Annie Hall

Woody Allen

Woody Allen called Ingmar Bergman, a filmmaker he revered. As for me Allen is the Renaissance man of cinema — a writer, actor, musician, editor and director rolled into one. Though Allen started his career by making slapstick comedies, Annie Hall was his coming-of-age movie. It gave us a glimpse of his genius, an ability to seep into our conscience with his comedy to ask questions we would never let serious cinema do. The story of a break-up, told in a series of amusing flashbacks, lets Allen philosophise everything including death, pseudo-intellectualism, counter-culture movement, love, the elusive nature of happiness among other things. Diane Keaton is stunning as the girlfriend, pulling off the role of an indecisive girl with great panache. And though Allen’s next venture, Manhattan, would go on to garner him much deserved critical acclaim, Annie Hall is probably his most personal film to date.

Holy Motors

Leos Carax

What can cinema be? That’s the central question in Carax’s magnum opus, which was unanimously praised by critics and fans, had thousands of webpages devoted to interpreting it and totally redefined the notion of what a film ought to be. The story is about a man named Oscar, played by the stunningly versatile Dennis Levant, who is a father, an old beggar woman, a violent, eccentric man, an accordion player, among half a dozen other roles/ avatars/ deceits. It is impossible to tell what the movie is all about since it can only be experienced. Though the film addresses a whole bunch of abstract ideas it is also entertaining for the viewer who does not want to dwell as deep. But after the watching the film, no one can escape its spell.

The Secret In Their Eyes

Juan Jose Campanella

They say our eyes are gateways into our hearts, that by looking deeply into the eyes of someone, we can glimpse their soul. The film works around that idea and creates a stunning detective procedural where every major character in the film has secrets they are hiding and as the film unravels, the case just acts as a catalyst for us to know more about the people involved in the case. The film, which meanders through past and present, is told from the point of view of a retired inspector called Benjamin Esposito about a case dealing with rape and murder of a woman many years ago. Brilliantly enacted by the lead cast and directed with great confidence, The Secret in their Eyes is a bravura piece of filmmaking.

Midhunam

Tanikella Bharani

This gem of a film, arguably the finest one to come out Telugu film industry in a long time, is the story of an old couple, Appadasu and Buchilakshmi, who live alone in a sprawling house in an unidentified time and place. The film, based on a beautiful short story by Sri Ramana chronicles the day-to-day activities of the couple as they laugh and cry together, remember the old times with nostalgia, take pride in little things like the blossoming of flowers and the birth of a calf, and try to recreate a world of their childhood when life was more leisurely and gratifying. Tanikella Bharani’s screenplay, which follows only the two characters and barely leaves the confines of their house, is a craft of genius. Time seems to be suspended within the house as we are transported into their world and it prompts us to question the kind of lives we live and if happiness has anything to do with material wealth. SP Balasubramaniam plays his extravagant character with great energy and Lakshmi competently fills into the role of the loving housewife. A must watch for the young and the old.

Cinderella Man

Ron Howard

Screenwriting gurus ask us to create flawed characters because audiences believe in them. Cinderella Man’s hero is one of the nicest men ever portrayed on a film screen. The protagonist is based on the true story of boxer James J. Braddock, who is a true gentleman and a devoted family man, who goes through a series of hardships. It is a tribute to Braddock, and Russell Crowe for the astounding performance, that the man only grows in stature in our eyes as he refuses to part with his inherent goodness no matter how overwhelming the situation. Assisting him with great performances are Paul Giamatti, as his friend and manager, Renee Zellweger, as his loving wife, and Ron Howard who’s traditional style suits the story perfectly. Cinderella Man is a great example of good old filmmaking when we left the theatres happy and full of hope.

Those that almost made it

Children of Men: Alfonso Cuaron

Gangs of Wasseypur: Anurag Kashyap

A Prophet: Jacques Audiard

Hotel Rwanda: Terry George

Michael Madana Kama Raju: Singeetam Srinivasa Rao

Saagara Sangamam: K. Viswanath

Sirish Aditya is a software engineer based in Hyderabad. He likes watching films which are inherently philosophical.