10 movies Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy wants you to watch

Find Sharmeen's recommendations

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy July 31, 2016

A Separation (2011)

Director: Asghar Farhadi

From the minute the film opens with its focus on the light of a copy machine scanning a succession of legal documents, including passports, till the end credits, the film is a compelling drama about the dissolution of a marriage in modern day Iran.

Salaam Cinema (1995)

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf

This is such a fascinating film because Mohsen Makhmalbaf announces a casting call and there is a riot. Thousands of people show up and he makes them do all kinds of things on demand! People cry and laugh hysterically and all this time he is directing them. It’s only later they realise that it is the film in itself! Their casting call was the final film!

Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

Director: Wim Wenders

Cuba was a mystery to many people when this film was made. It was under sanctions and closed off to the US. With Buena Vista Social Club, it was as if Wim Wenders put all that aside and played with the language of music. These musicians and their stories moved people, whatever their politics. The film puts you on the streets of Havana, you see how people ate, how they interacted with each other and the way they danced and sang. Even without being political, the film is political, because it shows you what life was like inside Cuba at a time when the only perspective you got on the country was through a news lens.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood

My favourite shot was Scarlett and her father in silhouette on the hill at Tara, with the sky glowing brilliantly in the background. It’s amazing to watch films that pioneered the use of technicolor. Vivien Leigh’s depiction of Scarlett O’Hara was the highlight of this film for me. On the surface, she is depicted as a Southern belle but she prefers to not act dainty like the women around her. She is not a woman who is helpless around men but she remains a child at heart. She’s insecure but she lets nothing hold her back.

Invictus (2009)

Director: Clint Eastwood

I am a huge fan of Morgan Freeman. He is such a powerful actor and he gave such a moving performance of Nelson Mandela’s strong and complex character. As a sports film, it stands in its own league. It was rooted in the reality of South Africa post apartheid. When Mandela came to power, he was determined to balance black South African hopes with white South African fears. Turning to sports, Mandela was able to bound a divided state through athleticism and save more than just a sports team.

Top Gun (1986)

Director: Tony Scott

When the film came out, I was around eight and I was awestruck by the way they filmed all the aerial plane stunts. I loved the chemistry between Iceman and Maverick; it added to the machismo image they were portraying. It’s a fun, action-packed film.

Le Grand Bleu (1988)

Director: Luc Besson

The action sequences and imaginative visuals are stunning in this film. It’s amazing how limitless film is as a medium and the underwater cinematography is really a tribute to that. I was so happy when the director’s cut came out and I was able to see how he had originally envisioned the ending before the American version was re-cut with a simplified ‘happy ending’.

Ninja Scroll (1993)

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

This is one of the most memorable Japanese animated films I have seen. Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri interweaved fantasy with a very bold depiction of chaos. The character narratives were complex and the execution of each frame from the animation to the fight choreography was flawless.

Toy Story (1995)

Director: John Lasseter

I am not surprised that Toy Story is part of every official ‘best animation films of all time’ list. It’s a simple tale but it enraptures audiences. When it came out, adults enjoyed the film as much as their children did as it spoke to a universal love for play and how all things should be treated with respect. The audience was able to feel every breadth of emotion that these toys feel, from when they are put away at night to being left behind, as children grow up and get taken by newer things. This is a must-watch, in my opinion, for anyone with a love for animation.

3 Bahadur (2015)

Director: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

I love animation and watching this film come alive was more than exciting. I wanted our children to see other children who look like them, represented on the big screen. I wanted them to fall in love with superheroes that belong to their own world and are fighting the injustices that they experience in their society. My favourite character is Amna; she’s the voice of reason and she always comes to the rescue of the other two main characters, Kamil and Saadi.  

The writer is a two-time Academy Award and Emmy Award winning documentary film-maker. She tweets @sharmeenochinoy

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2016.

Like Life & Style on Facebook, follow @ETLifeandStyle on Twitter for the latest in fashion, gossip and entertainment.


Luminite | 5 years ago | Reply Great to see top ten movies by Ms.Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy.I will definitely watch those movies out of it which I haven't watched yet. My top ten movies are:- Casablanca (1942) Easter Parade (1948) A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Macbeth (1971) The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari (1920) Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Windmills of the Gods (1988) Umrao Jaan (1981) The Kingdom of Solomon (2010) Spirited Away (2001) I think that the “Citizen Kane" and “The Godfather" are violent and overrated.
salman | 5 years ago | Reply Top gun! Yes, the epitome of 80s movies. Suprised to see it in the list but good choice!
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ


Most Read