Every Baz Luhrmann Movie Ranked From Worst To Best


When it comes to his films, Baz Luhrmann has a very particular sense of style, which makes for a fun ranking of his films, including his most recent, Elvis. Australia’s most commercially successful director also works in the opera, theatre, music and recording industries, and is widely involved in the art and fashion world. In 2004, Luhrman created a long advertisement for Chanel titled Movie #5. The commercial starred Nicole Kidman and Rodrigo Santoro and cost $33 million. The short’s ad essentially changed the perfume game to what it is today, and maintains its Guinness World Record award for highest-budget ad of all time – highlighting its exuberant sensibilities.


Before becoming friends with the likes of Nicole Kidman and Romeo + Juliet Leonardo DiCaprio, Baz Luhrmann was known as Mark Anthony Luhrmann. Originally from Sydney, Australia, the author’s mother is a ballroom dance teacher and her father owns a movie theater. He was bitten by the theater bug in high school and took part in several Shakespearean plays. It was also where he met his frequent collaborator Craig Pearce. In 1981 he was cast in the Australian drama film The winter of our dreams, and used his earnings to fund his own theater company called The Bond Theater Company. A graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, he directed his first feature film, Ballroom strictlyin 1992.

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Baz Lurhmann tends to stick to romance mixed with a bit of drama and lots of musical flair and visual flamboyance. The director often combines music and color to set the tone, and each of his shots is carefully curated. Luhrmann’s works have been described as post-modern, hyperbolic, intensely choreographed, and outrageously glamorous. All in all, it is quite difficult to describe Lurhmann’s style as it is simply unique. This is why the director is considered a contemporary author. When the public watches one of the films presented below, it is very clear who made it. Here’s a ranking of Baz Lurhmann’s films from worst to best.

Australia (2008)

Nicole Kidman as Lady Sarah Ashley hugging Hugh Jackman as Drover in Australia (2008)

Australia is a drama/action/adventure film set, unsurprisingly, in Australia in 1939. Two weeks before the start of World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) travels to Australia with the aim of convincing her husband to sell his breeding, Des bas loins. Drover (played by Hugh Jackman) is tasked with bringing Sarah to Faraway Downs. Before she arrives, her husband is killed. The rest of the film follows the antagonists’ numerous attempts to take over the cattle farm, the introduction of the Aboriginal child, Nullah, and the historic attack known as the Darwin Bombing.

The plot of Australia gets incredibly convoluted right off the bat. There are far too many different elements in the mix to fully enjoy the story of Sarah, Drover, and Nullah. Additionally, the World War II backdrop does more to intrude on the plot than elevate it. However, the film has its merits. Australia explores the topic of racism against Indigenous peoples. Drover has an Aboriginal wife who died because she was denied treatment at a white hospital, and Nullah is constantly uprooted to the point that he is endangered in the bombings. It’s a rare look at an issue at a time when it wasn’t being examined in Hollywood.

Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Ballroom strictly is a romantic comedy and Elvis the film debut of director Baz Luhrmann. The film follows Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) who attempts to cause a ruckus in the world of ballroom dancing. After losing the Southern Districts Waratah Championships because Scott decides to break away from choreography, he decides to hire rookie dancer Fran (Tara Morice) due to her eagerness to follow him. Scott’s mother (Pat Thomson) has nothing to do with it and tries to break up the couple. In the end, the two’s competing act brings down the house and they fall in love.

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The plot follows that of many other dance films, however, Ballroom strictly may be one of the most personal works of the Elvis Presley biopic director. Baz Luhrmann studied ballroom dancing as a child and into his teens. The film differs from other typical dance films in that it includes a mixture of mockumentaries and narrative moments. It should be noted that the film was nominated for a Golden Globe, which is quite an achievement for a directorial debut. That said, Luhrmann’s style has only just begun to flourish in this film. While enjoyable, it’s still not the best in terms of displaying his unique touch as a director.

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Toby McGuire Leonardo DiCaprio Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton in The Great Gatsby

Based on the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gatsby the magnificent follows writer and Wall Street trader Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he becomes increasingly interested in the life of his wealthy neighbor Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). When Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) visits her oppressive husband, an old romance between Daisy and Gatsby is revealed by Nick’s love interest Jordan (Elizabeth Debicki). Eventually, Gatsby tells Tom about the case, but the real tragedy of the film is a fatal accident in which Daisy hits and kills someone while driving Gatsby’s car.

Gatsby the magnificent follows suit in terms of the aforementioned outrageous glamour. The parties Gatsby throws rival what’s mentioned in the books, and the film is full of Lurhmann’s unique and whirlwind camera work. While the film certainly looks phenomenal, it lacks substance. Many critics blame the opulence for sacrificing the story, and that’s kind of true. The actors don’t really have the proper outlet to shine, so much so that even the tragic death of Myrtle (Isla Fisher) is overshadowed.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Romeo kissing Juliet's hand in Romeo + Juliet

Returning to his theatrical roots, Luhrmann released his take on the Shakespearean tragedy Romeo + Juliet in 1996. The film features an outstanding cast with Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo, Clare Danes as Juliet and the incomparable John Leguizamo as Tybalt. This movie is ultimately what put director Baz Lurhmann on the map. The film brings the classic tale back to the present, in the modern suburb of Verona, while remaining true to the original Elizabethan English dialogue. The most heartbreaking moment in the movie, when Juliet wakes up just as Romeo kills himself, literally had people on screen screaming when it was released.

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It’s a standout performance early in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film career. Actors are able to interpret the original script while conveying its meaning to the audience in a universally digestible way. John Leguizamo stands out the most as the murderous Tybalt, cousin of Juliet. Somehow, the mix of old and new, combined with Luhrmann’s distinct amplified visions, makes this film work in an amazing way. Not only does the film stay true to its origins, but it also puts a very cool twist on a classic that has never been done before.

Elvis (2022)

elvis exam

Baz Lurhmann took quite a break between the two Gatsby the magnificent and Elvis, the latter being released almost a decade later – but the latest biopic about the King of Rock ‘n Roll is one of Baz Luhrmann’s finest films. Lurhmann wrote and directed the film, and it is the director’s first biopic. Elvis boasts an incredible cast, with Tom Hanks as unconventional talent manager Colonel Tom Parker, and Once upon a time in Hollywoodis Austin Butler in the lead role of Elvis Presley. The film follows the penultimate singer from his early years in Mississippi and chronicles his meteoric rise to stardom.

The film features all the songs any Elvis listener knows and loves, and his stage presence is eerily captured by Butler. Plus, telling the story from Parker’s perspective is a new take on the story. Elvis is clearly a Lurhmann film, both in style and sensibility. It’s great to see that after a long sabbatical, the theatricality of the director has not been lost over time. Elvis received positive reviews from audiences and critics, though that doesn’t mean the film is without flaws. The only reason this Baz Lurhmann movie isn’t higher on the list is because the film simplifies Elvis Presley’s legacy and whitewashes his diversion from black music somewhat. This is partly due to Lurhmann’s characterization of the rock and roll star. Sometimes it’s hard to think of the character as a three-dimensional human being, which belittles his legacy.

Red Mill! (2001)

Red Mill! is Baz Luhrmann’s greatest film of all time. Set in Paris in 1899, budding artist Christian (Ewan McGregor) settles in the bohemian district of Montmarte to find inspiration. There he meets his neighbors who are trying to sell their piece to the owner of a club called the Moulin Rouge. The owner, Harold Zidler, played by Harry Potter actor Jim Broadbent, attempts to marry Satine (Nicole Kidman) to the Duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh) for an investment. Christian meets Satine at the Moulin Rouge, and she mistakes him for the Duke. The two fall in love, but unfortunately don’t live happily ever after.

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The romantic musical has Baz Luhrmann to his favorite. Much of the stylistic inspiration behind the film comes from Bollywood productions, and the story has its ties to the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice. A significant part of the film’s appeal comes from its blending of contemporary songs into highly stylized mashups (similar to Bridgertonthe modern soundtrack of). Red Mill! has songs from almost every genre, including works by Madonna, Elton John, The Police, and Nirvana. Luhrmann’s film was a monumental critical success, for a reason, winning two Oscars and two Golden Globes.

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