The best movies on Disney+ Hotstar draw largely from the strengths of Disney’s Hollywood studios, including Marvel superheroes, Lucasfilm’s Star Wars, Disney Animation, and Pixar. Over 40 entries on the list below belong to one of those four brackets. Owing to that, the Disney+ Hotstar is much heavier on two genres — action-adventure and animation — than Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Beyond that, it’s got over 30 local offerings from a variety of big and small producers, most of which are free to watch, albeit with advertisements. Indie films are not a strong suit for Disney+ Hotstar though it’s got a bunch of them from Jafar Panahi and Pedro Almodóvar.
And while Disney+ Hotstar still can’t hold a candle to the sheer number of movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, there are still enough choices on our list below — over 115 titles — that you might find yourself caught in how to navigate it. To help make it more accessible, we’ve divided the list by genres. And we’ve also labelled select movies with a “⭐”. Think of them as editor’s picks.
Before we dive in, a tiny explainer of our methodology. To pick the best movies on Disney+ Hotstar, we relied on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDb ratings to create a shortlist. The last of these was preferred for Indian films given the shortfalls of reviews aggregators in that department. Additionally, we used our own editorial judgement to add or remove a few. This list will be updated once every few months if there are any worthy additions or if some movies are removed from the service, so bookmark this page and keep checking in. Here are the best films currently available on Disney+ Hotstar, sorted alphabetically and categorised by genre.
Pick your genre —
- The Avengers (2012)
Earth’s mightiest heroes — including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk — come together in this groundbreaking Marvel team-up from writer-director Joss Whedon to stop Thor’s adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army from subjugating mankind.
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
In this mega get-together, all Marvel superheroes introduced across over a dozen movies — from Guardians of the Galaxy to Doctor Strange — come together to thwart the mighty Thanos, who is on a quest to collect all-powerful elements that would make him unstoppable.
- Avengers: Endgame (2019) ⭐
In this direct follow-up to Infinity War, the remaining superheroes must reunite and gather strength to discover a way to undo the universe-shattering actions of an intergalactic supervillain. The highest-grossing movie of all time.
- Black Panther (2018) ⭐
The first Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film featuring a largely African-American cast is set in the fictional, technologically-advanced African kingdom of Wakanda, where a new king (Chadwick Boseman) must deal with a complicated legacy and a new adversary (Michael B. Jordan).
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Living a quiet life in the US capital and now working for the government, Captain America (Chris Evans) makes a series of troubling discoveries and comes up against a formidable foe with a familiar face.
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
After the UN pushes for government oversight of the Avengers owing to the repeated collateral damage, the superhero faction is split down the middle, with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) on two opposing sides.
- Deadpool (2016)
Bestowed with accelerated healing powers at the cost of heavy disfiguration thanks to an experiment, a fast-talking mercenary (Ryan Reynolds) with a fourth wall-breaking sense of humour goes on a revenge quest.
- Doctor Strange (2016)
Severely injuring his hands in a career-ending car accident, a brilliant neurosurgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) travels across the world to meet a mysterious individual, and learns about a world of mystic arts in this standalone chapter that connects into the larger Marvel universe.
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
A bunch of intergalactic misfits, which includes Chris Pratt, a talking racoon and tree, come together to form a ragtag team in this Marvel Cinematic Universe adventure that needs no prior knowledge.
- Iron Man (2008)
The film that kicked off Marvel’s crazy cinematic universe — and revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career — still stands as one of the best the studio has made. In it, a billionaire industrialist and conceited genius (Downey Jr.) builds a high-tech suit for himself to fight his own legacy.
- Logan (2017) ⭐
In a near future devoid of new mutants, a weary aged Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and an extremely ill Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are forced to go on the run to escort a young mutant to a safe place, while being pursued by an evil corporation.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Set before 1977’s Star Wars — also on the list — the rebellious daughter of a scientist working for an evil empire joins a group of rebel fighters to steal the blueprints for a superweapon that can destroy planets. Read our Star Wars guide for the ideal viewing sequence.
- Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi (1977–83)
A civil war grips the galaxy far, far away in George Lucas’ original trilogy, as the Rebels — a budding Jedi, a princess, a maverick pilot, and their friends — battle the evil Empire led by Darth Vader.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi (2015–17) ⭐
Three decades on from the fall of the Empire, a new rising threat in the First Order threatens to engulf the galaxy far, far away back into war. Standing in its way is an orphan scavenger, a defecting stormtrooper, and a new maverick pilot, with help from the old guard — some more reluctant than others. The final chapter, The Rise of Skywalker (also on Disney+ Hotstar), is unfortunately not good. The “⭐” is only for The Last Jedi.
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Taika Waititi rescued the standalone Thor trilogy and made the character fun with this uber-colourful and boisterous chapter in which the Asgardian god of thunder loses his famed hammer and must figure out how to save his home from the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett).
- X-Men: First Class (2011)
The mutant saga jumps back to the Cold War to explore the origins of X-Men, focusing on a central brotherly relationship (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender), as they try to stop a dictator from starting World War III.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Aware of a catastrophic event that leads to doom for humans and mutants, the X-Men send Wolverine to the past in this sequel to First Class set mostly in the 1970s, in a desperate attempt to alter the course of history.
- Aladdin (1992)
Disney puts its animation flavour onto the famous folk tale of a street urchin who disguises himself as a wealthy prince after finding a genie in a magic lamp, in an attempt to impress the Sultan’s daughter. Don’t bother with the 2019 live-action remake, also on Disney+ Hotstar.
- Bambi (1942)
A young mule deer comes of age in the forest with the help of his parents and friends: his pink-nosed rabbit, a skunk, and his childhood friend and future mate. Based on Felix Salten’s 1923 eponymous book. Considered one of Walt Disney’s finest achievements.
- Big Hero 6 (2014)
A 14-year-old robotics prodigy teams up with his closest companion, a robot called Baymax, and his friends — a comic-book fan, an adrenaline junkie, a laser-expert neatnik, and a chemistry whiz — to form a superhero team to take down a masked villain.
- Coco (2017)
A young Mexican boy’s pursuit of music, in defiance of a family ban, transports him to the literal Land of the Dead, where he seeks his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer, to return home to the living. A Pixar film.
- Fantasia (1940)
There’s no overarching plot to this experimental feature that consists of eight segments, all animated to pieces of classical music. Features Mickey Mouse, dinosaurs, water sprites, dancing mushrooms, ballet-dancing ostriches, hippopotamuses, and alligators. A landmark of its time.
- Finding Nemo (2003)
After his son gets abducted in the Great Barrier Reef, a meek overprotective clownfish sets out to rescue him from Sydney, learning to take risks along the way with the help of a regal blue tang named Dory.
- Frankenweenie (2012)
Both a parody of and homage to Frankenstein, Tim Burton’s intentionally-black-and-white stop-motion remake of his 1984 short is about a boy who resurrects his beloved dog with the power of electricity, and then runs into trouble after the secret gets out.
- The Incredibles (2004) & Incredibles 2 (2018) ⭐
With a government ban on superheroes, a heavyweight father of three itches to get back to his crime-fighting ways in the Pixar original, which forces the family into action. The ultra-flexible mother is the focus of the sequel as she sets out to restore faith in superheroes, while the father must take care of the kids.
- Inside Out (2015) ⭐
Set largely inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl, her five personified emotions — Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust — try to cope with a new life after the family moves thousands of miles west to San Francisco in this excellent Pixar film. Swept awards for best animated movie.
- Isle of Dogs (2018)
Wes Anderson’s ode to canine friendship was this stop-motion feature set in a dystopian near-future Japan where dogs have been quarantined following a canine flu outbreak, and follows a young boy looking for his dog. Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, others lend their voices.
- The Lion King (1994)
Tricked into thinking he caused his father’s death, a lion cub runs away from home and grows up with a pair of carefree wastrels, only to be reminded of his rightful place later in life and why he must return. Don’t bother with the 2019 live-action remake, also on Disney+ Hotstar.
- The Little Mermaid (1989)
Hans Christian Andersen’s 19th-century tale about a young mermaid Ariel who makes a bargain with the sea witch Ursula and gives up her life in the sea to meet a human prince got the Disney animation treatment, which signalled the studio’s return.
- Moana (2016)
After a curse incurred by a legendary demigod (Dwayne Johnson) reaches her home-island, the titular daughter of a Polynesian village chief sets out to find him and a mystical relic that will make things right.
- Monsters, Inc. (2001)
In a world where monsters must scare children they believe to be toxic to power their city, a very unafraid human girl upends the life of two such monsters — a giant furry one and his tiny one-eyed best friend — who must do their best to get her back without anyone noticing. From Pixar.
- Mulan (1998)
To save her weak father from conscription and death in a war, a young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a man in this Disney animated musical, with comedic relief provided by a small dragon.
- Pinocchio (1940)
Made by a wood-carver and brought to life by a fairy, the titular wooden puppet must prove himself as “brave, truthful, and unselfish” to be a real boy, with the help of a cricket who serves as his conscience.
- Ratatouille (2007) ⭐
An anthropomorphic rat (Patton Oswalt) who longs to be a chef tries to achieve his dream by making an alliance with a young garbage boy at a Parisian restaurant. From Pixar.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Forced into exile by her evil stepmother, the titular princess is rescued by seven dwarf miners in Disney’s oldest animated feature film. Includes a controversial kiss that involves a lack of consent, which parents might wish to talk about with their kids.
- Tangled (2010)
Locked up by her overly protective mother, a young long-haired girl finally gets her wish to escape into the world outside thanks to a good-hearted thief, and discovers her true self.
- Toy Story tetralogy (1995–2019) ⭐
Some of Pixar’s best work is set in a world where anthropomorphic toys pretend to be lifeless around humans, and follows a group of toys as they are faced by challenges on their unexpected adventures. Gave birth to “To infinity and beyond!” Read our review of the final chapter, Toy Story 4.
- Up (2009)
To keep a promise to his late wife, an elderly widower ties thousands of balloons to his house to carry him to the wilds of South America, unknowingly taking a young and earnest stowaway. From Pixar.
- WALL·E (2008)
In a far-off future where humans have long abandoned Earth and reside on starliners, a small trash compactor robot living on the surface falls in love with a visiting probe, and embarks on a space journey that will determine the fate of mankind. From Pixar.
- Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
A video game villain sets out to fulfil his dream of becoming a hero but ends up bringing havoc to the entire arcade where he lives. Its 2018 sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, is also on Disney+ Hotstar.
- Zootopia (2016) ⭐
Set in the titular city filled with anthropomorphic animals, a newly-minted bunny cop (Ginnifer Goodwin) and a cynical fox con artist (Jason Bateman) must work together to unravel a conspiracy that threatens the peace. Praised for its message of tolerance and diversity.
All the Way (2016)
Bryan Cranston and Anthony Mackie lead this drama that follows US President Lyndon B. Johnson’s (Cranston) first year in office after the JFK assassination, which included pressure from Martin Luther King Jr. (Mackie) to pass the Civil Rights Act.
- Bad Education (2020)
Hugh Jackman received much praise for playing a real-life charismatic school superintendent in Long Island, New York, who stole millions of dollars from the public school district while trying to make it the best school in the country.
- The Favourite (2018) ⭐
Olivia Colman swept best actress awards for her work in this early 18th-century black comedy about two cousins (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz) who vie for the affections of Great Britain’s queen (Colman).
- Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Christian Bale and Matt Damon lead this racing drama about the titular American car giant’s fight to beat the dominant Italian supercar maker at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the help of automotive designer and former Le Mans winner Caroll Shelby (Damon) and hot-tempered British driver Ken Miles (Bale). Logan director James Mangold is at the wheel.
- Grey Gardens (2009)
The life of socialite and fashion model Edith Bouvier Beale (Drew Barrymore) and her mother (Jessica Lange) — cousin and aunt to future US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy — from her 1936 debut to the filming of the 1975 eponymous documentary. Won six Emmys, including one for Lange.
- Hidden Figures (2016)
The real-life story of a team of gifted and talented female African-American mathematicians at NASA who played a vital role in the early years of the Space Race while dealing with the cruelty of their co-workers.
- Neerja (2016)
The true story of the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime honour Ashok Chakra, 22-year-old Neerja Bhanot who thwarted the hijacking of a Pan Am flight in 1986, and died trying to get passengers to safety. Free to watch.
- The Normal Heart (2014)
Mark Ruffalo plays an openly gay New York writer who is pulled into the early fear-mongering days of the HIV-AIDS crisis in the early eighties, and whose fearless activism faces pushback from his close ones.
- Queen of Katwe (2016)
The true story of a Ugandan girl living in a slum who learns to play chess and goes on to win at World Chess Olympiads. Lupita Nyong’o stars and Mira Nair directs.
- Temple Grandin (2010)
The eponymous autistic girl (Claire Danes) rises above the medical restrictions imposed on her and improves the world of animal husbandry through her humane innovations in this biopic.
- Angoor (1982)
Writer-director Gulzar’s Shakespearean comedy, loosely based on the latter’s famous play The Comedy of Errors, was also a remake of the 1968 film Do Dooni Char, itself a remake of the 1963 Bengali film Bhranti Bilas, penned by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Free to watch.
- Chithram (1988)
After she’s dumped by her fiancé, a woman (Ranjini) pays a con artist (Mohanlal) to replace him in the role in front of her visiting, ailing father in this Malayalam-language screwball comedy. Priyadarshan writes and directs. Free to watch.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Set in Hollywood during the late 1940s, this combination of live-action and animation follows a private detective hired by a cartoon character, who is accused of murdering a wealthy businessman.
- All About My Mother (1999)
In this Oscar-winning effort from writer-director Pedro Almodóvar, a nurse and a single mother (Cecilia Roth) moves from Madrid to Barcelona after the accidental death of her teenage son, to find the son’s father — a transgender woman who never knew about his existence. Penélope Cruz co-stars.
- Ankhon Dekhi (2014)
After an eye-opening experience involving his daughter’s marriage, a man in his late 50s (Sanjay Mishra) resolves that he won’t believe anything he can’t see, which naturally leads to some dramatic complications. Directed by Rajat Kapoor, who admitted to allegations of misconduct levelled against him during the #MeToo movement. Free to watch.
- Badhaai Ho (2018)
Upon learning that his middle-aged mother (Neena Gupta) is pregnant, a twenty-something man (Ayushmann Khurrana) struggles to come to terms with the new development, which also affects his relationship with his girlfriend (Sanya Malhotra). Free to watch.
- Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015)
The heavily controversial Salman Khan stars as a devout Hindu Brahmin and an ardent devotee of Hanuman, who embarks on a journey to reunite a mute six-year-old Muslim girl, lost in India, with her parents in Pakistan. Kareena Kapoor co-stars. Salman is a convicted poacher, out on bail, and accused of culpable homicide, pending appeal. Free to watch.
- Force Majeure (2014)
Hearing about an avalanche during their holiday in the French Alps, a husband and father-of-two makes a decision that puts his marriage in jeopardy in this comedy-drama. Features four languages, including Swedish and Norwegian. Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund directs.
- Kaaka Muttai (2014)
Two kids from the slums of Chennai do everything to get their hands on a slice of pizza after being tempted by a television commercial in this Tamil-language comedy-drama. Debutante M. Manikandan writes, directs, and shoots. Free to watch.
- The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Wes Anderson drew on the works of J.D. Salinger, Orson Welles, and Louis Malle for this absurdist tale of three gifted siblings (Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Gwyneth Paltrow) who reunite unexpectedly two decades later after their father fakes a terminal illness to win over his wife and adult children.
- Sandesham [Sandhesam] (1991)
Two brothers become leaders of local rival political parties and cause much worry for their parents in this Malayalam-language socio-political satire classic. Sathyan Anthikad directs off a Sreenivasan script. Free to watch.
- Taxi (2015) ⭐
Banned from filmmaking by the Iranian government due to the content of his previous films, Jafar Panahi makes a (slice-of-life) movie anyway while posing as a taxi driver, allowing him to create an everyday portrait of the citizens of Tehran — all non-professional actors. The film is made to look like a documentary. Panahi wrote, produced, directed, starred, shot, edited, and composed the film.
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) ⭐
Angry over the lack of progress in her daughter’s murder investigation, the mother (Frances McDormand) rents out three billboards to accuse the revered chief of police (Woody Harrelson) of failure, which creates a furore in the little town.
- Tu Hai Mera Sunday (2016)
Five thirty-something friends struggle to find a place in Mumbai where they can play football in peace in this light-hearted rom-com tale, which explores gender divides and social mores along the way. Free to watch.
- Volver (2006)
Penélope Cruz is part of a women-led ensemble cast in this generational tale of three women: a mother (Cruz) trying to protect her daughter (Yohana Cobo), an illegal hairdresser (Lola Dueñas), and their mother (Carmen Maura) who returns from the dead. Pedro Almodóvar writes and directs a familial drama that tackles the pressures put on women in society.
- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Nearly two decades prior to Volver, Almodóvar delivered another powerfully feminist film, centred on a pregnant television actress (Carmen Maura) who embarks on a strange journey to discover why her lover left her without a word. On said journey, she meets her ex-lover’s son (Antonio Banderas), his fiancée, and her best friend whose boyfriend is a terrorist.
- Jigarthanda (2014)
Karthik Subbaraj delivers an excellent meta-conceit with this Tamil-language crime comedy about a budding filmmaker (Siddharth) who is caught researching a gangster to make a movie about organised crime. Free to watch.
- Maqbool (2004)
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is transported to the Mumbai underworld by Vishal Bhardwaj, who wrote, directed, and even composed both background score and songs. An ensemble cast of Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Pankaj Kapur, and Naseeruddin Shah. Free to watch.
- Talvar (2015)
Meghna Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj combine forces to tell the story of the 2008 Noida double murder case, in which a teenage girl and the family’s hired servant were killed, and the inept police bungled the investigation. Uses the Rashomon effect for a three-pronged take. Free to watch.
- Vada Chennai (2018)
Meant to serve as the first in a trilogy, a skilled carrom player (Dhanush) is reluctantly pulled into a local gang war in north Chennai. Multi-National Award winner Vetrimaaran directs this Tamil-language film.
- 3 Faces (2018)
In this Cannes best screenplay winner, writer-director Jafar Panahi plays a version of himself who sets out with actress Behnaz Jafari — also playing a version of herself — to find a village girl from rural northwest Iran who seemingly killed herself on camera after asking for Behnaz’s help.
- Ankur (1974)
In writer-director Shyam Benegal’s feature-length directorial debut, a child-desiring Dalit woman (Shabana Azmi) married to a deaf-mute alcoholic potter is seduced by the village landlord’s son (Anant Nag), which causes personal and societal problems. Free to watch.
- The Circle (2000)
Jafar Panahi won much international acclaim — including the top prize at the Venice Film Festival — for bringing to life the everyday oppression faced by women in Iran, including a woman who has just given birth, three who have escaped prison, and a single mother trying to get rid of her little girl. The film remains banned in Iran.
- Crimson Gold (2003)
Denied a theatrical release in Iran after director Jafar Panahi refused to make any cuts, it focuses on a pizza delivery man and war veteran who is driven to crime after he witnesses the disdain of the elite and the snobbery of the jewellery store owner where he tries to buy a ring for his fiancée. An Abbas Kiarostami script.
- Dead Poets Society (1989)
An unconventional English teacher (Robin Williams) at an elite conservative boarding school in 1959 inspires his students (Ethan Hawke among them) by his free-thinking approach to both poetry and life. Popularised the modern use of the Latin phrase “carpe diem”, meaning seize the day.
- Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu (2016)
In this Kannada-language film, an Alzheimer’s-afflicted widower (Anant Nag) goes missing from the old-age home, prompting his career-driven son to hit pause, as he finds out about his dad’s past as he tries to find him. Free to watch.
- The Hate U Give (2018)
A black teenager’s world — belonging to a poor neighbourhood but attending a prestigious school — crumbles after she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer.
- Kammattipaadam (2016)
Centred on the eponymous slum in the Indian city of Kochi, a Malayalam-language look at how urbanisation and real estate mafias have compounded the problems faced by the Dalit community from ‘80s to present day. Free to watch.
- Kireedam (1989)
An honest cop’s son (Mohanlal) finds himself on a slippery slope after defending his father (Thilakan) from a local mobster in this Malayalam-language drama. Sibi Malayil directs. Free to watch.
- Masaan (2015)
Neeraj Ghaywan ventures into the heartland of India to explore the life of four people in his directorial debut, all of whom must battle issues of caste, culture and norms. Winner of a National Award and the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes. Free to watch.
- Mukti Bhawan (2016)
This National Award-winning film follows a son forced to set aside his job and accompany his elderly father to the ghats of Varanasi, where the latter hopes to attain salvation.
- Offside (2006) ⭐
A bunch of Iranian girls disguise themselves as boys to evade the ban on female football attendees and watch a World Cup qualifying game in Tehran, but are subsequently caught by soldiers. Another one of Jafar Panahi’s films that remains banned in Iran, even as the stadium ban has been selectively relaxed since late last year.
- Sugar (2008)
Captain Marvel directors made their duo-directorial debut with this tale of a 19-year-old Dominican who immigrates to the United States of America to play minor league baseball and support his impoverished family back home, but struggles with language and cultural barriers.
- The Tale (2018) ⭐
A documentary filmmaker (Laura Dern) starts to question her pre-teen relationship with two adults — her horse-riding instructor (Elizabeth Debicki) and running coach (Jason Ritter) — after coming across an essay she wrote back then.
- Talk to Her (2002)
Two men — a male nurse (Javier Camára) and a journalist (Darío Grandinetti) — develop a strange friendship as they come to care for two women — a dance student (Leonor Watling) and a bullfighter (Rosario Flores), respectively — both of whom are in a deep coma. Pedro Almodóvar directs what is considered one of the best films of the 2000s.
- Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (2017)
A newly-married inter-caste couple are preparing to start a new life away from their families, but things take a turn for the worse after a thief steals the one thing of value they have: a gold chain. The second Malayalam-language feature from Maheshinte Prathikaram director Dileesh Pothan. Free to watch.
- Togo (2019)
Based on a true story from 1925, the titular Siberian Husky dog is the star of this heart-warming drama as he, despite being considered small and weak, helps his musher-owner Leonhard Seppala (Willem Dafoe) deliver an antitoxin serum through a thousand kilometres of harsh winter. A Disney+ original.
- Ustad Hotel (2012)
Winner of three National Awards, this Malayalam-language drama looks at class, privilege, and food through the story of a chef from a well-off family who returns to his hometown to work with his grandfather, after being disowned by his father. Free to watch.
- The White Balloon (1995)
On the eve of the Iranian New Year, seven-year-old Razieh whose heart is set on a goldfish convinces her busy mother to part with her very last banknote. But after Razieh loses it on the way to the shop, she enlists the help of those around her — and her brother — to fulfil her dream and save herself a scolding. Feature debut for Jafar Panahi, who directs off an Abbas Kiarostami script.
- Edward Scissorhands (1990)
A synthetic man with a pair of scissors for hands (Johnny Depp) falls in love with the teenage daughter (Winona Ryder) of the family he’s taken in by, and is in high demand for his naturally unrivalled ability to cut hair and trim hedges, but a jealous boyfriend threatens to upset everything. Tim Burton directs.
- The Jungle Book (2016)
Inspired by the 1967 animated musical and based on Rudyard Kipling’s works, an orphan boy called Mowgli, brought up by wolves in the jungle, confronts the Bengal tiger Shere Khan, with the help of his black panther mentor, Bagheera, and the brown bear friend, Baloo. One of the rare live-action Disney remakes that improved on the original.
- Mary Poppins (1964)
Based on P.L. Travers’ book series of the same name, a disciplined father hires a loving woman (Julie Andrews) — who he doesn’t know is capable of magic — to be the nanny for his two mischievous children. Won five Oscars, including best actress for the debutant Andrews.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
In the first instalment of this swashbuckling high-seas adventure, a blacksmith joins forces with an off-kilter pirate captain (Johnny Depp) currently without a ship thanks to a mutiny, in order to free the love of his life.
- The Shape of Water (2017)
Winner of Oscar for Best Picture, Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy romantic drama follows a lonely and mute janitor (Sally Hawkins), who falls in love with a humanoid amphibian being held in captivity at a classified, high-security government facility in the 1960s.
- Bad Education (2004)
Pedro Almodóvar spent over a decade fine-tuning the script, to present a decades-long look at how religious schooling and sexual abuse by Catholic priests during the era of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco deeply impacted the lives of two childhood friends.
- Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003)
Set against the politically-charged backdrop of the Emergency in the 1970s, writer-director Sudhir Mishra’s film revolves around three friends (Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh, and Shiney Ahuja) whose lives are transformed in the wake of the turbulent period.
- Kaalapani (1996)
Priyadarshan’s look at the inhumane treatment of Indian freedom fighters imprisoned by the British Raj at the infamous titular jail on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the early 20th century won three National Awards. Mohanlal, Prabhu, Amrish Puri, and Tabu star in the Malayalam film. Free to watch.
- The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Based on Giles Foden’s novel of the same name, which weaves in a fictitious young Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) as a personal physician to depict life under brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) during the 1970s.
- Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
A 16th-century Mughal prince clashes with his father, Emperor Akbar, after he falls in love with a court dancer in this epic drama, which stands as a milestone in Indian cinema and is called by some as the best Hindi film ever made. Noted for its grandeur, especially a musical piece set in a replica of the Lahore Fort’s Sheesh Mahal. Questioned for its historical accuracy and creative liberties elsewhere. Hotstar has the 2004 digitally-coloured version. Free to watch.
- Pathemari (2015)
Spanning several decades from the sixties to present day, a man (Mammootty) illegally migrates to Dubai to build a better life but vows to return one day to his Kerala home. Noted for the lead’s performance. Free to watch.
- Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977)
On the eve of the Indian rebellion of 1857, writer-director Satyajit Ray presents two stories in parallel: two noblemen obsessed with an ancient form of chess, against the background of scheming enemy officials and an inept ruler. Free to watch.
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Possibly the hardest film to classify on the list — it was dubbed the first Iranian vampire Western, as it borrows from spaghetti westerns, horror films, graphic novels, and the Iranian New Wave — Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature is about a skateboarding vampire who preys on misogynistic men in a fictional Iranian ghost town.
- Manichitrathazhu [Manichithrathazhu] (1993)
In this Malayalam-language psychological thriller, a young wife (Shobana) is possessed by the spirit of a vengeful dancer after she opens a locked room in their new haunted mansion. To help get rid of it, a psychiatrist friend (Mohanlal) of the husband suggests an unusual cure. Free to watch.
- Bangalore Days (2014)
National Award-winning writer-director Anjali Menon continues her exploration of family relationships with this lengthy — running at 172 minutes — Malayalam-language look at three cousins who fulfill their childhood dream of moving to Bangalore, but face challenges as they adapt to the new city. Free to watch.
- Love, Simon (2018)
A closeted gay high school teenager (Nick Robinson) must balance friends, family, and the blackmailer threatening to out him, all while he falls for an anonymous classmate over email. Katherine Langford stars alongside, and Greg Berlanti directs.
- The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Based on John Green’s novel of the same name, the story of a sixteen-year-old cancer patient (Shailene Woodley) who’s forced to attend a support group, falls in love with another cancer patient (Ansel Elgort), and the life-changing journey they embark on.
- Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (1986)
Based on K. K. Sudhakaran’s 1986 Malayalam novel Nammukku Gramangalil Chennu Rapparkkam and with several biblical allusions, a man (Mohanlal) falls in love with the girl next door (Shari) and learns about the despicable home she’s stuck in. Free to watch.
- Premam (2015)
Set in Kerala, a Malayalam-language coming-of-age drama that spans fourteen years and multiple love interests in a man’s (Nivin Pauly) life, from falling for a girl (Anupama Parameswaran) at high school to a new lecturer (Sai Pallavi) in college. Free to watch.
- Thoovanathumbikal (1987)
The son (Mohanlal) of an aristocratic family struggles to choose between his two loves, a distant relative (Parvathy) and a sex worker (Sumalatha), in this Malayalam-language romantic drama. Free to watch.
- Titanic (1997)
A poor artist (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a rich aristocrat (Kate Winslet) fall in love in this fictionalised account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic from writer-director James Cameron.
- The Martian (2015)
Stranded on Mars with his crew assuming him to be dead, an astronaut and botanist (Matt Damon) must rely on his ingenuity to signal to Earth he is alive, and then struggle to survive while they figure out how to rescue him.
- Planet of the Apes: Rise, Dawn, and War (2011-2017) ⭐
Andy Serkis plays an ape named Caesar in this gripping origin story that takes place years before the 1968 original. The three films — Rise, Dawn, and War — cover his life from becoming more intelligent thanks to a new drug that killed humans, to being involved in armed conflict with what’s left of mankind.
- Aaranya Kaandam (2010)
Before Super Deluxe (on Netflix), writer-director Thiagarajan Kumararaja made his feature-length debut with this Tamil-language neo-noir about two rival drug lords — Jackie Shroff playing the older, more thoughtful one — whose mutual interest in the cocaine trade leads to a troubling day. Free to watch.
- Black Swan (2010) ⭐
Natalie Portman stars as a committed ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological horror that plays as a metaphor for artistic perfection, as she starts to lose her grip on reality after winning the lead part.
- Drishyam (2013)
In this Malayalam film that was later remade in Hindi, a local cable operator named Georgekutty (Mohanlal) does everything he can to protect his family, suspected in the missing-persons case of a high-ranking police officer’s son, who had blackmailed Georgekutty’s daughter with a nude video. Free to watch.
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
In writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s best film to date, a child psychologist (Bruce Willis) tries to help a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who can see and talk to the dead.
- Take Off (2017)
Inspired by the same real life events as Tiger Zinda Hai — though this is infinitely better — a nurse (Parvathy Thiruvothu) living in Iraq struggles with internal and external forces after over a dozen of her colleagues and she are captured by pro-ISIS forces. Mahesh Narayanan’s Malayalam-language directorial debut. Free to watch.
- Widows (2018)
After their husbands are killed trying to escape with $2 million, the wives (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Debicki) come together to rob a prominent local politician and pay off the debt that hangs over their heads like a sword. Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson co-star. Steve McQueen directs.