My Fair Lady

George Cukor

Originally adapted from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, this musical is one of Hollywood's finest. Intelligent lyrics and witty script blend perfectly in a humorous and romantic tale of a confirmed-bachelor who loves the English language as much as he hates women's idiosyncrasies. However, during a bet to train a common flower girl for a royal banquet he unconsciously grows to like her. Shaw's wit and sarcasm with subtle comments on the highbrow English society is a revelation. Audrey Hepburn plays her part exceeding well.

Casablanca

Michael Curtiz

This memorial of love has survived many decades and still remains a guidebook to great filmmaking. During the troubled times of WWII, an American expatriate meets his former beloved in Casablanca at a night-spot owned by him only to find out about her marriage with an anti-Nazi provocateur. Surrounded by spies — French and German, and possessed with desires to reclaim his love, he decides to sacrifice his love and a chance to return to his homeland. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman's acting are so realistic that it takes the film from a mere romantic tale to the plane of a scintillating work of art.

The Ten Commandments

Cecil B. DeMille

The biblical story of Moses, Pharoah Ramses II and the Jewish exodus is retold in this breathtaking work of cinematography. As Moses, Charlton Heston excels in one of the roles he's best remembered for. The dialogues and visual effects in long-narratives make this an unmatched epic. One must watch it again and again to cherish the many scattered pieces of priceless wisdom that float through every scene in this spiritual saga of an extraordinary man and an extraordinary journey.

Babel

Alejandro González Iñárritu

Although complex, the film was nominated for the Oscars and rightly so. One of Hollywood's finest serious movies, it traces the inter-connectedness of our lives in the modern age. The film follows the ordeals of three unrelated people in Japan, Morocco and Mexico, and tracks their connections through surreal visuals. An ambitious work of art, the film becomes complex since it aims to tell the story of something even more complex — humanity.

Casino

Martin Scorcese

This film has all of Scorcese's trademarks right from the unforgettable duo of Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci to the world of American mafia and gambling. The movie explores a casino manager's journey through betrayal in love, friendship and finding wealth in Las Vegas. Things take a turn for the worse finally culminating in backstabbing and treachery, taking him back to square one. The smooth narration underlines not just crime and money but the entire psyche of material greed.

Those that almost made it:

Ben-Hur: William Wyler

Malcolm X: Spike Lee

The Usual Suspects: Bryan Singer

A Good Year: Ridley Scott

Apocalypse Now: Francis Ford Coppola

Rocky: John G. Avildsen

(Yasir Malik is a junior research fellow at the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi. He loves watching and analysing films of all genres.)

Keywords: World Cinema