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Thirteen 2024 AACTA-Winning Australian Movies and TV Shows That You Can (and Should) Watch Right Now

Horror hit 'Talk to Me', Warwick Thornton's 'The New Boy' and murder-mystery 'Deadloch' were among this year's big Aussie winners at the AACTAs.
By Sarah Ward
February 12, 2024
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By Sarah Ward
February 12, 2024
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2023 marks 65 years since Australia's film and television industry first started recognising its best work of the year with accolades. Back then, the gongs were called the AFI Awards. When the Australian Film Institute created the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts in 2011, the awards changed names to the AACTAs. The country's standout flicks and TV highlights are still rewarded with shiny trophies, though — and, since making the switch in monikers in 2012, the big winners paint quite the picture of Australia's screen output.

Red Dog, The Sapphires, The Great Gatsby, The Babadook, The Water Diviner, Mad Max: Fury Road, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion, Sweet Country, The Nightingale, Babyteeth, Nitram and Elvis have all been anointed Australia's top movie. Among the small-screen recipients, Best Drama has gone to East West 101, Puberty Blues, Redfern Now, The Code, Glitch, Wentworth, Top of the Lake: China Girl, Mystery Road, Total Control, The Newsreader and Mystery Road: Origin. They all now have company, with the 2024 awards looking back on 2023's highlights announced on Saturday, February 10. Talk to Me was named Best Film, while The Newsreader claimed Best Drama again. 

The AACTAs are known to concentrate the love towards a few titles each year. 2024 is different, however. The list of winners goes on, and makes an ace must-see lineup of top-notch Aussie movies and TV shows to catch up on or revisit from the past year. Here's 13 that you can watch now:

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Movie Must-Sees

Talk to Me

An embalmed hand can't click its fingers, not even when it's the spirit-conducing appendage at the heart of Talk to Me. This is an absolute finger snap of a horror film, however, and a fist pump of a debut by Australian twins Danny and Michael Philippou. As RackaRacka, the Adelaide-born pair have racked up six-million-plus subscribers on YouTube via viral comedy, horror and action combos. As feature filmmakers, they're just as energetic, eager and assured, not to mention intense about giving their all. Talk to Me opens with a party that's soon blighted by both a stabbing and a suicide. It segues swiftly into a Sia sing-along, then the violent loss of one half of the Aussie coat of arms. A breakout hit at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, where it sparked a distribution bidding war won by indie favourite A24, it's constantly clicking, snapping and ensuring that viewers are paying attention — with terror-inducing imagery, a savvy sense of humour, both nerve and the keenness to unnerve, and a helluva scary-movie premise that's exceptionally well-executed.

The picture's outstretched mitt is the Philippous' Ouija board. That withered and scribbled-on paw is also a wildly unconventional way to get high. In a screenplay penned by Danny with fellow first-timer Bill Hinzman, but based on Bluey and Content executive producer Daley Pearson's short-film concept — yes, that Bluey — shaking hands with the distinctive meat hook is a party trick and dare as well. When the living are palm to palm with this dead duke, in flows a conjuring. A candle is lit, "talk to me" must be uttered, then "I let you in". Once heads are kicking back and the voices start, no one should grasp on for more than 90 seconds, as Hayley (Zoe Terakes, Nine Perfect Strangers) and Joss (Chris Alosio, Millie Lies Low) explain. But, as she navigates the anniversary of her mother's death, Mia (Sophie Wilde, Boy Swallows Universe) is up for going as far as she can. Here, being consumed by sinister spirits, not consuming booze, is an escape. That, and filming whatever twisted chaos happens when you connect with the otherworldly. It isn't all fun and frights and games, though; when her best friend Jade's (Alexandra Jensen, Joe vs Carole) 14-year-old brother Riley (Joe Bird, First Day) takes part, traumatic consequences spring.

AACTAs

Won: Best Film, Best Direction (Danny and Michael Philippou), Best Lead Actress (Sophie Wilde), Best Editing, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay, Best Sound.

Where to watch it: Talk to Me streams via Netflix, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Prime Video

Read our full review, and our interview with Danny Philippou.

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Limbo

When Ivan Sen sent a police detective chasing a murdered girl and a missing woman in the Australian outback in 2013's Mystery Road and its 2016 sequel Goldstone, he saw the country's dusty, rust-hued expanse in sun-bleached and eye-scorching colour. In the process, the writer, director, co-producer, cinematographer, editor and composer used his first two Aussie noir films and their immaculately shot sights to call attention to how the nation treats people of colour — historically since its colonial days and still now well over two centuries later. Seven years after the last Jay Swan movie, following a period that's seen that character make the leap to the small screen in three television seasons, Sen returned with a disappearance, a cop, all that inimitable terrain and the crimes against its Indigenous inhabitants that nothing can hide. Amid evident similarities, there's a plethora of differences between the Mystery Road franchise and Limbo; however, one of its simplest is also one of its most glaring and powerful: shooting Australia's ochre-toned landscape in black and white.

Limbo's setting: Coober Pedy, the globally famous "opal capital of the world" that's known for its underground dwellings beneath the blazing South Australian earth, but reimagined as the fictional locale that shares the film's name — a place unmistakably sporting an otherworldly topography dotted by dugouts to avoid the baking heat, and that hasn't been able to overcome the murder of a local Indigenous girl two decades earlier. The title is symbolic several times over, including to the visiting Travis Hurley (Simon Baker, Boy Swallows Universe), whose first task upon arrival is checking into his subterranean hotel, rolling up his sleeves and indulging his heroin addiction. Later, he'll be told that he looks more like a drug dealer than a police officer — but, long before then, it's obvious that his line of work and the sorrows he surveys along the way have kept him hovering in a void. While he'll also unburden a few biographical details about mistakes made and regrets held before the film comes to an end, such as while talking to the missing Charlotte Hayes' brother Charlie (Rob Collins, The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson) and sister Emma (Natasha Wanganeen, The Survival of Kindness), this tattooed cop with wings inked onto his back is already in limbo before he's literally in Limbo talking.

AACTAs

Won: Best Indie Film.

Where to watch it: Limbo streams via iTunes and Prime Video.

Read our full review, and our interview with Ivan Sen and Simon Baker.

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The New Boy

Warwick Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Deborah Mailman, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: name a better Australian quintet. The director of Samson & Delilah and Sweet Country, the two-time Oscar-winner and Tár tour de force, the local screen mainstay, and the Bad Seeds bandmates and seasoned film composers all combine not for the ultimate Aussie dinner party, but for The New Boy. None are debuting in their jobs. All are exceptional. They're each made better, however, by the luminous and entrancing Aswan Reid. As well as playing the titular part, the 11-year-old first-time actor lives it among such a wealth of acclaimed and experienced talent — and he's such a find in such excellent company, while saying little in words but everything in every other way, that Thornton's third fictional feature owes him as much of a debt as its applauded and awarded household names.

There's a spark to Reid from the moment that he's first spied grappling with outback law enforcement under blazing rays as Cave and Ellis' (This Much I Know to Be True) latest rousing score plays. His sun-bleached hair couldn't be more fitting, or symbolic, but it's the confident way in which he holds himself as New Boy, plus the determined look on his face, that sears. Wily and wiry, the feature's eponymous figure is toppled by a boomerang, then bagged up and transported to the remote Catholic orphanage doted on by Sister Eileen (Blanchett, Nightmare Alley) in the 1940s. The cop doing the escorting notes that the kid is a bolter, but the nun is just as fast in her kindness. She sees what Thornton wants his audience to see: a boy that beams with his presence and through his sense of self, even though he's been snatched up, taken from his Country and forced into a Christian institution against his will. Sister Eileen is as drawn to him as the movie, but — and not just due to the red wine she likes sipping and the subterfuge she's keeping up about the resident father's absence — she isn't as certain about what to do.

AACTAs

Won: Best Lead Actor in Film (Aswan Reid), Best Supporting Actress (Deborah Mailman), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design.

Where to watch it: The New Boy streams via Binge, Prime Video, YouTube Movies and iTunes.

Read our full review, and our interview with Warwick Thornton.

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John Farnham: Finding the Voice

There's no need to try to understand it: John Farnham's 1986 anthem 'You're the Voice' is an instant barnstormer of a tune. An earworm then, now and for eternity, it was the Australian song of the 80s. With its layered beats, swelling force and rousing emotion, all recorded in a garage studio, it's as much of a delight when it's soundtracking comedy films like the Andy Samberg-starring Hot Rod and the Steve Coogan-led Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa as it is echoing out of every Aussie pub's jukebox. Making a noise and making it clear, 'You're the Voice' is also one of the reasons that Farnham's 1986 album Whispering Jack remains the best-selling homegrown release ever nearing four decades since it first dropped. But, as John Farnham: Finding the Voice tells, this iconic match of track and talent — this career-catapulting hit for a singer who'd initially tasted fame as a teen pop idol two decades prior — almost didn't happen.

Whispering Jack also almost didn't come to fruition at all, a revelation so immense that imagining Australia without that album is like entering Back to the Future Part II's alternative 80s. Writer/director Poppy Stockwell (Scrum, Nepal Quake: Terror on Everest) and her co-scribe Paul Clarke (a co-creator of Spicks and Specks) know this, smartly dedicating a significant portion of Finding the Voice to that record and its first single. The titbits and behind-the-scenes anecdotes flow, giving context to a song almost every Aussie alive since it arrived knows in their bones. Gaynor Wheatley, the wife of Farnham's late best friend and manager Glenn, talks about how they mortgaged their house to fund the release when no label would touch the former 'Sadie (The Cleaning Lady)' crooner. Chris Thompson, the English-born, New Zealand-raised Manfred Mann's Earth Band musician who co-penned 'You're the Voice', chats about initially declining Farnham's request to turn the tune into a single after the latter fell for it via a demo.

AACTAs

Won: Best Documentary.

Where to watch it: John Farnham: Finding the Voice streams via YouTube Movies, iTunes and Prime Video. 

Read our full review.

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Shayda

Whether or not Noora Niasari was ever explicitly told to write what she knew, the Iranian Australian filmmaker has taken that advice to heart. Her mother listened to the same guidance first, even if it was never spoken to her, either. The latter penned a memoir that has gone unpublished, but helped form the basis of the powerful and affecting Shayda. This account of a mum and her daughter attempting to start anew in a women's shelter doesn't entirely stick to the facts that writer/director Niasari and her mother lived through. The Sundance-premiering, Melbourne International Film Festival-opening, Oscars-entered feature — it was Australia's contender for Best International Feature Film at the 2024 Academy Awards, but wasn't nominated — isn't afraid to fictionalise details in search of the best screen story. Still, the tale that's told of courage, resilience, rebuilding lives and finding a new community is deeply and patently personal. Perhaps even better, it's inescapably authentic.

Niasari peers back at being barely of primary-school age and making a new home. Fleeing to a women's shelter is the only option that the film's eponymous figure (Zar Amir Ebrahimi, 2022's Cannes Best Actress-winner for Holy Spider) has to get away from the abusive Hossein (Osamah Sami, Savage River), whose controlling nature is matched by that of their patriarchal culture. So, Shayda leaves with six-year-old Mona (debutant Selina Zahednia). As she waits for her divorce proceedings to go through — a complicated task under Iranian law and customs — she seeks refuge at a secret site overseen by the caring Joyce (Leah Purcell, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart). Even surrounded by kindness and filled with desperation for a better future, every iota of Shayda's decision is fraught and tense; Niasari starts the film with Mona at an airport being told what to do if she's ever there with her father, should he try to take her not only away from her mum but also back to Iran.

AACTAs

Won: Best Casting.

Where to watch it: Shayda streams via YouTube Movies, iTunes and Prime Video.

Read our full review, and our interview with Noora Niasari.

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Carmen

Breaking down a classic tale best known as an opera, rebuilding it as a lovers-on-the-run drama set across the US–Mexico border and making every moment burst with emotion, Benjamin Millepied's Carmen is a movie that moves. While its director is a feature debutant, his background as a dancer and choreographer — he did both on Black Swan, the latter on Vox Lux as well, then designed the latest Dune films' sandwalk — perhaps means that the former New York City Ballet principal and Paris Opera Ballet Director of Dance was fated to helm rhythmic, fluid and rousing cinema. His loose take on Georges Bizet's singing-driven show and Prosper Mérimée's novella before it, plus Alexander Pushkin's poem The Gypsies that the first is thought to be based on, is evocative and sensual. It's sumptuous and a swirl of feelings, too, as aided in no small part by its penchant for dance. And, it pirouettes with swoon-inducing strength with help from its stunningly cast leads: Scream queen and In the Heights star Melissa Barrera, plus Normal People breakout and Aftersun Oscar-nominee Paul Mescal.

When Mescal earned the world's attention in streaming's initial Sally Rooney adaptation, he had viewers dreaming of fleeing somewhere — Ireland or anywhere — with him. Carmen's namesake (Barrera) absconds first, then has PTSD-afflicted Marine Aidan (Mescal) join her attempt to escape to Los Angeles. Carmen runs after her mother Zilah (flamenco dancer Marina Tamayo) greets the cartel with thunderous footwork, but can't stave off their violence. Aidan enters the story once Carmen is smuggled stateside, where he's a reluctant volunteer border guard in Texas alongside the trigger-happy Mike (Benedict Hardie, The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson). As the picture's central pair soon hurtle towards California, to Zilah's lifelong friend Masilda's (Rossy de Palma, Parallel Mothers) bar, they try to fly to whatever safety and security they can find. That may be fleeting, however, and might also be in each other's arms.

AACTAs

Won: Best Costume Design.

Where to watch it: Carmen streams via Stan, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Prime Video.

Read our full review, and our interview with Benjamin Millepied.

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The Giants

Nature documentaries rarely simply spy the earth's wonders, point cameras that way and let the planet itself do the talking. Instead, films such as 2017's The Ancient Woods are by far the exception rather than the rule. And yet, the best footage within any movie about our pale blue dot makes viewers wish that more favoured the "a picture is worth a thousand words" approach. Take The Giants, for instance. When it includes talk, which is often, it's no lesser a feature. The conversation and commentary offered is illuminating, in fact. But when it wanders through Tasmania's colossal foliage within the Styx Valley, Southern Forests and the Tarkine, which is also regularly, it feels like it barely needs to utter a single thing. This isn't merely a factual affair about flora, with environmental campaigner and pioneering former Greens senator Bob Brown firmly at its core, but The Giants knows that paying tribute to both is best done by staring at leafy surroundings as much as it can.

It's no everyday feat to get a movie-watching audience admiring the natural world while peering at a screen, even if the frequency with which David Attenborough's docos arrive has helped everyone both think and expect otherwise. Indeed, notching up that achievement is a mammoth accomplishment on the part of The Giants' filmmakers Laurence Billiet (Freeman) and Rachel Antony, plus cinematographer Sherwin Akbarzadeh (Carbon — The Unauthorised Biography). Crucially, it assists what was always going to be a fascinating ode to bloom as much as any plant that it waters with attention. When you're crafting a documentary that intertwines a love letter to Australia's ancient native forests and their ecosystems with a powerful portrait of a hefty figure who has devoted much of his life to fighting for them, showing all the green splendour it possibly can is equally a must and a masterstroke.

AACTAs

Won: Best Cinematography in a Documentary.

Where to watch it: The Giants streams via DocPlay, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Prime Video.

Read our full review.

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Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story

Post-viewing soundtrack, sorted: to watch Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story is to take a trip down memory lane with the Australian music industry and hear homegrown standouts from the past five decades along the way. Unsurprisingly, this documentary already has an album to go with it, a stacked release which'd instantly do its eponymous figure proud. His tick of approval wouldn't just stem from the artists surveyed, but because Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story's accompanying tunes comprise a three-disc number like Mushroom Records' first-ever drop, a 1973 Sunbury Festival live LP. To tell the tale of Gudinski, the record executive and promoter who became a household name, is to tell of Skyhooks, Split Enz, Hunters & Collectors, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Kylie Minogue, Archie Roach, Yothu Yindi, Bliss n Esso, The Temper Trap, Gordi and Vance Joy, too — and to listen to them. Need this on-screen tribute to give you some kind of sign that the Gudinski and Mushroom story spans a heap of genres? Both the film and the album alike include Peter Andre.

Any journey through Michael Gudinski's life and career, from his childhood entrepreneurship selling car parks on his family's vacant lot to his years and years getting Aussie music to the masses — and, on the touring side, bringing massively popular overseas artists to Aussies — needs to also be an ode to the industry that he adored. The man and scene are inseparable. But perhaps Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story plays as such an overt love letter to Australian music because it's an unashamed hagiography of Gudinski. Although the movie doesn't deliver wall-to-wall praise, it comes close. When it begins to hint at any traces of arrogance, moodiness or ruthlessness, it quickly does the doco equivalent of skipping to the next track. Australian Rules and Suburban Mayhem director Paul Goldman, a seasoned hand at music videos as well, has called his feature Ego and there's no doubting his subject had one; however, the takeaway in this highly authorised biography is that anything that doesn't gleam was simply part of his natural mischievousness and eager push for success.

AACTAs

Won: Best Sound in a Documentary.

Where to watch it: Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story streams via YouTube Movies, iTunes and Prime Video.

Read our full review.

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Small-Screen Standouts

Deadloch

Trust Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan, Australia's favourite Kates and funniest double act, to make a killer TV show about chasing a killer that's the perfect sum of two excellent halves. Given their individual and shared backgrounds, including creating and starring in cooking show sendup The Katering Show and morning television spoof Get Krack!n, the pair unsurprisingly add another reason to get chuckling to their resumes; however, with Deadloch, they also turn their attention to crime procedurals. The Kates already know how to make viewers laugh. They've established their talents as brilliant satirists and lovers of the absurd in the process. Now, splashing around those skills in Deadloch's exceptional eight-episode first season lead by Kate Box (Stateless) and Madeleine Sami (The Breaker Upperers), they've also crafted a dead-set stellar murder-mystery series that ranks among The Kates' best work in almost every way. The only time that it doesn't? Not putting the tremendous pair on-screen themselves.

Taking place in a sleepy small town, commencing with a body on a beach, and following both the local cop trying to solve the case and the gung-ho blow-in from a big city leading the enquiries, Deadloch has all the crime genre basics covered from the get-go. The Tasmanian spot scandalised by the death is a sitcom-esque quirky community, another television staple that McCartney and McLennan nail. Parody requires deep knowledge and understanding; you can't comically rip into and riff on something if you aren't familiar with its every in and out. That said, Deadloch isn't in the business of simply mining well-worn TV setups and their myriad of conventions for giggles, although it does that expertly. With whip-smart writing, the Australian series is intelligent, hilarious, and all-round cracking as a whodunnit-style noir drama and as a comedy alike — and, as Box's by-the-book Senior Sergeant Dulcie Collins and Sami's loose and chaotic Darwin blow-in Eddie Redcliffe are forced to team up, it's also one of the streaming highlights of the past year.

AACTAs

Won: Best Acting in a Comedy (Kate Box), Best Casting in Television, Best Editing in Television, Best Original Score in Television, Best Screenplay in Television.

Where to watch it: Deadloch streams via Prime Video.

Read our full review, and our interview with Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan.

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The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

In The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, blooms are rarely out of sight and petals never evade attention. Adapted from Holly Ringland's 2018 novel, the seven-part Australian miniseries is set on a farm that cultivates native flora. It dubs the women who tend to them, an ensemble from various backgrounds largely seeking refuge from abusive pasts, "flowers" as well. Whether stem by stem or in bunches, its characters use florets as their own secret language. And yet, as much as bouquets linger, getting all things floral on the mind, star Sigourney Weaver burns rather than blossoms. Fire is another of the show's strong recurring motifs, so it's still fitting that its biggest name is as all-consuming as a blaze. She needs to be that scorching: this is a story about endeavouring to survive while weathering woes that ignite everything in their path. Weaver also draws upon almost five decades of thriving before the camera, often playing steely, smart and sometimes-raging women. Her on-screen career began sparking with Alien, the film that made her an instant icon. Since then, everyone has heard her performances scream — and, in The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, she's again dazzling.

Flowers frequently surround Weaver's June Hart far and wide. With a carefully selected cutting, the shotgun-toting matriarch of Thornfield Flower Farm can say all she needs to. That's what the eponymous Alice (Ayla Browne, Nine Perfect Strangers) quickly learns about her grandmother when she arrives at the property following a tragedy, becoming one of the farm's flowers after losing her pregnant mother Agnes (Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Hotel Mumbai) and violent father Clem (Charlie Vickers, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power). The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a tale about traumas, secrets and lies that lurk as deeply as the earth — about the choices and cycles that take root in such fraught soil, too. When nine-year-old Alice relocates fresh from hospital, the determined June, her doting partner Twig (Leah Purcell, The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson) and their adopted daughter Candy Blue (Frankie Adams, The Expanse) aim to shower the girl with sunlight to blaze away her horrors. You can't just bury problems, however, then hope that something vivid and colourful will grow over the top. Dedicating its first half to Alice's childhood and its second to 14 years later, when she's in her early twenties (Alycia Debnam-Carey, Fear the Walking Dead), The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart understands this immutable fact in its core.

AACTAs

Won: Best Miniseries, Best Cinematography in Television, Best Production Design in Television, Best Sound in Television.

Where to watch it: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart streams via Prime Video.

Read our full review.

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Colin From Accounts

A girl, a guy and a meet-cute over an adorable animal: that's the delightful and very funny Colin From Accounts' underlying formula. When medical student Ashley (Harriet Dyer, The Invisible Man) and microbrewery owner Gordon (Patrick Brammall, Evil) cross paths in the street one otherwise standard Sydney morning, they literally come to an impasse. He lets her go first, she flashes her nipple as thanks, then he's so distracted that he hits a stray dog with his car. As these circumstances demonstrate, Colin From Accounts isn't afraid to get awkward, much to the benefit of audiences. There's a syrupy way to proceed from the show's debut moments, intertwining sparks flying with idyllic dates, plus zero doubts of a happy ending for humans and pooches alike. If this was a movie, that's how it'd happen. Then there's Dyer and Brammall's way, with the duo creating and writing the series as well as starring in it, and focusing as much on ordinary existential mayhem — working out who you want to be, navigating complex relationships and learning to appreciate the simple pleasure of someone else's company, for example — as pushing its leads together.

Just like in the Hollywood versions of this kind of tale, romance does blossom. That Dyer and Brammall are behind Colin From Accounts, their past chemistry on fellow Aussie comedy No Activity and the fact that they're married IRL means that pairing them up as more than new pals was always going to be on the show's agenda. It's how the series fleshes out each character and their baggage — including those who-am-I questions, Ash's difficult dynamic with her attention-seeking mother Lynelle (Helen Thomson, Elvis), and the responsibility that running your own business and committing to care for other people each bring — that helps give it depth. Colin From Accounts lets Ash and Gordon unfurl their woes and wishes, and also lets them grow. Sometimes, that happens by peeing and pooping in the wrong place, because that's also the type of comedy this is. Sometimes, it's because the show's central couple have taken a risk, or faced their struggles, or genuinely found solace in each other. Always, this Aussie gem is breezy and weighty — and instantly bingeable.

AACTAs

Won: Best Narrative Comedy Series.

Where to watch it: Colin From Accounts streams via Binge.

Read our full review.

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The Newsreader

Aspiring Australian actors, take note: modelling your career after Anna Torv's so far is highly recommended. She's among the lengthy list of Aussies to call The Secret Life of Us one of her launch pads (another: Joel Edgerton). For five seasons and 100 episodes, she led fantastic US sci-fi series Fringe opposite Joshua Jackson (Fatal Attraction). The Daughter and Force of Nature: The Dry 2 in cinemas, plus Secret City, Mindhunter and The Last of Us on TV: they're also on her resume, which boasts both Hollywood and homegrown standouts. In the latter category, so is The Newsreader. Debuting with a six-episode first season in 2021, returning for the same stretch in 2023 and with another half-dozen on the way in 2024, it casts Torv as Helen Norville, News at Six's first-ever female newsreader. With the show set in the 80s, that gig isn't easy as misogyny and sexism run rife in the media industry — and as major real-life events, including the Challenger explosion, the Azaria Chamberlain case, Chernobyl and the 1987 federal election, are weaved in, all requiring news coverage.

Torv is unsurprisingly excellent as Helen, and also in great company. As Dale Jennings, who starts the series as a budding reporter, Sam Reid is every bit up to the task. (He'a also someone whose own filmography is impressive both at home and abroad, thanks to past parts in The Railway Man, Belle, '71, Prime Suspect 1973, Lambs of God, The Drover's Wife the Legend of Molly Johnson and the Interview with the Vampire TV series.) The Newsreader isn't just anchored by two stellar leads, however, or guided by a cast that also includes Robert Taylor (Scrublands), William McInnes (NCIS: Sydney), Michelle Lim Davidson (After the Trial), Marg Downey (Jones Family Christmas), Chum Ehelepola (Preppers) and Stephen Peacocke (Five Bedrooms). It's textured at the character level, and also enthralling in its newsroom antics and glance backwards at Australia's past. Indeed, it's no wonder that more seasons keep coming.

AACTAs

Won: Best Drama Series, Best Lead Actress in a Drama (Anna Torv), Best Supporting Actor in a Drama (Hunter Page-Lochard), Best Costume Design in Television, Best Direction in Drama or Comedy.

Where to watch it: The Newsreader streams via ABC iView.

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Love Me

Add Love Me to the list of Aussie dramas set in Melbourne and featuring starry casts, alongside The Secret Life of Us, Tangle and Offspring. In this one, which first arrived in 2021, then returned in 2023, the ensemble runs deep — starting with Hugo Weaving (The Royal Hotel) and Bojana Novakovic (Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)). Bob Morley (In Limbo), Celia Pacquola (Utopia), Heather Mitchell (Jones Family Christmas), William Lodder (Bali 2002) and Shalom Brune-Franklin (The Tourist) also feature. Kim Gyngell (The Artful Dodger), Eryn Jean Norvill (Preppers) and Frank Woodley (The Ex-PM) each pop up as well. Given that this is a series about a family and their complicated romantic relationships, the who's who-esque roster of familiar Aussie talent is particularly fitting. The show steps inside the Mathieson clan's amorous ups and downs, in this Aussie adaptation of Sweden's Älska mig, and with such superb casting instantly creating a sense of intimacy in an effort that marked Binge's first local series when it initially debuted.

Weaving's Glenn is the father of Novakovic's Clara and Lodder's Aaron. They quickly have death to deal with, as well as love; that life is messy thrums through the series from the outset. What stands out isn't always every minute detail in the plot, as universal and relatable as the storylines are, but the folks navigating it. That, again, is a testament to such savvy casting. Of course, putting Weaving is anything is usually reason enough to press play, especially when he's in thoughtful and layered mode as an everyman grappling with the fact that existence brings pain as well as joy. Amid the scenic vision of Melbourne roved over by helmers Emma Freeman (The Newsreader) and Bonnie Moir (Foe's second-unit director), this series brings characters to the screen with deeply engaging performances that feel layered and lived-in, and worth spending time with. 

AACTAs

Won: Best Lead Actor in a Drama (Hugo Weaving), Best Supporting Actress in a Drama (Heather Mitchell).

Where to watch it: Love Me streams via Binge.

Published on February 12, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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