George Miller may be best known for directing the Mad Max movies, but the Australian filmmaker has also had success with family films, a biographical drama, and several dark fantasies, all of which can be ranked in order from worst to best. Most recently, Miller directed Three Thousand Years of Longing, and production on his next movie, Furiosa, is currently underway for a May 2024 release. Serving as a Mad Max spinoff, Furiosa stars Anya Taylor-Joy in the titular role previously played by Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Miller’s first work as a director was the short film Violence in Cinema: Part 1, which was met with mixed responses from critics and audiences when it was released in 1971. The film examined elements of cinematic violence, which Miller then put to use in his feature directorial debut, Mad Max. Although he has since proved capable of making successful films in a variety of genres, the dystopian action movie released at the end of the 1970s established Miller as a filmmaker confidently able to orchestrate narratives made up of awe-inspiring spectacle. George Miller almost gave up directing Mad Max after an accident during the production, which would have deprived audiences of a career full of modern classics.
Regardless of genre, George Miller’s movies have consistently been well-received by critics and audiences alike. In a career without any true flops or obvious failures, even the worst of his movies have their merits. And the best in his filmography has reached incredible levels of success, earning awards and massive box office returns to go with the critical praise. Here is a ranking of every movie that George Miller has directed so far, from worst to best.
Happy Feet Two
If a worst movie must be chosen from George Miller’s filmography, Happy Feet Two is an obvious pick. Happy Feet Two’s failure almost stopped Fury Road from being made. Although the colorful computer-animated sequel features lively music covering popular pop and rock songs, the story fails to match the simple charms of the original. Even as the final animated film to feature voice work by Robin Williams, Happy Feet Two is forgettable.
Babe: Pig In The City
George Miller co-wrote the phenomenally successful Babe with Chris Noonan but had less success when he stepped in as director for the sequel, Babe: Pig in the City. While some critics praised the follow-up, it failed to impress audiences and was nowhere near as commercially successful as Babe. Most of the cast returned for the sequel, except for Christine Cavanaugh, who had originally voiced the title pig character but was replaced by fellow Rugrats voice actor E.G. Daily in the sequel. Even with familiar faces and voices, Babe: Pig in the City unnecessarily overcomplicates the premise of a sheep-herding pig. The most successful aspect of the movie is its original song „That’ll Do,“ performed by Peter Gabriel. The tune, written and composed by Randy Newman, was nominated for an Academy Award.
Twilight Zone: The Movie
Long before Jordan Peele revived The Twilight Zone in 2019 for Paramount+, four filmmakers came together to direct segments for an anthology film based on Rod Serling’s original 1959 science fiction horror series. John Landis directed an original story while Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller each remade popular episodes of the show for the feature film. Miller was responsible for directing a version of „Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,“ which was also loosely remade for the 2019 series. Despite controversy resulting from an on-set accident during the filming of Landis’s segment, Twilight Zone: The Movie is an enjoyable homage to the beloved TV series and was moderately successful at the box office.
The Witches Of Eastwick
Based on John Updike’s 1984 novel, The Witches of Eastwick is a comedic fantasy about a trio of suburban women who inadvertently form a coven without realizing they hold power as witches. Their discussion of the perfect man brings for an incarnation of the devil, memorably played by Jack Nicholson. Although the feminist themes of Updike’s novel are watered down in George Miller’s adaptation, the star power and chemistry of Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer as the main trio makes this a lighthearted romp into the occult. Warner Bros. is currently developing a remake of The Witches of Eastwick, though it is difficult to imagine Miller’s version being surpassed.
Three Thousand Years Of Longing
George Miller is one of the few filmmakers bold enough to make an R-rated fantasy film like Three Thousand Years of Longing, which is clearly directed at adult audiences despite containing magical creatures and wishes to be granted. The plot involves a lonely British literature scholar (played by Tilda Swinton) who writes a book about her relationship with a djinn (Idris Elba), who offers her three wishes. Its ambiguity may be off-putting for some audience members, but it is easy to get swept up in the storytelling and gorgeous filmmaking. While the true meaning of Three Thousand Years of Longing is debatable, the deep themes regarding love and life choices are as affecting as the production design is mesmerizing.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Even if Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is the worst installment of its franchise so far, the movie is still far better than is typically expected from the second sequel of a popular action film, especially considering it was rated PG-13. The violence in the post-apocalyptic action sequel may be tamer compared to the previous films. However, George Miller and co-director George Ogilvie also embedded the Beyond Thunderdome with deeper themes about society and religion while still managing to find time for plenty of inventive fight and chase sequences. There is also much more of an ensemble cast in this second sequel, with a group of children resembling the Lost Boys from Peter Pan, not to mention a memorable female villain. Beyond Thunderdome foreshadowed Furiosa’s story in Fury Road by introducing the strong but ruthless character of Aunty Entity, played by musical icon Tina Turner.
In a career filled with genre films, Lorenzo’s Oil stands out as the only purely dramatic narrative to be directed by George Miller. Based on the true story of a couple’s search for a cure for their son, Lorenzo’s life-threatening ALD condition, Lorenzo’s Oil is a sensitively directed movie with a strong visual style and dedicated performances from stars Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon. The latter earned an Academy Award nomination, as did Miller for his screenplay. Rather than giving into the trappings of melodrama, Miller poignantly approaches the material with an understated thoughtfulness. Lorenzo’s Oil is emotionally affecting without ever feeling manipulative, which is something even the best dramatic directors sometimes struggle with.
The fourth non-Disney or Pixar movie to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, Happy Feet is easily the most joyous entry in George Miller’s filmography. The computer-animated jukebox musical follows an emperor penguin with a special gift for tap dancing and features an ensemble cast of voice actors including Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, and Nicole Kidman. Animated films often do well at the box office because they are directed at younger audiences with parents purchasing tickets to appease their children, but Happy Feet also engages adults with renditions of familiar pop songs and an original award-winning number from Prince.
George Miller’s feature film debut, Mad Max, was independently financed by Kennedy Miller Productions and quickly became an international success. Along with catapulting the Australian filmmaker’s career, it was one of Mel Gibson’s first film roles and led to him becoming an international movie star. Mad Max is set in a dystopian future where lawlessness reigns due to a widespread oil shortage. Gibson plays the title character forced to become a vigilante when he comes up against a violent motorbike gang responsible for killing his wife and son. Given the low budget and monumental success, Mad Max was the most profitable movie ever made until the release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999.
Mad Max 2
Mad Max 2, a.k.a. The Road Warrior, increased the budget and scope of the first movie, improving upon it in every way. The simple storyline pitting Max against a roving band of marauders in defense of an innocent community of settlers plays like a post-apocalyptic Western. With minimal dialogue and a bare-bones plot, emphasis is instead placed on the intense action sequences. Everything that made the first movie great is enhanced and perfected for the sequel, including the introduction of the memorable masked Mad Max villain Lord Humungus. Not only is Mad Max 2 one of George Miller’s best films, but it is also one of the greatest action movies ever made.
Mad Max: Fury Road
It seemed impossible that a Mad Max reboot would ever be able to surpass the second movie in the franchise, even with George Miller returning as director once again. Released in 2015 when it was popular for studios to reboot or remake classics from decades past, Mad Max: Fury Road blew them all away and proved itself as one of the great cinematic achievements in modern film. Tom Hardy replaced Mel Gibson as Max, who joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to flee from an evil dictator and cult leader and his army of marauders in a chase across the desert wastelands. Along with an impressive combination of practical stunts and computer-generated effects, Fury Road boasts the highest body count in the Mad Max franchise. The movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning six of them to become the most awarded picture of its year.