These are the stories Australia couldn't get enough of in 2019. All are still streaming at SBS On Demand.
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6 Dec 2019 - 3:26 PM  UPDATED 6 Dec 2019 - 2:01 PM

 

Lion

PG
United Kingdom, Australia, USA, 2016
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Garth Davis
Starring: Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, David Wenham 
What's it about?
Australians continue to fall for this gentle adaptation of Indian-Australian Saroo Brierley's real-life search for his family on the other side of the world. Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel (Oscar-nominated) share the role of Saroo through the ages, as he resettles in Australia but yearns for answers about the family from whom he was separated in an instant, 25 years before. Nicole Kidman (also nominated), is the adoptive mother struggling with helping both of her sons find peace.  Restore your faith in humanity and give it another watch. 

Dev Patel searches for home in ‘Lion’
Nicole Kidman on the power of mothers in 'Lion'
'How we made Lion' - Director Garth Davis
Dev Patel is the star of 'Lion'. So why is he nominated as a supporting actor?

Viceroy's House

PG
India, United Kingdom, 2017
Genre: Drama, History
Language: English, Hindi
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Starring: Gillian Anderson, Hugh Bonneville, Michael Gambon, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, David Hayman, Simon Callow, Om Puri
What's it about?
Director Gurinder Chadha dramatises the months leading up to India's independence from Britain in 1947, in a film she devotes to her grandmother (one of the tens of millions of people displaced in the horrors of the India-Pakistan Partition). Chadha told SBS at the time of the film's cinema release, that she made Viceroy's House to tell the story "about our shared history in Britain, India, Pakistan. A story of the last days of an empire in India, which hadn’t been told from my perspective – somebody of Indian origin who’s now British". The film personalises the anxiety of Partition from the perspectives of the occupants of the last British viceroy (Mountbatten)'s house in Delhi.

“No one wants to talk about Partition”: A chat with Gurinder Chadha
The director talks about her new film ‘Viceroy’s House’, the difficulty in casting people of colour and the chances of a ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ sequel.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

MA15+
United Kingdom, United States of America, Ireland, 2017
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Language: English
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Sunny Suljic, Raffey Cassidy
What's it about?
Give it up for all of the subscribers who streamed Yorgos Lanthimos' 2017 oddity across the year, who helped it tip into the Top 10. Doubtless, each and every one of you came away with a different response to the weird and freaky goings on in the clinically spotless household of cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), his kinky missus (Nicole Kidman), their oversharing teenage kids, and the unexplained stranger who enters their lives (Barry Keoghan). The title alludes to an ancient Greek tale of an impossible moral dilemma, which, in the hands of the director of Dogtooth, Alps, The Lobster and The Favourite , means things get appalling, gross, confusing and hilarious at various moments throughout - and often all in the same scene. It's a winner, and I'm glad Australia thought so too. 

'The Killing of a Sacred Deer' review: Masterfully Orchestrated, Extremely Discomforting

Brimstone

MA 15+
2016
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Western
Language: English, Dutch, Portuguese, International
Director: Martin Koolhoven
Starring: Guy Pearce, Dakota Fanning, Carice van Houten, Kit Harington, Emilia Jones 
What's it about?
Okay, so let's just say that this 'revisionist western' (aren't they all of late?) is unafraid to, um, 'go there', in its depiction of Old Testament levels of vengeance. The surface level story is of a young woman, Liz (Dakota Fanning) and her efforts to evade the clutches of a monstrous and determined preacher. Reverend (Guy Pearce) is a man who most certainly does not practice what he preaches, when he barrels into a sleepy town and stakes his claim upon its midwife. Pearce's malevolence is reminiscent of Javier Bardem-as Anton-Churgh, and Dutch director Koolhoven presents the ensuing bloodbath with unsparing focus. Appropriately, members of the Game of Thrones cast feature in support roles, to observe (and participate in) the chaos.  

Let the Sunshine In

Belgium, France, 2017
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Language: French
Director: Claire Denis
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Gerard Depardieu, Josiane Balasko, Philippe Katerine, Alex Descas, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Bruno Podalydès, Sandrine Dumas, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
What's it about?
Juliette Binoche ambles through a succession of encounters with generally underwhelming men, in Claire Denis' sharp observation of a modern woman of a certain age's dating life. La Binoche plays Isabelle in all her complicated glory, without any concern for what the audience might make of her quote-unquote "life choices". This ain't that kind of film, Denis ain't that kind of writer-director, and this is very much my kind of film. Happily, SBS On Demand subscribers agree, as it's in the Top 10 of the most watched movies of 2019. 

My Mistress

Australia, 2014
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Stephen Lance
Starring: Emmanuelle Béart, Harrison Gilbertson
What's it about?
A troubled teenager (Harrison Gilbertson) finds focus and purpose through his association with the French-accented neighbourhood BDSM specialist, Maggie (Emmanuelle Béart), in this local coming of age film with the racy premise. It's about a horny, directionless teen and a GGG woman with a complex backstory. Of course it streamed its, er, socks off when it dropped at SBS On Demand. It's still there, so take a leaf out of Maggie's book and go for it. 

MIFF 2014: Watch the brand spanking new trailer for My Mistress
Harrison Gilbertson and Emmanuelle Béart talk My Mistress, S&M
Stephen Lance on the masters who influenced My Mistress

The 12th Man

MA 15+
Norway, 2017
Genre: Drama, War
Language: Northern Sami, English, , German
Director: Harald Zwart
Starring: Thomas Gullestad, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Marie Blokhus, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen
What's it about?
A little-known hero of the resistance gets the big screen treatment in the extraordinary story of Norwegian Jan Baalsrud. After a failed anti-Nazi sabotage mission leaves his 11 comrades dead, Baalsrud endures a two-month ordeal that involves frostbite, gangrene and limited rations, to elude his German pursuers, and become the stuff of legend. You might watch some of it through your fingertips, but it's stirring stuff. 

'The 12th Man': Intense Tale of Survival in Nazi-occupied Norway

Novo

MA15+
France, 2002
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Jean-Pierre Limosin
Starring: Anna Mouglalis, Eduardo Noriega
What's it about?
I could go into the existential explorations within this bold and playful story of a single man with significant short-term memory loss: The risks of being taken advantage of. The advantages of being taken advantage of. The challenge of committing to a relationship with someone you have trouble remembering. However, in deference to the protagonist I'll keep this brief and to the point: It's sexy Memento. And it's pretty damn popular. 

Night Train to Lisbon

M
2013
Genre: Romance, Thriller, Mystery
Language: English
Director: Bille August
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Martina Gedeck, Charlotte Rampling, Lena Olin, Bruno Ganz, Tom Courtenay, August Diehl, Mélanie Laurent, Jack Huston, Nicolau Breyner
What's it about?
A stuffy and verbose academic, Raimund (Jeremy Irons, not unfamilar with such roles), embarks on a late-life adventure when he happens upon a discarded rare book and a train ticket (no prizes for guessing the destination). As he strives to find out more about the book's origins, we criss-cross storylines as flashbacks reveal the vivid life of its author (Jack Huston), in his efforts to overthow a dictatorship.  Look, Raimund's life is pretty dour, so you can see the appeal of seizing the day - and the ticket - and plenty of Australians are along for the ride. 

Night Train To Lisbon Review

Their Finest

MA
United Kingdom, 2017
Genre: Romance, War, Comedy, Drama
Language: English
Director: Lone Scherfig
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Richard E. Grant, Jack Huston
What's it about?
There's a lot going on in this this ambitious film tied to the British Government's efforts to boost British morale during the darkest days of the Blitz. And you know what? It works. Lone Scherfig manages to shift genres with aplomb, as her film combines the rah-rah optimism of '40s Allied propaganda films, with the gender politics of a progressive workplace comedy, all with a hint of misty-eyed nostalgia for Britain's resilience.  Keep Calm and Carry on Streaming. 

Bill Nighy talks 'Their Finest' 

 

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