Steven Spielberg used primal fear and Hitchcockian suspense to turn a monster movie into the highest grossing film ever (at the time). In the process he created the modern blockbuster and changed the way movies were made. Watching it now, the fakeness of that big 'ol rubber shark is hard to ignore, but it's a testament to the quality of the filmmaking that it doesn't detract from the intensity of the experience.


The Matrix

“Why not follow up our small-scale, cult lesbian heist film with a crazily ambitious epic that borrows heavily from decades of science fiction literature, manga, and more besides?” That’s how we picture the first conversation about The Matrix between the Wachowskis starting, anyway. “Let’s also invent a new visual action style, define a neo-goth wardrobe aesthetic, and elevate Keanu Reeves further into mega-stardom” must have been the reply. “Let’s pretend we have sequel ideas, too”.


Back to the Future

Movie time travel machines might have gotten more sophisticated than Marty and Doc's banged up DeLorean, but they will never get any cooler. Director Robert Zemeckis hugely entertaining story about a young man, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), who travels back in time to see his parents as teenagers was the highest grossing film of 1985. It offered audiences not just blockbuster entertainment but a lot to ponder – about the nature of time, for example, and how one goes about obtaining plutonian (the answer, of course, is to steal it from Libyan terrorists).



James Cameron's 2009 epic transformed Australian star Sam Worthington into a blue-skinned alien who is shot into a faraway world where he prances around in a forest. Few directors have as good an understanding of how to craft large scale spectacle as Cameron, and audiences enthusiastically voted with their feet. In Australia, Avatar is the first and only film so far to have grossed more than $100 million, taking a stunning $115.7 million.


Dirty Dancing

What goes better with romance than dancing? Dirty dancing? Yes, sexy dancing. This ’80s classic pairs straight-laced Baby (Jennifer Grey) with dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze). As fate would have it, Johnny’s dance partner is unable to perform and Baby must step up to the challenge; undergoing a transformation from a shy, two-left-footed, rhythmically challenged girl into this.