The Ultimate Watchlist - 100 Films That You Cannot Miss

Leading filmmakers, actors and critics list must-watch movies from across time, genre, language and geography
The Ultimate Watchlist - 100 Films That You Cannot Miss

Lockdown is a great time to discover new films, whether popular movies you haven't got around to watching yet or hidden gems you just hadn't heard of before. We compiled the best recommendations from filmmakers, actors and critics for this list of 100 movies from across time, genre, language and geography to keep you entertained:

1. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) 

Director: Juan José Campanella

Recommended by: Sriram Raghavan

This is an Argentinian movie. It's about this guy who is an investigator for a lawyer. He loves her but he can't tell her. Many years later, he comes back to write about an unsolved case and by now, she's become a judge. So it's their love story but it's also an investigation. It's got a mind-blowing sequence in which a suspect is caught at a football match.

2. Thanga Pathakkam (1974)

Director: P Madhavan

Recommended by: Mysskin

This is the first movie that inspired me. When people talk about my films, they speak of Anjathey, and its structure is quite similar to Thanga Pathakkam. I saw Thanga Pathakkam about 10 to 15 times, and then wrote the plot line of Anjathey. I saw a lot of conflict in the wants and needs of the protagonist. A father is in a position where he must kill his son and I was stunned by the thought behind the film. As a scriptwriter, I find Mahendran sir (he wrote Thanga…) one of the greatest. With this script, he made Sivaji, an expressive actor, deliver a restrained performance. Thanga Pathakkam was a film that inspired me in every possible way. 

3. Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963)

Director: Vijay Anand 

Recommended by: Ayushmann Khurrana 

This film starred Dev Anand and Nutan. I love this film and the soundtrack. I still remember that song called 'Dil Ka Bhanwar Kare Pukaar', which was shot at Qutub Minar. You're not even allowed to shoot there now.

4. Drinking Buddies (2013)

Director: Joe Swanberg 

Recommended by: Shakun Batra 

This movie is not a classic. It changed my take on how I wanted to approach performances. The director is one of the people who initiated the mumblecore filmmaking in America. It's a modern take on male-female relationships but is not a romantic comedy. The movie tries to explore the line between friendship and physical attraction. It has no shock value and is very real in its structure. It's a very unconventional screenplay and I think that is what I really liked. It's not about twists and turns, rather it is about internal conflicts. The camera style in this film is very personal and intimate.

5. Talk To Her (2002)

Director: Pedro Almodovar 

Recommended by: Baradwaj Rangan

This 2002 film is one of the most twisted and most obsessive love stories of all time. The narrative is about two men who strike up a friendship in the hospital because their wives are in a coma. Talk to Her is about the mysteries of human behaviour, which is what we call life at the end of the day.

6. Sant Tukaram (1936) 

Director: Vishnupant Damle 

Recommended by: Amol Gupte 

This was the first film with children at the centre that actually touched me. It was path-breaking for India as well. Picked for a special recommendation at Venice Film Festival, it is a Marathi film from Prabhat Studios made by Vishnupant Damle, a sound designer and Sheikh Fattelal, an art director. It's such an uplifting experience because it gives you a slice of such pristine, simple, honest, emotive life. It reminds me of F. W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927) about a single farming family.

7. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) 

Director: John Carpenter 

Recommended by: Patrick Graham 

One of the daddies of siege-thrillers. This film is just so cool, understated and sinister to this very day. With one of the best film-scores ever made and a coldness and matter-of-factness to it that just seems to work. Whenever I'm thinking of siege-thrillers and trying to come up with ideas I have the amazing score by John Carpenter pumping from my speakers full blast. Fuck my neighbours.

8. Offside (2006)

Director: Jafar Panahi

Recommended by: Srijit Mukherji

As a cricket buff, how I wish the backdrop of this film could have been cricket instead of football. But the global phenomenon, the universal language of sports as expressed in football made it the obvious choice. And in any case, sports just forms one layer in the second Jafar Panahi film on this list. Offside is really a film about social reality and emancipation of women in a society like Iran where it is illegal for women to attend a men's football game. And how a girl in disguise of a boy attempts to watch the 2006 World Cup qualifier between Iran and Bahrain. An intriguing set of events later, which are ironic, funny, sad and heartwarming at the same time, the film draws to an unusual and calm end. And I fall in love with it every single time I watch it.

9. C/O Kancharapalem (2018)

Director: Venkatesh Maha 

Recommended by: Anupama Chopra 

C/O Kancharapalem is a film about four love stories. But director Venkatesh Maha is also commenting on religion, gender and dignity in labour. At the centre of it is a man called Raju who's almost 50 years old and still unmarried. Everyone in Kancharapalem even has a meeting to discuss why he isn't married. This is a film with incredible female characters. There is a prostitute named Salima. When a man proposes to her, she rebuffs him saying, 'Oh you think you are some big hero offering to rescue me from this job that I have chosen to do'. It's a very special film.

10. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 

Director: Elia Kazan 

Recommended by: Imtiaz Ali 

It really felt like Marlon Brando was going through the emotions of his character and the relationship this man was in. It felt so strong and passionate.

11. Kannathil Muthamittal (2002)

Director: Mani Ratnam

Recommended by: Karthick Naren

Mani Ratnam's film taught me about the aftertaste of films. That is the one factor we have to be very conscious about. Christopher Nolan said in an interview that the ending of a film is important, because after a film is over, our mind will take five minutes to process what we just saw. That's why we have to get to the ending first before we get to the beginning, he said. In Kannathil Muthamittal, that aftertaste was really strong when Nandita Das walks away after the confrontation and there's a freeze frame where the three of them are under an umbrella and the song Vellai Pookal starts. The way in which emotions were conveyed in that film was top-notch.

12. High and Low (1963) 

Director: Akira Kurosawa 

It's amazing what he does with the concept of rich and poor. It's a very theoretical film. He has made a film based half in an apartment and half based out in the slums. You think, 'How are they going to make it work?'and they make it work. He says a lot of things about society in Japan. It's magnificent that he's so brilliant as a technician as well.

13. I Heart Huckabees (2004) 

Director: David O. Russell 

Recommended by: Nag Ashwin 

I randomly found this film about 5 years ago and I think it's definitely one of the most funny yet philosophical movies that I've ever seen. It was very transformative. I loved that a movie can talk about something so existential in such a ridiculously comic way.

14. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Director: Roberto Benigni 

Recommended by: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari 

I always go back to this movie time and again because it talks about the hardships and how a father makes sure that the world in the boy's point of view is as beautiful as ever. The film makes me realise that it is okay to be simple and okay to tell stories in the most simplistic way and still be happy about it. The emotions of the father, mother and the son all resonate with me and makes me want to go back because emotions are universal and it doesn't matter from where you belong to.

15. Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969) 

Recommended by: Srijit Mukherji 

There is nothing much to say about Ray's genius as encapsulated perfectly in Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, which hasn't been said before. An adapation of a fairly simple children's tale about a couple of village bumpkins and a king by his grandfather Upendrakishore into a full blown, grand fairy tale at one level. At another level, one of the most lyrical anti-war films the world has ever seen. At a third, as a huge commercially successful film which held box office records for years. And at a fourth level, possibly one of the finest musicals ever made where the entire songs were composed, scored and written by the auteur. This has a sweet personal memory too, as the only film songs we were allowed to sing and hear in the school premises apart from Tagore songs, were the songs from Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne and Hirak Rajar Deshe.

16. Citizen Kane (1941)

Director: Orson Welles 

Recommended by: Rana Daggubati 

Every director I grew up with said – please sit and watch Citizen Kane. When you're younger it can feel boring but as I kept watching it over the years it became a very strong influence. It's a film that teaches you how to build a character on screen. I think that's why there's so much academic interest in it. It's by no means my favourite film, but no matter what I do, I find myself quoting this movie and coming back to it.

17. Satya (1998) 

Recommended by: Abhishek Chaubey

Satya was the first film I saw in Mumbai. I was just fresh off the boat and as raw as you can be. I was an RGV fan even before that because I loved Rangeela. The style of Satya and the way the story is told is something that we can take for granted now but way back then, few filmmakers straddled the mainstream and the arthouse successfully. Satya was completely original. The long steadicam takes that the film had were things we had not seen anywhere and that edginess blew me away. I can still watch this film even today.

18. Chungking Express (1994) 

Director: Wong Kar-wai

Recommended by: Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK

It's our favourite Wong Kar-wai film. A lot of people pick In the Mood For Love but the play with structure, the quirky playful touch and the song 'California Dreamin' kind of puts this ahead for us.

19. Muthal Mariyathai (1985)

Director: Bharathiraja 

Recommended by: Dhanush 

It's one of the best films ever made in Tamil Cinema or even in India or the world. There is a scene in which Sivaji is eating fish and he gets emotional because of the leading lady's hospitality and the food, which reminds him of his mother. It's a very touching scene.

20. The Full Monty (1997)

Director: Peter Cattaneo 

Recommended by: Konkona Sen Sharma 

The Full Monty is one my most favourite films ever. I think it's funny, subtle and yet really nuanced. It's about a group of unemployed men who decide to get involved in the stripping business to earn a living.

21. Satan's Slaves (2017)

Director: Joko Anwar

Recommended by: Ashwin Saravanan

It's an Indonesian film that's The Conjuring of Asian cinema. It's a fun film that has plenty of dread, a couple of very good jump scares. It's a very enjoyable, entertaining film that you can feel exhilarated by. 

22. Trance (2020)

Director: Anwar Rasheed

Recommended by: Anupama Chopra

Trance is a flawed but fascinating Malayalam film directed by Anwar Rasheed, starring Fahadh Faasil. He plays Viju, a small town motivational speaker. Through a strange turn of events, he meets this shady corporation in Mumbai and they train him to be a fake priest who stages miracles as a way of getting money out of gullible people. The entire narrative is a meditation on spirituality, and it's also a psychological drama because Viju is depressed himself. You have to watch it because Fahadh Faasil is one of the best actors working right now. Trance is too long but it's wonderful also because of all the things it is trying to do.

23. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Director: Peter Weir 

Recommended by: Gautham Vasudev Menon 

My father used to watch this film a lot. He told me that I would instantly get the essence of the film once I watched it. It immediately resonated with me. Whenever I want to zone out and watch something, then I watch Dead Poets Society. Even watching a few scenes is good, just to see the way it was filmed, the writing, the mood and the restrained performances.

24. Thevar Magan (1992)

Director: Bharathan

Recommended by: Mysskin

A film which I appreciate for its music, performances and script is Thevar Magan. In my opinion, Bharathan is India's best director. He is an artiste and this film is an artistic achievement. Kamal Haasan wrote it, and I consider it one of the greatest scripts written in Indian cinema.The peculiar thing about the film is that with the character Sakthivel, you can notice Joseph Campbell's 'The Hero's Journey' written into the script. When he comes to the village, you see him jumping off the train dancing but when he leaves, he leaves as a saviour, humbled and refusing any attention, to board a train to serve his sentence. I've never seen such a script ever in Indian cinema. People saw it as a commercial film and never really appreciated it. Whenever I write, I try to etch out the journey of the protagonist like in Thevar Magan.

25. Downfall (2004) 

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel 

Recommended by: Sriram Raghavan 

It's a German film about Hitler's last few days in a bunker. it's neither pro nor anti Nazi – it just tells you what happened. You'll actually feel like you're with Hitler in the bunker. It has a great scene in which Hitler loses it at his men and that's somehow become a meme and been parodied for so many things.

26. Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore 

Recommended by: Nagraj Manjule 

I could relate so much to this film. Seeing the boy who secretly watches the film in the theatre and looks at the film reel, I cried a lot. What I loved is how a small little boy can be the hero of the film. Even as the film progressed, I could relate to the film so much because even I became a director. I connected with the child's instinct to watch films by any means possible. I have watched the film at least two or three times.

27. State of Grace (1990) 

Director: Phil Joanou & Michael Lee Baron 

Recommended by: Arjun Kapoor

This film lies largely in the same milieu as The Departed. It is a very cool gangster film. It has a very interesting take on friendships and Gary Oldman really came into being because of this film. It has Sean Penn and Ed Harris and is an amazing film. I believe it's a film that has gotten lost.

28. The Haunting (1963) 

Director: Robert Wise 

Recommended by: Patrick Graham 

Sixty years before Mike Flanagan's The Haunting of Hill House was the original adaptation of Shirley Jackson's incredible novella. The book itself is easily the most scary reading experience I've ever had at the tender age of 14, and will never be beaten. The faithful adaptation was made with innovative and technologically advanced flair back in 1963 by no less than the editor of Citizen Kane (and director of The Sound of Music, randomly enough) and has one of the best spook scenes, as something tries to open the door to our terrified protagonist's bedroom, ever. The way the film is stylistically shot and the creative camera-work makes the film look far younger than it actually is.

29. I Am Ali (2014)

Director: Claire Lewins 

Recommended by: Ali Abbas Zafar 

It is a documentary of all the people who, in some way or the other, were associated with Mohammed Ali and how he influenced their lives. It has all the boxers he fought and has quotes from his friends, his wife and even his daughters. It gives you a very personal insight into the life of Mohammed Ali. This in turn explains what he became and how he became. One of the most endearing aspects about it is an interview with George Foreman who is a boxer with whom he fought.

30. Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2020)

Director: Céline Sciamma 

Recommended by: Anupama Chopra 

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is a period drama set in the 18th century about two women, and one of them is a painter. She embarks on a tough sea voyage to go to a remote island where she has been called to do a painting of another young woman. The young woman is engaged to a rich Italian man who wants to see her painting. This girl does not want to marry, she does not want to be painted either, so the painter must do it in a way where she doesn't realise she is being observed. They go on to become companions in an exquisite love story.

31. Mahanagar (1963) 

Director: Satyajit Ray 

Recommended by: Abhishek Chaubey 

This was a very difficult choice because in that era of Satyajit Ray's filmmaking, he could do no wrong. It had to be either Mahanagar or Pratidwandi because I really like his Calcutta films. But I chose Mahanagar because it was made even before Charulata and I think it's one of Ray's most feminist films, and he does it without any loud noise, very subtly, very gently, and with great empathy for the characters.

32. Prisoner Of The Mountains (1996) 

Director: Sergei Bodrov 

Recommended by: Imtiaz Ali 

I always recommend this film to people. It took me to a place I'm not likely to visit – somewhere in the Chechen mountains where two soldiers are captured and taken hostage. The film transported me to a land which is so different from the land that I live in, and yet I could relate to it. I love it when movies transport me to a geography that I'm not likely to visit on my own. This film really did that.

33. Let's Talk (2002) 

Director: Ram Madhvani 

Recommended by: Srijit Mukherji 

Though this film is mostly in English with a small portion in Hindi, I had to keep this as I have lost count of the times I have watched it. The premise is simple. In an upper middle class household, the wife gets impregnated by the interior designer they have hired for their new flat. The wife Radhika, played by Maia Katrak, imagines the possible reactions to that from his husband Nikhil played by Boman Irani, when she breaks the news to him. What follows is an astonishing exposition in characterization and vocal acting and screenplay improvisation as we see nine different Bomans in nine scenarios including the one which actually happens. The first Indian feature film to be shot on digital format, it is austere with one location and two actors mostly, almost more proscenium than film. But it is so real that it is scary.

34. Winter Light (1963)

Director: Ingmar Bergman 

Recommended by: Baradwaj Rangan 

The basic story of Winter Light revolves around a priest named Thomas. However, he is going through a spiritual crisis and hence he is a 'Doubting Thomas'. It is infact a reference to the Apostle Thomas. Winter Light is considered as the middle part of a trilogy that started with Through A Glass Darkly and ended with The Silence.

35. Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) 

Director: Guru Dutt 

Recommended by: Nag Ashwin 

I love a lot of the films of that era but this one had an everlasting impact on me. Hyderabad has a mixed culture so I saw some Hindi films while growing up like Tezaab and Sholay. I consciously started watching older Hindi films only a few years back. This was when I was making ads and before I got down to making my first film. At that time, I was trying to consume as much cinema as possible.

36. There Will be Blood (2007) 

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson 

Recommended by: Vikramaditya Motwane 

I saw it on a screen and I remember somebody asked afterwards, 'Did you like it?' I told them, 'I cannot answer this today.' It's one of those things where you have to go home and assimilate the film because it's much more than a film. All the guys are so incredible and have brought it to life in such a way that you feel like you're a part of it. It's tough to explain why that film is special  – it's everything, from the music, the sound to the concept of good vs evil. It's one of those rare films which need time to settle.

37. Jallikattu (2019)

Recommended by: Anupama Chopra 

Jallikattu is about a buffalo that's supposed to be slaughtered but breaks loose in a small village. As the men in the village chase the buffalo, Lijo taps into something really primal. Beyond a point, it's just this frenzy of wanting to kill something. Characters in this film don't have great backstories. It's like watching some kind of a medieval morality play. The cinematography by Girish Gangadhar is just fantastic. There are visuals here that you will not be able to get out of your head. This film is only 90 minutes and you're not going to be able to look away. 

38. Aamis (2019) 

Director: Bhaskar Hazarika 

Recommended by: Srijit Mukherji 

Mind-numbing, heart-wrenching, spine-chilling. This film takes you to a psychological space where cinema, in any language, seldom takes you. There are films that you watch and consume, this film first watches you and then consumes you, sinew by sinew, tissue by tissue, fibre by fibre. With its metaphors, its simplicity, its incision with a surgeon-like precision. If the taste or flavour of a film can be likened to meat, this film would be as impossible to achieve as probably unicorn steak. But Bhaskar Hazarika conjures it up easily with moments which make you wince and pine, squeal and love at the same time. And delivers a film, both rare and very well-done.

39. Adaptation (2002) 

Director: Spike Jonze 

Recommended by: Raj & DK 

This is by one of our favourite screenwriters, Charlie Kaufman. We seem to get attracted to films that are self-aware (as you can see from this list). You can't go more meta than this film. It's about Charlie Kaufman being hired to write a movie and ending up putting himself in it, writing a movie about him being hired to write a movie and ends up putting himself in it.

40. Rosemary's Baby (1963)

Director: Roman Polanski 

Recommended by: Ashwin Saravanan 

One of the first social horror films to come out of Hollywood. It's scary because of its social relevance. It deals with a lot of social events that can happen to you. There's this constant dread and paranoia that the main character goes through. You follow her and feel it yourself. The film leads to an inevitable end, which is horrifying. You don't see anything, there's no ghost or anything, but the fact that it gets to you psychologically is a rare achievement.

41. Seven Samurai (1954)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Recommended by: Mysskin

This film spread my wings and taught me to fly. I consider Kurosawa as a Zen guru and I learnt a lot about filmmaking from Seven Samurai. I've seen it nearly a thousand times and would love to watch it a thousand times more. Whenever I hear people say they are troubled, I  recommend this film to them. This film is like medicine; it helps remove the pain in your heart, it gives deep solace. It speaks of human ability, power, talent and limitation. If there are eight wonders of the world, the ninth would be Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

42. Nayagan (1987) 

Director: Mani Ratnam 

Recommended by: Rana Daggubati 

For me this is the best film of Kamal Haasan and the best film of Mani sir. In fact, the entire film is made by the best guys doing their best work at the same time. The editor was Lenin, who is a master, the music is by Ilaiyaraaja, and it's shot by PC Sreeram. There's nothing wrong with this film. Kamal Haasan was perfect. You live with him through the film as he gets old naturally.

43. Bemisal (1982) 

Director: Hrishikesh Mukherjee 

Recommended by: Imtiaz Ali 

I saw this in the theatre when I was a kid. At the time, Amitabh Bachchan was a very, very big star. This film was so realistic – he was playing a character that had shades of grey and I was quite tense while watching it. I kept thinking, 'What is he doing? How can he be doing this? How can he be bad?' I was also intrigued by the relationship he had with Rakhee in the film because a hero and a heroine usually have a straightforward relationship. Here, she was like a bhabhi to him, yet there was some sort of a different attraction between them. All this was really fascinating.

44. Filmistaan (2012)

Director: Nitin Kakkar 

Recommended by: Ayushmann Khurana

I cried and howled at the end of this film. It is such moving cinema. It is a testament to the fact that cinema binds us together.

45. Black Friday (2004) 

Recommended by: Vikramaditya Motwane 

Of Anurag's films, this is more personal because I've seen him go through the process of making it. It was supposed to be a series, a film and was shot in multiple parts. I remember reading the script, it made no sense to me. Then I saw him shoot the film and do all those crazy things. The way he brought humour to a lot of those scenarios and the way he made those people actual people as opposed to terrorists was amazing. He made them actual people you could touch and feel. I saw the first cut, which was 5 hours long and didn't make any sense. How he hammered away at that film and made it into something else completely is just commendable. I really feel it's a modern masterpiece which is so relevant today.

46. Nathicharami (2018)

Director: Mansore 

Recommended by: Anupama Chopra 

Nathicharami is made by Mansore and stars the lovely Shruti Hariharan. This story is about a widow named Gowri who lost her husband years ago. She hasn't gotten over him, but she is also desperately lonely. She wants to have sex, and she actually pursues it in a very structured way. She sets rules for what can and cannot happen after she makes love. This film is just lovely because it's portrayed in such a quiet and dignified way. It's frank but not explicit. You see that Gowri is lonely but she is also strong and this whole pursuit is liberating for her. You can watch it on Netflix.

47. The Great Beauty (2013) 

Director: Paolo Sorrentino 

Recommended by: Nag Ashwin 

I saw this at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. I had a short film at the festival. I ended up watching a lot of movies because I was given a pass, and this one was just spellbinding. I believe people compare Sorrentino to Fellini but I can't tell because I don't have so much exposure to Fellini. But I thought Sorrentino was spellbinding. I got obsessed with his work and watched all his other movies.

48. The Great Gambler (1979) 

Director: Shakti Samanta 

Recommended by: Sriram Raghavan 

It's got terrific songs and locations and old-fashioned villains. People have seen Bachchan's Don, Zanjeer, Deewar but I don't know how many have seen this. It was a highly enjoyable film. I don't know why it didn't do better.

49. The Innocents (1961) 

Director: Jack Clayton 

Recommended by: Patrick Stewart 

An absolutely essential classic. It still utterly holds up to this day, with a great screenplay and great performances, especially from the children. An unofficial adaptation of the equally scary Turn of the Screw by Henry James, it is a beautifully made film and a high-point of golden-era British horror filmmaking.

50. Aaranya Kaandam (2010) 

Director: Thiagarajan Kumararaja 

Recommended by: Rana Daggubati 

This film took me back to Gaayam. Although this is a gangster film that's not very deep and it takes things lightly, but it had a narrative style that was so fresh. Years ago someone had reached out to me for a remake and then some issue with the rights happened but I kept seeing the film and thinking 'Damn, this is such a good movie'. I remember when it released it barely lasted in the theatre but it was always spoken about.

51. City of God (2002)

Directors: Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund

Recommended by: Pa. Ranjith 

This film stands out on many fronts, right from the filmmaking style to the editing. It's very different and had never been seen before. I loved the film so much that I had screened it in my college, but many people didn't sit through it completely. So one of the reasons I understood that people didn't watch it was because it has a lot of pain in it. Whenever I sit down to write a script, the visuals of City of God come to my mind.

52. A Man Escaped (1956)

Director: Robert Bresson

Recommended by: Mysskin

I consider Bresson one of my greatest teachers; he continues to teach me even today through his films.  Of his films, my favourite, is A Man Escaped. It also happens to be set in Auschwitz and is based on incidents that took place in France. 

53. Junoon (1978) 

Director: Shyam Benegal 

Recommended by: Imtiaz Ali 

Junoon had the most romantic ending I'd ever seen. It was a very dynamic world and a very unlikely story of affection between two people, with so much violence and so much tenderness in it 

54. Head-On (2004)

Director: Fatih Akin 

Recommended by: Anurag Kashyap 

After Black Friday got banned and Gulaal got stuck, I saw a film called Head-on by Fatih Akin. This film changed everything for me. It took me back to Godard's Breathless. No one else sees the connect but me. Head-on took my depression away. It inspired a scene in Dev D, which I showed Fatih Akin and we became great friends after that.

55. Uttara (2000) 

Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta 

Recommended by: Abhishek Chaubey 

It's an amazing film. I don't know why it's not talked about enough. It's about these two wrestlers in Jharkhand and their lives. It touches upon various things like religious fundamentalists. It's quite a thrilling film and it has a sense of danger to it, but because of the way it is shot, it's got a fairytale kind of a feel. It's extremely moving.

56. Chi La Sow (2018)

Director: Rahul Ravindran 

Recommended by: Baradwaj Rangan 

This film takes you through a journey of a care-free boy and a girl who is very serious about life.  It appears to be a rom-com on the surface, but is in fact a romantic drama. It is about the middle class desperation about getting your daughter married off. It is also about how responsibilities can make you independent but also harden you inside.

57. Splinter (2008) 

Director: Toby Wilkins 

Recommended by: Patrick Graham

No one seems to know this film but it's actually really good, a siege-thriller with a highly original monster. It's extremely suspenseful and the monster looks great. Totally recommended.

58. Groundhog Day (1993) 

Director: Harold Ramis 

Recommended by: Sriram Raghavan 

I absolutely love this film. It's about a guy who is reliving the same day over and over again and he can change things. Often, I used to think that this happens to us filmmakers too between movies when you're trying to write and nothing is happening. I feel like I'm living Groundhog Day – doing the same thing over and over again. I remember my brother Shridhar (Raghavan), Anjum Rajabali and Vinay Shukla had some sort of a film club. We used to meet at Anjum's house because he had a laser disk. Every Saturday we would watch a movie, and this was one of them.

59. Sunset Boulevard (1950) 

Director: Billy Wilder 

Recommended by: Vikramaditya Motwane 

I was lucky to see Sunset Boulevard on screen in New York as a 23 year old. The feel of it stays with you. In both Sunset Boulevard and (Alfred Hitchcock's) Notorious, you're just drawn into that world so seamlessly and so beautifully and I don't know if it's because of the black-and-white effect, or if it would be the same had these been in colour. That's what makes a director special – they draw you into that world and let you completely immerse yourself in it. Sunset Boulevard makes you step into the world of that Hollywood diva, into the point of view of the man who is dead in the pool.

60. Amores Perros (2000) 

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu 

Recommended by: Raj & DK 

It was the first time we saw something that was this gritty and edgily shot — an almost non-cinematic execution, yet very effective and dramatic. It made the hand-held documentary style of shooting, which later went on to become widely acceptable, cool. This film is extremely engaging, puts you on the spot and is a very personal experience.

61. Psycho (1960) 

Recommended by: Karthick Naren

When it comes to this film, it's all about filmmaking, editing, and how to make a film suggestive. If you ask me, the best form of violence is suggestive violence. When you show the audience what has happened exactly, there is no room for their imagination. According to me, storytelling is 50% of what the narrator wants to say and 50% of what the audience wants to take (away). It's not just the shower scene, but everything in the movie, like the narration in the end where he looks into the camera. I think looking into the camera is a very powerful tool. It's like saying, 'Okay, we are aware that you are also a part of our journey. Tell us what happened.' In Psycho, Hitchcock has beautifully explained the power of editing and how it can change a character in a matter of seconds.

62. Goodfellas (1990)

Director: Martin Scorsese 

Recommended by: Lokesh Kanakaraj 

This film, I believe, has one of the best performances from an ensemble cast. There is a funny scene with Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta which I used to cut and put in my phone to revisit and see how that scene was shot. I was always amazed by it.

63. A Fistful Of Dollars (1964)

Director: Sergio Leone 

Recommended by: Imtiaz Ali 

A Fistful of Dollars is one of those Spaghetti westerns I used to love. I was very influenced by Clint Eastwood's character. He would hardly ever say anything and yet be so bang on. He was heroic but also extremely realistic. I loved the slowness of the pace and the anticipation of action. I used to feel like eating the kind of food that they eat in the film and I used to admire the way he smoked.

64. The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin

Recommended by: Ashwin Saravanan

It's the greatest horror film ever made. It's a film that's treated like a documentary. The performances, the edit, every aspect of the film was so haunting that I think it's the scariest movie ever made. It really gets to me everytime I watch it and I find it difficult to sleep after that. It's a modern horror classic. 

65. Pithamagan (2003) 

Director: Bala 

Recommended by: Rana Daggubati 

This is the most original thing I have seen. I didn't know what the film was about when I watched it. I had seen bits and pieces of Bala sir's work and I knew he was an edgy guy but this film just threw me off. Vikram is a grave digger in the film. How do you make a love story with a grave digger? The film talks about a part of life that you don't know about – what a grave digger's emotions are like, the violence in those places.

66. The Battle of Algiers (1966) 

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo 

Recommended by: Abhishek Chaubey 

Film buffs have all seen this. What's so incredible about it is the style. It's set in the late 50s and even when you watch it now, it feels like a film of today. Whatever rules of cinema were written until then, these guys just shredded them to pieces and reinvented storytelling.

67. Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi (2003) 

Director: Sudhir Mishra 

Recommended by: Srijit Mukherji 

A film which fills the lacuna of genuine and realistic political Hindi films with aplomb. Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh and Shiney Ahuja spearheaded this brilliant concoction of love, friendship and betrayal with a constantly plot-bending political backdrop of India including the Naxalite movement and the Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi. On a personal note, the relationship between the characters played by Singh and Ahuja and the song 'Bawra Mann' makes it a no brainer for this list – though technically it is a film in English and Hindi both.

68. The New World (2005) 

Director: Terrence Malick 

Recommended by: Nag Ashwin 

I remember watching this film alone on my laptop, in the middle of the night, wearing headphones. It was such a moving film and the heart of it is this beautiful South American actress who plays Pocahontas.

69. Bicycle Thieves (1948) 

Director: Vittorio De Sica 

Recommended by: Amol Gupte 

Bicycle Thieves (1948) gives you a sense of Rome, and Italy in general, during the Depression era. It was terrible. When you see little Otto, it crushes you. Shot on real locations, it was the first time that a camera ever travelled out of Cinecitta studios.

70. Fun (1994) 

Director: Rafal Zielinski 

Recommended by: Anurag Kashyap 

There was also this strange Canadian film called Fun. It's a lesser-known film that no one talks about. This film is told through flashbacks and I remember it had a very unique structure that I borrowed for my films Paanch and Last Train to Mahakali.

71. Kes (1969) 

Director: Ken Loach 

Recommended by: Vikramaditya Motwane 

Again, a massive inspiration for Udaan. I saw this film when I went to Cannes and Devdas was screening. I saw Sweet Sixteen and coming from Bollywood, I was like, 'Why can't we make something like this?' I was playing with the idea of a film about a father and a son. After watching Sweet Sixteen, I came back and looked more into who this director was because I had never heard of him. With Kes, there was just something about that kid's face. It just makes you fall in love with the film. It's all about this industrial small-town kid being a guy who is so different from everybody else, a loner. That really drew me into the film. If anyone wants to learn filmmaking, watch Ken Loach's films. My cinematographer and I watched them because he is so simple in the way he makes films. I came from learning under Bhansali, where there is formality, to watching Ken Loach, which was like there was no formality.

72. Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) 

Director: Guy Ritchie 

Recommended by: Arjun Kapoor 

This film will always be my go-to film in terms of telling someone as to what cinema can do in terms of giving you energy. It doesn't rely on stunts or action and emphasises that a camera can do so much in creating chaos or madness. And to do all this with a fresh star cast shows you the ability and the talent of the director. It has inspired many directors in many ways and will always remain a classic for me.

73. Fandry (2013)

Director: Nagraj Manjule 

Recommended by: Anupama Chopra 

I think Nagraj Manjule is one of the finest filmmakers we have working currently. You might know him for Sairat. But Fandry, made in 2013, was his first film. Fandry means pig in Marathi and this is a film set in a village in Maharashtra. It's about a Dalit boy named Jabya who falls in love with an upper-caste girl. The film's called Fandry because one of the things Jabya's family has to do is drive away the really ferocious pig that roams around this village. It's a job considered unclean and it is what limits Jabya's romance and yearning. 

74. Secrets and Lies (1996)

Director: Mike Leigh 

Recommended by: Ram Madhvani 

This movie starts off with a black woman who informs a middle-aged white woman that she is her daughter. The film entails the emotional earthquake that follows this revelation. It seems as though the actors are living through the scenes and that they are real-life breathing characters. They seem to be unscripted, undirected and unacted. That movie did a lot of stuff inside me.

75. Siva (1989) 

Director: Ram Gopal Varma 

Recommended by: Raj & DK 

RGV's Siva and Kshana Kshanam are both trailblazers. They changed the crime/gangster genre and the crime/comedy genre. Siva is a pioneering effort. It changed the way the hero behaved. It changed the way the villain behaved. Commercial films suddenly felt real. It brought realism to mainstream cinema.

76. The Sacrament (2013)

Director: Ti West 

Recommended by: Patrick Graham 

I don't know why more people don't know about this film. Made by then-aspiring horror auteur, Ti West, this film was surprisingly good. A first-person fictionalisation of the Jonestown massacre, this film just works really, really, well. Find it. 

77. Uyare (2019)

Director: Manu Ashokan 

Recommended by: Baradwaj Rangan 

Right from the first plot point, we know that the director, the lead actress and the writers Bobby-Sanjay are going after one thing in the film above everything else and that is dignity. This is one of the most dignified dramas that I have seen especially given the fact that the film is about the central premise is that of the lead actress becoming a victim of an acid attack.

78. Annie Hall (1977)

Director: Woody Allen

Recommended by: Gauri Shinde

It's just great writing. It's set in New York city and focuses on two characters played by Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. I like his whole sense of humour, the self-deprecating way in which he talks, he's this underdog. He has this one dialogue: Since we can't get it all perfect in life, we try to do that in art. That's really beautiful because we all lead such imperfect lives, art is the only place you can try to perfect something. One of the film's best scenes is when they're on the terrace of one of New York's high-rise apartments, it's one of their first few meetings, they're trying to talk about an art piece in the most pompous arty way and you can see their thought blurbs while they're talking. It's such a great example of a first or second date in which you want to impress the person and so you're talking about art, but in your head, you're thinking about what it would be like to date the person or kiss them. It's funny, there's a lot of satire and irony. 

79. Before Sunrise (1995)

Director: Richard Linklater

Recommended by: Kriti Sanon

It's the film I put on when I really feel like watching a nice romantic film. The way they have those conversations and the way they hold the scenes for such a long time is amazing. I know all the conversations and I still want to hear them again. 

80. The Killing (1956) 

Director: Stanley Kubrick 

Recommended by: Sriram Raghavan 

This is another heist film which was sort of a precursor to Reservoir Dogs in terms of breaking structure. There's something about the way this film has been written that you want to watch it over and over again. I think if it was written straight, like say Pulp Fiction, it wouldn't work as well. This is the baap of all those movies.

81. The Limey (1999) 

Director: Steven Soderbergh 

Recommended by: Raj & DK 

Soderbergh is an indie filmmaker in the truest sense that he stubbornly held on to the fact that he can make an Ocean's franchise while he makes shoestring indie films. The Limey, which showcases some quirky editing and a storytelling flair, might not be his best work but you will see what he's made of.

82. Anaarkali of Aarah (2017)

Director: Avinash Das

Recommended by: Ratna Pathak Shah

I was very impressed by it. It's an extremely well made film and it talked about something that has bothered me for a very long time. I remember seeing on National Geographic or somewhere, this cattle fair in Uttar Pradesh, where girls perform in the evening after the day's work is done. The footage of men watching that is about the most disturbing thing I've ever seen in my life. If this is how men are being brought up, we have a serious problem on our hands. The film addresses this issue in a strong and interesting way. I enjoyed it thoroughly and thought the performances were terrific. 

83. Sara Akash (1969) 

Director: Basu Chatterjee 

Recommended by: Abhishek Chaubey 

It's an incredible film but very under watched. It is shot in Agra and there is an authenticity to the setting and the language they are speaking. I was quite taken with it because using local languages is something I've always done. I saw this film when I was in college and remember thinking, 'This can also be done.' It's a funny film. It's about this guy who has just finished class 12 and he's an idealist. He wants to change the world, be a revolutionary, but under pressure from his family, he's married off. This film has a lot of flash forward cuts and jump cuts, done really well.

84. Schindler's List (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Recommended by: Mysskin

This is the real-life story of Oskar Schindler, who rescued 900 Jews from the Holocaust in Germany. For anyone interested in filmmaking, I would recommend only two films — Seven Samurai and Schindler's List. Schindler's is a cinematic feat, it stems from a place of failure, Steven Spielberg's failure to win an Oscar for the film Close Encounters Of The Third KindThe film he lost to was Gandhi. At first, he didn't like Gandhi because that's the film that beat him, but he soon saw what a noble film it was. He realised that he became a filmmaker to tell stories of human struggle and emotion, especially what his parents had to endure, and Schindler's List was a result of that. As a writer, I consider this movie a classic.

85. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Director: John Hughes 

Recommended by: Arjun Rampal 

I believe this was an extremely underrated film and later on went on to become a cult film of sorts. It was a lighter film and funny. It is about a high school student, fakes sickness to stay at home and spends the rest of the day with his best friend and girlfriend while his Dean is trying to spy on him.

86. The Return (2003)

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Recommended by: Konkona Sen Sharma

The Return is a fantastic film. It's a Russian film by Andrey Zvyagintsev. It's very beautiful, emotional and dark, which I love. I'd recommended it. 

87. The Prestige (2006)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Recommended by: Karthick Naren

This is my all-time favourite film. From the starting frame to the final shot, it's all about storytelling. The irony is that the film is about magic and magicians, but the magic trick is played on the audience. I learnt how to use the three acts to hold the audience's attention. The first shot and the last shot of the movie are like identical twins.

88. Memories of Murder (2003)

Director: Bong Joon Ho 

Recommended by: Anurag Kashyap 

I went through a major love affair with Korean cinema then I discovered  Memories of Murder by Bong Joon Ho. I just loved the fearlessness in their filmmaking. I remember reading that in Korea, you're not allowed to carry guns so people carry knives and swords…everything becomes a weapon and therefore there is violence. From Memories of Murder, I learnt the idea of telling a story that doesn't have a resolution in the end. It changed the way we saw serial killer movies. Without this film, there would be no David Fincher's Zodiac.

89. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

Director: Cristian Mungiu 

Recommended by: Ritesh Batra

This movie is very special. It's about ordinary people grappling in the shadow of an authoritarian state. It's a story of friendship and how an ordinary person is trying to help her friend get an abortion. There is an iconic 9-minute single shot where the camera stays on the protagonist when she is at her boyfriend's house. There is continuous banter at the table and the whole while she is thinking about her friend. It is really a perfect film in terms of its writing or direction or even performances. The film leaves you wanting more.

90. Spadikam (1995)

Director: Bhadran

Recommended by: Baradwaj Rangan

How mass is Mohanlal's character in this movie? He's so mass that he gets his strength from drinking goat's blood. When he walks into a movie theatre late, the owner has to start the movie from the beginning. His signature move is wrapping his mundu around the head of his opponent and kicking him about.

91. Walking And Talking (1996)

Director: Nicole Holofcener

Recommended by: Alankrita Shrivastava

I'd recommend many of the films of Nicole Holofcener, who I love. She makes these lovely, multi-narrative films about women in America. Walking And Talking, especially.

92. Moonstruck (1987)

Director: Norman Jewison 

Recommended by: Anupama Chopra 

Moonstruck by Norman Jewison is a film about several love affairs happening in Manhattan. They are messy, they are magical, they are just fabulous. At one point in this film, Ronny Cammareri played by Nicolas Cage, who is a baker from Brooklyn and sadly has only one hand, is talking to Loretta played by Cher, (who won an Oscar for this performance), trying to make this impassioned case about why she should sleep with him. The problem here is that Loretta is engaged to his brother. There's also other love affairs and lots of family drama but it's all really warm and affectionate. It's wonderfully written and has just the right touch of sweeping romance that you need.

93. Court (2016)

Recommended by: Ratna Pathak Shah

Chaitanya Tamhane's Court is something I would recommend every time, happily. 

94. Ghulami (1985) 

Director: J.P Dutta 

Recommended by: Imtiaz Ali 

I've seen it multiple, multiple times. I think that J.P Dutta was very leftist in his thoughts and, as a kid, I was always attracted to his style of filmmaking. He was one of those directors who also influenced me with the places he shot in. When I came to Bombay, the first holiday I took was to go to this place called Fatehpur Shekhawati in Rajasthan because I had seen the Fatehpur Shekhawati railway station in Ghulami. I then stayed at a place called Mandawa and some other places where the movie was shot. These locations made an appearance in Jab We Met and then in Love Aaj Kal.

95. The Yakuza Papers (1973)

Director: Kinji Fukasaku 

Recommended by: Anurag Kashyap 

When I liked a filmmaker, I consumed everything about them, including their interviews. I remember that in one of his interviews, Martin Scorsese spoke about the series The Yakuza Papers by Japanese filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku and how it impacted him. That's when I tried watching it. I saw this as prep for Black Friday. It was hard to find and now I make others watch it. It simplified filmmaking for me.

96. Belle De Jour (1967) 

Director: Luis Bunuel 

Recommended by: Srijit Mukherji 

Though my introduction to Bunuel was The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie in its magnificent surrealism and flabbergasting dream sequences, the film of his which was most impactful for me is undoubtedly Belle De Jour. Literally meaning Lady of the day, it stars a ravishing, drop dead gorgeous, a setting-hearts-aflutter Catherine Deneuve as Severine, a beautiful and lonely housewife who can't enjoy physical proximity with her husband and leads a double life as a prostitute. This leads to a series of misadventures and the advent of an obsessed lover hurtles the film towards a tragic end. This film, along with Last Tango in Paris, remains one of the most beautifully erotic films I have seen, with sequences which are intensely sensual without being risqué.

97. The Kid (1921) 

Director: Charlie Chaplin 

Recommended by: Nag Ashwin 

I enjoy all of Chaplin's work and have watched all of them repeatedly but this is the most relatable and emotional. These are films that I like to revisit – if not the whole thing at least parts of it. They are so perfect that I keep going back to see how they pulled off some things back then.

98. Let The Right One In (2008) 

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Recommended by: Abhishek Chaubey

It's so bloody well written that I can't get it out of my head. Economy is something that is very important to writers and this is a great example of how you can tell the best possible story in the least amount of time. Usually, a film is over a couple of scenes before it actually ends. The last few scenes are these other loose ends we have to take care of. But this is one story in which the story doesn't get over until the last shot.

99. Fish Tank (2009)

Director: Andrea Arnold 

Recommended by: Vikramaditya Motwane 

Andrea Arnold is a stunning filmmaker. This is a film I was very influenced by and I saw it after Udaan. The super intimate, natural way she shot the film is brilliant and I think I have a thing for rebellious characters. I love watching those kinds of films and those kinds of people. I love the world that she created, those relationships and the characters. The way it was shot makes you wish you could go inside the world and touch it.

100. Punjab 1984 (2014)

Director: Anurag Singh

Recommended by: Anupama Chopra 

Punjab 1984 by Anurag Singh is the film through which I discovered the dazzling Diljit Dosanjh. The film begins during operation Blue Star and what unravels is the story of a mother looking for her son who is gone missing because of the political events that are happening. In the second hour, the action gets a bit overdramatic but the emotions pack a wallop. The acting is first class. There's Diljit and there's Kirron Kher who's absolutely wonderful as this mourning mother, and Pawan Malhotra who plays a despicable police officer. The film has a lot of emotion, a lot of tragedy, and I guarantee that you will cry. 

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