Baz Luhrmann's Best Movies and TV Shows, Ranked by Metacritic

'Elvis' is only the latest period piece in Baz Luhrmann's film and television catalogue. Discover his best projects, ranked by Metascore.
by Taylor Freitas — 

Baz Luhrmann

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Baz Luhrmann, the Australian-born director, writer, producer, and occasional actor, is best known for films including The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!, and Australia, which showcase his unique directorial style and penchant for "lavish productions" and "over-the-top techniques."

Luhrmann's directorial career began in 1992 when he debuted his romantic dance movie Strictly Ballroom. Since then, he's directed five more feature-length films and worked with some of Hollywood's most well-known actors, including Leonardo DiCaprio and fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman.

His latest project is Elvis, the biographical drama about the King of Rock 'n' Roll, which he's called "the Apocalypse Now of musicals" and a "three-act pop-cultural opera."

Outside of his film and TV work, Luhrmann has also directed a number of fashion-related shorts, including several collaborations with Prada co-CEO and head designer Miuccia Prada (who worked with him on The Great Gatsby, Australia, and Elvis). In 2004, he teamed up with Chanel to direct Chanel No. 5: The Film, a three-minute extended television commercial starring Kidman. Ten years later, he followed up with another Chanel-financed short film called Chanel No. 5: The One That I Want, featuring Gisele Bündchen and Michiel Huisman.

In the past two decades, Luhrmann has been recognized by some of entertainment's most prestigious organizations, winning two BAFTA Awards, a Golden Globe, and a Tony Award. His work has also been nominated for an Academy Award and several Grammys Awards.

Here, Metacritic highlights the best movies and TV shows Luhrmann has written and directed, ranked by Metascore.

Strictly Ballroom

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of international romantic comedies
Where to watch:

, fuboTV, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 94 minutes

Based on Luhrmann's 1984 play of the same title, Strictly Ballroom follows Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio), a rebellious but talented dancer who wants to incorporate more modern moves and styles into traditional ballroom dance. While most dancers and judges look down upon his desire to try something new, he finds one person who's willing to give it a shot — a ballroom dance newcomer named Fran (Tara Morice). After its 1992 release, the Australian-set Strictly Dancing won three BAFTA Awards (from eight nominations) and was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.

"What's best about the movie is the sense of madness and mania running just beneath its surface." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Get Down

Metascore: 69
Best for: Music lovers and fans of throwback dramas
Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 1

In 2016, Luhrmann and Stephen Adly-Guirgis co-created The Get Down, a musical drama series for Netflix. The show is set in 1970s New York and revolves on a group of teenagers who dream of making it big in the city's blossoming music scene. The show's stars include Zeke (Justice Smith), also known as MC Books, and Curtis (Shameik Moore), also known as Shaolin Fantastic, who collaborate with two fellow music lovers to form The Get Down Brothers. But while they try to focus on their careers, the young men are also forced to deal with the realities of life in the Bronx.

"It is a thing by turns, and even simultaneously, ridiculous and sublime, romantic and overwrought and the most genuinely moving precisely when it's at its corniest." — Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

Moulin Rouge!

Metascore: 66
Best for: Francophiles and fans of musical dramas
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Starz, Vudu
Runtime: 127 minutes

Set in Paris, this 2001 filmtells the story of a writer named Christian (Ewan McGregor), who falls for Satine (Kidman), a performer at the world-famous Moulin Rouge cabaret. Through the course of their relationship, the couple must overcome countless obstacles, including politics, jealousy, illness, and fame. Luhrmann directed, co-wrote, and co-produced Moulin Rouge!, which is the last movie in his "Red Curtain Trilogy" (preceded by Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet). The film earned widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for eight Academy Awards (winning two), six Golden Globes (winning three), and 12 BAFTA Awards (winning three).

"You can go with it or resist it, be exhilarated or worn out. But forgetting the experience is not one of your options." — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times


Metascore: 63
Best for: Rock 'n' roll lovers and fans of biographical dramas
Where to watch: In theaters
Runtime: 159 minutes

Luhrmann serves as director, co-producer, and co-writer of Elvis, a 2022 biopic about the life and career of Elvis Presley. Austin Butler stars as the film's titular character, playing Elvis at various points of his adult life, including throughout his tumultuous relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). Elvis also dives into the singer's childhood in the South and his marriage to wife Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge). The 36-song soundtrack features several of Elvis' original songs, performances from Butler, and new songs from contemporary artists including Doja Cat, Jack White, and Stevie Nicks.

"Although its rapid pacing doesn't always allow for the dramatic moments to resonate for as long as they could, Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic is a heartfelt and moving tribute to the late rocker." — Jim Vejvoda, IGN

Romeo + Juliet

Metascore: 60
Best for: Fans of William Shakespeare and classic literary works
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Runtime: 120 minutes

Released in 1996, Romeo + Juliet is Luhrmann's updated take on Shakespeare's classic tragedy of the same title. It features DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet, young lovers whose families are sworn enemies and will do anything to keep them apart. Unlike the original play, which was set in Italy, Romeo + Juliet takes place in the fictional modern-day city of Verona Beach. The movie received several major awards and nominations, including an Academy Award nod for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration. For his work, Luhrmann took home the BAFTA Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Direction.

"For all of its departures, Luhrmann's largely successful reinterpretation is far from irreverent. He takes liberties with the world, but never the words of this achingly beautiful love story." — Rita Kempley, The Washington Post

The Great Gatsby

Metascore: 55
Best for: Fans of big-budget period pieces
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 143 minutes

Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of the same title, The Great Gatsby chronicles the life of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a Midwestern man who relocates to Long Island, N.Y. As he settles in, he becomes intrigued by his neighbor, Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio), a mysterious man who throws extravagant parties in the hopes of winning back his former love, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), who also happens to be Nick's cousin. Although The Great Gatsby received mixed reviews from critics when it was released in 2013, it went on to win two Academy Awards (Best Costume Design and Best Production Design) and grossed more than $350 million worldwide.

"More often, Gatsby feels like a well-rehearsed classic in which the actors say their lines ably, but with no discernible feeling behind them." — Scott Foundas, Variety


Metascore: 53
Best for: Fans of period piece romances
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 165 minutes

Australia is Luhrmann's 2008 epic romantic drama, set before and during World War II. In it, Kidman stars as Lady Sarah Ashley, a high-society woman from England who visits Australia to oversee the sale of her husband's cattle station. When her husband is killed, she's forced to take over the property with the help of a local man named The Drover (Hugh Jackman). After spending time together, the pair begin to fall in love — but their relationship is challenged by the outbreak of war and the everyday challenges of life on the harsh and remote Australian continent.

"Often beautiful but wildly inconsistent, Australia is none more Baz Luhrmann, which perhaps says it all. Worth a look on the big screen, though." — Chris Hewitt, Empire