All movies are 2013/14 releases unless otherwise noted. Availability: DVD | Blu-ray | Both Blu-ray and DVD
One of the best films of 2013—and one of the more remarkable documentaries to emerge in some time—this surreal meditation on the banality of evil examines a 1960s-era genocide in Indonesia that left perhaps more than a million dead. What makes the film so unique and gripping is its approach: rather than merely talk to some of the surviving killers (who, as the victors, continue to live without punishment in Indonesia), director Joshua Oppenheimer has them re-create their murders, in the styles of their favorite movie genres. (Note that the DVD/Blu-ray release was previously scheduled for last fall; this is the new, correct date).
A favorite with TV critics last year and the recipient of eight Emmy nominations, this seven-episode miniseries (which aired on the Sundance Channel in the U.S.) was co-written and co-directed by Oscar winner Jane Campion, best known for films such as The Piano. That film's star Holly Hunter has a supporting role here, but Lake's center is Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, playing a determined police detective who investigates the disappearance of a teenage girl in a remote lakeside town in New Zealand. If you enjoyed BBC America's Broadchurch last year but missed this similarly dark and atmospheric crime drama, seek it out on DVD.
|More movie releases on January 7, 2014|
|53||Big Ass Spider! SCI-FI/COMEDY / Greg Grunberg, Ray Wise||Add to Queue|
|65||Birth of the Living Dead DOCUMENTARY||Add to Queue|
|51||Closed Circuit THRILLER / Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciaran Hinds||Add to Queue|
|The Happy House HORROR/COMEDY||Add to Queue|
|55||I'm So Excited! COMEDY / Directed by Pedro Almodovar||Add to Queue|
|68||Inequality for All DOCUMENTARY||Add to Queue|
|51||Linsanity DOCUMENTARY||Add to Queue|
|36||Runner Runner THRILLER / Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Justin Timberlake||Add to Queue|
|54||Thanks for Sharing ROM-COM / Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Mark Ruffalo||Add to Queue|
|Throne of Blood (1957) Criterion Collection|
|56||Tiger Eyes DRAMA / Based on the Judy Blume novel||Add to Queue|
|69||We Are What We Are HORROR / Bill Sage, Julia Garner||Add to Queue|
|TV on DVD/Blu-ray|
|80||Archer Season 4|
|Barney Miller Season 4|
|Being Human Season 3|
|Copper Season 2|
|Duck Dynasty Seasons 1, 2, 3 (separate Blu-ray sets)|
|Duck Dynasty Season 4|
|62||The Following Season 1|
|House of Lies Season 2|
|Star Trek: Enterprise Season 3|
This crowd-pleasing documentary—one of 15 features shortlisted for this year's documentary Oscar—puts a spotlight on artists who are never the focus of attention: namely, professional backup singers. Director Morgan Neville (Troubadours, The Cool School) interviews the stars (Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen) that have benefitted from these amazing voices, while focusing on the struggles and successes of an amazing array of veteran background performers, including Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and recent Voice contestant Judith Hill.
Writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s (Please Give) fifth film is another low-key winner, another incisive examination of the intimate relationships between friends and lovers. Enough Said stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a divorced single mother and masseuse who begins to fall for her new client’s ex-husband, played by James Gandolfini in one of his last screen performances. (His final film, Animal Rescue, arrives in 2014). This dramedy has been showing up on critic top 10 lists, and could earn Oscar nominations for either or both of its leads (plus screenplay).
Another film on numerous best of 2013 lists, Fruitvale Station was a two-time winner at Sundance a year ago, collecting the festival's top award (and another from Sundance audiences). Ryan Coogler’s debut feature depicts the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African-American gunned down by Oakland transit cops at a BART station on New Year’s Day in 2009. The film stars Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights, The Wire) as Grant, Octavia Spencer as his mother, and Melonie Diaz as his girlfriend.
After a detour with the divisive pulp thriller The Paperboy, director Lee Daniels is back on awards-friendly terrain (at least in the acting categories; a lack of a best picture nomination at the Golden Globes suggest that one isn't forthcoming at the Oscars) with this drama based on the story of real-life White House butler Eugene Allen, who served under eight different administrations. Forest Whitaker stars as the butler, while the ridiculously large ensemble includes Terrence Howard, Oprah Winfrey, Alex Pettyfer, Melissa Leo, Vanessa Redgrave, John Cusack (playing Nixon), James Marsden (JFK), Robin Williams (Eisenhower), Liev Schreiber (LBJ), Alan Rickman (Reagan), and Jane Fonda (Nancy Reagan).
It's a good week for DVD releases all right; here's another one that is popping up with high frequency on critics' year end lists, even if it doesn't quite have the name recognition of other awards contenders. The indie drama stars Brie Larson as a supervisor at a foster care facility, where she must deal with displaced kids as well as her own difficult past while confronting her future with a fellow staff member (John Gallagher Jr.). Destin Daniel Cretton’s follow up to I Am Not a Hipster won both the Grand Jury and Audience awards at last year’s SXSW Film Festival, and now has a chance to crash the Oscars, with Larson especially drawing attention as a potential nominee.
Another extremely well received indie drama, The Spectacular Now finds director James Ponsoldt (Smashed) taking another look at the impact that alcohol can have on someone’s life—in this case, a teenager's. This high school coming-of-age dramedy is adapted from Tim Tharp’s novel by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (the team behind (500) Days of Summer), and features strong lead performances from Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. Their blossoming relationship is at the center of a film that features supporting turns by Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Teller’s sister, Jennifer Jason Leigh as his hardworking mother, and Kyle Chandler as his absentee dad.
Good horror-comedies don't come along all that often, but we had one last summer in the form of this entry from director Adam Wingard (previously seen directing segments in the V/H/S anthologies) that had been lingering on the festival circuit for a few years prior to its release. This home invasion tale set at a family reunion was praised by most critics, who found it maybe a tad simplistic but elevated by its dark humor, energy, and style.
|More movie releases on January 14, 2014|
|60||+1 HORROR / Rhys Wakefield, Ashley Hinshaw||Add to Queue|
|50||A.C.O.D. COMEDY / Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch||Add to Queue|
|49||Big Sur DRAMA / Jean-Marc Barr, Kate Bosworth||Add to Queue|
|76||Blue Caprice DRAMA / Isaiah Washington||Add to Queue|
|53||Carrie (2013) HORROR REMAKE / Chloe Moretz, Julianne Moore||Add to Queue|
|Four DRAMA / Wendell Pierce, Aja Naomi King||Add to Queue|
|56||Greedy Lying Bastards DOCUMENTARY||Add to Queue|
|68||How to Make Money Selling Drugs DOCUMENTARY||Add to Queue|
|23||I'm in Love With a Church Girl DRAMA / Ja Rule||Add to Queue|
|72||Our Nixon DOCUMENTARY||Add to Queue|
|78||Paradise: Hope FOREIGN/DRAMA / Concludes Ulrich Seidl's Paradise trilogy||Add to Queue|
|49||Riddick SCI-FI/ACTION / Vin Diesel||Add to Queue|
|97||Rififi (1956) New Criterion Collection release|
|53||A Single Shot THRILLER / Sam Rockwell, Jeffrey Wright, Jason Isaacs||Add to Queue|
|Thief (1981) Criterion Collection; directed by Michael Mann|
|Underdogs DRAMA/SPORTS / D.B Sweeney||Add to Queue|
|TV on DVD/Blu-ray|
|77||The Americans Season 1|
|Top Gear Season 20|
Woody Allen returns to the United States for the first time since 2009's Whatever Works, splitting time between San Francisco and Manhattan for this mostly dramatic tale about a fashionable New York housewife (Cate Blanchett, the early Oscar favorite) whose husband (Alec Baldwin) falls for a younger woman. The ensemble also includes Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Don't worry; the director is heading back to Europe for his next project (Magic in the Moonlight), which will be set in the south of France.
Director Paul Greengrass returns to the true-story suspense (and success) of Bloody Sunday and United 93 with this story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks stars as Phillips in this adaptation of his memoir, A Captain’s Story: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea, by Billy Ray, the writer (and director) of Breach and Shattered Glass. The triumvirate of Hanks, Greengrass, and Ray—along with a compelling, ripped-from-the-headlines story—make this another film certain to feature in the upcoming Oscar nominations, though the likeliest nominee here is actually Hanks' co-star Barkhad Abdi, making his big-screen debut.
This charming debut feature from writer-director Lake Bell (Childrens' Hospital, Boston Legal) is set in the community of Hollywood voice-over actors. Bell herself stars as a struggling vocal coach who dreams of breaking into the voice-over biz by scoring a highly coveted gig narrating movie trailers. The comedy, which also features her Childrens' Hospital co-stars Ken Marino and Rob Corddry, plus Tig Notaro and Demetri Martin, charmed audiences at Sundance when it premiered there last January, and critics have praised its humor and originality.
Known as Les Revenants when it aired on French TV in 2012, The Returned was yet another critical success for Sundance Channel in 2013, earning the highest Metascore of any new series last year. Though the drama depicts a world where the dead come back to life, this definitely isn't The Walking Dead; these aren't zombies, but normal-seeming humans who are just as confused about coming back to life as the townsfolk who welcome them back. The mystery (which involves more than just the return of the dead) unfolds over eight episodes, and a second season will go into production this winter. Once you've settled into the groove of watching subtitled TV drama, you can also pick up season 3 of the acclaimed Danish political drama Borgen on DVD this week.
|More movie releases on January 21, 2014|
|62||Bad Milo! HORROR/COMEDY / Ken Marino, Gillian Jacobs||Add to Queue|
|36||Best Man Down DRAMEDY / Justin Long, Tyler Labine||Add to Queue|
|30||Charlie Countryman DRAMA / Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Rupert Grint||Add to Queue|
|55||Instructions Not Included COMEDY / Eugenio Derbez||Add to Queue|
|It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) Criterion Collection|
|La Vie De Boheme (1992) Criterion Collection|
|41||Machete Kills ACTION / Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez||Add to Queue|
|35||Paris Countdown THRILLER||Add to Queue|
|P!nk: The Truth About Love Tour: Live From Melbourne CONCERT|
|The Starving Games Quite possibly last year's worst movie||Add to Queue|
|61||Sunlight Jr. DRAMA / Naomi Watts, Matt Dillon||Add to Queue|
|39||Vikingdom ACTION-ADVENTURE / Dominic Purcell||Add to Queue|
|TV on DVD/Blu-ray|
|Borgen Season 3|
|57||Bullet in the Face IFC miniseries|
|Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 1|
|59||Crossing Lines Season 1|
|NYPD Blue Season 5|
One of the bigger box office flops of 2013 (grossing under $9 million at the box office), this fictionalized look at the rise of the controversial website Wikileaks stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, and comes from director Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn). Critics liked Cumberbatch's performance but found the movie around him stodgy and inert. For a better (nonfiction) look at the same subject matter, consider Alex Gibney's doc We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks.
Based on a true story, Rush looks at the at the rivalry and friendship between two of the great Formula 1 drivers of the 1970s, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl, who also stars opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in The Fifth Estate, above), and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). Director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan (The Damned United, The Queen) focus on the 1976 season, during which Lauda suffered severe burns as a result of a crash but returned to race Hunt for the championship. Howard’s directing career began with the Roger Corman-backed Grand Theft Auto (not to be confused, at all, with the popular video games) and delved into the car-culture wars of Japan and America with Gung Ho, but this look at racing history falls more in line with his Oscar-nominated true story dramas Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon, and is one of his best-reviewed features to date.
|More movie releases on January 28, 2014|
|37||Ass Backwards COMEDY / Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael||Add to Queue|
|59||Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 ANIMATION / Bill Hader, Anna Faris||Add to Queue|
|54||Concussion DRAMA / Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff||Add to Queue|
|64||Dark Touch HORROR / Missy Keating||Add to Queue|
|69||I Used to Be Darker DRAMA||Add to Queue|
|12||I Will Follow You Into the Dark THRILLER / Mischa Barton, Ryan Eggold||Add to Queue|
|54||Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa COMEDY / Johnny Knoxville||Add to Queue|
|The Long Day Closes (1992) Criterion Collection|
|61||Metallica Through The Never MUSIC||Add to Queue|
|31||A Perfect Man DRAMA / Liev Schreiber, Jeanne Tripplehorn||Add to Queue|
|Snow Queen ANIMATION||Add to Queue|
|TV on DVD/Blu-ray|
|76||The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross Documentary miniseries|
|54||Bonnie & Clyde Miniseries|
|Danny Phantom Complete series|
|Downton Abbey Season 4|
|Stonados TV movie|
|80||Treme Season 4 (also: complete series Blu-ray set)|
|Vera Set 3|