George Miller's directing career is one of strange extremes. One minute he's tackling another entry in the post-apocalyptic action series "Mad Max," the next he's directing a family-friendly animated movie about dancing birds. Yet through it all, he's forged a reputation as one of the finest directors working today. Here's how each of his films measure up.
10. 'Happy Feet Two' (2011)
We were willing to put up with Miller's first foray into dancing penguin territory, but this sequel quickly and thoroughly wore out its welcome. The animation quality is about the only thing to recommend here. The story is pointlessly convoluted and dense for what's ostensibly a children's movie.
9. 'Lorenzo's Oil' (1992)
Despite garnering two Academy Award nominations, "Lorenzo's Oil" is easily the least-known entry in the Miller canon. That's because the film hasn't stood the test of time terribly well. What critics hailed as a moving look at a couple fighting against all odds to find a cure for their terminally ill son now plays like hokey melodrama.
8. 'Twilight Zone: The Movie' (1983)
Miller only directed one portion of this anthology film, but it just so happens to be the best one. Miller's update of the classic "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" is well worth watching for fans of the classic TV series. Still, we can't help but wish Miller and his fellow directors (a group that includes Steven Spielberg and John Landis) had tackled original material instead.
7. 'Happy Feet' (2006)
It's pretty bizarre to think that the mind behind the "Mad Max" franchise is also responsible for this cheerful animated comedy. On the other hand, who better to oversee the complex process of bringing hundreds of dancing Antarctic birds to life? This film is a welcome reminder that Miller is much more than apocalyptic doom and gloom.
6. 'Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome' (1985)
The third entry in the "Mad Max" franchise (or fourth chronologically) is the clear weak link. It's far more campy than the others and a bit too dominated by the young cast. But at least the action rivals anything else in the series.
5. 'Mad Max' (1979)
The original "Mad Max" is a bit too small in scale to rival the better entries in teh series, though that has more to do with the film's ultra-low budget than any lack of ability on Miller's part. It still serves as an early glimpse of a very talented action movie director. There's a reason it was, at one point, the most profitable film ever made.
4. 'The Witches of Eastwick' (1987)
This quirky comedy is just the sort of palate cleanser Miller needed after directing three "Mad Max" movies. With a terrific cast (where else will you find Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cher in the same film?) and a compelling story, this film served as an early sign of just how versatile a director Miller truly is.
3. 'Babe: Pig in the City' (1998)
Miller wrote and produced the original "Babe." When he finally settled into the director's chair for the sequel, the result was somehow even stronger. This utterly charming tale of a plucky pig trying to save his family farm is truly among the best films of 1998. Another sign that Miller is a seriously multi-talented storyteller.
2. 'Mad Max 2' aka 'The Road Warrior' (1981)
With a bigger budget on-hand, Miller was able to perfect the formula he established in the original "Mad Max." This sequel is bigger, bolder and more thrilling. It's as much a classic Western as it is a post-apocalyptic action movie, and those two influences combine to form something special.
1. 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (2015)
It would be nearly 20 years by the time Miller returned to the "Mad Max" franchise. But even with that huge time gap and a completely new actor in the title role, "Fury Road" managed to prove itself as the best in the franchise and the best film of Miller's impressive career. "Fury Road" shows an aged director at the very top of his game. It's a brutally efficient action movie that puts nearly all challengers to shame. And it also leaves the door open for an entirely new heroine to take over from Max Rockatansky.