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The 10 Australian films to look out for in 2023 | Movies

What do Eric Bana, the Wiggles and a child-stealing spirit have in common? They’re all teaming up to star in a new musical comedy from the director of The Dry! Just kidding. But they are all in Australian films set to come out later this year, both in cinemas and on streaming platforms. Here are 10 to look out for.


The trailer for Transfusion

Where and when: cinemas now; on Stan from 20 January

Aussie star Sam Worthington will ditch the motion-capture suits he wore in Avatar: Way of the Water and appear as his plain old self in writer/director Matt Nable’s crime thriller, starring as a PTSD-afflicted former special forces operative who is “thrust into the criminal underworld to keep his only son from being taken from him”. The premise seems very … Liam Neeson, with an ultra stock-standard title to boot. Let’s hope Nable can turn it into something memorable.

Force of Nature

Where and when: TBC

The Eric Bana-led adaptation of Jane Harper’s novel The Dry made big business at the Australian box office, taking more than $20m. Bana reunites with director Robert Connolly to adapt Harper’s follow-up, Force of Nature, which inserts federal police agent Aaron Falk into another mystery, this time involving a woman who disappears during an expedition into the wilderness. The novel was described by Guardian critic Amanda Coe as “Deliverance with oestrogen, or a menopausal Picnic at Hanging Rock”.

Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles

The original Wiggles cast: (from left) Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt, Greg Page and Anthony Field, pictured in 2022. Photograph: Carly Earl/The Guardian

Where and when: Amazon Prime Video, date TBC

Hot potato hot potato! Cold spaghetti cold spaghetti! Mashed banana mashed … I forgot the next bit. But I do know the Wiggles are, as they say, bigger than Jesus, and also far more colourfully clothed. Director Sally Aitken is guaranteed a large built-in audience for her feature-length Amazon Prime Video documentary, which charts the phenomenally successful group’s journey from inception to super stardom.

The Royal Hotel

Where and when: TBC

Melbourne-born director Kitty Green’s previous two productions – the expertly controlled #MeToo drama The Assistant and true crime mind-melter Casting JonBenet – established her as one of Australia’s most exciting film-makers. The title of The Royal Hotel refers to a pub in an outback mining town where two skint backpackers (Julia Garner and Jessica Henwick) get a job, and are introduced to various locals and Australian drinking culture. Surprise surprise, things take a turn for the worse. The premise sounds like a combination of Hotel Coolgardie and Wake in Fright.

Run Rabbit Run

Sarah Snook grinning at a film event in Beverly Hills last year
Sarah Snook in Beverly Hills, California, last year. Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage

Where and when: TBC

Sarah Snook (replacing original cast member Elisabeth Moss) plays a fertility doctor whose life careens out of control when her daughter begins exhibiting increasingly weird behaviour. Run Rabbit Run was directed by Daina Reed, whose credits include The Handmaid’s Tale and the excellent basketball-themed drama Sunshine.

Of an Age

Of an Age’s trailer

Where and when: in US cinemas 10 February; and Australian cinemas 23 March

Writer/director Goran Stolevski’s feature debut, You Won’t Be Alone, was the best Australian film of 2022 – a strikingly original horror movie about a shapeshifting witch. His more grounded follow-up is a queer coming-of-age film set in Melbourne in the late 1990s. Of an Age explores a “will they or won’t they?” relationship between Nikola (Elias Anton, who was excellent in Barracuda) and Adam (Thom Green) as they fang it across town to pick up Nikola’s dance partner Ebony (Hattie Hook). The film drew strong reviews after it opened last year’s Melbourne international film festival.

The New Boy

Warwick Thornton wearing a black baseball cap in 2018
Warwick Thornton at the Sundance festival, Utah, 2018. Photograph: Michael Buckner/Deadline/Rex/Shutterstock

Where and when: Towards end of 2023, date TBC

Every production from the great Australian auteur Warwick Thornton (whose oeuvre includes Sweet Country, Samson and Delilah and The Beach) is a cultural event. His latest is set in the 1940s and stars Cate Blanchett as a nun who runs a remote monastery where the film’s protagonist – a nine-year-old Aboriginal orphan (Aswan Reid) – is sent. Expect something bold and visually beautiful.


Pete Davidson gestures with a peace sign at last year's Met Gala in New York
Pete Davidson at last year’s Met Gala in New York. Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Where and when: TBC

US comedian Pete Davidson stars in this comedy from Animal Kingdom director David Michôd about – according to the official synopsis – “two hapless beach bar operators who get themselves into trouble when they stumble across stolen loot that they should have just left alone”. The temptation of grabbing a bag full of sweet, sweet cash and running for the hills has ended poorly for many movie characters, most famously Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane in Psycho, and Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss in No Country for Old Men. Don’t expect those beach bar operators to get an easy ride.

The Moogai

A child looks ahead eerily in a dark spacein 2020 horror short The Moogai
A scene from 2020 horror short The Moogai, which is being adapted into a feature film. Photograph: Screen Australia

Where and when: TBC

My favourite Aboriginal horror movie is Tracey Moffatt’s amazingly designed 1993 triptych Bedevil (which, by the way, is available to stream on SBS On Demand). However, there are sadly very few to choose from. Teaming up with The Babadook producers Kristina Ceyton and Samantha Jenning, writer/director Jon Bell will extend the canon with The Moogai, a feature extension of a short film he made about a family terrorised by an evil spirit that steals children. (The short film will also be on SBS On Demand from 13 January.)


A woman and girl look kindly at each other in Shayda
A scene from Noora Niasari’s drama Shayda. Photograph: Sundance Institute

Where and when: TBC

Writer/director Noora Niasari’s feature debut, which is being produced by Blanchett, is a drama set in the Iranian-Australian community during the 1990s. This story of a young mother and her daughter attempting to escape violence and seeking refuge in a women’s shelter already comes with significant bona fides, having been selected to open Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition later this month.

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