Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Ali Asger Nabi is a 20 y/o film student from Mumbai who calls himself a mic hog. A part-time stand-up comedian, Ali is an ardent fan of the movies and scours the Internet for good cinema. A few months ago, he started recommending one movie every week to his Instagram followers. He chose to call these set of recommendations “NabiSnubs”. When asked the reason to do it, he said, “The title is pretty simple. It’s me Ali Asger Nabi, giving a shout out to films that I think are genuinely snubbed when people talk about great films. Hence, NabiSnubs."
Here are 32 films Ali thinks everybody should watch and appreciate.
1) The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)
Directed by: Noah Baumbach
The film stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel and Emma Thompson, and follows a group of dysfunctional adult siblings trying to live in the shadow of their father. Adam Sandler has done an exceptional job and it might be one of his best performances. Ben Stiller is seen at his finest too. A story only Noah Baumbach could have done justice to. The film is available on Netflix.
2) Mystic River (2003)
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Mystic River is an absolutely enthralling murder mystery/drama from start to end. Sean Penn deserves all the acclaim he received for his performance in the movie. The story about the 3 childhood friends who drift apart only to reunite as adults when one is a victim, one the investigator and one the main suspect of a murder is just genius. The film is available on Netflix.
3) Fracture (2007)
Directed by: Gregory Hoblit
Fracture is the film that always keeps its viewers on the edge of their seat. Anthony Hopkins is always a treat to watch and especially when he is the antagonist in the film. Ryan Gosling also shines as a hotshot lawyer who is pitted against a guy who is fighting his own case. Wrongly assuming the case to be an easy one, he is in for a ride. The film is thrilling court room drama/murder mystery that you should definitely watch. The film is available on Netflix.
4) Gerald’s Game (2017)
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
I have no words to describe the movie and experience of watching it. The film is terrifying at times and even disgusting, that too at times you least expect it to be. The way it is set up is laughable at first but as it goes on, you observe the precision and detail with which it is made. Adapting a Stephen King novel is always a risky bet, especially when it has been claimed to be a novel that just cannot be made into a movie for years. Gladly, this movie does justice. The movie can be too much for some people so viewer’s discretion is advised. (xD) The film is available on Netflix.
5) Fruitvale Station (2013)
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Fruitvale Station is a heart-breaking movie that hits you even harder when you get to know that it is based on a true story. It is a story about a black guy just going about his day like usual which ends up leading to something that changes everything for him. Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan came together to deliver something this beautiful before they went on to work together for Black Panther. This is truly an underrated gem. This movie is available on Netflix.
6) The Invitation (2015)
Directed by: Karyn Kusama
The Invitation is an intriguing film that just keeps adding layers of suspense as it paces forward. The performances are brilliant, especially Tammy Blanchard who plays Eden, the ex-wife of the protagonist. A psychological thriller about a man who gets invited over for dinner by his ex-wife and her new husband, keeps the tension tight and intense from the beginning to end. The film always keeps you guessing between what the characters are thinking and what is actually going on. The film is available on Netflix.
7) Hamid (2019)
Directed by: Aijaz Khan
Hamid is a sweet film that, through the eyes on an unlikely protagonist, ends up saying a lot about the issues that demand our attention. The kid who plays the character of Hamid has done an exceptional job and managed to evoke many layers of compassion and hopelessness. Rasika Duggal is as good as she can be. The songs in the film help in telling the story and add value to the local culture that is shown. The tyranny of Kashmir is touched upon in this movie. The film is available on Netflix.
8) I Lost My Body (2019)
Directed by: Jérémy Clapin
I Lost My body is an animated feature film with an entirely original and fresh concept that manages to hit the right notes it seems. The story revolves around a severed hand, trying to cross the town to find the rest of its body. While the synopsis does sound a little weird and might put off some people from watching it, I assure it is not a gore fest. The film is pretty sweet and has a fairly universal view point at the core of it. The film is available on Netflix.
9) Punch Drunk Love (2002)
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
I love this film from the bottom of my heart and I am so glad I came across it. Paul Thomas Anderson before his classics, Sandler playing a role out of his comfort zone but still being very much Sandler and the score….oh, the score. Punch Drunk Love is a RomCom but don’t let that fool you. It’s unlike any RomComs out there. Have you really gotten annoyed by the heat when you’re out and there’s traffic and noise and you just wanted to yell? This movie is that emotion but with a heart. The film is not available on any streaming platform but I urge you to torrent it. Trigger Warning for people with intense anxiety issues.
10) American History X (1998)
Directed by: Tony Kaye
American History X is an important film and is relevant in these times more than ever. The film revolves around a Neo-Nazi played brilliantly by Edward Norton. It shows the struggles of adapting life after prison, the problems he faces trying to get back in his circles and putting his brother off the path he once followed. The film, in my opinion is also one of the best edited films. Even though set in a landscape we are not familiar with, the narrative resonates with us and we can all spot the similarities. The film is available on Netflix.
11) American Beauty (1999)
Directed by: Sam Mendes
American Beauty might be one of the most popular films I have recommended so far but I still feel it is not discussed enough when talking about good cinema. I first heard of this film when someone describe it as “the perfect film with no flaws.” That made me watch it and I was okay with the description thereafter. This film is a drama and a look into a man’s life who is tired with the way he is leading it. One of the best written films where the narrative is incredible and the characters shine through. Also it didn’t hurt that Sam Mendes directed it,so yeah. They genuinely don’t make films like this anymore. This film is available on Netflix.
12) Searching (2018)
Directed by: Aneesh Chaganty
Searching is a movie about a father trying to find his daughter who goes missing unexpectedly. The movie takes place on the father’s computer screen entirely, who through social media tries to trace his daughter’s last interactions only to find shocking things about her. Although not an unusual concept, the film uses the format to its full potential. The performances are great and there are enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.
13) Leave no Trace (2018)
Directed by: Debra Granik
Leave no Trace is a subtle yet strong film about a relationship and the definition of home. It is a story about a father and daughter who are constantly moving and their trials and tribulations along the way. The film has great performances and manages to convey each character’s perspectives on the given situations. It’s a really simple story but is made with precision and maturity that makes you want to understand things at a deeper level. The film is available on Netflix.
14) Four Lions (2010)
Directed by: Chris Morris
Four Lions is a mockumentary about 4 British Muslims trying to become successful bombers and hopefully join ISIS. I know exactly what you’re thinking and yes, that is the actual plot. It’s actually more outlandish and if I may, absolutely brilliant too. The film is funny to its core, hits all the right notes and is a total blast. (pun intended xD) I am glad this film exists to poke fun at things we are too scared to discuss over dinner. Riz Ahmed is excellent in this film. The film is not available on any streaming platform but I urge you check it out anyway.
15) Beats of No Nation (2015)
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Beats of No Nation is a war film set in Africa and is told through the perspective of a young boy who gets involved in the violence. The kid, after having lost his family joins a militia and unknowingly indulges in acts of violence against opposition and civilians. I was never a huge fan of Idris Elba. I thought The Office was the only part he was best suited for but I was glad to be proven wrong. He is absolutely menacing as the Commandment of the militia. The child protagonist “Agu” is a delight to watch and so are the other child artists. The film is a great look into the ugly realties of war and the innocent lives it claims in the process. The film is available On Netflix.
16) Natural Born Killers (1994)
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Natural Born Killers is a film I kept recommending everyone even after 2 months of watching it. I had never seen anything like it before and I don’t think I still have. This film is like unlike any other crime thriller you have ever seen. The film’s cast which includes Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr. Juliette Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones deliver performances that are genuinely frightening at times. The recurring argument against the film is that it glorifies serial killers and after having watched it and understanding what it is trying to say, I cannot stress how dumb that argument is. ALSO: Major Seizure and Epilepsy Trigger Warning. I recommend watching the trailer before deciding to watch. It is available on Amazon Prime Video.
17) Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
A film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Paul Schrader and starring Nicholas Cage as the lead should give you a fair idea of what to expect from the film. I will go on to say that this might be the weirdest film Scorsese has ever made and Cage perfectly fits in the world depicted. The story of 3 nights in the life of a New York paramedic might not sound exciting but the film depicts it as if it’s on crack the whole time. The supporting characters are even better, adding mayhem to an already chaotic world, including Scorsese’s wonderful cameo.
18) Ajji (2017)
Directed by: Devashish Makhija
Ajji is a 2017 Hindi film which sort of feels like a loose adaptation of “Little Red Riding Hood” The film is a revenge story at its core and what a person is capable of doing if a crisis arises and the lengths they’ll go to fight it. The film becomes extremely hard to watch at times with its unflinching look at violence. It doesn’t shy away from showing anything and you can get a sense of that by just looking at the alternative posters online. Apart from all this, the film has beautiful cinematography, impeccable performances and one of the best opening scenes I have seen in recent years. The film is available on Netflix.
19) The Nice Guys (2016)
Directed by: Shane Black
The Nice Guys is a crime-action comedy written and directed by Shane Black starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. The film is absolutely hilarious at times without being over the top and just tells a good detective story set in the LA of 70s. Both the actors are a treat to watch and the chemistry between them is undeniable. Films like these are important in the sense that they don’t tackle heavy issues and their sole purpose is entertaining the audience.
20) Into the Wild (2007)
Directed by: Sean Penn
Into The Wild is an adventure/drama based on a true story. The film is beautiful in its portrayal of a man who just decided to walk out and leave everything behind. The landscapes he crosses are breath-taking, to say the least. Emile Hirsch in the lead delivers a charming yet layered depiction of the character Chris, or as he calls himself, Alexander Supertramp. The editing is a strong point, immersive and innovative. The climax of the film is hard-hitting and makes the whole film worth it. The film is available on Netflix.
21) Adaptation (2002)
Directed by: Spike Jonze
I’ve had Adaptation on my list for years but I always skipped it, thinking it would never match the expectations I had from it. I was wrong. It is a film written by Charlie Kaufmann, about writer Charlie Kaufmann played by Nicholas Cage, trying to write a film, about him trying to write film. (Ikr xD) It is as Meta as it sounds. Nicholas Cage is brilliant even in a double role and so is Meryl Streep. The film, in my opinion, is the most accurate portrayal of what a writing process entails. The self-awareness of certain screenwriting tropes is a delight to watch. Also, it’s directed by Spike Jonze, the man behind “Her”, if you needed any more convincing to watch it.
22) The Warriors (1979)
Directed by: Walter Hill
The Warriors is the first film in my set of recommendations that I think is not a particularly good one. It’s out there sure but I knew nothing about it going and now I cannot even describe the amount of fun I had. If you like it, you like it. To its credit, the film does have a really intriguing concept and I would argue that it’s also a great look into the aesthetic of the 70s. The film is about this gang who have to make their way across New York all the way to Coney Island without getting killed. It’s so bizarre at times but still has more originality than most things nowadays. Just watch it and see for yourself. It is available on Netflix.
23) A Ghost Story (2017)
Directed by: David Lowery
A Ghost Story is the sweetest looking film that hits harder than most full-blown dramas and does it with less than half the amount of words. Casey Affleck acts while being under a bed sheet the whole time and you still can’t look away. He is that brilliant. Also, the editing is exceptional. It proves that even without any flashy cuts, there’s still a lot you can do with a simple shot-reverse shot. The narrative takes a turn you wouldn’t expect but will hook you to it in no time. Also that one scene!!! Don’t think too much, just keep watching! The film sadly isn’t on any streaming platform but please check it out. Kesha is in too for what it’s worth!
24) La Haine (1995)
Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz
La Haine is easily one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Every frame seems to tell its own story. I’m aware of the film being a “classic” but I just feel that given the times we are living in, everybody needs to watch this movie. The opening shot of the film itself says so much about what’s to come. And that one shot in downtown Paris!!! Watch it for that one shot I say. It’s sad to see how relevant the film is even today, but it also makes you think about the brilliance of the people who made a piece of art so timeless. I saw someone upload this movie with English subtitles on YouTube and I urge you to watch it before it gets taken down.
25) Beatriz at Dinner (2017)
Directed by: Miguel Arteta
Beatriz at Dinner is the simplest nail biter I’ve ever seen, even though it’s anything but simple and many wouldn’t even consider it a thriller. This is by far the best performance of Salma Hayek’s entire career. I can’t even imagine anyone else playing her part, There are a lot of films that make you cringe and uncomfortable with its disturbing visuals but this film does all that with just 7 people sitting at a dinner table. There is a message behind the whole film which many might miss, and even if they get it, they wouldn’t care for. But just how it all takes place is what makes it worthy to watch.
26) Being Cyrus (2006)
Directed by: Homi Adajania
Being Cyrus is a thriller that I genuinely think was ahead of its time and isn’t appreciated enough even now. The film has a stellar cast with Saif Ali Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Boman Irani and Dimple Kapadia and this should be a reason enough to watch it. The film might come off as a little predictable but I urge you to look beyond the twists and just see the underlying tones of it all. Some of the techniques used in this film in terms of narrative structure and editing were not popular at the time and are still not prevalent in Indian Cinema to some extent. The dialogues and humour in the film feel fresh and have a distinct voice. The film is available on YouTube for free.
27) This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Directed by: Rob Reiner
This is Spinal Tap would surely be on the Mount Rushmore of mockumentary films, no doubt. The film is literally one iconic scene after another and is filled with hilariously quotable dialogues. It earned its place to be in the list of classics rightfully. The film does come from the brilliant mind of Rob Reiner so you should know what to expect. A no. of musicians have gone on record to say that they dislike the film because of its inaccuracy with regards to the actual lives of rock stars. This is the only film on IMDB that’s rated out of 11 and you’ll know why after watching it.
28) The Gift (2015)
Directed by: Joel Edgerton
The Gift is such an underrated thriller with an increasingly engaging plot that keeps you on the edge at all times. Frankly, the poster and title of the film didn’t intrigue me at all and I only decided to watch it because Jason Bateman was in it and I got strong Ozark vibes. I am so glad I did because Bateman along with Joel Edgerton and Rebecca Hall put forth commendable performances. Edgerton at all points makes you question everything you know about his character. Not to take away from the fact that it is Edgerton’s directorial debut and he showcases immense talent and skill. The film is available on Amazon Prime Video.
29) Crumb (1995)
Directed by: Terry Zwigoff
Crumb is a documentary about the American cartoonist Robert Crumb and I cannot describe in words how interesting this man is. This man would be cancelled so quickly if he chose to release his work today, but the psyche of someone who made the drawings he did is what the film sets out to explore. The comics he made were considered extremely offensive and controversial by some, while others lauded him as a genius and a pioneer in how sexuality is portrayed in popular media. There’s a great chance you’ll have a strong opinion by the end of this documentary. You’ll come to know how his family, especially his brothers shaped him in a way to become who he was. And just to add, David Lynch has produced this film. It is available on YouTube.
30) Election (1999)
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Election on the surface seems like such a run of the mill high school comedy but make no mistake. This film is much smarter than you think. The plot alone is kind of genius when you think about it; saying a lot more about politics through student-body president elections than you could possibly expect from a film like this. Reese Witherspoon and Mathew Broderick are absolutely phenomenal. Witherspoon as Tracy Flick will make you hate her and sympathize with her at the same time. There are no forced jokes and every character says and does what you expect from them. They’re all flawed in their own ways which makes you empathize with them. Also, after you’re done with this film, watch its alternate ending on YouTube!
31) Locke (2014)
Directed by: Steven Knight
Locke is the kind of film that comes across as simple when you’re explaining it to a friend but is actually pretty layered. Only Tom Hardy can carry something like this. Just a man, making a few important calls, while driving to the hospital. Trust me when I say that this is truly an “edge of your seat” viewing. You’ll be completely hooked to the character and the situation he has gotten himself into. Also, I had no clue about the talent this film boasts when I first watched it. Olivia Colman, Tom Holland and Andrew Scott all giving excellent performances just through a phone! The film is available on YouTube.
32) The Talented Mr.Ripley (1999)
Directed by: Anthony Minghella
The Talented Mr.Ripley feels like an adapted version of a William Shakespeare play. I remember watching this film for the first time in high school and being blown away by how complex, and at times, unlikeable, every character was. The performances in this film are legendary. Jude Law is amazing as always and was even nominated for his performance in this. Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow and PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFMANN! And, the man himself, Matt Damon. He is so terrifying and the worst person on-screen and you still end up rooting for him. The location and background score are also worth mentioning. These underrated aspects of the film really drive the plot home, in my opinion.
Ali was kind enough to recommend two shows that he liked dearly.
1) Ramy (2019)
It’s a great show that’s really funny and accurately portrays a Muslim lifestyle in these trying times. It is finally available on Amazon Prime Video so please check it out.
2) I Think You Should Leave (2019)
This is a hilariously weird and funny show that I am glad I came across. If you like SNL, you will love this show immensely. The episodes are only 17 min long so it won’t take a lot of time to finish even! This is kind of a weird show so watch a couple of promos before going into it.
You can check out Ali’s Instagram (@ali_asgernabi) for more recommendations
and follow him because generally also he is a pretty cool person.
Here is a link of the stand-up act which made him win at Malhar
Fest of St.Xaviers College which I say is a pretty huge deal!