Every movie fan will be thinking Oscar beginning, oh, now.
That’s because the pre-eminent movie award airs Sunday on ABC beginning with red carpet coverage at 7 p.m.
There existed a time when movie studios would withhold the release to home video their Oscar contenders hoping to reap more cash from nominated films with an extended theatrical run or re-release.
Those days are gone courtesy of shortened theater windows. Movie fans can find any number of Oscar-nominated films for rental from various streaming services and for purchase on physical media. There are plenty of prestige films on the best picture list that are available now. All of these films are worth a look, but it’s usually the smaller ones that get left behind.
But Nebraska (Rated R, Paramount Pictures, $14.99 to $39.99 depending on edition and format, 4-of-5 stars) is one of those films that must be seen prior to Sunday’s Oscars.
Simply put the performances, most notably those of Bruce Dern, a character actor who enjoyed a critically acclaimed career throughout the ‘70s up until the ‘90s, who stars as Woody Grant, the patriarch of the typical or stereotypical Midwestern American family depending on point of view.
Woody’s the type of father everyone knows. He served his country, married and raised a family and now he just wants to be a wee bit selfish. For him that means believing that he’s won a sweepstakes prize and that involves going to Lincoln, Neb. to collect his winnings, much to the dismay of everyone in his family, including his wife Kate (June Squibb) and sons David (Will Forte) and Ross (Bob Odenkirk).
Will, in order to make sure his father remains safe, agrees to take him where he wants to go and along the way we’re presented to a cast of family opportunists and the Grant family must deal with their past, present and future where reality is slowly but surely creeping in.
Dern is magnificent. Squibb nearly steals the show and Payne’s direction, as it has been in films such as Election, is intelligent, confident and engages the audience.
Extras: The blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet and iTunes digital copy and just a making-of feature. Normally that would be reason to complain, but the movie is enough in this case.
The same could be same of Game of Thrones (HBO Home Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, $59.99 to $79.99 depending on edition, 4-of-5 stars), but the extras make things that much more fun.
The third season of HBO’s wildly popular fantasy series based on the books of George R.R. Martin which tells of the battle for the kingdom of Westeros was as engaging as anything on television and remains one of the must-see shows on television, helping HBO the king of such programming.
The only disappointment regarding the third season was less Tyrion Lannister (the superb Peter Dinklage), but per usual, the filmmakers continued to add layers to their characters and add elements of intrigue along with the usual royal manipulations regarding the Iron Throne.
The ultimate episode: The Rains of Castamere, which contained the scene that shocked any Thrones fans who came to the material via TV only. The Red Wedding as it’s been called will forever cement its place in cyberspace for YouTube, Facebook and Twitter reactions. It was evidence that Thrones was only just getting started when it came to unveiling its plot.
Extras: That one episode has been singled out with its own featurette in the extras portion of the seven-disc, blu-ray set. It’s but one of a cornucopia of goodies included in the box set. The set also includes digital copies of all the episodes.
Coming soon: You won’t find The Wolf of Wall Street on any home entertainment medium in time for the Oscars, but it will arrive on Digital HD March 18 and on blu-ray March 25th…Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – not an Oscar nominee will arrive on Digital HD March 11th and blu-ray on April 1st. .