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1. Stuart Little (1999)
Director: Rob Minkoff
Loosely adapted from E.B. White’s children’s classic novel of the same name, Rob Minkoff’s Staurt Little is a heartwarming hug. The Littles decide to adopt a young mouse called Stuart, but the family cat wants to get rid of him. Co-written by M. Night Shyamalan and featuring some of the best visual effects, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. (It lost to Matrix that year). A charming fun film infused with some great humor, Stuart Little is equally entertaining for kids and adults.
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2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Director: Mel Stuart
Adapted from Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka ticks all the boxes of a perfect family entertainer. Starring Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka tells the story of a poor boy (Charlie Bucket) who is one of the four kids to win a visit to Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory. The musical fantasy family film was nominated for the best original score at the Oscars in 1972 while Wilder won a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy.
3. Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
Directors: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Phil Johnston and Rich Moore’s sequel to Wreck-It Ralph moves from the world of arcade games to the web. Here, Ralph and his best friend Vanellope’s quest takes them to the vast world of the internet. The sequel although doesn’t have anything new to say about our online behavior touches upon themes universal to all ages. The astounding visuals and the charming protagonists are why you should watch this. It won a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.
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4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey
I’ve been reading comic books ever since I was a little kid, especially Spider-Man comics. Up till 2018, there never really was a movie that captured the complete essence of Spider-Man. Not Peter Parker. Spider-Man. The closest movie that lived up to those standards was Spider-Man 2. That was, until Sony released Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Directors Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, writer-director Rodney Rothman, and writer Phil Lord gave us the perfect Spider-Man movie, complete with fantastic writing, comic book callbacks, and a kickass soundtrack. And if that wasn’t enough, Sony managed to bring together a bunch of diverse characters with completely outlandish character settings and managed to band them together with fantastic chemistry. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has managed to become the definitive Spider-Man movie, and one of the best comic book movies ever made.
5. Taare Zameen Par (2007)
Director: Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan’s directorial debut centered around the flaws of an indoctrinated society and a faulty system of education. The title is a metaphor for children. Aamir highlights the fact that every child is special in their own way. The social stigma towards pressurized, template education is showcased in great detail. This movie may be about the life of a dyslexic child, but is a beautiful lesson in parenting.
The marine art symbolism stands out as a core theme to illustrate the uniqueness in every individual. And Ishaan Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) wows us with an amazing display of complex emotions. The suffering in silence is heartbreaking and resonates with the audience. Aamir delivers an impeccably heartwarming performance. But the real star of the film is the script by Amole Gupte.
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6. Incredibles 2 (2018)
Director: Brad Bird
The Incredibles 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable sequel, if not as profound as the original. It’s undoubtedly, one of the best sequels to come out with unrestrained imagination, excellent animation, and a strong female lead but couldn’t encapsulate the same complexity in writing as its predecessor — which even after a release of a decade and half — is considered as the crown jewel of animated films.
7. Jungle Book (2016)
Director: Jon Favreau
Rudyard Kipling’s classic story of a baby brought to boyhood by a pack of wolves, a black panther and a bear has something in it for everyone. And Jon Favreau’s cinematic adaption doesn’t disappoint either.
Kipling’s Jungle Book is a work of art and Favreau’s adaptation takes care to stay in the background and simply provide a platform for Kipling to reach out and tell us his timeless story. Sethi is fun to watch and eminently believable as the man-cub. Ben Kingsley is nearly perfect as Bagheera.
Idris Elba is menacing as Shere Khan; Scarlett Johansson is perfect as the sensual Kaa; Bill Murray does a fine job as the laid-back Baloo. And Walken is just your friendly neighbourhood homicidal orangutan.
The entire cast is excellent and one assumes this is, in large part, to the credit of Jon Favreau. The director refrains from meddling too much with the story and the original narrative and characters. (By Chandrashekhar Srinivasan)
8. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Directors: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
If Avengers: Endgame was the brains, Avengers: Infinity War was the brawn. The biggest Marvel movie after Endgame, Infinity War made full use of its big-money budget in providing us an entertainment filled, two and a half hours of pure excitement and adrenaline. After all, this was the first time we were seeing all our heroes back together (mostly), and of course, the Guardians of the Galaxy as well. Packed with comedy, action, and some jaw-dropping moments, not to mention the shock ending that sent everyone into hysterics, Avengers: Infinity War can proudly call itself one of the finest Marvel movies till date.
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9. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Director: Jon Watts
Marvel and Sony struck a deal to bring Spidey to the MCU, and everyone went batshit. Even me. Finally. The prodigal son came home. Iron Man might’ve been the alpha dog in the MCU, but Spidey was the unspoken name which ruled all. I still remember the reactions when the second trailer of Captain America: Civil War came out, and Spidey swooped in at the very end. Everyone, including me, went absolutely crazy.
We might have loved the Raimi series, but this was what everyone was waiting for. For Spidey to rub shoulders with his fellow Marvel compatriots and share quips. When Tom Holland was announced as the successor to Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire, people were confused. I, for one, was excited. Finally, taking Peter Parker back to his roots. A 15-year-old trying to balance high school with superhero work. A coming-of-age superhero movie, if you like. It was exactly how it was meant to be. It was a good movie which didn’t become an unnecessary origin story which we’ve seen plenty of times. However, it wasn’t the best either. It was very satisfactory, I can say that.
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10. Finding Dory
Director: Andrew Stanton
The vulnerable, wide-eyed kid is the recurrent character in Pixar movies. In the sequel to the glorious Finding Nemo, Dory dons that role. The short-term memory loss of Dory, the blue tang fish, bestows her with adorable, child-like Pixar quirks. The movie starts with Dory’s childhood. The sweet-natured fish, due to her malady, wanders away from adoring parents. As a grown-up, Dory begins to recall those old memories in flashes. And begins the noble quest to search for the parents. Since Dory’s surrogate family members — Marlin and Nemo — initially disagree to help, she embarks on a journey of her own. Co-director/writer couldn’t shake off the echoes and parallels of the first film. The detailing, as usual, is perfect. But most of the scenarios look like clones of Finding Nemo. All in all, it’s moderately entertaining.
11. Moana (2016)
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
Ron Clements & John Musker’s Moana is filled with familiar Disney themes of the past. The protagonist is a spirited young woman on a dangerous trip to fulfill her destiny. Nevertheless, the subtle updates to the time-worn formula plus the storming musical numbers make it a delightful Disney entertainment.
The film boasts some catchy soundtracks from playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s also fascinating to see a Disney film pay tribute to Polynesian culture and their ancestors’ seafaring abilities. Apart from the charming positive messages, the script joyfully satirizes the old studio’s fixation on princess & schmaltzy love interest.
12. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Director: William Bill Condon
Directed by William Bill Condon, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a live-action revisit to the original 1991 musical fantasy, the first animated film to be nominated for the Oscar’s Best Picture in 1992. That award went to Silence of the Lambs so no arguments there. The film however, was hailed as a classic and much appreciated by critics and audiences alike.
The film does stick to its Disney roots and is a majestic world of grandeur and enchanting visuals complete with beautifully staged musical performances and talking objects.
No really, the visual experience is a wonderful treat for the eyes, and you’re not going to want to blink through some scenes.
Watch it with your kids, but the film does appeal to the child within a mature audience as well.
By Arun Kumar, Mayank Nailwal, Deepjyoti Roy, Mansi Dutta
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