1. Into The Wild
This movie is nothing short of epic. An adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s fascinating novel of the same name, Into the Wild follows the adventures of Christopher McCandless and his tryst with the Alaskan wilderness. Fresh out of law school, McCandless’ decision to abandon his parents and his life of privilege in his pursuit of joy in communion with nature, will leave you with a similar kind of yearning. Into The Wild is a movie about the desire for freedom that feels, in itself, like the fulfilment of that desire.
2. The Truman Show
Watching this movie will undoubtedly leave you questioning your reality and the life you call your own. The Truman Show is a brilliantly-conceived satire around the life of Truman Burbank, whose life is a reality TV show, and has been on air since his birth. Providing an apt commentary on reality and free will, The Truman Show , depicts a character who challenges – and ultimately escapes from – a contrived world that is an invention of the media.
What on the surface appears to be a movie with a very jarring depiction of racial tension in America in the wake of 9/11, Crash brings out the nuances and complexities of human nature, and how! Mirroring the various shades of the human personality, this movie is an exploration of prejudice. Crash provides a strikingly apt portrait of stereotypes and is bound to make you think twice before making snap judgements about people you encounter.
4. The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption is an ode to hope. The undisputed leader on IMDB’s top 250, this classic follows Andy Dufresne during his 19 years of prison life and how his perseverance helps him escape the drudgeries of the Shawshank Prison. The movie indeed is about redemption, and as Andy escapes, you realize how important it is to keep faith and persevere. Because, you either “g et busy living, or get busy dying” .
5. Waking Life
High on philosophical content, Waking Life is one of the most brilliant movies ever made. As the nameless protagonist trudges through the dreamlike state he cannot seem to awaken from, he encounters people, sometimes a mute witness to monologues, sometimes engaging in conversation about a variety of subjects like reality, free will, anarchy, suicide, and cinema, all of which the animation vividly illustrates. Richard Linklater’s animated masterpiece, with a very aptly eerie soundtrack, is bound to leave you intrigued.
Based on Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir, Wild traces the journey of a lost soul on the path to recovery. What fuels this journey is the mission statement: ” I’m going to walk myself back to the woman my mother thought I was.” This movie is once again a reiteration of the importance of perseverance and a celebration of the strength of the human spirit.
7. Pay It Forward
Pay It Forward is an inspiring story of an 11-year-old boy who starts a project of practicing kindness and compassion that spreads to others. While in the real world, the abundance in the practice of selfishness might overtake altruism, there is no price to pay for wishful thinking, is there? Pay It Forward is a movie that makes you yearn for a better world where there is a pay-it-forward scheme of kindness, and inspires you to try and do the same.
8. Dead Poets Society
A depiction of a clash between realism and romanticism, juxtaposed with a conflict between traditional and conservative values, Dead Poets Society is Robin Williams at his best. A true inspiration, this movie will make you question the social and political norms that define your life. Dead Poets Society encourages you to dream and urges you to not be lazy in the pursuit of your aspirations.
9. Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful is a heart-rending depiction of the extent that a parent will go to ensure protection for their child from trauma and the horrors of life, and show to them that life is beautiful no matter what. While the first part of the film is purely comedy, the second half smiles through tears.
10. Fight Club
David Fincher’s groundbreaking adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel bearing the same name, Fight Club is a movie plagued by madness, in the best possible way. This dark comedy delves into the head of the insomniac protagonist, who in his attempt to feel something resorts to violence and terrorism, all under the influence of a projection of his subconscious. A roller coaster ride, Fight Club urges you to challenge the status quo and become more aware of the dehumanizing effects of consumerism.
11. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Built around the theme of Alexander Pope’s iconic quote, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a love story like no other. Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey portray a pair of estranged lovers in their attempt to obliterate each other from their memories, and beautifully bring out the intricacies of relationships and the pain of loss. This movie will leave you heartbroken with the realization of the overwhelming repercussions of falling in love and the attempt to abandon it.
12. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is a heartwarming story of a man who will leave you inspired with his childlike optimism. It is a meditation on our times, as seen through the eyes of a man who lacks cynicism and takes things for exactly what they are. Tom Hanks’ performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, in a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths.
13. (500) Days of Summer
With The Smiths setting the mood of the film, (500) Days of Summer begins with the disclaimer that even though it is the story of boy-meets-girl, it is NOT a love story. The movie follows the hopeless romantic Tom Hansen, played by the ever-so-charming Joseph Gordon Levitt, in his quest for love. After his girlfriend breaks up with him, Tom is left reflecting on the days spent with her and where and how their relationship went sour. And in his reflections, the movie hits home the realization that sometimes we’re so engrossed in the idea of the person we’re in love with, we tend to overlook the telltale signs that they are in fact not ‘the one’.
14. Seven Years in Tibet
Seven Years in Tibet is an ambitious and beautiful movie revolving around the travels of an arrogant Austrian mountaineer played by Brad Pitt, who discovers himself and learns selflessness from the young Dalai Lama. It is a stirring tale of a bond that grows between two strangers, and Harrer’s discovery of a world beyond his own ego. Seven Years in Tibet is a spiritual journey you should not miss out on.
15. Life of Pi
This adventure drama is based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same name. A critical and commercial success, the storyline revolves around an Indian man living in Canada, narrating his life story about how at 16, he survives a shipwreck in which his family dies, and is stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Royal Bengal Tiger. This movie faces you with a choice: whether you are a person that prefers to believe things in the way that they appear, or are you amongst those who believe in miracles. There are no right or wrong answers – just an opportunity for introspection.
16. Thank You for Smoking
This Jason Reitman movie starring Aaron Eckhart is based on the satirical comedy of the same name. It follows the life of Nick Naylor who earns a living lobbying for cigarettes. He backs his case using research – ironically funded by tobacco companies – to suggest that there is no definite connection between smoking and lung cancer. It’s not just what the movie is about, it’s about how the protagonist convincingly makes a case for a subject that is so blatantly outrageous. Some of the arguments are sensational, you really don’t know how to refute it.
17. The Kings of Summer
One of the coolest, most inspiring movies of 2013 The Kings of Summer is a coming-of-age comedy-drama. Exploring the themes of friendship, teenage love and growing up, this movie is bound to move you with its sheer rawness and honesty.