New on DVD and Blu-Ray: Jan. 10, 2012

This week has certainly kicked off the awards season. While both the People’s Choice Awards and the Critic’s Choice Awards popping up, I find myself more intrigued by an earlier announcement, the DGA nominations. As I’ve bragged once already on this site, I proudly predicted the surprise inclusion of David Fincher via twitter before it happened. For me, Dragon Tattoo has not missed much on its way to potential Oscar nominations. Beginning with solid reviews, attention for Rooney Mara’s excuisite performance, and its inclusion on both the National Board of Review top ten and the AFI top ten, the film has done as well as a film of its subject matter and content could have. From there, it went on to earn nominations from both the PGA and the afforementioned DGA. And that is without taking into account the recent industry infatuation with David Fincher. I consider him to be just about the best director around these days. And while I would have preferred him taking on something a little more artistically prestigious than a Stieg Larsson novel, I can’t deny that he’s delivered a near perfect rendition of the story.

But all of this is meaningless this year; the new rule of mandating a specified number of number one votes for a movie to score a nomination can do two things: prevent a universally liked (and traditionally expected) but not loved nominee from making the cut, or allow a more divisive film whose supporters love it enough to universally give it the number one vote to sneak in. I suspect War Horse and Bridesmaids may struggle to earn number one votes, whereas Drive and The Tree of Life could be totally out-of-the-blue shocks.

So where does this leave The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? I have no idea. It very well might have the number one votes. That’s what industry love does. Fincher has his fans and the technical aspects of his films are always pristine. Those are the voters that could pull his in for Best Picture. Oddly enough, I see a director nomination as less likely.

Enough Oscar prognostication, here are this week’s DVDs:

Top 5 Releases:

5) Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1954) – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

This sci-fi adaptation of the classic novel from which the title is derived is directed by Byron Haskin of The War of the Worlds. 50s sci-fi has a specific feel to it that is at once dated and classic. While I have not ever seen this Adam West classic before, it looks like it has it in spades. The Criterion Collection released it back in 2007 and has now updated it to blu-ray. I can only assume that they have done a wonderful job, as they always do.

4) Film Socialisme (2011)

Just like the French New Wave itself, I at once love and hate everything about Jean-Luc Godard. But even in my hypocritical and nonsensical rejection of things that don’t make sense, I have to embrace his style, because the contradiction is often the point he is trying to make. Film Socialisme premiered at the 2010 Cannes International Film Festival and only recently found distribution in the U. S. I’ve heard mixed to negative things about this particular feature. But it is still Jean-Luc Godard, so it’s gotta be worth something.

3) Higher Ground (2011)

Vera Farmiga came to my attention rather late in 2009 with her pitch-perfect performance alongside George Clooney and Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air. Her calm intensity demonstrated the necessary maturity of an accomplished woman impeccably. She was mysterious and subtly dangerous in that film. Her directoral debut, Higher Ground, was a well-received but largely unnoticed analysis of losing religious faith. It has my attention and I look forward to giving it a shot. But it’s gone so under-the-radar that I don’t even know much about it.

2) Boardwalk Empire: Season 1 (2011)

Martin Scorsese directed the pilot episode of this rather intense looking prohibition drama that aired last year on HBO. I’m already sold. And that is without taking into account that it has been deemed by many to be the new The Sopranos. I’ve yet to see a single episode. But I have no doubt that I will consider this my cup of tea, to put it subtly.

1) Moneyball (2011)

Claiming the number 10 spot on my list last year is Bennett Miller’s Moneyball. From scribes Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian comes the sharpest and wittiest film of the year and a profound character study about finding your place in the world. It’s odd to think that reducing people to statistics is less dehumanizing than it is useful in finding someone’s hidden talents. But that’s how I felt at the end of this wonderfully humorous and moving drama featuring utterly magnificent performances from both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. —Review Coming Soon!

All five of those are pretty satisfactory for me. But as usual, some bottom end stuff surfaced this week as well. First up is a Jackie Chan film called 1911, which I didn’t even know existed. On top of that there is What’s Your Number?, Killer Elite, The Scorpion King 3 (which has Ron Perlman in it, hell of a way to follow-up Drive), and the horrendously titled There be Dragons.

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  • I have seen Moneyball like 3 times already and will like to have the DVD too, loved it. Have to see Boardwalk Empire.

  • I’m definitely on board with Boardwalk Emmpire. Right now I’m actually on the second season of The Sopranos. Then there’s Mad Men… the fourth season of Breaking Bad will come out soon. Too many shows to watch.

  • You know, I think I’m going to grab ‘Moneyball’ from Redbox to re-watch it tonight. Its a movie that’s great for pretty much any mood.

    • Jose

      Especially if you’re hungry…

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