Sunday, December 30, 2018

Movies Round Up 2018 - 10th Annual Review

One of my favourite days of the year is here, time to look back at 12 months of movies watched, analyzed, reviewed and now to pick the Best of the Year list.

If you've known me over the last decade or so I have most likely pushed this list over some medium or the other and forced you to read and discuss this in further detail.

This year marks the 10th edition of the Annual List, and as always you can look at the prior years here: 20092010201120122013201420152016, and 2017

This has been an exceptional year on both counts of quantity and quality due to the following:

1) AMC A-List: I went from watching less than 5 movies in theaters in a year to almost 2/week since August when I joined this program. If you enjoy watching movies in theaters and are in the US, every week you're not joining this you're missing out (3 movies/week, no conditions)

2) Netflix DVD: In this day and age of streaming, I actually took a step back and joined the wondrous library of Netflix DVD which beats any other collection of movies anywhere hands down. Every movie, especially brand new released literally became on-demand. Again, US only, and unlikely to expand in the future, but if you care about a near-infinite catalog, must join.

3),, - While movie review and rating sites are a dime a dozen, I think I have stumbled upon the perfect algorithm (that word just makes everything better) between these the sources to separate the wheat from the chaff. With a 90%+ success rate in terms of quality of movies that pass through this "algorithm" the limited time, unlimited movies conundrum has been better answered this year than ever before.

And finally, this was the year when I managed to get rid of some of the gigantic amounts of lethargy and procrastination I have been sitting on and start my movie review podcast - Worth A Watch. If nothing else, it has helped me in watching the movies with a greater perspective and taking in a lot more than I did before. Of course, if you spare a few minutes and subscribe to the podcast, it will be worth all that much more!

And of course a big thank you to my wife and daughter for letting me watch 151 movies. If you're a parent you know how difficult that is!

Here is the Summary Table (in its 12th year) of movies released in the same year (2018 for this post) that I watched. As is fairly obvious this year was beyond special in terms of movie watching. 

Year     # Seen    Hindi:English:Others   Top Rating  Avg. Rating
2007     32               22:10:0                           9.0             5.78
2008     30               23:7:0                             8.5             6.35
2009     24               18:6:0                             9.0             6.85
2010     25               16:9:0                             8.5             6.62
2011     22               15:6:1                             8.5             6.77
2012     28               12:11:5                           9.0             7.33
2013     28               14:14:0                           9.0             7.12
2014     16               10:6:0                             9.0             6.16 
2015     26               20:6:0                             9.0             6.55
2016     30               17:13:0                           9.5             6.98
2017     31               17:13:1                           9.0             7.03
2018     87                23:59:5                          9.0             7.29

The split of the movies by source (not just 2018 movies) was as follows.

Amazon Video14
Grand Total151

And now for rankings. As always, Top 5 Hindi and Non-Hindi movies of the year (released in 2018). Disclaimer: I haven't watched a few highly acclaimed movies such as If Beale Street Could Talk, Bohemian Rhapsody, Sui Dhaaga, and Stree, but on the whole with 87 current year releases I feel I have done decent justice to most. Also, for the movies that didn't make the Top 5 in either category, I have the tweet review of each of them below.

Non-Hindi Movies (not including documentaries)

Laura Dern and Isabelle Nélisse in The Tale (2018)

5. The Tale - Outstanding. A story of a 13 yo abused by her then running coach & how she convinced herself using modified memories that she was the hero and not the victim. Sensitive and shocking. Beautifully created and acted. Based on director Jennifer Fox' real life story. 9/10.

4. The Wife - Podcast out now, one of the movies of the year, and definitely the best performance I have seen so far by a leading lady (Glenn Close) - 9/10

3. Sorry To Bother You - Podcast is out now ( It has been one of the hidden gems of this year and if it's playing anywhere near you don't miss it. 9/10

2. Eighth Grade - A coming of age story alright, but transitioning from middle school to high school, so our lady is about 3 years younger than the normal star of such movies and it makes all the difference. Absolutely touching and heart warming performance with stellar cast. 9/10

Movie of the year: Blackkklansman - Review now available on Podcast - - Sharp, witty, dark, and moving. A Spike Lee Special.

Picking just 5 of the 59 movies, and at least 20 of them 8/10 or more was an extremely tough task and I urge you to go through the rest of the list because there are many there that deserve your time as much if not more than the 5 I have highlighted above.

From this year I am also starting a new segment, just to eat humble pie in the next first few weeks of the year - Oscar Predictions - 5 movies (that I have seen) that I feel will win the Best Picture Nominees. Here they are for 2018/19:

A Star Is Born, Blackkklansman, Black Panther, The Favourite, and (going on a limb here) Crazy Rich Asians.

Here's the rest of the 2018 Non-Hindi movies by rating:

Three Identical Strangers8.5
Won't You Be My Neighbor8
Where Is Kyra?8
The Party8
The Old Man & The Gun8
The Miseducation of Cameron Post8
The Hate U Give8
The Grinch8
The Favourite8
The Endless8
The Angel8
Spiderman Into The Spiderverse8
Ralph Breaks The Internet8
Paddington 28
Outside In8
Mission Impossible: Fallout8
Mary and The Witch's Flower8
Love, Simon8
Green Book8
First Reformed8
Can You Ever Forgive Me?8
Beautiful Boy8
A Star Is Born8
A Quiet Place8
Operation Finale7.5
Lean On Pete7.5
Have A Nice Day7.5
Crazy Rich Asians7.5
American Animals7.5
A Simple Favor7.5
To All the Boys I Loved Before7
First Man7
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald7
Fahrenheit 9/117
Black Panther7
Avengers Infinity War7
The Rider6.5
Madeline's Madeline6
The Final Year5.5
The Sisters Brothers5
Nutcracker And The Four Realms5
Guptadhaner Sandhane5
Creed II5

Hindi Top 5

5. Badhaai Ho - Easily one of the best Bollywood movies of the year. 8/10. Podcast now available -

4. Manmarziyaan - Call it the HDDCS of 2018 if you will but Manmarziyaan comes with some spectacular performances, production value, dialogues, characterization, and modern day India sensibilities. Tapsee is a show stealer, with Vicky K giving her able company. 8/10

3. Mulk - Rishi K masterclass yet again, backed by a powerful Tapsee P and an entertaining Ashutosh R after a while. The beaten to death communal issue and court room drama handled with sensitivity and freshness by Anubhav s. 8/10

2. Mukkabaaz - Perhaps the most underrated Bollywood movie of the year. A gritty take on the caste-politics and influence in the hinterlands of UP that still impacts life in every way. A stand out performance by Vineet Kumar Singh ably supported by the cast. 9/10

Movie of the year: Andhadhun - Coming in as the most recommended movie of the year, it had the odds stacked against it. But Andhadhun is that unique mix of thriller, comedy, mystery, and just outstanding storytelling and acting that managed to overcome highest expectations. 9/10

Here's the rest of the 2018 Hindi movies by rating:

Brij Mohan Amar Rahe!7.5
Lust Stories7
Love Per Square Foot7
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero7
Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai6
102 Not Out6

In case you want to go through all 151 movies I watched and their tweet sized reviews you can find them in detail below or just click on this Twitter Moment and scroll them all.

Glad to have ended 2018 at almost 3X my original target, hoping for an equally productive 2019 from the best world of them all! Happy new year everyone, and don't forget to watch the movies.


Call Me By Your Name - The setting, an Italian summer, the characters, the attraction, and the tension - none could have been much more perfect. Performances of a lifetime by the protagonists. A most sensitive topic, brilliantly portrayed. 9.5/10

The Florida Project - Manages to tug at so many emotions without allowing itself to get maudlin. The performance by the 7 yo Brooklyn is one for the ages. Not only did it deserve an Oscar Best Film nominee but was a solid contender for the award itself, Academy's miss. 9/10

Your Name - Came in highly recommended, started watching this with very high expectations and came away feeling mind blown. Also happened to be my first anime.  Two people, body swapping, meteor strikes, time and space travel, and a beautifully told story. Just splendid. 9/10

The Insult - Sheer brilliance. 3 power packed performances by the two leading men & the lady holds your attention throughout. Without swerving into melodrama territory in a subject where it's easy to. The culmination of a relatively trivial event into the storm was a marvel. 9/10

Lady Bird - A coming-of-age movie that stands out in this crowded genre and captures your attention and heart. Saoirse and the rest of the cast are just brilliant and you wish it was longer than 94 minutes. The Lady Bird character will stay with you for years. 9/10

The Theory Of Everything - Love, devotion, imperfection, and beauty of the marriage of the best known living scientist and his incredible first wife brilliantly portrayed by Redmayne and Felicity Jones. 9/10

Aligarh - Understated and showing restraint throughout, it sensitively manages a topic that's not just controversial but often becomes a caricature of itself, even unwittingly. Performance of a lifetime by Manoj Bajpayee and RR providing the youthful foil. 9/10

Sachin: A Billion Dreams - I'm not even a real SRT fan & I was wet eyed at the end of it. When you thought all was said and done on this topic, those unseen home video footage and interviews were lump inducing. Basically childhood + youth in a movie. 9/10.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri -  Powerful & compelling. Rage & anger in starring roles, with superb performances by the leads and a stellar support cast. Characters and situations develop in front of our eyes and make us question our quickly formed judgments. 8.5/10

Phantom Thread - The movie is created with the same sense of passion and perfection as that of the protagonist. DDL is brilliant as he usually is. But the subversive nature of a relationship that seems uni-dimensional makes it stand out. 8.5/10

Dogma - How did I miss this for almost 20 years? Thanks to a good friend's recommendation, made up for the sin (contextual, ha!) this weekend. Dark, sharp, subversive comedy at it's best. Some background of Christianity helpful to enjoy further. All round great stuff! 8.5/10

Three Identical Strangers - The movie's tagline "The most amazing, remarkable, true story ever told" is a tall claim for most but is pretty credible for this documentary on 3 identical triplets who were each adopted and found each other at 19. Won't give away more. Unbelievable.

Love, Simon - a heart warming coming out story with the usual teenage high school tropes, but used to highlight the tropes themselves. Brilliantly portrayed by Nick Robinson and ably supported by the motley cast. Deserves more conversations. 8.5/10

A Separation - So real you feel like you're a part of it. Haunts you and makes you feel helpless while you want to reach out to the characters and hug them and shake them up at the same time. 8.5/10

Tumhari Sulu - An acting masterclass by Vidya Balan. Helps that the role was tailor made for her, and the subject was ably handled by Suresh Triveni. You know you have met Sulu, and you know you want Sulu to win, and she will. 8.5/10

Lipstick Under My Burkha - A novel & very bold take on feminism by a superb mostly female cast. Set in middle class Bhopal the movie tackles the issue with a mix of realism, outrageous situations, and dark and racy humor. Challenges conventional Bollywood in many scenes. 8.5/10

Coco - A kids movie about death. Who would have thought that could be a subject and who could have thought how beautifully this could have been handled, with the usual Pixar emotions and feel good messages. This one comes with some tremendous music too. Must watch. 8.5/10

The Post - A taut docu-drama-thriller with a brilliant cast, ably led by Hanks and Streep. The messages (freedom of press/abuse of power and workplace harassment) seem relevant and timely, though slightly in your face. 8.5/10

The Big Lebowski - Two decades too late,  but finally caught up with the classic. The dude would have approved the lethargy. Brilliant piece of character and dialogues driven piece (knew most lines already) not entirely backed by a story with phenomenal performances.  8/10

A Few Good Men - Watched about 3 decades too late, but what do they say about better late than never? Came highly recommended by many and didn't disappoint. Also realized this was the birthplace of some known dialogues. Unit, corp, God, country. 8/10.

Molly's Game - Phenomenal performance by Jessica Chastain in an author backed role. Slight hint of I, Tonya. Sorkin makes paints the character more white than grey. A soft climax compared to the high intensity of the movie. 8/10

The Favourite - A dark comedy set in 1700s England with 3 outstanding female protagonists, each outdoing the other in terms of depth of character, cunning, & performance. The set design, costume, & dialogue went toe-to-toe with a strong story. A+ handling of the outlandish. 8/10

Beautiful Boy - Timothee Chalamet is the boy with the Golden Touch, and the streak continues. A hard to watch story about drugs and its effect on a lovely young boy and his family as he struggles through various failed attempts. The helplessness of it all is eye-opening. 8/10

Searching - Podcast out now - What a gem of a find!

Roma - Throughout the movie I was confused whether this was 1970 Mexico or 2018 India, the similarities are that stark. A poignant story told through sheer brilliant film making, bold enough to let go of color. Many scenes will stay with you, beyond the story itself. 8/10.

Spiderman Into The Spiderverse - Spiderman allows to experiment wildly with an established superhero like no other & in this brilliant take the imagination runs further amok. This comic caper tackles more issues than serious social cinema and does justice to them! 8/10

The Hate U Give - Review out on podcast now. Miss it (the movie, not the podcast) at your own risk. 8/10

The Old Man & The Gun - Charm offensive by Robert Redford in his swansong. Lots of self referntial trivia throughout. Strong support by Casey Affleck & Sissy Spacek. But the suave old man gives a masterclass in grace and wit and steals the show and our hearts yet again. 8/10

Green Book - The kind of feel good movie I am biased towards. Based on the unusual life of black pianist, Dr Don Shirley & his Man Friday, Tony Lip and their tour of the deep south, it portrays racism and the human good just as you'd expect. But the relationship is the star 8/10

Can You Ever Forgive Me? - A low stakes crime drama with distinct focus on the drama. Based on a true story of a biographer taking to forgery to make ends meet, Melissa McCarthy's best performance till date. Sensitive handling of LGBT issues in the 90s. 8/10

Wind River - Like Winter's Bone & The Revenant, Wind River makes amazing use of the terrifying, rugged, white terrain. But without a doubt Jeremy Renner and the story are the real heroes of the movie. It's gut wrenching, makes you squirm, and asks many tough questions. 8/10

A Star Is Born - The much reused script delivers another gem, and the cliche must be used - in Bradley Cooper as a Director and Lady Gaga as an actor two new stars are born. Spectacular music, strong performances, captivating cinematography and a time tested story. 8/10

Ralph Breaks The Internet - One of those big budget blockbusters that are also just good movies, the perfect combination. Remarkable attention to detail (as expected from Disney) and animated characters who manage to draw the emotions. The princess scene is a classic. 8/10

The Angel - A most intriguing chapter from the 1970s Middle East with a protagonist whose loyalties are questioned till this day but is regarded as a hero on both sides. The acting, screenplay, and cinematography keeps you captive during the run time. 8/10

Puzzle - A tour de force performance by a housewife-turned puzzle prodigy Kelly Macdonald, ably supported by a restrained as usual Irrfan and a contradictory (but not really) David Denman. The coming into her own of Kelly will stay with you for a while. 8/10

Secret Superstar - While Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij deserve all praise for the beautiful portrayal of the strong mom-daughter characters in a tough spot, Raj Arjun was pure terror as a non-traditional villain. Besides the exaggerated end, a must watch. 8/10

The Endless - One of those movies you feel the urge to go to message boards immediately after completing. Taut suspense throughout, intriguing characters and plot, haunting score, characters you develop feelings for. Recursive is usually fascinating when done well. 8/10

The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Based in 1980s America where homosexuality was still taboo among otherwise progressive societies. A difficult subject deftly handled, with humour and pathos thrown in and sensitive portrayals by the cast. 8/10.

First Reformed - Why did he do that? What happened at the end? Was that for real? Who knows, and it doesn't matter, as that's the point. Poignant and thoughtful, with tension creeping throughout ending in that crescendo. Story and performances compete, and we win. 8/10

Won't You Be My Neighbor - Much like the real life protagonist, Mr. Fred Rogers, WYBMN is simple, sheer, underplayed delight. If there was a feel good movie (documentary) of the year it has to be this one. Just a warm fuzzy feeling to know such a man lived amongst us. 8/10

Stronger - Based on a true story, an unconventional take on tragedy, overcoming it, resolve, & how those who come out as heroes and inspirational figures may not feel so themselves. Performance of a lifetime by Jake G as Jeff Bauman (the survivor). Able support by Tatiana M. 8/10

Paddington 2 - As adorable as the 1st installment, the cuddly, polite bear wins your heart from the very beginning. Through a relatively simple plot we see the victory of being nice over otherwise. Hugh Grant as the scheming but charming thespian villain is marvellous. 8/10

Mission Impossible Fallout review - Podcast out now - 8/10.

A Quiet Place - As the Ronan Keating song went, you say it best when you say nothing at all, holds true for this riveting thriller with hardly a word exchanged. The sound effects, especially the natural sounds in the silence are spine tingling. An immersive experience. 8/10

Where Is Kyra? - Michelle Pfeiffer makes the most of a role written with a lot of nuance and scope. You identify with Kyra's frustration and helplessness yet want to drill some sense into her and talk her off the ledge. Dark and foreboding. 8/10

The Party - a typical British dark comedy with a sharp, biting set of dialogues and repartee with a plot twist following another. The very short run-time (less than 90 minutes) helps keep the story taut and crisp. Interesting use of B&W after a while. 8/10

Brad's Status - A Ben Stiller movie, done just right. A dad takes his rising high school senior son for college tours and in the process learns a lot about himself. Mid life crisis, first world problems, peer pressure, among others, deftly handled. 8/10

Chaar - 4 short stories by masters like Ray and Sharadindu and directed by Sandip Ray this is a breezy watch. Can be classified as thriller/horror/mystery/comedy the stories are the lead here with a strong cast to boot. 1.5 hours well spent. 8/10.

Anaarkali of Aarah - Strong and memorable performances led from the front by Swara Bhasker. In spite o the gut wrenching feeling of helplessness, there's an innate sense of strength and optimism, of being in control. Lifts your spirit. 8/10

My Friend Dahmer - Scary and chilling even though it stops before his first of 17 murders. The troubled teenage years with hints of people & situations that may have led to the crimes. Haunting performance by Ross Lynch. Adept handling by Marc Meyers. 8/10

Battle of The Sexes - Deft handling of one of the pivotal episodes in women's sports and also incredible portrayal by Emma Stone of the living (always tougher) legend BJK. Steve Carrel was the perfect choice for the role of the crazy, provocative Bobby Riggs. 8/10

Icarus - A taut docu-thriller about the Russian sports doping system with extensive original footage of the Director of the lab implicated. Takes about 20 minutes too many to get to the meat of the story but fascinating post that. 8/10

Bareily Ki Barfi - A light romantic comedy which doesn't take itself more seriously than it needs to. Lots of funny lines and situations, heart warming performances from most (Kriti mostly a  misfit in this small town story) but R Rao owns it. Can't wait for Ashwiny's next!  8/10

Thoroughbreds - Irreverent, dark as a new moon night comedy. Well, tragedy technically I guess, but who cares. Some of the best casting you will see in characters that will be with you for a while. Juxtaposition of the serene and the macabre. Psycho-thrilled. There 3 genres. 8/10

Raazi - A different and unique take on the age old Indo-Pak espionage saga. Apparently inspired by a true story which sounds more unreal than the most fantastic storylines one can come up with. Aalia delivers a knock out performance yet again. 8/10

Outside In - A subject that lends itself to experiment with multiple questions, emotions, and characters, ably handled by Lynn Shelton. The protagonists do justice to the powerful roles they were handed, especially Edie Falco was outstanding. 8/10

Karwaan - Podcast out now - definitely worth a watch (streaming on @PrimeVideoIN now) -

M S Dhoni - Not often do we see movies on not just living sportsmen but those still active. A fantastic story well told, even if obviously editing some controversial subjects. Superb performance by Sushant Rajput, you rooted for the man and left happy after the movie. 8/10

Mary & The Witch's Flower - Charming animation, a storyline about a school of witchcraft without getting into the Harry Potter trap. A refreshing watch with good old sketch heavy visuals. Easy to miss, but you shouldn't, especially if you have kids. 8/10.

Elle - Justifiably named after its protagonist who shines from the first scene of the movie till the last. A crime thriller that is not about the crime or the criminal but the immense strength and personality of the victim. Dark and subversive. Unique is the word. 8/10

War For The Planet Of The Apes - The darkest episode of the franchise so far, and also the most riveting. You start cheering for the apes against our own species. Soulful performances by both sides. More art than action. 8/10

Operation Finale - Reviewed and Podcast now available about this post-world war 2 thriller about a true story -

Shape of Water - A dreamlike fantasy-thriller, mostly shot in aqueous bluish-green tinge, a story about the dignity of life is refreshingly told. Suspension of disbelief transposes you into a world of magical romance and tenderness, also villains to increase the contrast. 7.5/10

I, Tonya - A 'mockumentary' which for some reason takes a comic look at a story that's sad and tragic all around. Life dealt one bad hand after another and the few choices she made were not wise either. Worthy performances by the cast, especially Margot and Allison. 7.5/10

The Killing of a Secret Deer - A horror movie that is creepy throughout without the jumps and ghosts. Measured acting and dialogues with a very unusual story keep you engaged throughout. Top performances by all, but Barry Keoghan stands out in an author backed role. 7.5/10

All The Money In The World - Chris Plummer came in at the last minute to redo scenes for the character obviously written with Kevin Spacey in mind but credit to him for fitting in so seamlessly. Solid performances backed on a fascinating real life story. 7.5/10

The Darkest Hour - Performance of a lifetime by Gary Oldman, playing Winston Churchill during his first and most demanding month as PM. The other side of Dunkirk. One man show really. One of those character portrayals that will become the benchmark for biopics. 7.5/10

A Simple Favor - A fun, black comedy thriller with more twists towards the end than you can keep up with. An awkward, simple but superb Anna Kendrick and a suave, sharp Blake Lively make for an engaging viewing with a solid support from Henry Holding. 7.5/10

Colette - An outstanding woman from Paris in the early 20th century. Keira Knightly digs deep into character and gives us a well fleshed Colette, enigmatic, charming, and pathbreaking for the time. Reminded one of The Wife and Glenn Close, coming so soon. 7.5/10

American Animals - Based on a true life story of a failed heist of rare books from a library by some students, this is a poor man's I, Tonya + Molly's Game, with real life interviews with characters interspersed with actors reenacting the event. Interest take on the genre. 7.5/10

Apur Panchali - As meta as it gets, a movie about a man who portrayed one of the most famous movie characters as a boy and his life since then. A movie about a movie and movie maker and movie making. Measured performances, lacked in story, made up in nostalgia. 7.5/10

Brij Mohan Amar Rahe! - From the new crop of zany, black comedy, BMAR is clearly inspired by Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron & pushes the envelope further. The characters are so grey that you almost miss the good old heroes & villains. Funny with sharp social observations. 7.5/10

Qarib Qarib Singlle - Not often do you have Irrfan deliver a strong performance and still be the 2nd best thing in a movie. Parvathy was a joy to watch as Jaya. A hatke love story that many claim, but few deliver. 7.5/10

Disobedience - The Rachel (Weisz) and Rachel (McAdams) show. A story of breaking out of the shackles in a conservative jewish community in London, and the repercussions after decades. Strong and powerful but shows us the decision making process and not just the end result. 7.5/10

Lean On Pete - Story of a young boy and a horse, who share more in common than the racing track. Charlie Plummer maybe just 19 but displays the acting chops of a veteran, one to watch out for. In spite of underplaying the tension and the tragedies, LoP is a tough watch. 7.5/10

Crazy Rich Asians - Podcast now available - - 7.5/10

Have a Nice Day - A quirky, gem of a dark comedy from China. The animation is old world, 2D, but that takes nothing away from the riveting narrative of this follow the money crime dramedy. There's despair and deep irony in the protagonist - the bag of money. 7.5/10

Guardians Of The Galaxy - Even as a non-superhero genre fan this was a fun, enjoyable watch. The humor is subtle and often dead pan, and the storyline is complex enough to warrant sequels and maybe prequels. Pratt makes for a great watch. 7.5/10

Loving - An powerful but very understated take on the landmark judgement legalizing interracial marriages in the US. No melodrama or grandiose speeches (which would have been acceptable) but resolve and subtlety throughout. Moving performances by Joel & Ruth. 7.5/10

Marshall - A courtroom drama based on an early case of the civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall hits most right notes. Portraying our protagonist as a legal eagle it touches upon race and religion in the 40s. Mostly predictable but immensely enjoyable and feel good. 7.5/10

Detroit - As tough & difficult as movies on racial violence go. Poulter delivers the role of a young monster that leaves you disgusted. Characters evoke empathy and revulsion, though a bit more gray would have been interesting. Riveting watch, and you want it to end. 7.5/10

Captain America: Civil War - A superhero movie with a twist, or a "serious" superhero movie if you will. Asks questions about rules, vigilantism V justice systems. Spectacular visuals and action though got difficult keeping track of all characters after a point. 7.5/10

Mudbound - While depressing and dark in most parts, the ensemble cast delivers a knockout performance tackling a tough period of American history and the toughest topic handled with no holds barred. Some heart wrenching scenes with redemption relief thrown in. 7.5/10

Annihilation - Comes very close to being yet another sci-fi flick, but saves itself with some spectacular (and different) visual effects + set design, & keeping some questions open leading to discussions, not usual for the genre. Go for the sights, stay for the story. 7.5/10

On Body And Soul - Juxtaposed between the grim realities of a slaughterhouse (warning: some graphic scenes) and the soft soothing dream sequences OBaS is a visual delight with some intriguing protagonists. Creative and sensitive. 7.5/10

It - Packed with all the trappings of a classic horror movie, yet an unconventional take on the concept of horror itself. The It is similar to Harry Potter's Patronus (I know It came earlier). The kids deliver throughout. Some scenes give you the creeps at night. 7/10

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald - We move forward in the past in the HP universe. Set in the 1920s US & EU, lots of new back stories, spectacular graphics we have come to expect, dollops of nostalgia (especially the 1st Hogwarts shot & young Albus). Story meh. 7/10

Widows - Review now up on the Podcast - Featuring the first guest reviewer on Worth A Watch - @ajay_andrews 7/10

First Man - First Man - Podcast is now available -

Halloween - A solid scary movie. Haven't watched any of the prior ones, including the iconic original from 40 years  back, so can't compare, but this one has enough chills and a few jump scare shots. You know what's coming and yet you feel the scare. 7/10

Revenge - If you don't like blood and gore, or rather unless you can handle it in industrial quantities, stay away. A rape revenge drama with a brilliant transformation by the leading lady Matilda Lutz. A thriller-horror that brings out the strongest emotions in us. 7/10

Edge of Seventeen - A rare well made teen dramedy. Convincingly depicts the angst of a sensitive teen with personal tragedies.  Hailee Steinfeld delivers an A+ act. Aptly supported by the rest, especially Woody Harrelson as the teacher who plays a perfect foil to her. 7/10.

Lust Stories - Superb build up in almost each of the four stories, but flatter to deceive even in the 30 minutes format. The acting is top notch even by people you don't associate with such stuff. The last story remains with you forever, though the most OTT by far. 7/10.

October - A Varun Dhawan like you've not seen before. Not your regular feel good movie, and definitely not from the Piku or Vicky Donor stable though from the same director/writer combo. A difficult story, told with little joy but lots of love. Powerful debut by Banitha. 7/10

To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Went in expecting a warm, sweet, young adult rom-com, and was served exactly that. The Netflix Original is a breezy watch and refreshing to see an Asian lead in an incidental Asian role, on the heels of Crazy, Rich, Asians. 7/10

Avengers Infinity War - The hype was worth it. The superhero movie to define them all. Kudos to the Russo brothers for managing to tell a coherent story with more superheroes in a frame in every scene than you can keep up with. Thanos delivers a knockout performance & punch. 7/10

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero - The common man vigilante. Not a terribly new concept but quite well handled by Vikram Motwane, set in the backdrop of the 2011 Anna movement. Harsh Kapoor works hard, but misses the spark somewhere. Story frustrates you, as it intends to. 7/10

Mowgli - The timeless classic told in an unconventional mature and dark tone with spectacular visual effects and cinematography.  Rohan Chand delivers a performance to remember. Big names for voice-over don't take away from the movie. Anything but a "movie for kids". 7/10

Smallfoot - Podcast out now, and this time with a guest reviewer. Warning - more spoilers than review:)

Cam - This movie had enough content and ideas for 4 movies across thriller, horror, social commentary, and tech genres. Madeline Brewer owned her role of Alice to an extent it was difficult to realize she was just acting. There are loose ends for sure, but not worth missing. 7/10

Fahrenheit 11/9 - Michael Moore returns with the same rage and conviction as his more famous (and highest grossing) documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, but the story seems a bit haphazard. The Flint situation gets due research and exposure. You'll realize our anger has peaked. 7/10

Manto - We celebrated 70 years of independence but still so many stories to tell. Nawaz shines in a somewhat obscure and unconventional story where the hero and the backdrop struggle for prominence. Bollywood fans will appreciate the various cameos. Leaves a bit unsatisfied. 7/10

Kaalakaandi - Madcap, dark comedy about a night where many threads come together - a terminally ill man doing things he's never done before, a pair of thugs, a young group and a raid. Many funny one-liners, some low-brow humor, overall a fun, light watch. 7/10

Jumanji - Welcome To The Jungle - An action-spoof-comedy in equal measure that never takes itself seriously and tingles the nostalgia veins without over-milking it. Expected time travel gags throughout. You get more than you expect. 7/10

Udta Punjab - An insightful look at the not much discussed pestering drug problem in Punjab. From the micro (drug crazed pop star/average teenager) to the macro (police/systems/processes) with some stupendous performances from Alia and Shahid. The madcap end slight letdown. 7/10

Dunkirk - A war movie through and through, and that's a bit of the problem as the story, the hallmark of Nolan movies, is almost non-existent (as are the dialogues). Breathtaking cinematography with vivid visuals of human misery, fear, and resolve. 7/10

Wonder - A predictable feel-good movie you see coming in every (but one) scenes, and yet you want to cheer on. An unnecessary over dramatized ending. The message of "inclusion" and "acceptance" is ringing loud and clear. Jacob & Izabela put in performances to be proud of. 7/10

Black Panther - Brings the story to superhero stories. Action and humor, staples of the genre are top notch, but adds a fresh dimension with grey characters and ethical dilemmas. 7/10

Abacus: Small Enough To Jail - While the less than scrupulous lending practices wreaked havoc on the economy, the banking behemoths got away mostly scot-free. This little family owned Chinatown bank paid the price, till they didn't. A story about caution and triumph. 7/10

Missing - Yes, 10 minutes in you see the final twist coming, but with the smart usage of several characters and sub-plots the story keeps moving at a fast clip and keeps you engaged. Manoj, Tabu, and especially Annu Kapoor bring life to the movie. Worth a watch. 7/10

Love Per Square Foot - Tackles the much discussed Mumbai real estate crisis with humor and a modern, young India setting. The lead pair charming, but spark is missing. Ratna Pathak Shah & Supriya Pathak steal the show. Wanted to like it more than I did. 7/10

Toilet, Ek Prem Katha - A spectacular PSA, or a movie overtaken (consciously) by its message. Difficult to review it just as a movie, but a critical national topic addressed by the most effective medium in India. Kudos to everyone for taking this up. 7/10

Cinderella - An evergreen tale, engagingly told in Disney's trademark live action flourish. Honestly went to spend an afternoon during daughter's day off, but found myself enjoying it more than I expected. Quite true to the original story and not that much improvisations. 7/10

Downsizing - Starts off strong with a thought provoking concept of "what if humanity downsizes itself?" and makes for an engaging 1st half. However, taking the concept one level deeper in the 2nd half muddies the message and the plot coils around itself. 6.5/10

Roman J Israel, Esq - Full of eccentricities and mannerisms, this movie seems a bit more style than substance. However, watching Denzel play a quirky character is attractive in itself, but the movie seems to lack a punch or a reason. 6.5/10

Murder On The Orient Express - An all-time favorite murder mystery remade for the millennials, Kenneth Branagh goes for scale, grandeur, and drama with huge names like Depp, Dench, Pfeiffer, etc. Elaborately shot and compelling, but the movie misses a few notes. 6.5/10

Gold - Podcast is out - … "Maybe Worth A Watch" at best.

The Kingdom - Based on the real life tragedy in Saudi Arabia in the mid-90s, the movie displays some gruesome & heartbreaking scenes of terrorism. Though post that it becomes a bit predictable & hackneyed. Of course the big bad guy was shown and neutralized in the climax. 6.5/10

The Rider - One of the rare disappointments of the year (for me) as it came in highly acclaimed but didn't connect with it at that level. Commendable performances by non-actors playing almost themselves, but story is slow almost to the point of being boring.

Strangers - An interesting plot, though one saw the climax coming from the first scene itself. Somehow didn't even register when this released in 2007, the acting and hackneyed script seem to be the reason. Kay Kay Menon good to watch as usual. 6.5/10

Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai - Flatters to deceive with the perfect lower middle class Varanasi setting, relatable characters, convincing acting for the most part but then the movie tries to become something it is not and falters during the second half. 6/10

Beirut - A typical Middle-East based terrorism plot with hostage drama, negotiations, backstory, and lots of action. Nothing you have never seen before, but Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike make it quite watchable, while it lasts. Not much sermonizing, sticks to the bombs & guns. 6/10

Gurgaon - A predictable menagerie of characters inspired by the Haryana/Jat stereotypes. The violence is realistic an revolting, as the filmmakers wanted, however the final punch, in spite of the climax, was missing. Pankaj Tripathi slightly underutilized. 6/10.

102 NO - A one line interesting idea stretched into a 100 minutes rehash of Piku + Baghban with AB basically doing similar stuff he's been doing for a while again. From angry young man to jovial old man, the thing that remains common is repetition. 6/10

Certain Women - sensitive and poignant handling of the stories of 3 women in hinterland Montana. The pace can feel a bit slow but this is a movie where you enjoy the journey and not the climax (there really isn't one). Emphatic performances. 6/10

Padmaavat - Ignoring the adapted regressive story, the movie has the enjoyable qualities of SLB - grandeur, costumes, scale, background score, cinematography, but punch was missing. Ranveer owned every frame. DP and SK scenes mostly listless. Too few lingering moments. 6/10

Madeline's Madeline - An intense drama about a troubled teen (exceptionally portrayed by Helena Howard) and her emotional outlet through acting exploited by her teacher. Appreciated the acting, but couldn't get emotionally invested enough. 6/10

The Square - A bit too abstract for my liking (or intellect). The satire and humor sharp, but stretched beyond a point. The point once made was repeated too often. Won't be rooting for it at the Oscars. 6/10

Blackmail - A zany crime-comedy thriller which repeats itself one time too many. Irrfan saprkles as usual and Arunoday as the male-blonde is fun to watch. Omi's storyline was a bore and unsuccessful attempt to milk Chatur yet again.  30 minutes too long. 6/10

The Final Year - Even as an Obama fan this came across as a bit more of a hagiography than a documentary. Also, not a very compelling one at that. However, interesting to see the backroom dealings of the power brokers behind the media glare. 5.5/10

Uma - An innovative topic based on a heart warming true story adapted in the Kolkata Pujo context, but execution, especially screenplay and acting left too much to be desired. The music was uplifting. The heart was in the right place, as they say. 5/10

Sanju - Not only does RK look like the protagonist physically but also brings the man alive across different stages of his life and career. Everything else is a whitewash and a concerted image management effort with lots of scapegoats. Manipulative and in your face. 5/10

Creed II - Just didn't work for me. More of the same old. While Creed I managed to bring the Rocky franchise to the modern day, the successor had nothing novel, and tried too much to cash in on the nostalgia. Decent action of course, but that's about it. 5/10

The Sisters Brothers - Will admit westerners are not among my favorite genres, and wasn't blown away by this one either. The story set on the West Coast during the gold rush has a few interesting characters, lots of gore, and an unexpected climax. 5/10

Nutcracker & The Four Realms - Nothing innovative in terms of story or screenplay, but attractive visual effects and some dramatic climax scenes. Go only if you're taking a toddler along. 5/10

Guptadhaner Sandhane - A standard issue treasure-murder-mystery. Uni-dimensional and clear black and white characterization. Some interesting word play in the clues, but more of tell, less show. Doesn't raise any bars. 5/10.

Mom - A predictable revenge drama. While the crime scene early in the movie helps earn the sympathy, the characters never quite become those you get emotionally invested in. You won't miss much if you miss this. 5/10

Jagga Jasoos - An idea that must have seemed good on paper, gone terribly wrong. In spite of leading stars, peppy music, decent mystery/thrill, the movie never takes off. The characters a bit too cartoonish, the singsong lines losing their charm, lost opportunity. 5/10.

Zero - What were they thinking? The 2nd half is perhaps the worst hour of Bollywood of this year. The 1st half looks good in comparison, but passable in absolute terms. Yet again SRK the star came in the way of what could have been a fun movie. Very disappointing. 4/10

Aiyaary - Neeraj Pandey works really hard to undo all the goodwill he's earned from his last many movies. As a friend suggested just staring at a wall would have been a better use of time. Wonder how no one figured out the garbage that was being made during the process. 2/10