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Best Hollywood Movies of 2017 so far (10+1list)

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017 so far

written by Souranath Banerjee

Film-lovers take a deep breath – relax. It’s flashback time!

The first half of this year gone in a wink and yet it has been a busy half-a-dozen months for us, the dedicated movie-buffs.

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017Dramatic super-hero/heroine movies, hilarious comedies, nail-bitting thrillers, romantic dramas, kickass action flicks, even musicals – you name it and Hollywood have delivered!

The list of the Best Hollywood Movies of 2017 so far is right here but then I must admit (with a heavy heart) that this list is pretty heavy on VFX rather than movies with less cumputer-graphics and more of real-world stories.

But anyways, here we go – remember – only the best!

10. Beauty and the Beast

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Nl_TCQXuw

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017Once more an adaptation of the popular fairy tale (again by Disney), where the beast and the beauty fall in love but can they live happily ever after?

Directed by Bill Condon, the classic musical narrated through a series of brilliantly choreographed dance and song sequences.

Starring Emma WatsonDan Stevens, Luke Evans, but I think the casting choices for the voices of the enchanted people-turned-objects/furnitures are much better!

9. War for the Planet of the Apes

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDBFrQvfGlQ

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017The ape-trilogy has finally reached an epic conclusion. (But that doesn’t mean ‘no’ to a future 4th).

(Review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)

Directed by Matt Reeves, this one is all about the grand battle between Caesar (the ape leader) and Colonel (the human army leader) and their battle for supremacy.

Thanks to Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson for giving us such an emotional experience.

8. John Wick: Chapter 2

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGk2EfbD_Ps

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017Keanu Reeves is back as John Wick, the man whose car and dog you better don’t mess with! 

This is the second instalment of the superb 2014 action thriller John Wick, and this time it’s even more raw, brutal and action packed.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, this is the savage saga of what happens when you put a bounty on John Wick’s head!

7. The Big Sick

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF14JJkOrSI

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017A Pakistani muslim guy and a white American girl couldn’t help but fall for each other but would their families put aside the cultural barriers and accept their love?

Directed by Michael Showaltera unique rom-com that manages to address pretty serious issues but always with adequate humour.

Writer/actor Kumail Nanjiani is superb along with his on-screen love Zoe Kazan.

6. Baby Driver

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9YZw_X5UzQ

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017Every successful heist ends with a thrilling car chase and Baby, the young getaway driver is there to guarantee your safety!

Super cool performances by Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon HammEiza GonzálezLily James and finally Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey stealing the show.

Directed by Edgar Wright, a crime drama intertwined with classy soundtracks – racy and stylish.

5. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0D3AOldjMU

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017A seemingly ordinary high school student in New York City struggles with his new super-powers – Peter Parker learns to control his alter ego – the Spider-Man. And his mentor is none other than Tony Stark (the Iron Man)!

Directed by Jon Watts, with Tom Holland in the lead along with Michael Keaton and Robert Downey Jr. this Spidy-franchise is the best thing that happened to Spider Man for a long time!

4. Wonder Woman

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSB4wGIdDwo

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017Desperate to save the world from all the darkness and evil, here comes the invincible warrior princess of the Amazons – ‘Wonder Woman’ to us mere mortals!

Sexy and gorgeous Gal Gadot is THE reason to watch this film, but then also, not to forget Chris Pine and the overall amazing VFX!

Directed by Patty Jenkins, this DC comic based super-heroine film is visually spectacular, a perfect combination of action, humour and entertainment.

3. Song to Song

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL0FYUpXuoo

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017An euphoric moment for all Cinema-lovers – Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael FassbenderNatalie PortmanCate Blanchett – all in one movie and that too directed by Terrence Malick!

The plot revolves around love triangles, affairs, betrayals and heart breaks, all happening in the backdrop of the eccentric music scene in Texas.

Dreamy camera movements and powerful performances – a typical Terrence Mallik experience!

2. Logan 

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbug3zTm3Ws

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017Hugh Jackman‘s swan song as his famous ‘Wolverine’ character from the X-Men series comes to an epic conclusion.

Directed by James Mangold, intense, violent, edgy and emotional – a gripping story and spectacular performances is what makes the film so special.

Then again young Dafne Keen and old Patrick Stewart gives the movie the vitality that it deserved. 

  1. Get Out

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzfpyUB60YY

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017It’s ‘meet-the-parents’ time for a young African American who is in relationship with a white girl. Well, the white folks seem to be pretty friendly – or are they?

Suffocatingly intense, both Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams has given great natural performances.

Directed by Jordan Peele, a very intriguing thriller that also seems to make a very important social statement even in today’s world.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. The LEGO Batman Movie

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZSQTVdF3QM

Best Hollywood Movies of 2017Does Batman live in Bruce Wayne’s basement or Wayne lives in Batman’s attic? Anyways ‘Vigilantes don’t have bedtimes’ remember?

What happens when Batman doesn’t get invited to Superman’s house-party? And did you know that ‘Iron Man sucks.’ is the password for the Bat-Cave?

Directed by Chris McKaythe ultimate bat-crazy experience – absolutely hilarious, witty and a laugh riot. And of course brilliantly ‘legoed’, i mean animated!

A few other films that didn’t make the list but are worth your time: SplitTheir FinestThe Zookeeper’s WifeThe Lost City of Z, T2 Trainspotting and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com.

Carol (2015)

Carol review

written by Souranath Banerjee

An unexpected love affair that blossoms against all the odds.

My Ratings: 4/5.

Reportedly the film Carol had a 10-minute standing ovation at its 2015 Cannes Film Festival premiere!

carol-poster1And why not? Based on the romance novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, Carol is one of the most visually pleasing love story of recent times.

Rooney Mara (though looking unbelievably different, she was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), who plays an aspiring photographer in this film named Therese Belivet, and when she meets Cate Blanchett, the unhappily married Carol Aird – they instantly fall for each other.

A young girl attracted to a married older woman who openly seduces her, an impulsive spark of romance that makes their lives both volatile and euphoric.

carol-poster4A lesbian love affair, a liaison between two people most unexpected of falling in love!

The story seems pretty straightforward though but the execution is what that makes the film a stunner.

Masterfully directed by Todd Haynes (I was already a fan of his Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There.), and shot fantastically by Edward Lachman mostly using reflections and images through glasses and window panes.

But the real charisma of this film is nothing else than the magnetic chemistry between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. They have successfully portrayed the true bliss of two people falling in love, the purity of their feelings, the infatuation, the physical bonding, the carol-poster5
despair in separation, and the longing for each other’s company.  

Then, Kyle ChandlerSarah PaulsonJohn Magaro and Jake Lacy all synced into their roles just perfectly. 

The realistic and appealing period-look of the film is said to be taken from numerous photographs and paintings, periodicals and film stills, all collected by Director Todd Haynes as reference for the entire team, specially for Judy Becker (Production Designer) and Jesse Rosenthal (Art Director).

Carol is one of those rare colorful films that makes you believe in simplicity, and the immense power of filmmaking as well.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

2016 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

2016 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

written by Souranath Banerjee

On Sunday, February 28th, it’s that time of the year when they give away those awards!

Yes, on this day, the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences will hand over the most prestigious awards of the entertainment world – the Academy Awards or the Oscars.

On the basis of the ‘preferential voting’ system (democratic and unbiased), all the nominees are chosen each year for the various award categories and then they simply wait, hope and pray to win!

This year Chris Rock will be hosting the award ceremony on ABC.

In total 305 feature films are competing for Best Picture nominations. Though the final and official seven/eight nominated ones will be announced on Thursday, January 14th, it’s always fun to guess, predict and anticipate a little before hand.

So let the predictions for the ‘Best Picture’ category begin!

10. Beasts of No Nation (Netflix)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xb9Ty-1frw

beasts-of-no-nation1An African country at war, where violence is routine and murder is the law.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, this is the story of a kid who is forced to join a group of soldiers and take up the gun to fight and kill people.

A raw and deadly film that shows the emotional turmoil of a child soldier. And surely a favorite in the Oscar race.

9. Carol (The Weinstein Company)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4z7Px68ywk

carol-poster1The combination of New York in 1950s and Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and a perfect love story.

Full of emotions and breathtaking visuals, superb music and brilliant acting – the film is a complete package of aw

Directed by Todd Haynes, this one is a favorite of mine as well as the Oscar nominees. 

8. Youth (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T7CM4di_0c

Youth-poster2Michael CaineHarvey KeitelRachel Weisz and director Paolo Sorrentino cooks up one of the best mouthwatering cinema of this year.

(click for the review)

A film that reflects on the youth and relishes the old age with the same intensity. It deals with friendship, love, marriage, lust, professions, emotions and above all emotions. I bet my

7. The Hateful Eight (The Weinstein Company)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnRbXn4-Yis

hateful-eight-posterQuentin Tarantino is back with his 8th film and along with Samuel L. JacksonKurt RussellJennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth among others this one gets as gritty and violent as you can expect it to be.

Powerful performances with awesome visuals and a superbly entertaining story line.

An Oscar favorite because ‘No one comes up here without a damn good reason’. 

6. Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15syDwC000k

brooklyn-poster11950s Brooklyn as the backdrop, the film is about an Irish immigrant’s life, her love story and her past, and the choices she makes.

Directed by John Crowley, and outstanding performance by Saoirse Ronan, this is a film that breadths perfection.

My personal favorite and I wish it all the luck for the tough Oscar chart ahead.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Brothers)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEJnMQG9ev8

mad-max-poster5In the year 1979 Mad Max was established – a drifter, a loner and of course mad as hell. And this is the latest addition to the popular franchise.

(Click for the review)

Powerful, dramatic and full of energy, directed by George Miller, this is undoubtedly the best action flick of 2015 and a leader in the Oscar race for the ‘Best Picture’. 

4. The Revenant (20th Century Fox)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoebZZ8K5N0

revenant-posterDirected by Alejandro González Iñárritu (whose film Birdman won the ‘best director’, ‘best picture’ and ‘best screenplay’ awards last year), has come up with this brilliant tale of an explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio).

A fur trading expedition in the 1820s; inspired by true events this is an epic adventure, a quest for survival and also a sure favorite in this year’s Oscar.

3. The Big Short (Paramount Pictures)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDlYm15ztK4

big-short-posterWhen Christian BaleSteve CarellRyan Gosling and Brad Pitt come together – you know it’s worth it. 

Directed by Adam McKay, this is a biographical account of the time (mid 2000) when there was a financial crisis in the US, and four individuals decided to fight the greedy banks for their lack of foresight.

Looks like a pretty sure thing for the award ceremony. Watch out!

2. Room (A24 Films)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Ci-pAL4eE

room-posterAdopted from Emma Donoghue‘s famous novel, this is one unique story of a five-year old boy who is told by his loving mother that their 10-by-10 foot ‘room’ is the only world that exists! 

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, a brilliant film that surely is becoming people’s favorite and a likely contestant for the Oscar.

Brilliant performance by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay

  1. Spotlight (Open Road Films)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwdCIpbTN5g

spotlight-poster1Probably the most significant cinema on ‘journalism’ made after the epic All the President’s Men (1976).

Directed by Tom McCarthy, this is one film that is considered certainly as the top favorite in this year’s Oscar game.

With Mark RuffaloMichael KeatonRachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber among others this is one safe film to put your money.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most popular one).

+1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGbxmsDFVnE

star-wars-posterThe recently released ever popular addition to the Star Wars franchise and a sudden favorite for the Oscars.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, this film with it’s immense fan following has the potential to be a game changer in the race for this years ‘Best Picture’ Academy Awards.

By the way, this film has recreated the U.S. box office record beating James Cameron‘s Avatar!

And now the films though not included in my list but are certainly fair competition for the award: Straight Outta ComptonCreedTrumboSon of SaulBlack MassThe Danish GirlLove & MercyTangerineSicarioSteve JobsThe MartianBridge of Spies and Joy.

And finally – A Thank You to the movies of 2015.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Best Biopics on Musicians (10+1list)

Best Biopics On Musicians

written by Souranath Banerjee

While watching the recent biopic Love & Mercy (2014) based on
Beach Boys lead singer Brian Wilson’s life (starring John Cusack,
love-and-mercy-posterElizabeth BanksPaul Dano and Paul Giamatti), I had this observation that the more famous the artist, the more is the chance for them to be vulnerable and gullible in their personal life.

The extremely talented Musicians who are superstars on the stage, with all the money and fame in the world but in their real life, most of them are so alone and disturbed and emotionally unstable.

Either their family lives are torn apart as a direct side-effect of fame (too much of drugs, sex and ego) or else they are being bullied, cheated, harassed or exploited by none other than their close friends and relatives.

These films in the list are some of the Best Biopics on Musicians across the world, the lives of the crazy and the genius.

Let the music flow!

10. Amadeus (1984)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIzhAKtEzY0

amadeus-poster1‘I am a vulgar man but i assure you my music is not’ – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Directed by Milos Forman, an epic biopic made on the life of arguably the best composer ever existed. 

Mozart, Music and Murder -a colorful masterpiece, nominated for 11 Oscars and won eight of them, including best picture, actor and director!

9. The Doors (1991)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU0tR0EjAXA

doors-posterJim Morrison, the God of Rock – the story of his eccentric life; the madness and the genius.

Starring Val Kilmer and Meg Ryan, the film perfectly captures the energy, the style and the vibrant personality of the ‘Electric Poet’. 

Directed by brilliant Oliver Stone, a visual treat and for me, in the rock n’ roll genre this is the best biopic ever made. Watch it.

8. I’m Not There. (2007)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFUEofAr9GA

im-not-there-poster1

Christian BaleCate BlanchettHeath LedgerRichard GereBen Whishaw and Marcus Carl Franklin – six actors, six characters, one life, one artist – Bob Dylan!

Soaked in Dylan’s soulful music, it is made in a non-linear and avant garde fashion, a complete original take by director Todd Haynes

Challenging but certainly not mainstream. 

7. Walk the Line (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsvZGwd8vrI

walk-the-line-posterDirected by James Mangold, this one is a biopic on country music legend Johnny Cash’s life.

His fame and family, his love and addiction, his depression and his will to survive; his ultimate success.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon both were Oscar nominated for their outstanding performances and Reese finally won the award.

6. Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pivm4oMEDRs

coal-miners-daughter-posterThe legendary singer Loretta Lynn and how she changed the rhythm and style of country-music forever.  

From poverty to worldwide fame, her life  and her musical career is a story to be told. Starring Sissy Spacek (oscar winning role)Tommy Lee Jones and Levon Helm.

Directed by Michael Apted, this biography deserves much more attention than it received.

5. Nowhere Boy (2009)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0Qu62_vPbo

Nowhere-boy-posterDirected by Sam Taylor-Johnson, this biopic focuses on the early life of musical sensation John Lennon.

Lennon’s relationship with his aunt Mimi and his mother Julia, his love for music and how he met his friends Paul McCartney and George Harrison!

Experience the evolution of the revolution, the man behind the most popular band ever – The Beatles.

4. Ray (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVHCQfcugdw

ray-poster1Directed by Taylor Hackford, this one tells the story of Ray Charles, the legendary rhythm and blues musician of the 60s.

At the age of seven he lost his eyesight but still with his gifted voice and compositions, and his brilliance in playing the piano he became one of the most successful musicians of the time.

Jamie Foxx won Oscar for his role.

3. Control (2007)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c2_B_cWK_M

control-posterA biography of the famous lead singer of the band Joy Division – Ian Curtis.

Directed by Anton Corbijnthe film depicts the troubled life of the musical genius which ended at the young age of 23 (he committed suicide).

The film is a simple yet stylized series of black and white visuals shot brilliantly by Martin Ruhe.

2. What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbzbd2wUGao

whats-love-got-to-do-with-it-posterIt’s a biopic on Tina Turner’s courageous life, both stage and personal.

The way she shot to stardom and became famous, the tough years when she was traumatized by her abusive husband Ike Turner and finally how she managed to break free.

Directed by Brian Gibson, a film that every woman should see and take inspiration from.

  1. Shine (1996)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTt4Ar6pzO4

shine-posterPiano player David Helfgott, a child prodigy who had a breakdown early in his life but later came back and became popular. 

Directed by Scott Hicks, a film that is so intense and yet so satisfying, so true to the life of the artist.  

The prime reason to watch this biopic is for Geoffrey Rush‘s brilliant performance for which he won the Oscar that year!

and now, (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch).

+1. La Vie en Rose (2007)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzEJ7NV_g98

vie-en-rose-posterA superb biopic on Édith Piaf‘s life, the famous French singer.

With the ever-beautiful Marion Cotillard in the lead, the film takes us into a nonlinear journey of the vulnerable yet talented singer’s childhood, then her rise to fame and the various ups and downs of her life. 

Directed by Olivier Dahan, a great work of passion and emotion.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.festivalinla.com.

Katharine Hepburn – from ‘box office poison’ to ‘greatest female star’ of hollywood

Katharine Hepburn – from ‘box office poison’ to ‘greatest female star’ of Hollywood.

written by Souranath Banerjee

After inquiring onto whom i am writing about today, one of my dear friend asked me ‘Did you mean Audrey Hepburn? I know Marilyn MonroeElizabeth Taylor, even Sophia Loren but who is Katharine Hepburn?’

Hepburn5Well, i don’t blame my friend since firstly he is not too much into Hollywood movies and secondly, lets face it – Katharine Hepburn’s visual image is not as popular as some of her contemporary heroines mentioned above.

Katharine Hepburn was neither a style-icon like Audrey Hepburn, nor a diva like Marilyn or a sexy siren like Elizabeth Taylor or Sofia Loren.

But undoubtedly she was one damn good actress!

A career that ran for more than six decades, in which she was nominated 12 times for the Oscars in the ‘Best Actress’ category and won 4 of them. This is the record maximum number of Oscars won by any performer (actor/actress) till date.

Hepburn4In 1999, Katharine Hepburn was named by the American Film Institute as the ‘greatest female star in Hollywood History’, beating popular actresses like Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman for the top spot.

Her career though began with initial success wasn’t all smooth and up-hill throughout her life.

Within a couple of years into Hollywood, Katharine won her first Oscar for her performance in Morning Glory (1933). It was her third film!

But then her career took a down fall and most of her films didn’t do well in the box-office. And on top of that she had problems with the press. She was too straightforward (often rude) to the reporters and the american audience didn’t seem to like her attitude. 

Hepburn-Stewart-posterEventually her unpopular image was blamed for most of her film’s failures and the Hollywood big-shot Production Houses reacted to it.

Katharine Hepburn was soon termed as the ‘box office poison’ and her film offers quickly dried out.

But it was certainly not the end of her career; far from it.

She planned her mega-comeback with the help of Howard Hughes (her partner at the time) who bought her the rights of the famous play The Philadelphia Story.

the-philadelphia-story-posterKatharine eventually sold the film-rights of the play to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on condition that she would be the star of the film. She also choose the director (George Cukor) and the stars Cary Grant and James Stewart.

In the film The Philadelphia Story (1940) she skillfully crafted her character so that the audience would laugh at her and eventually sympathize. And that’s exactly what happened!

The film became the top grossing movie of that year; she was nominated for the Oscars for her brilliant performance but more importantly she was welcomed back by the press and the audience.

lion-in-winter-posterAnd then there was no looking back for Hepburn. Throughout the 50s and the mid 60s she gave one hit after another – The African QueenSummertime, The RainmakerSuddenly, Last SummerLong Day’s Journey Into Night and many more. For most of these films she was nominated at the Oscars!

But her real success came in the late 60s when she bagged two back to back Oscars for the films Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968). She scooped another Oscar towards the end of her career for the film On Golden Pond (1981). 

Tracy-Hepburn-posterHepburn was a very private person, never liked to be bothered by reporters or her fans. Her twenty-seven years relationship with Spencer Tracy was kept a secret from the public for a long time!

Though married once early in her life Hepburn never had any children. She believed that motherhood to be a full-time commitment and said she was not ready for it.

She was claimed to be an headstrong person who was honest and blunt with her comments. She had great work ethics and was always enthusiastic about her projects.

Hepburn3Films, theaters, television – she kept herself busy with work till the last years of her life.

On June 29, 2003 when Katharine Hepburn died (at the age of 96), American president George W. Bush said Hepburn “will be remembered as one of the nation’s artistic treasures.” 

Her witty remarks were always impressive.

“I strike people as peculiar in some way, although I don’t quite understand why. Of course, I have an angular face, an angular body and, I suppose, an angular personality, which jabs into people.” 

PS – Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film The Aviator (2004) which was made on life of Howard HughesCate Blanchett‘s portrayed Katharine Hepburn. And that makes Cate the first performer to win an Oscar for playing a real-life Oscar Winner!

A few famous scenes from the film The Philadelphia Story.

Best of Martin Scorsese

Best of Martin Scorsese.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Superlative adjectives like ‘most significant’, ‘most influential’, ‘the best director of our times’, ‘the greatest storyteller’, all begin to make sense when used in context of the one and only – Martin Scorsese.

The man with thick black, bushy eyebrows who has managed to won every prestigious awards that exists in this world (Academy Award, a Palme d’OrCannes Film Festival Best Director AwardSilver LionGrammy AwardEmmysGolden GlobesBAFTAsDGA Awards and even the AFI Life Achievement Award).

Directed almost 60 films till date, Scorsese is also renowned as a producer, screenwriter, actor, and film historian.

His innovative styles of filmmaking are taught in every film-school all over the world; one of the very few directors whose films are both commercially and critically acclaimed.

Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprioHarvey Keitel are some of the actors with whom Martin Scorsese has worked the most and together they created some legendary cinema.

But for now i have listed some of his best feature films (no shorts or documentaries in this list).

Let the fun begin.

1. The Departed (2006)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auYbpnEwBBg

departed-poster

A remake of Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002), an ultimate game of deceit between an cop and a mole in the police department. 

Along with Leonardo DiCaprio we have Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson, what a combination of actors and such brilliant performances!

Four Oscar wins including best director award for Scorsese.

2. Casino (1995)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJXDMwGWhoA

casino-poster

Robert De NiroSharon Stone (got an Academy Award nomination for her role) and of course Joe Pesci – and a hard hitting story of power and greed.

One of the most violent films that Scorsese ever made and it’s also the eighth and final collaboration with Robert De Niro

Best Casino drama ever!

3. Gangs of New York (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5YmI2PW9R8

gnags-of-newyork-poster

Nominated in ten categories in the Oscars, an extraordinary period film that has it’s own cult following.

Leonardo DiCaprioCameron Diaz and  Daniel Day-Lewis (as Bill ‘The Butcher’) at their very best.

A revenge drama; a boy who returns to kill his father’s murderer.

And also with this film starts the actor/director bonding between DiCaprio and Scorsese.

4. Mean Streets (1973)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCwjzn0CncA

mean-streets-poster

One of Scorsese’s earliest classics and in this one Scorsese works with Robert De Niro for the first time.

Harvey Keitel along with David Proval gives terrific performances. 

A gang of friends, small time hoods who hustle and try to make a living in the mean streets of New York.

Extensive use of hand-held camera and also camera-strapped-to-the-body technique for drunken effect.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idAVRvQeYAE

The-Wolf-of-Wall-Street-PosterFive Oscar nominations and the most entertaining film of recent times!

Leonardo DiCaprio along with Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey gives out their best.

Based on a wealthy stockbroker Jordan Belfort’s exciting life, the film is a roller-coaster ride of unlimited money, crime, drugs, sex, corruption and sheer madness.  

6. Goodfellas (1990)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo5jJpHtI1Y

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Six Academy Award nominations and Joe Pesci winning the Oscar in the ‘best actor in a supporting role’ category. 

Outstanding performance by Robert De Niro and for Ray Liotta – his best role ever. 

Based on the life of Henry Hill, this film is regarded as one of the greatest gangster drama. Extreme use of curse words and violence but highly entertaining as well.

7. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJKxg4p-Alk

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Controversial yet brilliant, this one is Scorsese’s most courageous project till date.

Willem Dafoe superbly portrays the pain and joy of Christ. Harvey Keitel and Barbara Hershey at their best. 

Based on Nikos Kazantzakis‘s novel, the story of Christ and his last and final temptation on the cross. 

8. The King of Comedy (1982)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wVhCCo02P4

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An ambitious comedian who disrupts  famous celebrity Jerry Lewis‘s private life.

This film is very different from Scorsese’s general trend; a perfect black comedy with subtle dialogues and awesome acting.

According to Scorsese himself this was Robert De Niro‘s best performance under his direction.

9. The Aviator (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FebPJlmgldE

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A take on the life of eccentric genius film director Howard Hughes who is also ‘the aviator’!

Leonardo DiCaprioCate Blanchett (won the Oscar as the best supporting actress) and Kate Beckinsale have given their best. Acting debut of singer Gwen Stefani as well.

A biopic that had total eleven Oscar nominations and five wins!

10. Raging Bull (1980)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiVOwxsa4OM

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Robert De Niro plays the famous boxer Jake LaMotta (for which he won the best actor Oscar) and Joe Pesci (his brother) and Cathy Moriarty (his wife).

Best boxing movie ever made which had eight Oscar nominations and two wins.

De Niro gained a record 60 pounds to look the part. A violent life both in and out of the ring portrayed to perfection.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique and crazy one. A must watch).

+1. Taxi Driver (1976)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cujiHDeqnHY

taxidriver-posterA mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran, a nighttime taxi driver in New York, an obsessed man with a mission, a violent man with good intentions. 

Robert De Niro nominated for the Academy Awards, undoubtedly best performance of his lifetime. Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel at their best.

The director won the prestigious Palme d’Or award for this film.

How to train your dragon 2 (2014)

My Ratings: 4/5

How to train your dragon 2 is Dream Work’s sequel to their earlier immensely popular film by the same name (of course without the ‘2’).

Think twice before you say ‘the sky is the limit’ since the Vikings from the island of Berk have no limitations when it comes to riding their dragons at lightning speed; soaring up through the clear blue sky either for an entertaining  sheep-scoring game or may be just for an adventurous ride in search of unknown territories.

In How to train your dragon 2 the bonding between Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his leathery pet dragon Toothless is undoubtedly the spine of the film but that’s not all – this sequel promises to be much bigger and better.

With voices of Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett and Jonah Hill (just to name a few) and a superb story-line that’s amusing and emotional at the same time, How to train your dragon 2 successfully manages to awe not only their target audience group – the children but also the adults.

In one hand it is the touching story of reunion – Valka (who devoted her life to protect dragons) meets her family after twenty years – young Hiccup (her son) and Stoick, the Viking chief (her husband). A perfect little love story lost and found.

On the other hand it is the tale of an epic battle fought when an evil madman Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) challenges the Vikings with his dragon army.

How to train your dragon 2 has dragons of all shapes and sizes you can possibly imagine – from the two mammoth size alpha dragons who can freeze entire townships by their frosty breaths, to the little fun-loving dragon cubs impossible to tame.

Technically the best work in computer graphics I have seen till date.

Details in textures, super-smooth animation and brilliant camera work to give the audience the ultimate 3D experience especially in the numerous dragon-flying sequences.

Director Dean DeBlois and his team have done an amazing job.

Overall How to train your dragon 2 (in 3D) is visually spectacular, has a great story line and most importantly entertaining.

How often have you seen kids nagging their parents for a repeat show of a film while coming out of the cinema hall?

Do enjoy the show.

Film trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9a4PvzlqoQ

Best of Woody Allen

Best of Woody Allen.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Personally a big fan of Woody Allan – the man who redefined classy, witty comedy in the history of World Cinema.

He is a Writer, Director, Actor, Musician – directed more than 45 feature films and still going strong.

And here is a list of Woody Allen’s best films of all times. Do let me know if you agree with me or even if you don’t.

10. Bananas (1971)

WA - BananasThis is one of his early films where Woody is willing to do anything stupid and funny to make you laugh. His effort of slapstick comedy punched with clever sarcasm works fine and yes – it does make us laugh.

This film is packed with humorous one liners and jokes as Woody attempts to make fun of the third world political scenario.

Just sit back and get entertained.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyqm-wWnX0A

9. Take the Money and Run (1969)

WAWA - Take the money and run

I laughed my ass off while watching  this film. It’s Woody’s second film (in a way his first proper feature film) and it’s a laugh riot.

In a mock-documentary style Woody portrays the life story of a petty criminal who unfortunately couldn’t master the knack of stealing.

Superb story telling and probably one of his most funny films ever.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yNhsuxqMXk

8. Match Point (2005)

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Scarlett Johansson – one cannot help but fall in love with her.

In this film (besides Tennis) we learn  that it’s all about luck – as Jonathan Rhys Meyers says “I’d rather be lucky than good”.

But what happens when you are about to get lucky and love (or may be lust) threatens to ruin it all?

Suspense and drama, love and betrayal, cool and sexy. Just love it.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wISRAOb6xm0

7. Deconstructing Harry (1997)

WA - Deconstructing Harry

A person too neurotic in his real life can only survive through his art. One of Woody’s most criticized films perhaps but again hilariously funny. I love it.

Woody creates a strange world where – being ‘out of focus’ is the new illness, unfaithful couples fuck in-front of the blind grandma, therapists need therapies themselves, where hookers give the best advice and ‘hell’ seems to be a cool place to hangout.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9wYgL-Mglw

6. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

WA - Vicky Christina Barcelona

Love, passion, lust and romance all shaken and stirred to make this unique cocktail – a film that celebrates relationships of all kinds.

Rebecca HallScarlett JohanssonJavier Bardem, Penélope Cruz – all hot and happening in Barcelona.

I dig this film for it’s superb characterizations and the sexy story telling.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-RdUcXAKiw

5. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

WA - Crimes and Misdemeanors

An excellent take on infidelity, felony, guilt and justice (God’s justice to be more precise).

Woody presents us with the perfect fusion of wit and serious drama; undoubtedly one of his best screenplays.

The film was nominated for Oscars in  three categories including ‘Best Direction’.  On of my all time favorites.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wXqwL3akhw

4. Blue Jasmine (2013)

WA - Blue Jasmine

The very recent one and again a masterpiece.

Comic yet brutal, a story of delusional Jasmine who struggles to cope with her sudden climb down on the social ladder.

Script writing at it’s best by Woody  – great actors, fine music and the elegant Cate Blanchett ( she won the Oscar for her role and so well deserved).

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FER3C394aI8

3. Manhattan (1979)

WA - ManhattanOne of the best shot black and white films i have ever seen – a story of relationships and a lot more.

An insight into a love story between a 42 year old man and a 17 year old girl, now the same man also falls in love with his best friend’s mistress!!

How crazy can it go than this?

A treat to your eyes and one of the most classy works of Woody.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7N7aAFRIz4

2. Annie Hall (1977)

WA - Annie HallAnd now the film for which Woody Allen is best known for. Won four Oscars including ‘Best film’ and ‘best director’.

The ultimate romantic comedy – starts with the nervous attempts to find love, then a funny yet complicated relationship and finally to loose it all.

A film you can watch over and over … a genuine love story.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBzHphcc2Jw

1. Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

WA - Sweet and lowdownThe story of ‘the second best jazz guitarist in the world’ – Sean Penn and Samantha Morton at their best. This film engages you with the classic Chaplin like emotions – laughter with a hint of sadness in it.

Great music. Innovative story telling. Superb acting.

Probably the most underrated film of Woody Allen but for me – it’s his best creation till date.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6stUcaJx5f4

and

(The ‘+1’ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most crazy one. A must watch).

+1. Zelig (1983)

WA - ZeligA brilliant ‘mockumentary’ – very clever, sophisticated and of course funny. Woody plays the ‘human chameleon’ – a person with identity crisis, who resembles anyone in whose company he finds himself.

An unique idea and skillfully executed, a perfect satire of the current society.

The film was much ahead of it’s time; one of my personal favorites.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agkCEOHQVgg

When Blue Jasmine rides A streetcar named Desire!

When Blue Jasmine rides A streetcar named Desire!

written by Souranath Banerjee

As I was watching the 1951 classic A Streetcar Named Desire (again), this time I couldn’t help but pause over this particular dialogue.

“Why, I guess he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume”

Vivien Leigh in a state of nervous humor voiced the above quoted line to define Marlon Brando’s character in the film.

In 2013 (after more than 60 years) the name ‘Jasmine’ used by Woody Allen for the lead character in his latest film Blue Jasmine doesn’t seem all like a coincidence after all – huh?

A-Streetcar-Named-Desire-poster5In 1951 little did Vivien Leigh knew that Miss Blanche du Bois (the name of her character in A Streetcar Named Desire) would rise like a phoenix from the ashes of it’s past Oscar glory (Vivien Leigh won the Oscar in the best actress category that year) and soar high to the same heights (since Cate Blanchett also won the Oscar in the best actress category) – only this time her name would be Jasmine.

Yes, in 2013 Woody Allen directed Blue Jasmine which in many ways is a modern and superficial comic version of the age-old classic A streetcar named desire directed by Elia Kazan. And Cate Blanchett masterfully plays the delusional sister (Jasmine) who has lost everything in life and yet awaits to loose a lot more. 

Basic story structure. (This fits perfectly for both the films)

Blue-Jasmine-poster-touch-upsIt is the story of a middle-aged woman who is robbed from her wealth, relations and social status; she comes to stay with her sister (her only family) in a desperate effort to live a better life.

She is too classy and refined for her new environment and thus has difficulty to cope up with her sister’s middle-class husbands/boyfriends. In her desperate attempt to survive she tries her best to fall in love. But unfortunately her scandalous past creeps up and crushes her sugary dreams of a satisfying future.

In the end she is more damaged than ever; delusional, helpless and alone in this unsympathetic world. A slow and brutal tale of human degradation, of failure and disappointment marvelously captured by both Elia Kazan and Woody Allen through their individualistic cinematic approach.

Personally I am so disturbed by the tragic ending(s). In a way it’s so real and possible – that’s why all the more scary.

 Jasmine Vs Blanche.

The basic contrast between Jasmine (in Blue Jasmine) and Blanche (in A streetcar named desire) lies in the core reason of their complexity.

streetcar-named-desire-poster1For instance Jasmine’s primary problem is the forced degradation of her social status/class. She declares herself broke but couldn’t get rid of her past expensive habits of flying first-class, tipping her taxi driver extra-good, carrying expensive fashionable bags; and she has also lost touch of actually working for a living.

On the other hand Blanche’s principal complication is related to her own fading looks (the negative effects of aging) which according to her leads to lack of companionship. She needs make-up and hot baths in regular intervals; extremely conscious about her looks, she craves compliments for her face, figure, hair, clothes, jewelries …

They were both happy in their own worlds but alas! – they are bankrupt and they both carry the burden of the tainted hidden secrets from their pasts. Their back-stories are pretty different but equally disturbing and they often intend to survive their past memories by having a drink or two.

“Who do you have to sleep with around here to get a Stoli martini with a twist of lemon?” – Jasmine.

Blue-Jasmine-posterAt the very beginning Jasmine flies from New York to San Francisco to her sister’s place blabbering all about her broken life story, then she takes the regular taxi to arrive at her destination. Whereas Blanche takes the train from Auriol to New Orleans and then takes the dramatically named streetcar called Desire to reach her destination.

Blanche gets to arrive in a much more dramatic way (even her first appearance is very noticeable as she mysteriously appears from behind the smokes and the crowd).

I feel that the amount of emotional drama is much more heightened as Elia Kazan (very much intentionally) compels us to take a roller-coaster ride through a series of extreme melodramatic highs and lows of emotions in his film A street car named desire. On contrary in Blue Jasmine (I am sure it’s again a deliberate decision) Woody Allen keeps all of it a tad subtle and wickedly comic, but mind you the overall emotional effect the film delivers is not played softly at all.

street-car-named-desire-posterThough Jasmine doesn’t have to face any physical violence (rape) as compared to unfortunate Blanche, but the rejection from their respective lovers, the dismissal from their sisters as well as the rest of the society is enough for them to loose their mind completely.

In Blue Jasmine the informative flashbacks are cleverly used in regular intervals to break the linear pattern of storytelling. Whereas in A streetcar named desire the vocal echo of certain words and memories (and also the sound of a shot fired) are beautifully layered as a continuous remembrance of the past and a constant proof of Blanche’s unstable mind.

And lastly the brilliant use of music – Blue Moon and the polka tune of Varsouviana.

Blue-jasmine-poster1Blanche (Vivien Leigh) often in a melancholy way felt nostalgic recalling the music to which she danced the Varsouviana; sometimes she would even imagine the same polka-tune playing in her head, the one they were playing in the Moon Lake Casino that tragic night when soon after her young lover Allan committed suicide.

On the other hand a unique way of portraying Jasmine’s blue world, Woody Allen used the song ‘Blue Moon’ not only as a music piece but a simple link to Jasmine’s once happy past; the song which was playing when she first met her husband Hal at a party. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) repeats this romantic ‘Blue Moon’ story five times throughout the film to anyone who would care (or dare) to listen, and each time you cannot help but smile at her – a sad smile perhaps.

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Poster courtesy: www.imdb.comwww.impawards.com.