Movies
Clare Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Romeo + Juliet'

5 Baz Luhrmann Movies To Watch If You Loved Elvis

Including some pre-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio.

Warner Bros. Pictures

The new big-screen biopic of Elvis Presley, tracing his rise to unprecedented fame, Elvis, was a box office smash on its opening weekend. Despite premiering 45 years after Elvis’ passing in 1977, this retelling of his chaotic experience as one of rock and roll’s first megastars is as compelling as it was decades ago. Under director Baz Luhrmann’s hand, it’s a musical fantasy feast, which is nothing new for the beloved filmmaker. For those just discovering him via Elvis, there are plenty of other Baz Luhrmann movies worth checking out.

Luhrmann isn’t exactly a prolific director. Because of the scale of his movies, he’s not the kind to churn out movies back to back, year after year. Most of his titles are spaced out, with four to five years between them at least. For example, his last movie before 2022’s Elvis was 2013’s The Great Gatsby.

That’s partly due to Luhrmann not just being a movie director. He’s staged operas, like his 1993 production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and created Broadway hits like the 2002 staging of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. He’s released albums, like 1997’s Something For Everybody, which included everything from spoken word tracks to musical numbers from his broadway soundtracks and remixes of hit songs from his films. He even did a series for Netflix, The Get Down, which was critically acclaimed, but also holds the distinction of being the first series the streaming service ever canceled after one season.

However, Luhrmann’s movies are his best-known works by far. Here’s the rundown of what they are about and where to stream them.

01

Strictly Ballroom

For fans of Elvis looking to dig deeper into Luhrmann’s catalog, there’s no better place to start than his first film, Strictly Ballroom. Set in the world of competitive ballroom dancing in Luhrmann’s native Australia, this is a fairytale romance centered on Scott and Fran. He’s ballroom’s superstar champion, itching to break the rules and dance his own steps; she’s the only woman willing to partner with him and cheer on his dreams. One part screaming comedy, one part ambitious dance movie with an incredible soundtrack, this film is a can’t-miss story of living a life without fear.

Strictly Ballroom is available as a streaming rental on Amazon.

02

Romeo + Juliet

Before Titanic made Leonardo DiCaprio a household heartthrob who couldn’t fit on a door to save his life, he was already a teenage heartthrob for every drama nerd, thanks to Luhrmann’s second release. A modernized retelling of Romeo and Juliet in which DiCaprio starred alongside TV’s it-girl of the late 1990s, Claire Danes, it was a Shakespearean project ahead of its time, with a rock and roll soundtrack and a restaged gangland feud between the families. The film also features breakout performances by Harold Perrineau and John Leguizamo as Mercutio and Tybalt, a Paul Rudd cameo as Juliet’s actual fiancé, and yet another bangin’ soundtrack.

Romeo + Juliet is streaming on HBO Max.

03

Moulin Rouge!

Arguably the film that made Luhrmann famous, Moulin Rouge! was a massive hit when it came out in 2001, and closed out what is now referred to as Luhrmann’s “Red Curtain Trilogy.” Inspired by his staging of La Boheme and his visit to Bollywood, the movie starred Nicole Kidman as Satine and Ewan McGregor and Christian, who famously did all their own singing on the soundtrack. Though their doomed love story is fictional, Luhrmann filled the movie with easter eggs and references to the real Moulin Rouge as well as old-style Hollywood musicals, vaudeville, and other historical theatrical entertainment. The movie won two Oscars. Oh, and yes, the soundtrack is *chef’s kiss.*

Moulin Rouge! is available streaming on the Starz add-on via Prime Video.

04

Australia

Luhrmann’s follow-up to Moulin Rogue! was 2008’s Australia, a love letter to his homeland. The epic WWII drama starred Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman as star-crossed lovers Lady Sarah and The Drover, two people from different class stations and different ways of life, who fall in love in the wilds of Australia’s western outback. It also tackled themes like the forced relocation of the Aboriginal populations in the middle of the last century. Although the movie was not a huge hit with American critics (and is the only one not to have a soundtrack for the ages), it is a fascinating creation.

Australia is streaming on HBO Max.

05

The Great Gatsby

Luhrmann’s final film before Elvis was his rendition of another classic starring Leonardo DiCaprio, The Great Gatsby. Based on the 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it co-starred Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, and Elizabeth Debicki. It was Luhrmann’s highest-grossing film so far and it won two Oscars. Like most of his films, The Great Gatsby is another story of a pair of star-crossed lovers, which he took and updated for the modern eye and comes complete with a fantastic soundtrack.

The Great Gatsby is streaming on HBO Max.

Elvis is playing exclusively in theaters worldwide and will be available on HBO Max once its theatrical run concludes.