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Best Australian Films 1991-2000

Australian Film Institute Award Winners


The Australian Film Institute annual awards have recognised Australia's outstanding films since 1958.

For the latest award-winning films, see Australia's Best Movies from 2001 to the present.

Here are the winners of the AFI best film award from 1991 to 2000, together with price comparisons on DVD movies, when available:


Looking for Alibrandi

In this film, an Australian teenage girl is caught in the traumas of everyday life which include a difficult relationship with her single mother and the unexpected return of her long-lost father. The situation at school is no less fraught with problems and unease. The film stars Pia Miranda as the teenager, Greta Scacchi as her mother and Anthony LaPaglia as the father. Looking for Alibrandi won five AFI Awards for best film, best actrress (Pia Miranda), best supporting actress (Greta Scacchi), best screenplay adapted from another source (Melina Marchetta) and best editing (Martin Connor). The DVD of the film may not be currently available, but check around the specialist shops.

The book, from which the movie is based, appears to be available.
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Two Hands

Starring Bryan Brown, Heath Ledger and Rose Byrne, Two Hands is a fast-paced thriller directed by Gregor Jordan and set in the Sydney underworld. The film revolves around the misadventures of a 19-year-old (Ledger) who loses some gang loot and must find some way to recover it or else suffer "punishment" from the criminal overlord (Brown) and his gang. Unfortunately, two street kids have found the money and have now embarked on a wild spending spree.
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The Interview

This is a tense, taut, tit-for-tat thriller where a suspected criminal (Hugo Weaving) is haled into a police station and confronted by an astute interrogator (Tony Martin). There are overtones of a Kafkaesque nightmare as questions about a minor crime seems to point to a more serious, as yet unspecified, crime. Twists and turns in the interrogation process appear to both clarify and obfuscate the truth. The film won three Australian Film Institute Awards for best film, best original screenplay (Craig Monahan and Gordon Davie) and best actor (Weaving).
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Best picture for 1997 was Kiss or Kill which is currently not available on DVD.



This is the film which won for Geoffrey Rush the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Australian piano virtuoso David Helfgott. Shine also received Oscar nominations for best picture, director (Scott Hicks), original screenplay (Scott Hicks, Jan Sardi) and supporting actor (Armin Mueller-Stahl). With a father (Mueller-Stall) traumatised by war, the pianist (Rush) suffers through mental illness, asylum incarceration, and an obsession with the virtually unplayable Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3. The film also stars Lynn Redgrave, John Gielgud, and Noah Taylor (as the young David Helfgott).
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Best picture for 1995 was Angel Baby which is currently not available on DVD.


Muriel's Wedding

Muriel's Wedding is the film which catapulted Sydney actress Toni Collette (nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Sixth Sense) into stardom. Her friend in the film, Rachel Griffiths, was similarly launched into fame and was nominated for the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Hilary and Jackie. In Muriel's Wedding, a no-hoper in the marriage stakes and a social misfit (Collette) leaves her town of Porpoise Spit and embarks on a high-spending (from her parents' life savings) tropical holiday and links up with an acquaintance (Griffiths) to live the high life. The film is directed by P J Hogan who later did My Best Friend's Wedding starring Julia Roberts.
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The Piano

Directed by Jane Campion, The Piano is an evocatively filmed story about a mute woman (Holly Hunter) who finds expression through her piano. Becoming a mail-order bride to a lonely New Zealander (San Neill), she arrives in 1800s New Zealand with her piano and daughter (Anna Paquin). Her husband does not want the piano and leaves it on the beach. Another man (Harvey Keitel) offers to pay to have her piano taken to his home. In return for slight romantic advances, he sells the piano back to her key by key, ending in a crescendo of passion. The film won Oscars for best actress (Hunter), supporting actress (Paquin), and original screenplay (Campion).
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Strictly Ballroom

This is Baz Luhrmann's debut film on how one dancer (Paul Mercurio) seeks to break free of the constraints of ballroom dancing. Rebelling against the rules, he loses his regular dance partner (Gia Carides) and seeks to train a beginner (Tara Morice) in the ways of dance. He is introduced into his new partner's family where he is exposed to pulsating Spanish rhythms and sensuous moves which are part of their culture. Come the ballroom dancing championships, and he must decide what to do. From a screenplay by Andrew Bovell and Luhrmann.
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This is writer-director Jocelyn Moorhouse's debut feature and stars Hugo Weaving with a then relatively unknown actor named Russell Crowe. This Proof, not to be confused with the 2005 movie of the same name starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, tells the story of a reclusive blind man (Weaving) who seeks to interact with the world the same way everybody else does — by taking photographs. He befriends a local dishwasher (Crowe) and has him describe the photos. Complications arise with the blind man's housekeeper and her seduction of Crowe's character in the film.
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