- Hidden Figures
Director Theodore Melfi helms this joyously soaring movie even as he spotlights three women in NASA’s Colored Computers division. Refusing to be stultified by racism and sexism, these women eventually help the United States recover gracefully after it loses the moon race to the Russians. With some inspired performances from Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer, this movie proves you just can’t put determined women down. Not in the 60s, not now.
- Anarkali of AarahIf you judge a person’s character, especially a woman’s, by their profession, you could do worse than watch this singeing enterprise by Avinash Das. It clips you one across the face regardless of where and how you stand. It also guts societal norms and social mores, laying bare the visceral hypocrisy of men who call the shots and who’re self-entitled, more so when their overflowing cup of misplaced machismo is laced with liquor.
- 13 Reasons WhyCombining humor, teenage angst, suspense, and unbearable reality, this Netflix show doesn’t pull any punches. It cuts through your vein to spurt school bullying, selfish survival instincts, and the horror of teenage suicide. As harrowing as they come, the show puts the focus back on how constant social media exposure is blighting the lives of our loved, little ones. And we don’t realize it. Until it’s too late.
- Mukti BhawanWriter-director Shubhashish Bhutiani delivers this year’s top-notch cinema, unhurriedly and unflinchingly opening up dimensions that are as uncomfortable as they are unavoidable. Delving into the infuriating relationship between a weary father and his irritable son, the movie celebrates life and the inevitability of death. And in a sudden yet gentle, heartbreaking yet hopeful moment, you realize you’re the selfish barrier between a loving soul and their journey to salvation, that even if you think you’re ready for the inevitable, you actually are ever not.
- A Death in the GunjExploring the darker and seamy side of families and bullying, debutante director Konkona Sen Sharma helms a sterling ensemble story that’s a delightfully dark fly-on-the-wall. Bringing into gentle focus the travails of introverted personalities who can’t seem to speak their minds in front of hollering, dominating personalities, this coming-of-age cinema rapidly unravels for the family and for you, the death hitting everyone where it hurts most in a stunning climactic denouement.
- MomDespite an ending that is sheer eye-on-the-box-office manipulation and one that rides on a plot-hole with convenient warping of travel-times, this movie features on the list simply because of the horror it unleashes in a rape scene that plays only in the fearful recesses of your mind, the thrum of its actors, a dark, effective story-telling for the most part, and A.R. Rahman’s solid, haunting background score.
- DunkirkAn epic war saga that breaks all blockbuster tropes and actually makes you feel for its characters. The fictional telling of soldiers waiting to get out of the beaches of Dunkirk is moving, awe-inducing, and riveting. This isn’t about the heroism of war, it’s a sweeping, rousing, humane story about running away to fight another day. IMAX viewing doesn’t get better than this, neither does a symphonic, grand background score than Hans Zimmer’s.
- NewtonEasily one of the best of the best this year, Newton takes a thoughtful, wry look at the circus of democracy, not taking sides, sitting on the fence much like a village wisecrack, passing comments that are funny and keen. Director Amit Masurkar makes cinema that’s triumphant because it covers dead serious issues with an élan that’s as relevant as it is deadpan.
- Mind HunterDavid Fincher gives Netflix (and us) a show that’s smart, funny, and a shiver-down-me-spine pleasure. Shifting focus away from who to why for serial killers, Mindhunter moves along at a clipping pace of crisp banter and interviews, adding layers to its characters instead of revealing them; by the end of season 1, you know things will never be the same again. For them and for you.
- Stranger Things 2The show’s opening is sunny and pulses with hard rock music, making you wonder if you’ve stepped into a ditzy college-fest. But enjoy that brightness while it lasts. For, the Duffer Brothers then stream you headlong into TV terror that’s so darned effective simply because it makes you care. Darker than the earlier season, scarier much, and scenes that drip with relentless suspense and dread, this white-knuckled binge-fest is as good as it gets.