Today I am going to be ranking all of Baz Luhrmann’s movies! He is definitely my favourite non-horror director. To be honest, his style of film-making is not for everybody. If you don’t get his ways, you probably won’t enjoy his works. They are known to be flamboyant, theatrical, colourful and romantic. He is a whiz at bringing stories to life, adding modern touches to classical tales and let’s be frank, breaking your heart. If you’re not crying after a Baz flick, were you really paying attention? Without further ado (from my most to least favourite) here are my rankings!
1.) Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge is not only my favourite movie of Baz Luhrmann’s, it’s one of the best films period. I cannot even count how many times I’ve seen it. I even watched it on a first date because my ex-boyfriend knew it was close to my heart. Not only that, I saw the stage show in March earlier this year and it was phenomenal! The story – set in 1899 – follows a talented writer named Christian (played by Ewan McGregor), who moves to Paris in search of a love that will last forever. There, he meets a troupe of bohemian – yet penniless – actors, aspiring to put on their play at the Moulin Rouge. Christian pretends to be a wealthy sponsor, in order to gain funding from the manager, but ends up falling head over heels for the star of the show; the beautiful courtesan named Satine (played by Nicole Kidman). They are forced to keep their relationship a secret, lest the jealous and evil Duke (the real benefactor of the production) discover Satine’s heart does not truly belong to him. What can I say? The acting, the soundtrack, the costumes, the singing, the love, the heartbreak, the ending and the performances, deliver a magical feature in cinematic history. If you haven’t seen it already, don’t delay any longer!
2.) Romeo + Juliet
In second place is Romeo + Juliet. I feel like this film is his most misunderstood. The reason being, it’s a Shakespearean tale with a modern twist. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the story by now. It follows two families at war: the Montagues and the Capulets. When Romeo Montague falls madly in love with Juliet Capulet, they must keep their love a secret or risk their lives and everybody else involved. It’s a tragedy about star-crossed lovers doomed from the very beginning. I never get tired of the scene where they first meet. It’s so romantic and full of passion. Young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes were so convincing. Their connection was 100% believable and relatable. Also, the soundtrack is perfection. Each song hits hard. I am obsessed. Don’t be put off by Shakespeare’s language. It is a masterpiece of a movie.
3.) The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby was such a close second to Romeo + Juliet. I had a difficult time choosing between them. This beloved literary classic follows Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire) who moves to New York in 1922 to seek the American dream. By chance, he moves next door to the elusive billionaire, Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) who happens to be in love with Nick’s married cousin, Daisy Buchanan. Nick forms a friendship with Gatsby and becomes drawn into the world of the wealthy. However, he is shocked to learn that money and status means nothing when you cannot be with your true love. Baz definitely leans toward tales of forbidden desire. I bought the soundtrack after I saw the film in theatres (twice!). It’s incredible. I adored the 1920s setting, with the elaborate parties and gorgeous flappers. I remember wishing I could be transported to that era. The film itself requires multiple watches to appreciate. There are so many important themes and messages painted throughout that you might miss the first time. The main one being: life is meaningless when the heart is empty. This film also introduced me to Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Ray and I was never the same…
In fourth place, we have Baz’s newest production. Quite simply, it tells the tale of Elvis Presley’s life (played by Austin Butler) from the perspective of his conniving and greedy manager, Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks). We learn of the King’s rise to fame, due to his unique movements across the stage and arresting deep voice. As the years pass, Tom Parker becomes more obsessed with exploiting his protege and capitalising on his success. It is a heartbreaking story based on Presley’s actual experience. I guess you could say Baz also leans toward the tragedies because this is one of them. If things had been handled differently, we would not have lost such a musical legend at the devastatingly young age of 42. It hurt to watch. Having said that, this biopic was done to perfection. Even Lisa Marie (daughter of Elvis) commented that her father had never been portrayed so accurately and respectfully before. Austin did a wonderful job emulating the icon we all know and love. We got to hear his greatest hits, witness his famous pelvic thrusts and watch him drive women worldwide wild. The movie is only lower on my list because I preferred the other three more but I still gave it 5 stars and recommend it to everyone.
In fifth place, we have Australia. This film is quite different from the rest. It definitely carries a more serious tone than we are used to when it comes to a Baz production. With the globe on the brink of World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley (played by Nicole Kidman) travels from Britain to Australia to inspect a ranch she inherited. Reluctantly joining forces with a rugged local known as the Drover (played by Hugh Jackman), she sets out on a cattle drive across hundreds of miles of harsh terrain to save her property. However, when they finally reach the town of Darwin, they must contend with the same Japanese bombers that just rained death upon Pearl Harbour. I’ve only seen it once but I remember the acting was incredible. It was also very heartbreaking. I am Australian so it meant a lot seeing a movie like this. It’s his longest film at just under three hours of running time. For this reason and the sombre nature, I wouldn’t re-watch it (hence why it is lower on my list) but I really did like it.
6.) Strictly Ballroom
Last but certainly not least, we have Strictly Ballroom. This was Baz Luhrmann’s directorial debut. Set in 1992, it follows a professional ballroom dancer named Scott Hastings (played by Paul Mercurio), who pairs up with a plain, left-footed local girl named Fran (played by Tara Morice) to win the title at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Competition. Scott is known for his innovative and flashy “crowd-pleasing” dance moves that are not considered strictly ballroom by his peers. His partnership with Fran is further ridiculed when she is accused of damaging his chances of success. Through it all, they form an unlikely friendship and make the dance floor their own. I think the only reason this film is sixth on my list, is because compared to Baz’s other grand productions, it pales in comparison. It’s more on the simpler side. Having said that, there are some iconic scenes, like when they learn the Paso Doble and of course, the winning dance number at the end. It’s also set in Australia, so that was a nice homage to my country.
Thank you so much for reading! How would you rank Baz’s movies? Do you agree or disagree with my list? I cannot wait to see what he puts out next. My mum and I were discussing this last month and we would love to see him do Wuthering Heights or the story of Oscar Wilde.
Peace & Love xoxo