May 10, 2020

My pick of Top 15 TV Series

Well, I got multiple requests to list out my review about TV Series which are available on multiple platforms, so I thought to list out some of those which I have enjoyed watching in recent times of 5-6 years. There are a lot of them which might have missed as it takes me a lot of effort to start any new series and once I start it I make it to the point to finish it fully. I have not included old sitcoms, comedy, series which runs in a loop and mostly focussed on ones which came in recent time in form of OTT and Web series in multiple platforms.

1. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is undoubtedly the best of all. An action-packed thriller about a Chemistry professor who decides to manufacture drugs when he discovers that he got Stage 3 cancer and has only two years to live. The beauty of this series is in its writing, its characters, the performance by all actors, and the perfect ending. This is a must-watch for everyone.

2. Dark

Dark is a German TV Series from Netflix is about a missing child that set four families from a small town in Germany to unlock the mystery which unfolds in three generations. This is a sci-fi based thriller that has taken the concept of time travel to a different level. The uniqueness of this series is its flawless presentation of such a complex story with perfect execution to make you believe the unbelievable in its every sequence.

3. Game Of Thrones

I do not need to write about this series as this is the most-watched TV Series on the planet. Amazing story, great action, and above all awesome set of characters. The series which was loved by all thought had a quite disappointing final season but this is still one of the best series of all time.

4. Fargo

If you love Crime Drama and Thriller, Fargo is indeed the one. Inspired by Fargo movie of 1996 the series carries the theme of gruesome true crime incidents which have taken in a small town in Minnesota and around Fargo city. You will be amazed to understand that all such strange incidents really happened there. Amazing direction and great performance by everyone.

5. Westworld

Westworld is HBO Series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. It's a dystopian sci-fi series on 1973 Classic movie by the same name. Westworld story touches several key aspects such as Artificial Intelligence, Concept of God, Robotics, Big Data, Data Privacy with it's beautifully crafted concept of the different world created for rich and powerful which is served by Robotic Hosts. It's perfectly written with amazing characters. It is a complex story and you need to be patient enough to watch the first season carefully where they build the plot for series.

6. Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is a British crime drama set in 1919 post the Word War I era. It's a story about the notorious Shelby Family from Birmingham and their pursuit to become the most powerful mafia gang of the UK. What makes this one unique is- its sheer swag, attitude, characters, and an amazing performance by all the actors.

7. Black Mirror

Black Mirror is a Netflix original series about a dystopian world influenced by artificial intelligence & technology and it's influence on humanity. It is a series with each episode is independent with each other and touches several aspects of how technology is changing our world. Although the series shows how humans will use technology in the future, however, it will make you think by relating it to what's happening around.

8. Homeland

Homeland is a spy thriller by Showtime. This is one of the best CIA drama which touches on literally all threats America facing from Russia, Iran, Iraq to Pakistan. It's dramatic and get sloppy in middle seasons but picks up well later. Watch it if you love spy and geopolitical thrillers.

 9. Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul is the spinoff story of Breaking Bad. Its a story about its most interesting character Saul Goodman, a notorious lawyer. You may find this a little drag at first and just like Breaking Bad it slowly builds up and now I came to know this will bring back some leading characters of Breaking Bad back again.

10. Watchmen

Watchmen is based on a famous DC Comics story about the masked vigilante. I was always fascinated by Watchmen characters when I saw the 2009 movie by the same name and this series continues from where the movie ended, so it is advisable to watch the movies first to understand the complexities this series will bring.

11. Narcos

Narcos is a story about the world's notorious cocaine druglords from South America and covered all the cartels from Colombia to Mexico. This series would have been in Top 10, but the last season was quite sloppy which pulled it to #11.

12. House of Cards

House of Cards is a Netflix political thriller that was set up in the backdrop of US Presidential politics. This was one of the best series among all however the last season really pulled it down by it's sudden and sloppy ending post, Kevin Spacey controversy. This is still one of the greatest political thrillers.

13. Mindhunters

Mindhunter is Netflix Series that is a crime thriller based on real incidents set up in the 70s when the FBI started its crime-psychology unit which monitors the patterns to catch serial killers. It's amazingly made series and depicts some of the popular serial killers of America.

14. Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is a Horror Thriller set up in the era of Victorian London. I am not fond of horror however this one is really well made and they brought great characters like Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and iconic figures from the novel Dracula.

15. True Detective

True Detective is an American crime drama series about some dark crime investigation by cops. The series has it's own pace at the same time quite gripping the way they define the depth of its every character. Season 1 was the best among all, do watch if you like crime investigation.

Some special mentions of Mini-Series that you must watch

Sherlock


Chernobyl

Unbelievable

DISCLAIMER: This blog is for information purposes. All Images are taken from the web through Google Image Search and sites like imbd.com and subject to copyright.

April 5, 2020

15 Movies in Netflix to Entertain you during the Lock Down / Social Distancing

Hello everyone, as we all are facing lockdown and working from home which gives a new sort of stress. Here is my suggestion on some great movies that can help you sail through from this lockdown and quarantine blues. 
I have carefully selected movies which are not very popular and might have missed by many. You can go through it and let me know what do you think and if you want to add any more to this list.

Here is the list of movies hand-picked by me that you can watch in your Netflix.

1. 12 Strong (2018) | Action War Drama / True Story | English
12 Strong is an American War Drama based on True Story about a special force operation deployed in Afganistan post 9/11 Attack to take down Taliban & Al Qaida allies by aligning with Afghan warlords under the leadership of a young captain. If you like nail-biting action this is a great movie with an amazing performance from Chris Hemsworth.

2. A Perfect Day (2015) | Comedy / Drama | Spanish
A Perfect Day is a movie about retired humanitarian aid workers who try to retrieve a body from a well somewhere in Yugoslavia after the war. It has quite a unique story and great performance by all the actors.

3. Beasts of No Nation (2015) | War Drama | English / Twi

Beasts of No Nation is an amazing story about a civil war situation in Africa, where a fierce warlord trains a young orphan to join his group of guerrilla soldiers. It is a perfectly made action-packed movie with great performance, cinematography, and direction.

4. Begin Again (2013) | Drama / Romance | English

Begin Again is a very light-hearted sweet story about a singer/songwriter and alcoholic record producer how they meet in one night in new york city and develop a friendship through music. It's an amazing movie and I am a big fan of Mark Ruffalo and loved to see him in this role.
  
5. Dazed and Confused (1993) | Comedy | English

Dazed and Confused is a great movie or I can say cult-classic teenage comedy movie. I saw this movie long back and delighted to watch it again on Netflix. It's a simple coming-of-age comedy about a teenager getting graduated and their last party and I personally feel nostalgic for the movie which I have seen in my younger days.

6. Eye in the Sky (2015) | Action / Thriller | English

Eye in the Sky is probably the best movie on this list, it's cutting edge War/Thriller where a decision needs to be made about drone attack to kill the most wanted terrorists and at the same time avoid any collateral damage. The movie keeps you on the edge throughout and make you feel how difficult to make huge decision in split seconds and as well as own responsibility of the same. Amazingly made and Helen Mirren was simply delighted as always.

7. Game Night (2018) | Comedy | English

Game Night is a laugh riot, a movie about an urban couple who are quite competitive in winning all house Games and how things go wrong with one of the mystery games. The movie is filled with twists and turns as well as the comedy of error. You will enjoy this for sure.

8. Nightcrawler (2014) | Thriller | English

Nightcrawler is another best after Eye in the Sky, it's about an average joe who just survives city life by doing petty things and he stumbles upon a career of freelance video journalists of incidence happening around LA and sells the same to News Media. This is an excellently written and well-directed movie along with the superb performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. This movie reflects the dark reality of modern media reporting, a MUST watch for sure.

9. Red Dragon (2002) | Psycho-Thriller | English

I am a big fan of The Silence of the Lambs which is my picks for the greatest movie of all time. I was quite disappointed by its sequel Hannibal however Red Dragon is its next franchise and it doesn't disappoint especially with a super performance by Edward Norton and Anthony Hopkins. Watch it if you loved Dr. Lector's character in The Silence of the Lambs. 

10. Seven Years in Tibet (1997) | Drama / True Story | English

Seven Years in Tibet is a movie about Dalai Lama Childhood and it's escaping to India from Mao's People Liberation Army. I was always curious about the history of Tibet and this movie is based on a book written by Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber played by Brad Pitt.

11. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) | Drama / True Story | English / Chichewa

This is a Netflix movie based on a true story about a 13 years old boy William Kwakuamba from the Republic of Malawi who creates Wild Mill from waste material to electrify the water pump for agriculture. It's a great story about victory with a good performance by everyone.

12. The Breadwinner (2017) | Drama / Animation | English 

The Breadwinner is an animated movie about an 11-year-old girl and her struggle during the oppressed Taliban regime in Afganistan. It's a dark with amazing storytelling along with metaphor to depict the difficult life if the Afghan region.

13. The Road (2009) | Drama / Thriller | English

The Road is quite a dark movie about father-son survival post-apocalypse. I am a great fan of Viggo Mortensen and he is simply amazing in this movie. Though this movie set up in the future, however, it reflects upon the ugly side of human behavior which will make you uncomfortable

14. True Story (2015) | Drama | English

True Story is a movie about a New York Times journalist who is accused of lying in a cover article about the slave trade in Africa. He gets into further trouble when he learns that he is also a victim of identity theft by a man who is doing jail term. It is a well-crafted movie about their discussion and an amazing performance by James Franco and Jonah Hill

15. We're the Millers (2013) | Comedy | English

We're the miller is a typical silly comedy of errors about a small-time drug dealer who makes a fake family smuggle the drug from Mexico to clear his debt and how so many things goes wrong during the trip. It's a fun movie and lovely to see Jennifer Aniston in this funny role.

I hope you will love this and let me know if you want to suggest more movies in Netflix which can help all of us during this lockdown.

* This blog is for information purposes. All Images are taken from the web through Google Image Search and sites like imbd.com and subject to copyright.

March 5, 2020

Thappad (5/5)

Thappad: Slap on your belief


Thappad is an intense family drama directed by Anubhav Sinha. It's a movie about a perfect family of Amrita (Tapsee Punnu) and Vikram (Pavail Gulati) where Amrita is a modern and ideal housewife who takes care of her house and Vikram is ambitious professionals who want to grow in career.
The movie starts with the usual daily chores life which is quite common in any family and where Vikram is preparing himself to win a promotion to move to London. The movie start with an untoward incidence that happens in a party where Vikram slaps Amrita on rage in front of everyone over a scuffle with his office colleague. That one slap changes Amrita's perspective about her life and unfolds how that slap jolted her but people around her were okay with it. The slap shook her to the core and her ideas about relationship and self-belief and she decided to divorce Vikram for it.

Thappad is not a film about a wife teaching her husband not to take her for granted. It’s about a woman's self-discovery, realizing what is fair, how women are expected to adapt to new normal and accept the casual insensitivity towards them. While watching Thappad you will be quite involved in Amrita’s story and you can so relate with it and feel so uncomfortable about this ugly fact which is shown in the movie. Thappad also busts all our myths that well to do family, or educated / professional class, women who are in power are immune to these issues.

It’s full credit to Anubhav Sinha who perfectly told this story with beautifully crafted characters like Vikram & Amrita Parents, their friends, and siblings, feminist lawyer, housemaid, all perfectly played by the amazing casts. It is a very well written movie and I would say well balanced as it doesn't dramatise the slap or show family drama but focusses on the real issues which we subtly ignore in our society. Thappad has amazing casts and each one does justice to their characters however the great credit goes to Taapsee Pannu who carried the role so beautifully without any flaws.

This one a must-watch for every Indian especially "Men" to have self-realization on how we don't even know how we ignore some minute things in our life around which can create a big impact. The great movies life these usually inspire you, make you think to change the things around, however, this one made me questions my belief system. 

February 4, 2020

2020: AnksReview's 92nd Annual Academy (OSCAR) Awards Prediction

Again, it's that time of the year and we are nearly a week away from 92nd Academy Awards Night where movies of the world are being recognised and celebrated. 2019 is the year filled with amazing movies and that's what made it very tough to choose among the best of the lot in almost all the categories.



Every year when I put my predictions I tend to bend towards putting those names which will be usually picked up by Oscar Jury based either on past trends or get influenced by the social or political narrative. So this year I decided to put a WINNER as per my personal choice for that category followed by an alternate choice which may take the Oscar based on a typical way jury decides the winner. So here is the prediction for 2020 Oscar Award:


1. Best Picture
Image result for parasite scene
Parasite - {WINNER}
1917 - {Alternate Choice} or Joker (deserves but quite a long shot as per the tradition of The Academy Award)
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

This was really difficult to choose and I have to decide here between my heart and my mind. Before I decided on anything "Joker" is just a class apart, but quite a long shot to win the Best Picture especially when the academy likes to be politically correct and give it to a movie made on a comic character. There is a good possibility that "1917" will win Best Picture but I am going with my heart and choosing "Parasite" as Best Picture of 2019. Parasite is by far more than a perfect movie and it's a high time Oscar breaks its tradition and gives Best Picture to a movie made in Foreign language, otherwise friends it's "1917".  

2. Best Director
Image result for sam mendes 1917 behind the scenes
Sam Mendes – 1917 - {WINNER}
Bong Joon-ho – Parasite - {Alternate Choice}
  • Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
  • Todd Phillips – Joker
  • Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

This will squarely go to Sam Mendes, just for the fact the way he shot 1917 with ultimate perfection. I also have a hunch that Bong Joon-ho will take this for "Parasite".


3. Best Actor
Image result for joaquin phoenix joker
Joaquin Phoenix – Joker - {WINNER}
  • Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Adam Driver – Marriage Story
  • Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes

This is the only category where I have any second thought that this trophy will go to anyone but Joaquin Phoenix for Joker.

4. Best Actress
Image result for renee zellweger judy
Renée Zellweger – Judy - {WINNER}
Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story - {Alternate Choice}
  • Cynthia Erivo – Harriet
  • Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
  • Charlize Theron – Bombshell

It's a tough call here and I believe Renee and Scarlett both equally deserve this one, I have selected Renne because she was the backbone of the movie Judy and superb in playing the character. 

5. Best Supporting Actor
Related image
Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - {WINNER}
Joe Pesci – The Irishman - {Alternate Choice}
  • Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes
  • Al Pacino – The Irishman

This one was the most difficult to predict when you have all equally top performers in one category. I literally watched all these movies again to decide on this award and I decided on Brad Pitt based on what uniqueness each actor brought to characters they played respective movies. My second choice will be Joe Pesci just out of respect for him who came back to the movies after quite a long break.

6. Best Supporting Actress
Image result for laura dern marriage story
Laura Dern – Marriage Story - {WINNER}
Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit - {Alternate Choice}
  • Jennifer Lopez - Hustlers
  • Florence Pugh – Little Women
  • Margaret Qualley - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Laura Dern role was small but significant in Marriage Story and I am sure she will bag this one. Scarlett Johansson may have shot here with her unique role in Jojo Rabbit.

7. Best International Feature Film
Image result for parasite scene
Parasite (South Korea) in Korean - {WINNER}
  • Corpus Christi (Poland) in Polish
  • Honeyland (North Macedonia) in Turkish and Macedonian
  • Les Misérables (France) in French
  • Pain and Glory (Spain) in Spanish

I may not be surprised if Parasite wins Best Picture in the Main category, so it will definitely win this one.

8. Best Original Screenplay

Image result for parasite original screenplay

Parasite – {WINNER}
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - {Alternate Choice}
  • Knives Out
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917

Mind says Once Upon...... but I will go with heard here and "Parasite" it is with the crazy yet perfect story.

9. Best Adapted Screenplay
Image result for little women adapted screenplay

Little Women - {WINNER}
Joker - {Alternate Choice}
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • The Two Popes

Simple, unique, beautiful and a great story about a family makes it stand out. This movie may not have shot at other categories because of great nomination but certainly deserves screenplay award the way the story is being presented. We may have an alternate winner from Joker as Tod Phillips crafts an amazing story from a famous character of a comic book that is being shown in several movies. 

10. Best Animated Feature Film
Image result for i lost my body

I Lost My Body - {WINNER}
Toy Story 4 - {Alternate Chouce}
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • Klaus
  • Missing Link

The popular choice will go for Toy Story 4 here, however, the creative and screenplay of "I Lost My Body" is class apart.

11. Best Original Score
Image result for joker original score
Joker - {WINNER}

  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The dark, deep, sad and dramatic background score of Joker makes it a delightful watch. It's a sure shot winner for this one.

12. Best Original Song
Image result for (i'm gonna) love me again rocketman

"(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" from Rocketman - {WINNER}
  • "I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away" from Toy Story 4
  • "I'm Standing with You" from Breakthrough
  • "Into the Unknown" from Frozen II
  • "Stand Up" from Harriet

I usually do not do prediction in this category, I am doing it as I heard all the songs and this one indeed best among all.

13. Best Sound Editing
1917 - {WINNER}
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Joker
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

14. Best Sound Mixing
1917 - {WINNER}
  • Ad Astra
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Joker
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

15. Best Production Design
Image result for once upon a time in hollywood production design

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - {WINNER}
1917 - {Alternate Choice}

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Parasite

Amazing nominations here and each frame in Once Upon..... show the beauty and creativity of setup design reflecting retro era of Hollywood. The second choice is 1917 for sure the way setup the entire war scene with the finer details.  

16. Best Cinematography
Image result for 1917 cinematography

1917 – {WINNER}
Joker - {Alternate Choice}
  • The Irishman
  • The Lighthouse
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Hands down it's 1917 the way entire movie covered as it's taken through the same shot/frame and yet captured the entire war action with the outstanding backdrop. My alternate choice here is definitely Joker which depicted the Darkness of Gotham City and all the action.

17. Best Film Editing
Image result for parasite best editing

Parasite - {WINNER}

  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker

18. Best Visual Effects
Related image

Avengers: Endgame - {WINNER}
  • The Irishman
  • The Lion King
  • 1917
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Avengers Endgame was way above everyone with larger than life special effect and action.

So, this is my final prediction to the biggest award night of movies, let me know your views and comment about the same.

* All images used in this post have been taken from random google image search are copyright to their respective owners.