‘Phillips,’ ‘Jasmine’ among Oscar contenders coming to DVD and Blu-ray

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Cate Blanchett stars in Blue Jasmine. (Merrick Morton/Sony Pictures Classics)

The Oscar nominations are followed by a burst of interest in contending films, and two will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday.

Captain Phillips (Sony, $30.99 DVD/digital, $40.99 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo) is the harrowing based-on-fact story of the hijacking of a cargo ship by Somali pirates; Tom Hanks played the ship’s captain, newcomer Barkhad Abdi was the pirate leader and Paul Greengrass (United 93) directed. It earned six nominations, including for best picture, Abdi as supporting actor, adapted screenplay, film editing, sound editing and sound mixing.

And it is something of a surprise that Hanks, giving one of his best performances, was not nominated for best actor. Greengrass, for that matter, was overlooked as best director — although, since the Oscar folks now name up to 10 best-picture contenders (nine this year), more and more directors go unrecognized even as their films are honored. Ben Affleck did not receive a directing nomination last year for Argo, even though it won for best picture.

The other film with some new Oscar honors is Blue Jasmine (Sony, $30.99 DVD/digital, $35.99 Blu-ray/digital), the latest work from writer-director Woody Allen. Cate Blanchett stars as a wealthy woman who, after her life begins to fall apart, moves in with her poorer sister (Sally Hawkins). Blanchett is nominated for best actress, Hawkins as supporting actress and Allen for his screenplay.

Allen has been much criticized for his personal choices, particularly for falling in love with and later marrying the much younger Soon-Yi Previn, whose mother, Mia Farrow, had a long relationship with Allen. During the recent Golden Globes ceremony, where Blanchett won the prize for best actress in a drama and an absent Allen was honored for life achievement, Twitter was alive over critical comments by Farrow and their son, Ronan Farrow.

But the film industry and critics still find considerable merit in his work. Blue Jasmine was not only a winner at the Golden Globes and an Oscar nominee, it has a 91 percent positive rating on the Rotten Tomatoes review-collecting site.

Among nominated documentaries, The Act of Killing, Dirty Wars and 20 Feet From Stardom are available now. Cutie and the Boxer will be on disc on Feb. 4 and is available for streaming now. I have not seen a disc release date for The Square, but it is on Netflix; that online streaming service is a partner in the film. On the animated side, two nominees — The Croods and Despicable Me 2 — are now available.

Down the road, Feb. 4 will include the home-viewing release of Dallas Buyers Club (best picture, best actor Matthew McConaughey, best supporting actor Jared Leto, original screenplay and more).

March 4 — two days after the Oscar winners are announced — brings 12 Years a Slave, which had nine nominations including best picture, best actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), supporting actor (Michael Fassbender), supporting actress (Lupita Nyong’o), director (Steve McQueen) and adapted screenplay. Also on March 4, you can find Philomena (best picture, adapted screenplay, original score and best actress Judi Dench).

Also of note: American Experience: 1964, the recent PBS documentary, will be on DVD Feb. 18. The Book Thief will be available for streaming on Feb. 25, then on DVD and Blu-ray March 11. The comedy-drama The Best Man Holiday comes to DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 11. Hours, a drama starring the late Paul Walker, will be on DVD March 4.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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