1. SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993)
Starring – Ralph Fieness, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley.
Directed by – Steven Speilberg
Schindler’s list has been my personal favourite movie of all times because of a heartfelt, unsparing and fact – based epic of the nightmarish holocaust. This movie is a treasure of many gripping moments, but, the one that I’d specially like to recall is the climax scene when the war comes to an end and Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is preparing to leave the country. Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), Schindler’s long time accountant and business partner hands him the gold ring with an inscription of a Hebrew adage, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire”. Schindler breaks into tears and berates himself for not being able to save more lives. The amazing background score by John Williams was like the necessary condiment. Throughout the whole movie, we observe a businessman streak in Oskar Schindler, but in the end when he sees the faces of the jews he saved, he is ridden by guilt and remorse. This movie couldnot be made better and I think it is the magnum opus of director Steven Speilberg.
2. BRAVEHEART (1995)
Starring – Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Angus Macfayden
Directed by – Mel Gibson
This epic historic drama based on legenday Sir William Wallace is a masterpiece. Actor, Director and Producer Mel Gibson has proved his talent by making such a movie. It’s a tale of love, betrayal and a strive for the freedom of Scotland from the cruel king of england, Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan). William Wallace’s speech to the fellow scottsmen during the Battle of Stirling is one of the most inspirational speeches I’ve ever heard.
“You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?...Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live - at least awhile. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade All the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take OUR FREEDOM!”.
Even towards the end, when Wallace is captured by Longshanks and tortured by the english army, he courageously shouts “FREEDOM” as his last words. This scene will definitely bring tears to the eyes of the most cold-hearted human being. Wallace’s execution is witnessed by his oldest and best friend Hamish (Brendon Gleeson) and quasi – bodyguard Stephen (David O’Hara) and they close their eyes when they hear “FREEDOM” as the last words coming out of Wallace. Braveheart is unquestionably one of the greatest movies ever made.
3. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (1997)
Starring – Roberto benigni, Nicolette Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini
Directed by – Roberto Benigni
People usually refuse to watch foreign movies and I don’t know why! But, its sheer stupidity if you have missed a movie like Life Is Beautiful. It’s a complete entertainment package combined with the darker side of the Nazi concentration camp. Roberto Benigni is funny and charismatic actor who potrays a young Italian Jew. His romance with a local school teacher, Dora (Nicolette Braschi) is quite adorable as well as humorous, especially when Guido exclaims, “Buon giorno, Principessa”.
Yet, the most gripping scenes of the movie is the moment when Guido tries to imitate the guard taking him away, to protect his son from being spotted by the Nazi guards. The look of the little kid’s face while watching his father imitating the guard and letting out a suppressed laughter. Little did he knew about the sacrifice that his father made for him. I admire Roberto Benigni for his exceptional acting and direction and being able to narrate a very simple story with a dark façade.
4. AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)
Starring – Kevin Spacey, Thora Birch, Annette Benning, Wes Bentley and Mena Suvari
Directed by – Sam Mendes
This movie is an absolute bliss to watch. American Beauty is a stunning masterpiece as well as a debut film by director Sam Mendes. Kevin Spacey has been one of the notable actors of the Hollywood after making some great movies like Se7en and The Usual Suspects. But, it is surprising that no one could have better played the role of a depressed middle aged man and his life in a stage of disorientation and transition. And the most notable thing about the movie is the magnificient background score which blends with the moments perfectly. Anyways, my favourite scene from the movie is the climax, where Lester takes a smiling look at the photograph of his family and a gun shot sounds with his blood spattered on the wall.
“I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time... For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars... And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined our street... Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird... And Janie... And Janie... And... Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday.”
This very speech as well as the extremely shocking end has moved me more than any other. Seriously, you need a lot of guts to watch such a movie and to feel the story.
5. TITANIC (1997)
Starring – Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates.
Directed by – James Cameron
Lo and behold for the greatest epic romance and distaster movie ever made in the history of Hollywood! A budget of over $200 millions for the reconstruction of the spectacular RMS Titanic made it the highest grossing movie till Avatar. Since, every scene in this movie is phenomenal, I had a pretty hard time deciding my favorite scene. I loved everything in the movie, from the set to the music. The chemistry between Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose Bukater (Kate Winslet) is simply mindblowing.
My favorite scene from the movie as I recollect is the heart-breaking moment when Jack encourages Rose not to give up while floating on a large piece of debris.
"Don't you do that, don't say your good-byes. Not yet, do you understand me?....Listen, Rose. You're gonna get out of here. You're gonna go on and you're gonna make lots of babies, and you're gonna watch 'em grow. You're gonna die an old... an old lady warm in her bed. Not here. Not this night. Not like this. Do you understand me?...Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me. It brought me to you and I'm thankful for that, Rose. I'm thankful. You must, you must, you must do me this honor. You must promise me that you'll survive, that you won't give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.”
Titanic is great because of the exceptional acting from both DiCaprio and Winslet. Even Celine Dion’s “My heart will go” is a classic. Another favorite scene is the final dream sequence in which the young Rose imagined herself meeting and kissing Jack at the top of the elegant grand staircase surrounded by an applauding audience of all those who died on the ship – toghether forever.
6. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
Starring – Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton.
Directed by – Frank Darabont
This in an example of an impressive, engrossing piece of filmmaking from director/screewriter Frank Darabont who adapted from Stephen King’s “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”. The inspirational, life-affirming and uplifting work of art is a combination of prison/dramatic film and character study.
“Fear can hold you a prisoner. Hope can set you free”. These are the words illustrated on the official poster that illustrate the liberating, redemptive power of hope and themes of freedom and resurrection.
The scene where Andy Dufresne boldly asks Captain Hadley to provide his co-workers with beer is the most gripping scene for me.
“And that's how it came to pass, that on the second-to-last day of the job, the convict crew that tarred the plate factory roof in the spring of '49 wound up sitting in a row at ten o'clock in the morning, drinking icy cold Bohemia-style beer, courtesy of the hardest screw that ever walked a turn at Shawshank State Prison...The colossal prick even managed to sound magnanimous. We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the Lords of all Creation. As for Andy, he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer...You could argue he'd done it to curry favor with the guards, or maybe make a few friends among us cons. Me? I think he did it just to feel normal again, if only for a short while.”
That was Red’s (Morgan Freeman) speech after Andy’s shocking decision to help the fellow guards in some legal paperwork for free.
Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins are majestic in their performances. It still upsets me that this movie was nominated for seven academy awards, but failed to win none. It was overshadowed by Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction, both commercially and critically. At least, Morgan Freeman should have received an Oscar!
7. INTO THE WILD (2007)
Starring – Emile Hirsch, Catherine Keener, Hal Holbrook.
Directed by – Sean Penn
A biopic of a free – spirited, idealistic, young college – grad adventurer named Christopher Johnson McCandless (a.k.a Alexander Supertramp), Into the Wild is a spellbinding examination of a young man’s journey across America, to Alaska, in search of happiness, after forsaking his estranged family and many friends.
I always valued Sean Penn’s acting talent, but his directon is breath-taking. Penn carefully stuck to his subject and gave the movie as much thought and power he could provide. No one could have been a better potrayal of Chris McCandless than Emile Hirsch.
The best moment in the movie is when an elderly leather worker Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook) proposes paternistically to adopt Chris which he ultimately refuses to accept.
“From the bits and pieces I've put together, you know, from what you told me about your family, your mother and your dad, and I know you've got your problems with the church too, but there's some kind of bigger thing we can all appreciate, and it sounds like you don't mind calling it God. But when you forgive, you love, and when you love, God's light shines on you”.
The above dialogue is said by Ron Kranz in this emotionally stunning scene. My other favorite scene includes the final dying scene, where Chris scribbles his last and final words in his journal, “HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED”. The accoustic guitar solo by country singer Eddie Vedder is one of my personal favorite songs of all time. This movie is highly recommended for the ones who love adventure and have the ability to think differently.
8. THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)
Starring – Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhal
Directed by – Christopher Nolan
This is by far the best Batman movie ever made (The previous ones were so awful that it nearly made me puke!). Christopher Nolan strikes back with another promising work by directing The Dark Knight. The film centers around three characters; Batman (Christian Bale), Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) challenge a mysterious and extremely ingenious criminal named The Joker (Heath Ledger). A deep personal struggle commences between Batman and Joker in which The Joker forces him “to confront everything he believes”. Darker than its prequel, it is one of the very rare sequels to have received a greater acclaim. Riveting dialogues and first – rate performance by late Heath Ledger has brought this movie in the history books.
The best scene is during the final confrontation between Joker and Batman, where he finally reveals that Batman is incorruptible, so he manipulated Gotham’s “white knight” and brought him down to their level.
The Joker: Oh, you. You just couldn't let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You are truly incorruptible, aren't you? Huh? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push!.
The background score by Hans Zimmer is a masterpiece. It is dark like the haunting and visionary setting of Gotham city. It is a fast paced, pulse – pounding action movie with splending special effects and a nail biting twist. In the end I’d like to say just one word that totally describes the movie….. “WOW!!!”.
9. 127 HOURS (2010)
Starring – James Franco, Clemese Poesy
Directed by – Danny Boyle
It is an incredibly true story of Aron Ralston, an American mountaineer who became trapped alone under a boulder in Blue John Canyon, Utah and finally cut his arm off after 127 gruelling hours of struggle. It is yet another masterpiece of director Danny Boyle and his best work after Trainspotting. James Franco’s potrayal of Aron Ralston is prodigious. From beginning to the end, this movie has energy, creativity and fun especially the desperate efforts displayed by Ralston in his highly frustrating position. There are many scenes, most of which are hallucinations of Ralston. But the best part is just before the climax scene, when Ralston becomes highly delusional and sees his unborn son through a premonition (which turned out to be true later on). The sensational timing of the song “If I rise” during Ralston’s premonition nailed it. A R Rehman shows his talent again by composing one of the background score of the year. My favorite dialogue from the movie is when Aron comments about the boulder under which his hand is trapped.
“You know, I've been thinking. Everything is... just comes together. It's me. I
chose this. I chose all this. This rock... this rock has been waiting for me my entire life. It's entire life, ever since it was a bit of meteorite a million, billion years ago. In space. It's been waiting, to come here. Right, right here. I've been moving towards it my entire life. The minute I was born, every breath that I've taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the out surface.” – Aron Ralston.
10. UDAAN (2010)
Starring – Rajat Barmecha, Rohit Roy, Ram Kapoor, Aayan Boradia.
Directed by – Vikramaditya Motwane.
This magnum opus is the directorial debut of Vikramaditya Motwane and yet another dynamite by producer/screenwriter and my inspiration, Anurag Kashyap. It is a movie that gives you a hope to choose whatever you want to become and live a dream. This film has everything in it; a touching storyline, skillful performances by small screen actors, riveting dialogues and impressive direction. It’s a movie to be experienced rather than watching with a box of popcorns. Rajat Barmecha stars as Rohan who after being abandoned by an authoritarian father for eight years, returns back to Jamshedpur to find that he has a younger half-brother who he didn’t even know existed.
It is a highly inspiring movie. The protagonist, Rohan is not a weak character; instead aiming to become a successful poet, but constrained by his domineering father. Electrifying performances by Rajat Barmecha, who, I suppose, completely blended in Rohan’s character makes the movie one of the best Hindi movies of the decade.
My favorite scene from the movie is when Rohan punches his father hard in the face, finally able to release his deep – rooted frustrations, followed by the incredible running scene where Rohan is being chased by an infuriated Bhairav Singh (Ronit Roy) but unable to catch up with the rocket like speed of Rohan. This scene was the greatest moment in the movie and made me sprang to my feet! The background music during the chase and the smile on Rohan’s face by finally defeating his father in the chase and becoming free is mindblowing. I seriously recommend this movie to everyone. 10 out of 10!
To end with, I’d like to conclude that these movies are a personal favorite of my own and they deserve to be in the top ten. Feedbacks would certainly help. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and wish that you’d help me make an ever better list!