Hone your 'couch sleuthing' skills before The Missing, starting January 6 on SBS.
Alex Torres

4 Jan 2016 - 4:25 PM  UPDATED 13 Jan 2016 - 3:40 PM

Missing Persons Unit (TV)

WHO IS MISSING: Varies from episode to episode.

The real-life procedural documentary series tracks the emotionally charged investigations of missing persons in Australia, as New South Wales Police MPU operatives piece together the circumstances behind the disappeared.

The show is credited with over 75 solved cases, much of it as a result of loyal viewers.

The Changeling (Movie)

WHO IS MISSING: Angelina Jolie’s nine-year-old son.

The film is set in 1928 and follows the mother’s plight as she battles corruption and subsequent cover-up by the Los Angeles Police Department when the boy they bring home to her turns out to be an imposter.

Clint Eastwood has become a master storyteller who knows how to compose a scene that gives you ‘cues’ to follow. Follow the right cue, and you’ll earn your sleuthing hat. Follow the wrong one and you’ll stomp it on the floor, yelling in frustration.  

Strangerland (Film)

WHO IS MISSING: Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes’ two teenage kids.  

The film follows the frantic search for two teens who vanish during a massive dust storm. Suspicions arise as the dust clears revealing a town where few things are what they appear to be.

The Australian-Irish thriller debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to very positive acclaim for painting a rich and engrossing view of crime in rural Australia.

Lost (TV)

WHO IS MISSING:  Everyone.

Survivors of a missing passenger jet traveling from Sydney to Los Angeles find themselves trapped on a mysterious island in the South Pacific battling smoke monsters, ghosts and their own inner demons. 

This is JJ Abrams, and if he’s taught us anything it’s that the ‘mystery box’ stays closed until the very end. The final episode has been somewhat of a galvanising topic with people who either love or hate it. It’s a terrific ride regardless.

Flightplan (film)

WHO IS MISSING: Jodie Foster’s daughter.

In this contained thriller, Foster plays a US aircraft engineer who awakens on a transatlantic flight to find her daughter missing. After a frantic search, the question of whether or not her daughter actually exists arises and Foster’s own sanity is questioned.

This is a very well-crafted suspense thriller with many moving parts that come together well at the end. You’ll need a keen eye for this one.

Without a Trace (TV)

WHO IS MISSING: Varies each episode.

A team of FBI agents specialising in missing persons in New York City race against the clock to find victims within the 72-hour window most people are found alive.

The process of searching for a missing person is made up of not just composed of textbook training, but also a gut instinct. This is something that comes from keeping your ear to the pavement and treating the city like a living, breathing creature. 

The Water Diviner (film)

WHO IS MISSING: Russell Crowe’s three sons.

In the fictional war drama, Crowe sets out to retrieve the bodies of his three soldier sons after the Battle of Gallipoli. His quest leads him to seek out the circumstances under which his sons were killed, and ultimately question whether or not one of them possibly survived.

This isn’t just about Russel Crow chasing clues to find his boys, but about him using the bond they share to act on it. A mother’s bond with her child is unquestionable, but don’t underestimate that of a father’s.

Vanished (TV)

WHO IS MISSING: Varies from episode to episode.

Beth Holloway (the mother of Natalee Holloway, who disappeared in Aruba while on holiday in 2005) offers a compassionate forum for abductees and families of abductees seeking closure, as well as to investigators who work around the clock to bring victims home and their perpetrators to justice.

Similarly to John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted whose son was murdered, it’s interesting to see a show about abductions hosted by someone whose own daughter was abducted. It not only brings empathy to the interview process, but an unbreakable bond with victims’ families who find it easy to open up to her.

The Forgotten (film)

WHO IS MISSING: Julianne Moore’s son. A grieving mother who believes her son died in a plane crash 14 months ago is led to believe that she never had a son. Refusing to be convinced, and driven by her powerful motherly instincts, Moore’s character uncovers a conspiracy perpetrated by mysterious and other-wordly “agents”. 

This movie starts out like a drama, but opens up like nightmarish science fiction flower, exposing a much darker world than the one we started in. What follows may alienate some, but it’s worth taking the journey to the end. 

The Missing begins 8.30pm January 6 on SBS: