10 Best George Miller Movies

10 Best George Miller Movies

The film industry attracts innumerable strange characters. It takes a certain type of person to look at the bizarre blend of visual arts and massive amounts of capital and say “that’s the life for me!” Director George Miller is particularly confounding. As well as being a filmmaker, Miller is a licensed physician. His most valuable property is the Mad Max franchise which is as unusual as its director.

The first film, simply titled Mad Max—his 1979 directorial debut—made about $100 million. Its two succeeding films—Mad Max: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome—performed much more modestly—though they always earned back their budget and then some. After a 30-year hiatus from the post-apocalyptic action series, Miller returned with a new actor to play the title role and the biggest budget by far of any of the films. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) was hailed by critics and audiences alike. Like its predecessors, it features a bizarre cast of characters—but by far the most visually frenetic. One gets the sense that this was his vision all along—but special effects had to catch up to the image in his mind. Another sequel called Mad Max: The Wasteland is reportedly forthcoming.

Miller’s other biggest properties are—somewhat surprisingly—family fare. He is one of the minds behind both the Babe and Happy Feet franchises.

Regardless of his target demographic, Miller is interested most in social structures. Each Mad Max film finds the titular Max encountering a bizarre power structure borne from being controlled by a select few. The Babe and Happy Feet films both deal with being a social outcast in a community. Adult or child—George Miller has something for you. Here are his 10 best films.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Protagonist Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) wanders the desolate post-nuclear landscape alone, driven psychotic by the things he has seen and the things he has done. Soon he finds himself amidst a class struggle in which the authoritarian at the top hoards water from the lower class. Max hesitantly becomes party to a small rebellion led by a rogue operative (Charlize Theron) in order to survive.

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Mad Max 2 (1981)

Mad Max 2, originally released in the United States as The Road Warrior, furthers the story of Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson). Told from the perspective of a third party, it sets up Max as a sort of folk hero whose story is shared from one to another à la Johnny Appleseed. He struggles to find gasoline and food until he locates a nearby oil refinery—unfortunately he must find a way to wrest it away from the violent gang in charge of it.

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Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Max Rockatansky (Gibson), in his search for gasoline, finds his way to a strange place called Bartertown. Bartertown is run by a rudimentary methane refinery and its ruler (Tina Turner) allows Max to partake in the resources of Bartertown so long as he does her bidding, but when he refuses, he is exiled. This exile results in Max encountering a society of orphaned children who believe him to be some sort of messianic figure.

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Mad Max (1979)

As well as being his directorial debut, Mad Max (1979) kickstarted the franchise he is most famous for. Max Rockatansky (Gibson) is—prior to his psychotic break—a Main Force Patrol officer who struggles to keep crime in check in a world nearing collapse. He is miserable and jaded and constantly worried about protecting his family.

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Babe: Pig in the City (1998)

While Miller wrote the first Babe film, he did not direct it, but with its sequel Babe: Pig in the City he both penned the film and got behind the camera to shoot it. The sequel film sees the eponymous Babe in a strange new world—Metropolis—when he and his owner Esma are forced to find clever ways to make ends meet. He meets a lot of zany characters in the city.

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Happy Feet (2006)

Happy Feet is an animated musical film which tells the story of an emperor penguin named Mumble (Elijah Wood) who is ostracized by his community for his inability to sing, even though he is adept at dancing. He goes on a journey of self-discovery as a result of this social rejection. While it is aimed at children, the film grapples with environmental destruction in the forms of pollution and overfishing.

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Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Three women (Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer) living in Eastwick, Rhode Island are unhappy. Each of them, in turn, has lost their husband whether through death, divorce, or outright abandonment. Together they accidentally start a coven but do not realize they are witches. Then a mysterious man (Jack Nicholson) comes to town and tries to control the women and their strange abilities. It is a darkly funny film with great performances from the four leads.

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Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)

When a boy starts showing signs of a mysterious neurological disorder, his parents (Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon) are forced to take matters into their own hands. The disease is still largely unknown to doctors, so they have to familiarize themselves through medical studies and experiments. It is a powerful story about bravery in the face of adversity and the lengths parents will go to for their children.

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Happy Feet Two (2011)

Mumble’s son Erik is going through a similar crisis as his father in the first Happy Feet film. He cannot dance in the way that Mumble could not sing and in spite of having more understanding, supportive parents, he nonetheless sees it necessary to strike on his own. He soon gets caught up in a cult leader of sorts, a puffin named Sven whose ability to fly impresses the penguins around him.

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Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Twilight Zone: The Movie is an anthology film split into four parts. Each part is a reimagination of an existing Twilight Zone episode directed by a different film director. The first is directed by John Landis, the second by Steven Spielberg, the third by Joe Dante and the fourth and final part is directed by George Miller. For his turn, Miller retells the story of the episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” A man on a plane (John Lithgow) sees a gremlin attacking the wing of the plane, but is incapable of convincing any of the passengers or crew around him.

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