Naman Ramachandran

Film Journalist

Voted for

Charulata1964Satyajit Ray
Apocalypse Now1979Francis Ford Coppola
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
Ikiru1952Akira Kurosawa
Wild Strawberries1957Ingmar Bergman
Sholay1975Ramesh Sippy
Raiders of the Lost Ark1981Steven Spielberg
Happy Together1997Wong Kar Wai
All That Jazz1979Bob Fosse
La grande bellezza2013Paolo Sorrentino



1964 India

As Ray wrote in Sight & Sound in 1982, the Victorian setting of Charulata and that the dialogue is strewn with references to western politics and literature makes it accessible on the surface to the western viewer. But beneath the surface, the film is crammed with Bengali allusions, which makes 'getting' the film fully difficult for those unfamiliar with the culture. It is these allusions that has made the film endlessly rewarding for me, with a fresh nugget being discovered each time I view it. Truly, the gift that keeps on giving.

Apocalypse Now

1979 USA

The heart of darkness narrative has long been a source of fascination for me, from Conrad's novella to Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo and James Gray's The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra, but Apocalypse Now remains the undisputed champion of the genre. It is perhaps the most perfect rendition of parallel internal and external journeys I have ever seen. The theatrical cut was perfect, Redux was bloated and Final Cut strikes a happy medium between the two.

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 USA, United Kingdom

I rewatched all of Kubrick's oeuvre ahead of the excellent exhibition on him at London's Design Museum in 2019 and was humbled again by 2001. 'Transcendental' is an oft-abused term, but there is no better word to describe the experience of watching the film. 2001 is far beyond a technical achievement - it is a gateway to a vast universe where mankind is infinitesimal.


1952 Japan

As one grows older and reaches the self-actualisation part at the top of Maslow's pyramid, the choice made by the protagonist in Ikiru rings truer than ever. And Takashi Shimura's performance leaves me with wet cheeks every time.

Wild Strawberries

1957 Sweden

I see this very much as a companion piece to Kurosawa's Ikiru - indeed they were made only five years apart. While he could be playful when he wanted to be, no one could reflect on emptiness like Bergman, and Wild Strawberries is the pinnacle of that.


1975 India

This Indian reinvention of the Western provided all that the genre lacked in my opinion - warmth, colour, passion and emotion. It is endlessly re-watchable and so I do.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

1981 USA

The greatest action movie of all time - no contest. In an era of CGI-fests, the action feels real; the humour still works; and the B-movie feel is just perfect.

Happy Together

1997 Hong Kong

While In The Mood For Love may be the more formally elegant film, Happy Together manages to be fraught, urgent, bittersweet and elegiac all at once and over the years has supplanted the former film in my affections amongst Wong's body of work.

All That Jazz

1979 USA

A magical confluence of excess, indulgence and the musical, All That Jazz has hovered in my top 20 for decades. Time now to elevate it to the top 10.

La grande bellezza

2013 Italy, France

Despite its obvious nods to La Dolce Vita and La Notte, and perhaps an undercurrent of All That Jazz, Sorrentino's masterpiece is very much a throbbing beast of its own. The opening sequence, ranging from dreaming spires to a splashily decadent party, has to be one of the greatest beginnings ever for a film.

Further remarks

After compiling this list (always a difficult and nerve-wracking task), I compared it to my list from 2012. Obviously, a decade has passed, but shockingly - or unsurprisingly - six of my top 10 remain intact, albeit in a different order. Charulata, 2001, Apocalypse Now, Sholay, Ikiru and Raiders of the Lost Ark have survived from 2012. And L'Avventura, La Dolce Vita, Gandhi and Sunrise have not. These films dropping out of my top 10 is of course no reflection on them - they belong in the all-time pantheon - but rather on me. I have lived a full life and travelled far and wide over the past decade, and also encountered loss in close proximity. Perhaps this, and my being older by a decade, has led to a preponderance of reflective or ruminative films on my list - Apocalypse Now, 2001, Ikiru, Wild Strawberries, Happy Together, All That Jazz and The Great Beauty can all be classified as such in some way or the other. I also wanted to consciously inject some youth (in terms of when the film was made) into the list and thus the presence of relative whippersnappers Happy Together and The Great Beauty. Let's see how cinema progresses over the next decade and if that time will produce a film worthy of making it onto this list. Bring on 2032!