10 Films to Look Forward to in 2018

2017 wasn’t a bad year for movies, I mean it was certainly better than 2016, but alas, I can’t know for sure, because as an Indian, I won’t get to watch Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, The Florida Project and so many more till at least February.

What I can say however is that 2018 will be terrific. Making this list, I tried to make sure to include only films I’m almost certain will deliver on their promise (so something like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse didn’t quite make the list, exciting as it is) and it was still very difficult to narrow it down to just 10. So inevitably, there will be many films you’re excited for that aren’t here.

Also, honourable mention goes to If Beale Street Could Talk, the upcoming Barry Jenkins movie that doesn’t have an official release date yet, though I believe it’s going to release near the end of 2018. Moonlight was incredibly well directed, and Jenkins is also involved with an upcoming TV adaptation of the brilliant novel The Underground Railroad, and I can’t wait to see where this hot streak takes him.

Now on to the main list:


The Little Stranger is based on a horror/thriller novel, so you wouldn’t expect to see it on my list, even considering the fact that it’s written by Sarah Waters. Even the premise isn’t exactly revolutionary. But the one thing it needs in order to be truly memorable is a sense of claustrophobia, which I’m sure Lenny Abrahamsson, director of Room, can bring to it. Domnhall Gleeson playing the lead is just icing on the cake.


Widows is Steve McQueen’s first film since 12 Years a Slave. Do you really need to know more? Yes you do, because it’s also written by Gillian Flynn and stars Viola Davis. And the fact that it’s about the widows of failed armed robbers only cements its position on this list.


Ready Player One is based on a novel that I haven’t gotten around to yet, in spite of how much it sounds like exactly my kind of thing. As annoying as nostalgia bombs can get, when done right, they hold the power to bring pop culture together. And who better to trust with this responsibility than Steven fricking Spielberg?


No franchise in my memory has had a resurgence as thrilling as Mission: Impossible. The last 2 in particular are 2 of the best action movies this decade, and much of their appeal comes from the effort to create a continuous narrative, one where characters and their relationships get to grow. The 6th instalment takes this continuity to another level, with the return of Rebecca Ferguson’s and, more significantly, Michelle Monaghan’s character from previous entries. It’s also the first time a director is repeating, Christopher McQuarrie of Rogue Nation. And come on, aren’t you curious to see Henry Cavill’s now infamous mustache?


Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is adapted from a novel about a woman trying to solve the mystery of another woman having gone missing. Basically, not a premise that screams Richard Linklater, and that’s half of what has me looking forward to it. The other half is the opportunity to hear Cate Blanchett spout Linklater dialogue. That hasn’t happened before, has it?


Okay so here’s the deal. I know I said it was hard to narrow this down to 10, but if I’m being completely honest, that’s only really true for the 5 I’ve listed above. Those are 5 movies I could easily have replaced with 5 other equally exciting movies, you know, Deadpool 2 (which would’ve made it had Tim Miller stayed on) or Ant-Man and the Wasp or Isle of Dogs or Scarface or the Fantastic Beasts sequel.

The next 5 on the other hand, were really easy. There was never any question that they would top the list, or what their ranking would be. These are the 5 films that, if they turned out bad, I honestly don’t know how my frail heart would cope.


Black Panther is that MCU movie that holds the power to define the studio and what it means to the film industry for years to come. Not only does a mainstream superhero movie about an African nation that never got colonised, with a star cast almost entirely of black actors mean a lot to culture, but the fact that it’s directed by Ryan Coogler, who confronted racism head-on with Fruitvale Station, makes this even more significant. Also, have you seen the trailers for this thing?


Wreck-It Ralph earned a place in my heart the moment I saw it, but its now infamous Oscar loss to Brave only intensified my love for that imaginative little movie. Hot off his Zootopia success, director Rich Moore is back with the terribly titled Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, which, yes, could easily end up as corny as its title, but could also one-up the original’s boundless imagination, building on the Toy Story but with video games concept and making something truly surprising out of it. Like, you know, Toy Story 2 but with online gaming.


The space program interests me anyway, and space movies are a joy to watch on the big screen, so a Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling would have me on board anyway, but the selling point here is that First Man is directed by Damien Chazelle, who with just 3 movies has risen to Tarantino/Fincher levels of “I don’t care what he’s doing I wanna watch!” for me. In space, no one can hear your jazz.


Few sequels in the history of cinema have been as intensely awaited as Incredibles 2. That might have something to do with the 14 years that have passed, or with its status as one of the greatest superhero movies as well as one of the greatest animated movies ever made. Honestly, just geeking out over Edna and Frozone is enough for me to leave the theater happy, but I trust Brad Bird (who by the way also voices Edna Mode) to give us something meaningful. He took this long, he better.


Isn’t it a satisfying feeling to see a trilogy end? After all, it’s an event being built up across 3 movies! And then there’s Avengers: Infinity War. After 10 years and 19 movies, we find ourselves at the beginning of the end of an era. Yes, Marvel movies will continue to exist, but it’ll never be the same again. This of course means that the movie has to satisfy insanely high expectations of scale and scope, and what with it being the first movie to be shot entirely in IMAX, it just might. Any fear of it feeling overcrowded, especially with the presence of the Guardians of the Galaxy, is exceeded by my confidence in Kevin Feige and the Russo brothers. How do you know if you’re as excited for this as I am? If you’re incapable of hearing that Alan Silvestri theme without thinking of the iconic circle shot from The Avengers, you know.


Before I close this post, I want to give a quick shout-out to Omerta, my most anticipated Hindi movie in 2018. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be director Hansal Mehta’s return to form after last year’s Simran.

Another shout-out goes to the TV series I’m most excited to see return this year, Young Justice. It’s rare that fan outcry succeeds in bringing back an unfairly cancelled show, and there’s no reason to believe this won’t live up to the quality of the previous seasons.

And I also want to mention how exciting a place the superhero genre is in right now. Not only do we have no less than 10 movies coming out in 2017, it’s also important to note how diverse they’re getting, with New Mutants being a horror movie and Into the Spider-Verse bringing in a beautiful, dynamic and unique animation style. It’s a good time to be a superhero nerd.

But enough about my list. What movies, TV shows and related things are you excited for? What do you feel got left out of my list? (Not Deadpool 2, I know you’re excited for that, everyone is.) Happy New Year! I hope you have a great one full of great movies and positive discussions around them.


Watchlist for the second half of 2017

Last year I did a series of watchlists (only one of which is on this blog), where I would list the most exciting movies to watch over the coming month or 3. I got their Indian release dates from BookMyShow, but in time, I started to realise just how unreliable those dates really were. I got annoyed when movies like Hell or High Water and Kubo and the Two Strings didn’t release when they should’ve according to BMS, and soon after that I just stopped making the lists. But 2017 is ramping up to be a truly spectacular year for movies, and so many of them might slip by without people noticing them, I couldn’t not do another one.
But I’m not going through that uncertainty or that disappointment again. I’m done. So my new watchlist, covering the rest of the year from here on out, is based on the far more concrete USA release dates from Box Office Mojo. For those that also release in India, the release dates shouldn’t be too far. Those that don’t, we can still watch whenever they get their digital releases around 3 months later. With zero expectations comes zero disappointment.
Also, the second half of 2017 is gearing up to be an absolute blast for movie lovers, so I cannot reasonably list every movie I think will be amazing. I’m going to restrict myself to one per weekend. It’s not going to be easy.
JULY: The crescendo to the summer movie season
July 7: Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car)
This looks like everything a Spider-Man movie needs to be. High school coming-of-age drama blended with action packed superheroics, with a nerdy Peter Parker portrayed perfectly by Tom Holland and a terrifying villain played by Michael Keaton. (I’m also a massive Spider-Man fan, if you can’t tell from my blog name.)
July 14: War for the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)
The conclusion to what many are already calling one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time, this follows Andy Serkis as Caesar dealing with the conflict between his duty to the apes and his personal vendetta. The trailers look breathtaking. Also, Matt Reeves is going on to direct The Batman, so this better be great.
July 21: Dunkirk, directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight)
One of the most exciting movies in years, this might just be the first time Christopher Nolan gives us a movie without a mindf**k, instead relying on raw emotions like hope, despair and terror. It stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Harry Styles. The trailer is heart-stopping.
July 28: Atomic Blonde, directed by David Leitch (John Wick)
The pitch: Charlize Theron kicks ass. The trailer: Charlize Theron kicks ass. The reviews: Charlize Theron kicks ass. What I want: for Charlize Theron to kick ass. I’m sold.
AUGUST: Summer fade-out
August 4: Detroit, directed by Katherine Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Her last 2 movies were the 2 best critically reviewed movies of 2009 and 2012 respectively. Like The Hurt Locker, this looks like an extremely tense thriller, and like Zero Dark Thirty, it’s based on an important true story. It stars John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Will Poulter and Jack Reynor. A Best Picture nomination is all but guaranteed.
August 11: Logan Lucky, directed by Steven Soderbergh (Oceans 11)
The trailer looks like Oceans 11 but if the heist crew comprises entirely of nincompoops. It’s hilarious, especially, believe it or not, Daniel Craig, who does not brood.
August 18: The Glass Castle, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12)
Look, I don’t know much about this film other than that it’s based on an acclaimed work of non-fiction. What I do know is that Short Term 12 is a powerful, brilliantly directed movie and that I’ll watch anything that teams this director up with Brie Larson.
August 25: Death Note, directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next)
The trailer doesn’t look good, I know, but this is an adaptation of an all-time great anime, so nothing can really kill my enthusiasm for this movie until the reviews are out. And the casting of Nat Wolff as Light and Willem Dafoe as Ryuk is promising.
SEPTEMBER: Fall = Downtime gems
September 1: Viceroy’s House, directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham)
I’m not sure about this release date actually, it might be releasing on August 11. Or August 18. And it might be called Partition: 1947. Either way, a British period drama starring Huma Qureshi, Michael Gambon and Om Puri in his final performance should definitely be on your radar. Early reviews are positive, but not too positive.
September 8: It, directed by Andrés Muschietti (Mama)
It’s based on a Stephen King novel, which is it’s selling point. The trailer had some creepy moments to it, and it will certainly be good to see Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things) again, but if I do end up seeing this, it will be because of the tone and feel I associate with Stephen King.
September 15: Simran, directed by Hansal Mehta (Shahid)
This is the only Indian film on my list for the year (not that When Harry Met Sejal won’t be good), and there are 3 reasons why: Shahid, Citylights and Aligarh. Mehta has shown himself to be perhaps the only Indian director whose storytelling talent lives up to the best in the world, and this time, he’s teamed up with Kangana Ranaut.
September 22: Kingsman: The Golden Circle, directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
The first one was one of the most uniquely entertaining action comedies in years, and it isn’t always you get to see Matthew Vaughn return to direct a sequel. There is no way this won’t be an absolute blast.
September 29: American Made, directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow)
It’s difficult to not be excited to see Doug Liman collaborate with Tom Cruise after Edge of Tomorrow was so good, but it gets even better once you realise that this is a character right up Cruise’s alley. Not a certain hit, but definitely one I’m curious about.
OCTOBER: Building up to Oscar Season
October 6: Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
The visionary director teams up with legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins to follow up one of the most beloved science fiction movies of all time. I’m just excited because the trailers look crazy.
October 13: mother!, directed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
I know nothing about this movie. Nothing whatsoever. The director and the cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Ed Harris, Kristen Wiig) should be more than enough.
October 20: The Snowman, directed by Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
A crime/detective thriller starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J. K. Simmons, and I’ll stop here or the list will never end.
October 27: God Particle, directed by Julius Onah (The Girl is in Trouble)
I wouldn’t put too much faith in the director, but this is the 3rd Cloverfield movie, and the first 2 have created a universe truly unlike any other. I’m fascinated to see how much more we may end up discovering about that world through this film.
NOVEMBER: Oscar Season!
November 3: Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople)
Okay, not exactly the first thing you think of when you think Oscars. Not only is the trailer for this movie incredible, not only does it feature Thor, Hulk and Doctor Strange, not only is the villain Hela played by Cate Blanchett, but Taika Waititi is one of the most brilliant dramedic (is that a term?) directors working today. This is a must watch.
November 10: Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh (Thor)
Look at the cast. Look at the cast! Kenneth Branagh (as Hercule Poirot), Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley (pants, out of breath). Never has a whodunit had its suspects this well-cast.
November 17: Last Flag Flying, directed by Richard Linklater (Before Trilogy)
I don’t really know much about it beyond the fact that it’s a comedy starring Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne. That should be enough.
November 24: Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3)
Unless it’s a Cars movie, anything Pixar does gets an automatic spot on the watchlist. When it’s the second movie from the man who debuted with one of the greatest animated movies these eyes have failed to see through all the tears, it would take me being even more heartless than I am for me to not put this here.
DECEMBER: Christmas, Star Wars and more Oscar season
December 1: The Disaster Artist, directed by James Franco (Child of God)
As a director, Franco hasn’t had a good track record, but here, the premise is interesting (a behind the scenes look at the making of The Room, one of the worst movies of all time), and early reviews are positive. Could Franco get a nomination for playing Tommy Wiseau?
December 8: The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth)
When del Toro directs a fantasy movie, you know at the very least that it’s going to look stunning. Whether the story reflects that beauty, we have to wait and see.
December 15: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson (Looper)
Everything about this movie is promising. Luke training Rey, the potential fall of the Jedi Order, a meeting of the Light and Dark sides and the unveiling of the mysteries surrounding Rey and Snoke. Moreover, as respected as Looper is, let’s not forget Johnson also directed the Breaking Bad episode Ozymandias, perhaps the greatest episode in TV history.
December 22: Downsizing, directed by Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Alexander Payne has quietly established himself as one of the most reliable directors working today, with movies like Sideways, The Descendants and Nebraska. This is a particularly intriguing movie because of its weird science fiction premise and a cast of Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Christoph Waltz.
December 29: Phantom Thread, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be Blood)
Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the greatest actors of all time, in his final performance, teaming up with the great Paul Thomas Anderson. The movie is set in the fashion industry and Phantom Thread may not be its final title. Oscar nominations are a given.
JANUARY: Oscar Spillover
Probably sometime in January: The Current War, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
Reminiscent of Murder on the Orient Express in that feeling of Look At That Cast! Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison! Tom Holland as his secretary Samuel Insull! Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse! Katherine Waterson as his wife Marguerite Erskine! Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla! Matthew McFayden as J. P. Morgan!
January 12: The Papers, directed by Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies)
A historical drama reminiscent of Spotlight starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep as editor and publisher of The Washington Post respectively, it tells the story of the Pentagon Papers and looks to me like exactly the kind of film Spielberg excels at. And what better way to end a watchlist than with a Spielberg movie?
That’s what I have for the remainder of the year, readers. Remember, this doesn’t nearly exhaust all the movies worth watching this year. Movies like The Big Sick and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets didn’t make it here simply because they’re out on the same weekends as War for the Planet of the Apes and Dunkirk respectively. So tell me, what are the movies you’re looking forward the most to? Is there something you think I should’ve included but didn’t? Let’s keep the discussion going.
Sources: Wikipedia and Box Office Mojo for release dates, IMDb for cast and crew and YouTube for trailers.

Watchlist: September to November 2016

These are the movies I want to watch in the coming months, with their Indian release dates.

September 2: Don’t Breathe, directed by Fede Alvarez. The premise, where a bunch of youngsters break into the house of a blind old man, who happens to be a badass, is interesting.

September 9: Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood. It’s the first major film shot almost completely in IMAX, and features airplanes and Tom Hanks.

September 16: The Shallows, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Another interesting premise, about a girl who needs to cross a not-very-wide body of water, easy enough except there’s a shark.

September 23: The Magnificent Seven, directed by Antoine Fuqua. A western starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio.

September 30: MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, directed by Neeraj Pandey. Sure, nothing about this sounds exciting, but the director made A Wednesday, Special 26 and Baby.

October 7: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, directed by Tim Burton. It’s basically Tim Burton’s X-Men, with Eva Green taking on the “Professor X” role.

October 14: Inferno, directed by Ron Howard. Yes, I liked the novel. In fact, I generally like Dan Brown’s novels. Really. Unfortunately, the adaptations have been disappointing.

October 21: Keeping Up with the Joneses, directed by Greg Mottola. A spy comedy starring Jon Hamm and Zach Galifianakis. This could be even better than last year’s “Spy”.

October 28: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, directed by Karan Johar. I don’t know. Could be the next MNIK, could be the next SOTY. Good cast, though. Fawad Khan was amazing in Kapoor and Sons.

November 4: Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson. Benedict Cumberbatch. Tilda Swinton. Rachel McAdams. Chiwetel Ejiofor. Mads Mikkelsen. Magic. Marvel.

November 11: Rock On!! 2, directed by Shujaat Saudagar. I cannot overstate how hyped I am for this, but Shraddha Kappor? Really? That’s like casting Megan Fox in a sequel to Mission: Impossible.

November 16: Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve. “Realistic alien invasion movie” might sound like an oxymoron, but once you watch the trailer, you realize these guys really mean it.

November 23: Moana, directed by Musker and Clements. A lot of the hype comes from there being a Disney Princess of colour, but I didn’t believe it would actually be good until I saw the trailer.

By far the one I’m looking forward most to is Doctor Strange, since the heavy hitters such as Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea and La La Land are probably not coming out till November.

Neither Hell or High Water nor Kubo and the Two Strings released when they were supposed to last month, so it’s not a good idea to get one’s hopes up. Still, it looks like 2016 might just redeem itself.

Top 10 2016 Movies That Couldn’t Be Here Soon Enough

Sure, 2017 may have stolen 2016’s thunder with the announcement of Dunkirk a few days ago, but 2016 still has a lot of cryofreeze-worthy movies. So many, in fact, that I had to leave out highly anticipated movies like Rogue One (I don’t trust Gareth Edwards), Doctor Strange (don’t trust Scott Derrickson either), WarCraft (haven’t played the game), Jane Got a Gun (haven’t experienced Gavin O’Connor’s awesomeness firsthand), Zootopia/The Jungle Book (trailers weren’t great enough), Ghostbusters (too young to be nostalgic), Star Trek Beyond (trailer was horrible), Kung fu Panda 3 (that’s how exciting 2016 is, even KFP didn’t make it) and many, many more.

There are a few more very, very exciting movies coming out this year that only barely missed out, but I’m more interested in seeing your reaction when you reach the end of the list and realize you didn’t see them there.

10. Sully – Kicking off the list is Sully, a biopic of American pilot Chesley Sullenberger directed by Clint Eastwood. The cast of this movie, lead by Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart, itself would have been enough to convince me it is going to be awesome, but it was Eastwood’s name that secured its place on the list. The last biopic he directed, American Sniper, ended up one of the best movies of 2014, and I’m sure this one will repeat that feat.

9. X-Men: Apocalypse – Directed by Bryan Singer. Not only was Days of Future Past awesome, but this is one franchise where the prequels have consistently been better than the originals. A kickass trailer and Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse pretty much sealed the deal.

8. The Magnificent Seven – This western, directed by Antoine Fuqua, is a remake of the 1960 western The Magnificent Seven, which itself was a remake of the Akira Kurosawa classic, Seven Samurai. Fuqua directed Training Day starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke and last year’s awesome Southpaw. Not only does The Magnificent Seven reunite him with Washington and Hawke, but also stars Chris Pratt and Vincent D’Onofrio. Wow.

7. The BFG – Directed by Steven Spielberg, BFG is short for Big Friendly Giant. It is a Disney Fantasy movie, and that coupled with the title would make one think this is going to be a standard kiddie flick. Sure, Spielberg excels at basically any genre he touches. Sure, the trailer possesses the one quality such a movie needs the most: wonder. But it still will be a kiddie flick, right? Oh wait, I forgot to mention: It is based off of a Roald Dahl book. So it won’t just be a kiddie flick. It will be a smart kiddie flick. I’m in. (Actually, I was in at Spielberg.)

6. Hail, Caesar! – The Coen brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, True Grit) are well known for their handling of humor in their movies, so a comedy written and directed by them is an obvious pick. It becomes more obvious when you consider that it stars George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlet Johansson, Jonah Hill, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum and Josh Brolin. Still not sold? I’ll let the trailer do the rest of the job.

5. Deadpool – Directed by Tim Miller. You know what makes a comic book superhero even more awesome? When he knows he’s in a superhero movie. Ryan Reynolds has already shown us he can play an awesome Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and in the trailers so far, he seems to be even more awesome as Deadpool. The humor feels perfect, the action feels perfect, it’s as self-aware as it needs to be, and it’s irreverent as hell. This movie exists because of the fans, and so far, it seems like it was made for the fans. Warning: the trailer is NSFW.

4. Everybody Wants Some – This movie probably won’t be for everyone, it’s a very personal choice. You see, I’m a big soppy fan of Richard Linklater’s movies. He makes indie movies like Dazed and Confused, the Before trilogy and Boyhood. His movies are basically a bunch of people talking to each other. And these conversations are not only very real, but way more interesting than most real conversations. So while on the surface, this seems like just another college drama, it is safe to expect much, much more than that.

3. Finding Dory – Inside Out showed us that Pixar is back to making beautiful, emotional, smart movies. But you see, we didn’t really need that to be excited for Finding Dory, because it is directed by Andrew Stanton, the guy behind Finding Nemo and Wall-E. So we know this isn’t just a cash-grab. Or if it is, it’s the good kind of cash-grab. And if you remind me of how Cars 2 made the mistake of bringing Tow Mater to the forefront, pushing Dory into the spotlight is a decision I can get behind. She’s more fun than Nemo and Marlin anyway.

2. La La Land – Haven’t heard of this movie? Until a few hours ago, I hadn’t either. La La Land is a romantic musical dramedy starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, directed by Damien Chazelle, the guy behind Whiplash. I wouldn’t place so much faith in a director based on just one movie, but you see, Whiplash isn’t just a great movie, it is one of the greatest I have EVER seen. If you need more motivation, well, JK Simmons is in it.

1. Captain America: Civil War – The very idea of superheroes is a problematic one. Always has been. It takes a dump on the whole ‘we are born equal’ thing. A few people’s whims now dictate the fates of billions. And these people aren’t elected. And we all saw the consequences of such unsupervised individual decisions in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Now the only way to deal with this issue seems to be to treat superpowers, which are basically a part of who these people are, as weapons that need to be registered. No wonder people are divided on this. So now we have a superhero civil war, Captain America leading one side and Iron Man the other. And the reason I have complete faith that this issue will be dealt with properly is because the movie is directed by the Russo brothers, the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of Marvel’s best movies to date. Also, Tony Stark saying “So was I.” Plus, it introduces Spider-Man, guys!

Honorable mentions: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by Zack Snyder, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by David Yates and Silence by Martin Scorcese.

Also, bonus list, these are the 5 Bollywood movies I’m excited for:

5. MS Dhoni: The Untold Story – Really scraping the bottom of the barrel here, the only reason I’m interested in this movie at all is because it is directed by Neeraj Pandey, the guy behind A Wednesday, one of the best Indian movies ever made.

4. Fan – SRK hasn’t been picking great, or even good movies for quite some time now, but this seems like he’s finally going to start taking things seriously. The concept sure sounds interesting. SRK plays a guy who’s a fan of SRK. Let’s see how this goes.

3. Rustom – Also directed by Neeraj Pandey, this one has the benefit of starring Akshay Kumar. Their previous collaborations, Special 26 and Baby have been good popcorn fun. [Update: It was all a lie. Neeraj Pandey isn’t directing it after all 😦]

2. Raees – Also starring SRK, this movie has a really cool teaser. Cool enough to put it at the #2 spot. Seriously, I know virtually nothing about this movie, but I’m pumped for it nevertheless.

1. Aligarh – Citylights and Shahid are 2 of my favorite Bollywood movies, making Hansal Mehta a guy whose work I really look forward to. Add to that a premise (biopic of a homosexual professor) very progressive by Bollywood standards. Add to that universally rave reviews from festivals. Add to that Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkumar Rao, and you have a movie that almost made it to my overall list.

Awesome 2014 #4: Yudh Spoiler-free Review

There are times when I feel like all hope for Indian TV is lost. Then Yudh comes up and I feel like we’re back on track. And then I get depressed again.

We’ve complained for years about the lack of watchable Indian TV. But what incentive do visionary creators like Ribhu Dasgupta have when people won’t watch? When the network airs the show at 10:30 PM, 4 days a week, and doesn’t even have a repeat telecast, how many will even bother?

Enough moping around, time to gain the series a few viewers.

Yudhishthir Sikarwar (Amitabh Bachchan), boss of a huge company he built from scratch, is suffering from a disease which weakens him psychologically and gives him only a few years to live when every aspect of his life is simultaneously and systematically attacked.

Yudh is a psychological thriller and I don’t use that term lightly. Amitabh Bachchan plays a character who, on the surface, is the typical angry not-so-young badass Amitabh Bachchan character, but inside, he is seriously screwed up. But even as he descends into insanity, it is impossible not to care about him when one realizes that he really has nothing to lose here. The thousands (or was it tens of thousands?) of people working for him could lose their livelihoods, bridges could collapse, everyone who cares for him may suffer, and that really is what shatters him, and not any significant personal harm.

And he’s not the only one. The show takes the typical tropes of the loyal daughter, the bratty son, the cautious sidekick, the efficient secretary and turns each one of them into characters we know and care about, but with some really ugly skeletons in their closets. There is no clear right and wrong here, and the biggest question here isn’t really “Who’s the bad guy?”, because we are left wondering how many of the decisions made by the so-called heroes make them the bad guys.

What a series like this needs the most is a mood. Yudh has it in spades. In terms of plot progression, the series moves at a breakneck pace, but in any individual scene, we feel not hurry, but tension as the action slows down for reflection, and to give the characters more time to really pull us in, to convince us of the gravity of the situation. And the score isn’t just the best I’ve heard in Indian TV, it’s one of the best I’ve ever heard. It was ringing in my head days after the series ended. In fact, it’s been playing in my head the entire time I’ve been typing up this review. I wish they released a soundtrack, but then again, how many people would really buy it?

Kay Kay Menon has a minor role in the series, and it’s worth mentioning because when he and Amitabh Bachchan are in a scene together, it’s him one focuses on. He commands it. Watch Shahid for more of Kay Kay Menon being awesome.

I recommend: It’s free on the Sony website and youtube channel. Watch it. Please. In fact, watch it and then rate it on IMDb. Also, recommend it to others. Indian TV is calling out to you.

Awesome 2014 #1: Filmistaan Spoiler-free Review

Happy New Year Readers! Today starts a series of posts remembering what 2014 gave us in the fiction department. We begin with Filmistaan, my favorite Indian movie this year. So what if I saw just six of them? It still was awesome!

Assistant director, wannabe actor and Bollywood buff Sunny gets kidnapped by Pakistani terrorists and is held hostage. He is confined in a house belonging to a man who makes his living selling pirated Hindi movies, and they bond over their shared love of cinema. The movie goes on to celebrate the unifying power of cinema, something that I believe can be extended to the unifying power of stories in general.

Both the protagonists are instantly likable, and from the outset, I wanted Sunny to succeed in returning home yet I could not bear the thought of the two guys separating. The actors do an excellent job too, as the experienced and novice movie-lovers respectively.

For a movie which, for the most part, is about Indo-Pak friendship, it could have been terrible to begin with Pakistani terrorists abducting an Indian. However, this movie did an excellent job of fleshing out the characters to the point that even the terrorists were more than their messed up ideals, they were people, unique and with likes and dislikes of their own. Yet the characters we really empathize with are the civilians, showing us that the issue is terrorism, not Pakistan, and, more importantly, that they are not the same.

The plot occasionally feels far-fetched and over the top, with moments where Sunny’s love for Bollywood seems to reach irrational levels, but seeing as that is portrayed as a part of who he is, it’s forgivable.

The soundtrack, devoid of song-and-dance tracks, enhances the lighthearted feel of the movie, but is also tense when it needs to be.

The only problem I think I have with this movie is that Sunny is a Salman Khan fan. What the hell Sunny? I really wanted to like you more.

To summarize, this movie you’ve probably not heard of, by a director you’ve probably not heard of, starring actors you’ve probably not heard of, is a movie I stumbled upon, and thank 2014 I did!

I recommend: If you remember the typical song and dance old school Bollywood movies (which, concerning as it is, are not that old school) fondly, but are tired of them and want well made movies which spend every minute of the runtime trying to enhance the storytelling, watch this. If you don’t hate Pakistan, more specifically, Pakistanis, watch this. If you do hate Pakistanis, I don’t know if you’ll enjoy the movie, but I would really love it if you watch this.

PK Spoiler-free Review

At the outset, let me make this clear: I liked the movie. Now we can begin.

An alien comes to Earth, has trouble going back home, has trouble adjusting here, hears some sort of omnipotent entity called God can help him get back, does everything anyone tells him to do to contact God and send his request, fails, and we have a movie contemplating issues with the way religions work and the irrationalities of the decisions people make in the name of how they believe God functions.

We also have a love story between a Hindu girl and a Muslim guy which runs into the usual troubles and  a story of the alien’s unrequited love for the Hindu girl.

Notice that, had that second paragraph of the synopsis not been there, it would have made complete sense, and would actually have been more interesting. That was exactly the case with the scenes pertaining to those paragraphs. The only thing they added to the movie was runtime.

Another issue with the storytelling in this movie was the tone. That is something really important in determining a movie experience. For example, when watching Inception, you hang on to every word and expression, and both your brain and your pulse are racing. When watching Dhamaal, however, you don’t look for logic and character development in the plot. Not that thrillers don’t have humor or emotional moments and comedies don’t have wit, just that these moments fit seamlessly into the tone of the movie. This, however, was like drunken driving (see what I did there?). You want to focus and reflect on the struggles of the alien and the lackings of human society, but the movie keeps reminding you not to take it seriously by making people act uncharacteristically simply to move the plot forward or playing songs where a bunch of people randomly start dancing. The slapstick comedy (the only language the alien’s able to learn is Bhojpuri, you know, that funny language) doesn’t help either. While the movie was busy cracking adult jokes, some of which were pathetic enough to classify in the same category as fart jokes, there was this one joke which I actually found funny, but clearly, the writer realized how good the joke was, for the movie kept cracking that joke on and on and on till all it did was make me yawn. (Yaaay! Rhyme!)

One of the things the movie did best was the way it handled the anti-religious themes. It introduced us to someone who has a completely unbiased viewpoint in order to make us realize the absurdity of our beliefs practices. Also, being an atheist, there is only one argument I have heard for religion that has made any sense to me, and this movie did not forget to put that argument forward.

This movie was directed by Rajkumar Hirani. That guy who also directed Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munna Bhai and 3 Idiots. You must have noticed some of the common factors, like a sort of defiance against an established structure, a lot of cuteness, slapstick humor, but you know another thing that’s common? Boman Irani. For more of Boman Irani being awesome, watch Positive, a 17 minute short movie. It was directed by Farhan Akhtar and stars Boman Irani and Shabana Azmi, and I probably don’t need to tell you more to convince you to watch it.

All in all, PK was a fine concept but a poorly made movie.

I recommend: If you’ve already seen OMG: Oh My God!, skip PK. If you haven’t, watch OMG: Oh My God!, then skip PK. OMG is basically the same idea and almost the same discussion in a well made movie.