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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Best Picture Nominee Argo and Sinister

Plus, Joe Wright's latest period piece, a teen comedy, and a bunch of reissues.

by | February 19, 2013 | Comments

One of last year’s most talked about and (thus far) most honored films hits store shelves this week. Though it’s tough to know what Argo‘s chances of winning the Best Picture Oscar are, at least it’ll benefit from likely big rental numbers. Otherwise, we’ve also got Joe Wright’s latest period piece with Keira Knightley, a Nickelodeon teen comedy, a fairly well-reviewed horror flick, and a ton of reissues. See below for the full list!

Argo

96%

Will it take home the Best Picture Oscar, despite the fact that Ben Affleck is missing from the Best Director nominations? It’s happened three times before, so it’s certainly possible, but it’s still up in the air. This Certified Fresh historical thriller retells the story of a daring (and almost comically improbable) CIA mission to rescue six American citizens from Iran during the height of that country’s political turmoil in the early 1980s. When militants storm the US Embassy in Tehran, a handful of employees manage to escape and secretly find sanctuary in the home of a Canadian Ambassador (Victor Garber); when the CIA learn of this, agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) concocts a plan to enter the country with a team posing as a film crew shooting a nonexistent sci-fi flick in hopes of getting the hidden Americans home safely. Featuring a strong supporting cast that includes John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Bryan Cranston, among others, Argo has won widespread critical acclaim and has already nabbed several top awards at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and more.

Sinister

63%

It would seem that horror films have largely become content with disregarding what critics will make of them, so when one comes along that manages a Fresh rating on RT, people tend to take notice. Sinister was one of a few scary movies that managed this feat last year. Ethan Hawke stars as a true-crime writer who moves into a new home with his wife and two children; though he knows full well that the house was once the site of a grisly murder scene, he plans to make it the subject of his next book. Instead, he finds a box full of mysterious Super 8 film reels in the attic that depict the murders of several families, and soon he finds his own kin haunted by the same evil that befell his predecessors. Critics felt that while Sinister does rely on some familiar clichés, it also manages to establish a suitably creepy atmosphere and wrangle a few gasps from its audience. It’s not perfect, but at 63% on the Tomatometer, it’s probably a bit more engaging than your typical horror flick.

Anna Karenina

63%

Director Joe Wright has achieved his greatest successes when working with Keira Knightley on a period piece, so it was probably only a matter of time before he decided to give that combination another shot. In their third outing together, Wright presents an adaptation of the classic Leo Tolstoy novel Anna Karenina, with Knightley playing the titular Russian aristocrat. Married to a statesman named Alexi Karenin (Jude Law), Anna meets and shares an immediate attraction with a wealthy, young cavalry officer named Alexi Vronsky (Aaron Johnson), thus beginning a love affair with dire consequences. Adapted by Tom Stoppard (Brazil, Shakespeare in Love), Anna Karenina earned a 63% Tomatometer score from the critics, who were somewhat split on Wright’s stylized interpretation of Tolstoy’s novel. The visuals are often beautiful, and the cast is talented, but some critics found the story strangely cold, so fans may want to keep that in mind.

Fun Size

25%

The plot details of Fun Size are so familiar that they’re somewhat negligible; what matters in a wanna-be raucous teen comedy, anyway, is whether or not its jokes land successfully. Unfortunately, most felt Fun Size pulled its punches, and what remained was a limp, lifeless effort. Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice plays high schooler Wren, who’s left in charge of her little brother Albert on Halloween when their mother (Chelsea Handler, who else?) leaves to party down. Invited to a raging party herself, Wren ultimately loses Albert in a horde of trick-or-treaters and enlists the help of three friends to track him down. What ensues is a night of (presumably) hilarious hijinks as Wren and Co. retrieve Albert and, we assume, show up to their Halloween party just in time to kiss the hot guy. At 25% on the Tomatometer, Fun Size probably isn’t going to make anyone’s nostalgic Top 10 list 20 years down the road; critics say it has a few moments, but it’s mostly too formulaic and too unfunny to be memorable.

Also available this week:

  • A Blu-ray release of 1928’s The Thief of Bagdad (93%), starring Douglas Fairbanks (not to be confused with the 1940 version, which is available in a Criterion Collection edition).
  • Several new Blu-ray packages for Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. (96%) are available this week, including a 5-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition, which has a few new small extras but isn’t a gigantic improvement on the 2009 Blu-ray release.
  • The Criterion Collection DVD/Blu-ray release of Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront (100%), featuring one of Marlon Brando’s most memorable performances.
  • Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary, Undefeated (96%), about an inner-city high school football team pushing towards its first playoff win in the history of the school.
  • The 3D Blu-ray re-release of Tony Scott’s Top Gun (54%).
  • For you ’80s kids: A Blu-ray of The Monster Squad (53%), about a group of boys battling the classic monsters of the Universal lineup.

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