Iruvar

Mani Ratnam

Based on the real-life friendship between Tamil icons M.G. Ramachandran and M. Karunanidhi, this is easily Mani Ratnam’s best film to date. With a powerhouse cast led by Mohanlal as Anandan, Prakashraj as Tamilselvan and Naseer as Annadurai, one feels that every single frame and shot in this severely underrated film is there for a reason. The subtle confrontations between the lead characters and Mohanlal’s reactions when his supporters malign his old friend are standout scenes.

Kireedam

Sibi Malayil

One truly feels fortunate to have had the chance to view a film of such quality. Starring Mohanlal as the protagonist and the late Thilakan as his anguished father, this film is an intense character study of how quickly one’s bright future can disintegrate into pieces. Aided by the haunting song ‘Kanner Povinte’ by M.G. Sreekumar, the climactic scene where Mohanlal portrays a range of emotions from fear to sadness cements his place as one of the greatest actors of our times.

The Shawshank Redemption

Frank Darabont

Affirming the strength of ‘hope’, this film offers its viewers with a kind of emotional enlightenment of the highest order. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins are terrific actors as is the importance to small details that the director emphasises on. The montage of shots showing an aged prisoner unable to adjust to life outside prison drives one to tears. I recommend this picture both for its masterful storytelling and its technical execution. It simply commands a viewing.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Alfonso Cuaron

Helmed by the iconoclastic Cuaron, this film breaks the innocent theme of the first two films and transports the viewers into a much darker and more mature world of wizards. With moving and emotionally satisfying performances and visually arresting shots, this is by far one of the best fantasy films. The series needed someone of Cuaron’s class to steer it into the more mature themes to come later on in the series and he delivers it perfectly. The real virtue of this effort is that it makes a real attempt to adapt the story, not just marching in step with the book’s events.

Blood Diamond

Edward Zwick

A true Hollywood gem, this film confronts us with the unsaid message about how indifferent we are to the problems in strife-torn areas of the world. Leonardo DiCaprio as the diamond smuggler and Djimon Honsou as the poor fisherman in possession of a priceless diamond, turn in impeccable and honest performances in this beautifully filmed movie. A potent mix of excitement and emotions, the plot moves along at a swift pace and the director manages to drive the grim reality of slave labour home.

Those that almost made it:

The Dark Knight: Christopher Nolan

Lagaan: Ashutosh Gowariker

Terminator 2: Judgement Day: James Cameron

Good Will Hunting: Gus Van Sant

Se7en: David Fincher

Oye Lucky Lucky Oye: Dibakar Banerjee

(500) Days Of Summer: Marc Webb

Vinoo Kurian Thomas is a 23-year old engineer who believes that cinema has given him a holistic viewpoint on life.