When rains play foul, forcing you to spend a lot of your free time indoors, it's a blessing in disguise to catch up on your movies watchlist. This month, we are celebrating birthday stars such as Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Steve Martin, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Cameron Diaz and Saif Ali Khan. From playing the God of Thunder and a detective trying to solve a murder mystery, to a drug lord looking to rise in power, each of these actors have showcased their versatility and made us fall in love with cinema, one movie at a time.
Charlize Theron (August 7)
This is, by far, Theron’s best performance. Her role as a serial killer named, Aileen Wuornos earned her an Oscar for Best Actress. This movie, in a way, changed the audience's perceptions about her for the better—she was no longer seen as a sex symbol. For this movie, Theron also underwent physical transformation—she had reportedly gained 30 pounds, her eyebrows were shaved off, and she wore prosthetic teeth. Despite playing a monster, a street prostitute who killed seven men, Theron pours her heart and soul into the character making us sympathise with her actions. Watching Theron in the negative role was a positive experience.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Another film for which Theron underwent physical transformation—she shaved her head—was for this all-out action film. Though she doesn't play the lead protagonist in the movie, her character, Imperator Furiosa, dictates the direction in which the movie goes. After all, she is his loyal lieutenant who stabs him in the back to flee with his five wives. The movie had everyone on the edge of their seat.
Chris Hemsworth (August 11)
As Thor, the God of Thunder in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)
Be it as the sole superhero or with his team of Avengers, Hemsworth has saved the day and the world with his brilliant performances. Hemsworth never fails to impress us, especially when he comes on screen with the Stormbreaker in his hand and hits the ground—a signature Thor shot that's been running since his first appearance as Thor in 2011. In the franchise's latest film, Avengers: Endgame, the audience saw a different side of Thor as he drowns himself in drinking, grief, and misery over the loss of half the universe. For him, redemption was always a matter of when than if, and it’s absolutely awesome to see him in the final battle where he proves himself worthy.
Extraction (1 and 2)
Playing an action hero comes naturally to Hemsworth. In this two-part Netflix original, the actor plays the role of a black market mercenary, who can rescue anyone from the remotest part of the world, no matter how big and strong the enemy is. While you see him perform high-octane stunts and fights in the first film, his emotional side comes to the fore in the second part. Having escaped the jaws of death, Hemsworth as Rake, springs back in action. His mission is to save his sister-in-law and her children from her husband’s prison and gang.
Steve Martin (August 14)
In what is his first solo screenplay, Martin retells the story of the verse play Cyrano de Bergerac. He plays Charlie Bates, a fire chief in a small town, who is famous for his long nose. He meets the pretty newcomer, Roxanne Kowalski (Daryl Hannah) and is instantly attracted to her. But things aren’t smooth sailing as Roxanne falls for Chris, Charlie’s newest firefighter. He helps the socially awkward Chris woo and win Roxanne’s heart (while secretly crushing on her at the same time), and it’s only a matter of time before Roxanne figures out the truth. Though it gives us a memorable performance by Martin, the film also proves how he is also a good storyteller. Martin bagged a Golden Globe and Writers Guild Association nomination, respectively for the film.
Father of the Bride (1991)
Expectations are always high when you remake a film, and Martin met those and then some. This remake of the 1950 Vincente Minnelli comedy had everyone laughing their heart out. The actor stars as George Banks, a shoe company executive who is counting down the days to his daughter’s wedding. Another reason why the film did better than the original is Martin’s chemistry with his on-screen wife played by Diane Keaton. His performance was so good, they made a sequel in 1995.
Ben Affleck (August 15)
Based on a true story, this film takes place during the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran and revolves around CIA agent, Tony Menzez (Affleck) who gives it all to rescue six Americans in Tehran. What’s his plan? Well, it involves roping in a Hollywood producer and make-up artist to create a science fiction movie in the country. Sounds bizarre, right? But he makes it happen and rescues them safely. This political thriller is a compelling watch that you won’t be able to take your eyes off.
Gone Girl (2014)
Based on Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel of the same name, the film revolves around Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), whose sudden disappearance makes everyone think Nick (Affleck), her husband, has something to do with it. With cops, authorities, and the media already giving their verdict, Nick has a tough time proving his innocence. Even though Pike took all the praise, Affleck’s role is noteworthy for he keeps the audience guessing till the end.
Jennifer Lawrence (August 15)
Winter’s Bone (2010)
Much before she came into the limelight, this was, inarguably, Lawrence’s first performance that gave audiences a glimpse of her acting calibre. She plays the role of a teenager, Ree Dolly, who sets out to find her missing father, a drug dealer, after he places their home up for his bail bond. Set in the Ozark Mountains, Dolly, in her quest to get to the bottom of the mystery, discovers secrets about her family that she wishes she didn’t know. Her performance earned the actor her very first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Lawrence won the Oscar for Best Actress for this film when she was only 22, making her the second youngest woman (after Marlee Matlin of Children of a Lesser God) to bag the accolade. She stars as Tiffany, a widow whose friendship evolves with Pat, a man diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is released from a psychiatric hospital. Wanting to go to any length to win back his ex-wife, he enlists Tiffany's help. Over time, the two become close and share an understanding and bond such that they begin to examine their relationship and what they mean to each other.
Saif Ali Khan (August 16)
Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003)
Khan, as the adorable and goofy Rohit, who falls head over heels for Naina (Preity Zinta) is inarguably the reason why this movie is funny and emotional. But before he understands true love, he falls for women who are only interested in his money, gives his maid the impression that he's gay and freaks her out, and has a strange-ish, sweet bond with his true-blue Gujarati parents. But, in spite of all this and because of it, too, we love how this character has his heart in the right place, always. He may not understand the ways of love, but he loves truly and deeply.
With this performance Khan shows audiences how good his acting range is—it is one of the most layered characters he'd played. Starring as Langda Tyagi in Vishal Bhardwaj's adaptation of the Shakespeare's play Othello, Khan is the scheming and manipulative gang member, whose greed for power sees him lose control and change people's lives forever. Khan made the character extremely believeable by getting the dialect, body language, and mannerisms of a gangster operating out of Uttar Pradesh absolutely spot on. While one fully knew that he was the antagonist, he was the one we rooted for, thanks to his convincing acting.
Robert De Niro (August 17)
Taxi Driver (1976)
The film may be nearing its 50-year anniversary, but it continues to be an ideal movie for the way it touches upon violence, brutality, and angst; it is better than how most films do, today. It is also gave us the iconic, spine-chilling ‘Are you talking to me? mirror scene where De Niro is frightening as ever. The actor plays the role of Travis Bickle, a lonely cab driver who roams the streets of New York. With every passing day, he gets further convinced that he is the only person who can ride the city from the rampant crime. As the film progresses, we see his deteriorating health and his involvement with a woman and a young girl. De Niro is charismatic and captivating in every scene and shows what a great acting legend he is. It’s a film you certainly do not want to miss, whether or not you are a cinephile.
Raging Bull (1980)
Four years later, Scorsese and De Niro team up again to give a film and an acting performance that’s for the ages. The actor plays La Motta, who is as talented a boxer as he is self-destructive as an individual. Legend has it that the production of the movie was shut for four months so that De Niro could gain a whopping 70 pounds to play the boxer in his later years. The movie is as much about victory as it about defeat—on the one hand, you see him victorious in the ring and on the other, his rage drives away his loved ones, including his wife and manager-brother. De Niro gets into the skin of the character and gives a magnetic performance. He bagged the Best Actor award at the Oscars that year.