By: Anmol Gupta
There are many people in India who are as comfortable in their mother tongues as they are in English and then there are even a greater number of people who are not very comfortable in speaking the English language but have no difficulty in reading and understanding the language. In this light it comes as no surprise that the viewership of English or Hollywood movies is increasing in our country with every passing day. Also, it is safe to assume that there are many among us who would have recently started watching English movies (mostly the action oriented Super Hero Movies) and then there are others who are on the lookout for good titles. Here is my guide to the top ten must watch English Movies of all time:
- Schindler’s List (1993) – Starring Liam Neeson of ‘Taken’ and ‘24’ series fame (The American TV series ‘24’ was remade in India with Anil Kapoor in the lead) and directed by Steven Spielberg, this film set during the time of World War II follows the Life of Oskar Schindler who helped save more than a thousand Polish Jews from the Nazis by employing them in his factories. This film inspired by real life events is high on emotions and is an absolute cinematic marvel. Also, at the same time is an important lesson in history.
- The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, this film is also based on real life events and follows the career of Jordan Belfort as a stock broker in New York City and how his firm Stratton Oakmont engaged in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street that ultimately led to his downfall. This film is brilliant for its depiction of the ‘Debauchery’ of the protagonist. And, what does Debauchery mean? Please watch the movie to understand the same. For beginners, DiCaprio is Hollywood’s equivalent of Aamir Khan in India. You can watch any DiCaprio movie and be sure that it will be an absolute gem. Shutter Island (2010), Blood Diamond (2006), Catch Me If you Can(2002), Django Unchained (2012), The Aviator (2004) are some of the DiCaprio classics which do not even make the list.
- Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Steven Spielberg is among the most reputed Hollywood directors while Tom Hanks is among the best actors. When both of them come together then magic is bound to be created. Wait did I just tell you that DiCaprio is Hollywood’s equivalent of Aamir Khan when actually it is Tom Hanks. The film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II (1944) tells the story of Captain John Miller who is out to save Private James Francis Ryan, (Played by Matt Damon who was most recently seen in the movie ‘The Martian’) currently in combat somewhere in France, because three of his brothers have all been recently killed in action and the US government wants to save at least one of the four brothers. The film is widely lauded for its realistic depiction of the war sequences and its emotional ending.
- The Dark Knight (2008) or the Batman Trilogy which includes Batman Begins (2005) and the Dark Knight Rises (2012) have all been directed by Christopher Nolan who is considered by many to be the best Director in Hollywood at this point of time. While I told you that Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio were the Hollywood equivalents of Aamir Khan, there is no equivalent of Nolan on the entire planet. The Dark Knight has the Character of Bruce Wayne or Batman saving his city of Gotham from different antagonists. While it may sound as a simple Superhero story, the treatment, the script and the acting are all legendary. Heath Ledger as the ‘Joker’ or the main antagonist is simply outstanding and once you watch the movie even you will be a lifelong fan.
- Fight Club (1999) – Not to be mistaken with the Hindi movie by the same name and starring Sunil Shetty, Sohail and Zayed Khan. Fight Club is among the crispiest Hollywood movies ever made with an unexpected twist towards the end. Brad Pitt essaying the role of ‘Tyler’ entered the Hollywood big league with this movie. In the movie the protagonist sick of the capitalistic world order starts a club where people fight one another not because they hold a grudge but only to vent their frustrations and how it eventually goes out of hand becoming a pan American phenomenon. Sorry for the spoiler but the movie is the inspiration for the split personality genre that today we so often see in Hindi Movies.
- Forrest Gump (1994) – They say that the Hindi movie ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ (2003) was the movie ‘Forrest Gump’ meeting the alien flick ‘E.T’. Sadly apart from the intelligence level of the protagonist this does not seem to be the case. This film starring Tom Hanks follows several decades in the life of the titular character who has a below average IQ of 75 but is kind hearted and athletically gifted. Gump is shown to be a part of and also influences some of the defining events of the 20th century in USA and achieves great success first as a sportsman, then as a soldier and then as a businessman. The movie is a positive feel good film with no antagonists or negative characters.
- Inception (2010) – There are films which compel you to think and do not get out of your head even several days after you have watched them. Inception is one such movie. Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious, and is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for the implantation of another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious. The premise of the movie where the protagonist influences others by entering their dreams and the climax where a dream is constructed within a dream which is again happening in a dream is mind-blowing to say the least. If your head has already started spinning just by reading this, then you can very well imagine what will happen once you actually watch the movie.
- Shawshank Redemption (1994) – As a life-long fan of cricket, I always wondered why every second English and Australian cricketer listed Shawshank Redemption as their all time favourite movie when I had never even heard about the name of the movie. The simple answer is that it is that bloody good. The film depicts the story of a banker who is falsely implicated in the murder of his wife and is serving his sentence in a prison called Shawshank State Penitentiary. Over the course of the next two decades he is forced to become a part of a money laundering operation after repeated torture by the warden and how he befriends a fellow prisoner who eventually helps him in his escape. Although the movie achieved limited box office success at the time of its release, over a period of time it has managed to achieve great appreciation and accolades from all quarters.
- Life is Beautiful (1997) – This film starring Robert Benigni is again set against the backdrop of the 2nd World War when Jews across Europe were being moved to concentration camps and eventually being killed by the Nazis. Benigni plays a Jewish Italian bookshop owner, who employs his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. The protagonist played by Benigni manages to remain cheerful and positive in spite of all adversity and how this eventually saves the life of his son will move most people to the core. This film is certainly among the most beautiful movies of all time.
- Interstellar (2014) – Directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie is set in the mid 21st century when the world is dying (farming is no longer possible as the level of Nitrogen in the atmosphere has exploded) and the only chance of survival of humanity is to move to a new planet altogether. The film follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole in search of a new home for humanity and how they seemingly eventually succeed in the mass migration of people will simply blow your mind. The manner in which complex science has been presented so that even a common person can understand is refreshing. Once the movie ends most people would be moved to think about how life would progress on the new planet and what would be the future of humanity. The movie can be categorized as brilliant as it is no mean feat to make the top of this list.
As this was a top 10 list certain other awesome movies have skipped mention. But once you are through with this list then you can also try these 10 movies which would have made it to the list if it was a Top 20 movie list – The Godfather (1972), Pulp Fiction (1994), Twelve Years a Slave (2013), The Scent of a Woman (1992), The Gladiator (2000), Fifty First Dates (2004), Cast Away (2000), American Sniper (2014), Inglorius Basterds (2009) and American Beauty (1999)