for 2016 including the winner of the Cinema Australia 2016 Best Film Award.


Odessa Young in The Daughter.

5 – The Daughter

Directed by Simon Stone
Written by Simon Stone
Produced by Jan Chapman and Nicole O’Donohue
Starring Geoffrey Rush, Nicholas Hope, Sam Neill, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider, Anna Torv, Odessa Young and Miranda Otto

The Daughter follows a man who returns home to discover a long-buried family secret, and whose attempts to put things right threaten the lives of those he left home years before.

Why we loved it: Few Australian films can match the incredible casting of Simon Stone’s impressive directorial debut, The Daughter. This amazing ensemble is second-to-none with Ewen Leslie and newcomer Odessa Young giving world class performances from beginning to end.
The Daughter is a brilliant, haunting mystery thriller that kept us guessing until the very end.


Kaiting Yap in Scare Campaign.

4 – Scare Campaign

Directed by Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes
Written by Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes
Produced by Julie Ryan
Starring Meegan Warner, Ian Meadows, Olivia DeJonge, Josh Quong Tart, Patrick Harvey and Sigrid Thornton

Popular prank TV show, Scare Campaign, has been entertaining audiences for the last 5 years with its mix of old school scares and hidden camera fun. But as we enter a new age of online TV the producers find themselves up against a new hard edged web series which makes their show look decidedly quaint. It’s time to up the ante, but will the team go too far this time, and are they about to prank the wrong guy?

Why we loved it: Scare Campaign is the best thing to happen to the Australian slasher genre since the first Wolf Creek. It’s clever and witty script outsmarts anything that’s come before it. Viewers will struggle to catch their breath thanks to the film’s incredible pace which never slows down. It constantly delivers genuine frights and hardcore graphic violence, including slit throats and exposed brains – the squeamish better come prepared.


Justin Rosniak and Damon Herriman in Down Under.

3 – Down Under

Directed by Abe Forsythe
Written by Abe Forsythe
Produced by Jodi Matterson
Starring Lincoln Younes, Rahel Romahn, Michael Denkha, Fayssal Bazzi, Alexander England, Damon Herriman, Harriet Dyer and David Field.

A black comedy set during the aftermath of the Cronulla riots, it is the story of two carloads of hotheads from both sides of the fight destined to collide.

Why we loved it: Down Under burst onto the Australian film scene like a baseball bat to the head. We all expected Forsythe’s second outing as director to be good after his brilliant debut, Ned, but we didn’t expect it to be this good. Smart, hilarious, brutal and confronting, Down Under is one of the best Australian films of the decade.


David Gulpilil in Goldstone.

2 – Goldstone

Directed by Ivan Sen
Written by Ivan Sen
Produced by David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin
Starring Aaron Pedersen, Alex Russell, Jacki Weaver, David Wenham, David Gulpilil, Michelle Lim Davidson and Tommy Lewis

Indigenous Detective Jay Swan arrives in the frontier town of Goldstone on a missing persons inquiry. What seems like a simple light duty investigation opens a web of crime and corruption. Jay must pull his life together and bury his differences with young local cop Josh, so together they can bring justice to Goldstone.

Why we loved it: Ivan Sen is arguably one of Australia’s most important filmmakers. Like most of Sen’s films he’s written, directed, shot and composed the music for this mini masterpiece. Goldstone is a far more superior film than Detective Jay Swan’s first outing in Mystery Road and surely puts rest to the argument that sequels are never better than the original. Let’s hope there’s a few more adventures for Swan in the pipeline.
If you appreciate film you’ll need to have a box of tissues on hand. Not because it’s sad, but because of how brilliant it is.

John Brumpton in Pawno.

John Brumpton in Pawno.

1 – Pawno – Cinema Australia 2016 Best Film Award Winner

Directed by Paul Ireland
Written by Damian Hill
Produced by Damian Hill and Paul Ireland
Starring John Brumpton, Maeve Dermody, Damian Hill, Malcolm Kennard, Mark Coles Smith, Kerry Armstrong, Tony Rickards, and Brad McMurray

is a character driven film about change, hope and identity. Within a day, an eclectic ensemble intersect as lives are examined and motives explored. At its heart lies a simple love story, yet love is rarely simple.

Why we loved it: Pawno is the kind of Australian film that comes along once in a blue moon. It’s a truly unique piece of cinema that stays with you long after viewing – over a year for us. From the major roles right down to the one-sceners every character has their place and each one is highly relatable in some way or another thanks to Hill’s tight, observant script and Ireland’s impeccable, flawless direction.
Earlier in the year, Hill told Cinema Australia he and Ireland are working on a new film together. We can’t wait!

Here’s to a great 2017 for Australian films.




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