Saturday, January 4, 2014
DVD Outlook: January 2014
Although the DVD and Video-On-Demand selections have been weak the past few months (December), January makes up for it in a big way. This month is loaded with some of my favorite films of the year, as well as a couple Oscar-possibilities. It was difficult to narrow down my top three picks of the month with a long list of worthy releases, but here's what I came up with.
Rush - 3 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)
Until the December release of David O. Russell's Academy Award Best Picture contender, American Hustle, Ron Howard's Rush spent a large portion of 2013 atop my favorite movies of the year. One could argue it was low the expectations I had upon entering the theatre, but in actuality it has everything to do with a dynamite performance from Oscar-hopeful, Daniel Bruhl, and a thrilling sports story superbly executed by its director. Formula 1 racing captured the attention of the entire world during the 1970s, and two of the fiercest drivers on the planet, James Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Bruhl), embarked on a legendary rivalry. Rush is far more than a high-octane racing movie, it has layers and depth that enable it to stand on its own as one of the finest sports dramas in years. It's an absolute Must-See feature. (January 28th)
Short Term 12 - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)
One of the year's most tender, yet heartbreaking, films comes in the form of Destin Cretton's directorial debut, Short Term 12. This unknown indie drama packs an enormous amount of emotion thanks to a genuine script and an unbelievable performance from Brie Larson. The gifted young actress is more than deserving of Oscar-notoriety, however, she appears to be on the outside looking in. Larson is far from the lone shining star in the film, the cast is flooded from top to bottom with authentic performances. In fact, supporting star John Gallagher Jr. even landed on my year's Most Underrated Performances list. Watch as these twenty-somethings spend their workdays consoling and molding youth at a foster-care facility for at-risk children. It's an eye-opening journey into the lives of our forgotten youth. (January 14th)
Captain Phillips - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)
The major consensus is Tom Hanks will find his way into the Best Actor race for his showing in this year's true-story action adventure, Captain Phillips. This would mark the 6th time Hanks has been handed an Oscar Nomination, and he truly earns it once again. Captain Phillips follows a cargo vessel taken under siege by a band of Somali pirates. Through the guidance of their tactical captain, the vessel's crew must work together to survive the ordeal. Director Paul Greengrass is best known as the visionary behind the second and third installment of the Bourne franchise, and here the action is equally as effective. Well paced and highly compelling, Captain Phillips is another strong effort from one of the greatest actors the world has ever seen. (January 21st)
Honorable Mention: There's no shortage of other sensational selections finding their way to DVD this month. Two Sundance Film Festival entries that are both worthy of checking out are The Spectacular Now (1/14) and the gut-wrenching true-story of Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station (1/14). As for some Oscar-Caliber movies, Cate Blanchett is a frontrunner in the Best Actress category for her fine role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine (1/21) and there's a few fringe players fighting to make the Oscar cut from Lee Daniels' The Butler (1/14). Another rising Oscar contender comes in the form of a potential posthumous nomination for the late-great James Gandolfini in the romantic-comedy Enough Said (1/14). Horror fans have some interesting options arriving on DVD in January, Carrie (1/14) and the buzzed-about You're Next (1/14) are available this month as well.