CATEGORIES DVDs
Oscar nominee Melissa Leo and President Josh Brolin lead new DVD releases.

Determined to see all of this year's Oscar nominees? You're in luck with this week's release of double-nominee 'Frozen River,' one of the quietest award contenders of 2008.

Then there's Oliver Stone's 'W.,' which wasn't nearly as controversial (nor nearly as profitable) as many hoped it would be, yet still proved entertaining. On the other hand there's Spike Lee's 'Miracle at St. Anna,' which most agreed wasn't very miraculous at all.

Get the full scoop on this week's DVD releases, plus our recommendations from weeks' past.


'Frozen River'
What It's About: Hard up for cash after her no-good husband ditches her (and with their money for a new trailer home!), a gun-toting, retail-working mother of two (Melissa Leo) begins moonlighting as an immigrant smuggler.

Awards & Nominations: Leo has been racking up accolades since the indie drama debuted at Sundance a year ago, and is now an Academy Award nominee for Best Actress. The film is also up for Best Original Screenplay.

What We Say: Courtney Hunt's indie drama is without a doubt the unflashiest movie contending for Oscars this year (call it the anti-'Iron Man'). Steered by a quietly devastating performance by Leo, its power lies in its deft storytelling and unflinching realism.

Add to Netflix queue | Buy from Amazon | Oscar Movies Made Easy

'W.'
What It's About: A charismatic and hard-partying frat guy (Josh Brolin, in an impressive turn) with serious daddy issues and difficulty holding onto a day job quits booze, finds God, and becomes the 43rd president of the United States. Based on a true story.

What We Say: Oliver Stone isn't nearly as hard on George W. Bush as most expected he'd be, instead painting a partly sympathetic, mostly tragicomedic portrait of the now ex-prez. At the very least it was one of 2008's most intriguing movie experiments (but for a funnier, more stinging portrayal, see Will Ferrell on stage in 'You're Welcome America.')

Where It Ranks: 'W.' placed #44 on our list of 2008's 50 best movies.

Add to Netflix queue | Buy from Amazon | Watch Brolin-Banks Unscripted

'Miracle at St. Anna'
What It's About: The story of four African-American soldiers (Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso and Omar Benson Miller) trapped in small Tuscan town during WWII -- inexplicably framed around a modern-day crime investigation.

What We Say: Spike Lee follows up his most commercially successful film yet ('Inside Man') ... with his career's biggest head-scratcher. A war drama-comedy-fantasy-buddy movie-heartwarmer (?), worst of all it's 160 minutes of boring.

On the Other Hand: E!'s Ben Lyons thought it was "One of the year's best," according to the DVD packaging. (The film scored a mere 33 percent approval rating on RottenTomatoes, however.)

Add to Netflix queue | Buy from Amazon | Watch the trailer

Other New Releases This Week:
'Nights in Rodanthe'
'Soul Men'
'Blindness'
'Chocolate'
'My Name Is Bruce'
'The Lodger'

Special Editions:
'Back to the Future'
'Back to the Future II'
'Back to the Future III'
'Street Fighter'
'The Skulls' Trilogy

Recent DVD Recommendations

    'Pineapple Express'
    Release Date: Jan. 6
    What It's About: A stoner (Seth Rogen) and his pot dealer (James Franco) attempt to stay sober enough to run for their lives after one witnesses a murder.
    What We Say: You don't actually have to be stoned stupid to find yourself giggling non-stop at this endearing bromantic comedy that builds up to an outrageously violent (but hilarious!) climax.
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch Rogen-Franco Unscripted

    Sony

    'The Wackenss'
    Release Date: Jan. 6
    What It's About: A pot-dealing teen ((Josh Peck) who trades weed for therapy ((Sir Ben Kingsley plays the bong-smoking shrink) comes of age in NYC, 1994.
    What We Say: Those who grew up on hip-hop, namely the "Golden Era" sounds of Notorious B.I.G., A Tribe Called Quest and the likes, will revel in the nostalgia of this funny and sincere flick.
    Add to Netflix queue | Read Olivia Thirlby Q&A

    Sony Classics

    'The Duchess'
    Release Date: Dec. 28
    What It's About: Keira Knightley plays Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, a socialite who was like the Paris Hilton of 18th Century England (only charming, talented and likable).
    What We Say: Like many Oscar bait dramas this year, this one is noteworthy for its performances above anything, but it's still a stirring historical soap opera.
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch trailer & clip

    Paramount Vantage

    'Burn After Reading'
    Release Date: Dec. 21
    What It's About: Two bumbling gym employees (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) attempt to blackmail a bumbling ex-spy (John Malkovich) when they find a lost disc. A bumbling George Clooney co-stars.
    What We Say: As far as the Coen brothers oeuvre goes, it falls smack dab in the middle of 'Fargo' (being their best) and 'Ladykillers' (their worst).
    Add to Netflix queue | Read Coen brothers Q&A

    Focus Features

    'American Teen'
    Release Date: Dec. 21
    What It's About: Documentarian Nanette Burnstein follows five Indiana high school seniors -- and each fits perfectly into a classic stereotype.
    What We Say: It's an amusing, heartfelt, incredibly entertaining portrait of Middle America High, complete with heroes (we love you, Hannah!) and villains (damn you, Megan Krizmanich).
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch exclusive DVD clip

    Paramount Vantage

    'The Dark Knight'
    Release Date: Dec. 9
    What It's About: You already know. But for fun: A vigilante dresses up like a flying rodent (Christian Bale) and battles a man even crazier, the Joker (Heath Ledger).
    What We Say: There's a reason this baby made $530 million at the box office, second only to 'Titanic' all time: It rocks. Now bring on the posthumous Oscar for Heath.
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch exclusive DVD clip

    Warner Bros.

    'Horton Hears a Who!'
    Release Date: Dec. 9
    What It's About: The unlikely relationship between an elephant (voiced by Jim Carrey) and the specks of dust on his back.
    What We Say: Thank you Hollywood for finally animating Dr. Seuss! (Anyone else still suffer bad 'Cat in the Hat' flashbacks?). 'Horton' is sweet, charming and a treat to watch.
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch exclusive DVD clip

    Fox

    'Man on Wire'
    Release Date: Dec. 9
    What It's About: The amazing story of Frenchman Philippe Petit, who tightrope-walked between World Trade Center towers in 1974.
    What We Say: The best-reviewed film of all time, according to RottenTomatoes.com, this doc combines interviews and actual footage with impressively non-corny reenactments, and is 100% breathtaking.
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch trailer & clips

    Magnolia

    'Wanted'
    Release Date: Dec. 2
    What It's About: An everyday Joe (James McAvoy) is recruited by a secret society of assassins who kill to orchestrate fate ... which is determined by a loom.
    What We Say: It's all style, no brains (see Loom of Fate); both ridiculously cool and just-plain ridiculous. Those with a low threshold for nonsensical plots be warned. The rest of us can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
    Add to Netflix queue | Read James McAvoy Q&A

    Universal

    'Step Brothers'
    Release Date: Dec. 2
    What It's About: Two 40-something man-children (Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly) become siblings first, enemies second, and finally, BFFs.
    What We Say: This proudly vulgar comedy doesn't always work, but there are enough moments of hilarity to recommend a DVD viewing. (Warning: Contains disturbing images of Will Ferrell's bits.)
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch Ferrell-Reilly Unscripted

    Sony