The Children of Heaven

Majid Majidi

This film which pictures the love and affection between young Ali and his little sister Zahra, was the first Iranian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film is set in Tehran where little Ali and his poor family live. Ali loses her sister's shoes, so they have to share a pair of school shoes. Ali tries so hard to come third in a children's footrace and win the prize of a pair of sneakers for his sister, but is disappointed when he accidentally comes first in the race. The simplicity of a child's world and the deep love and compassion prevalent in it lights up the whole movie.

The Great Debaters

Denzel Washington

The film is based on the true story of a debate team from the African-American Wiley College beating Harvard in the 1930s when racial discrimination was rampant and Jim Crow laws were in vogue. The film has Denzel Washington as Prof. Melvin Tolson of Wiley College, the brilliant but volatile debate team coach along with co-actors Forest Whitaker, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollet and Denzel Whitaker. Tolson coaches and inspires the college team through a nearly-undefeated debate season to finally challenge Harvard in the national championship.

The Bucket List

Rob Reiner

This film is the story of two terminally-ill men, a billionaire and a mechanic, played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, who escape from the cancer ward and venture on a road-trip to accomplish their wish list before they die. They go around the world, sky dive together, climb the Pyramids, fly over the North Pole, eat in the best restaurant in France, visit the Taj Mahal, travel to the Great Wall of China and go on a lion safari in Africa. They reflect on life and the questions from Divine Comedy, “have u found joy in life?” and “have u brought joy to others in life?” and this gives them a new insight into their relationships.

The Fall

Tarsem Singh

The film is about a stuntman and a little girl, played wonderfully by Lee Pace and Cantinca Untaru. In the 1920s, in a hospital in Los Angeles, stuntman Roy Walker with a broken leg and heart, charms a little girl Alexandria with his fairytale to get him morphine from the hospital to commit suicide. The friendship that he strikes with the little girl through this fairytale prevents him from committing suicide. This film is a fine blend of fantasy and reality.


Jean-Pierre Jeunet

This is a French film about a waitress in Paris, played by Audrey Tautou, who decides to help people while struggling with her own lonely life and on the way finds true love. One day, Amelie finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. After considerable effort she returns it to its owner. The characterisation of Amelie is what makes the film unique.

Those that almost made it

Seven Pounds: Gabriele Muccino

V for Vendetta: James McTeigue

The Book of Eli: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes

12 Angry Men: Sidney Lumet

The Shawshank Redemption: Frank Darabont

(S. Saranya is a Chennai-based lawyer.)

Keywords: World cinema