With Oscar ballots due last night and less than a week to go until the awards are handed out on Sunday, February 22nd, it's about time to take an in-depth look at how things stand in the race for the gold.
Some categories appear to be a lock, while others may surprise us when the envelopes are opened.
With The Judge hitting Blu-ray this week, your living room – or your phone, iPad, or computer – can be the setting of last year's most tense, most emotional courtroom battle.
This movie, a combination of nimble legal thriller and earnest familial drama, stars international icon Robert Downey Jr. (Avengers: Age of Ultron) and the legendary Robert Duvall (The Godfather) in a supporting performance that earned him an Academy Award nomination.
Lucy tears onto Blu-ray this Tuesday, and it's as close as you'll ever come to hanging out with Scarlett Johansson, action goddess.
In Lucy, Johansson stars a woman who unleashes the full potential of her mind, as well as a whole bunch of physical abilities that would shame even the Hulk.
She starts out as a party girl in Taipei, an innocent woman whose scumbag boyfriend traps her into a drug mule mission: pretty soon Lucy has a sack of CPH4 sewn into her stomach. When the experimental drug starts leaking into her system, though, Lucy becomes an unstoppable one-woman wrecking machine, decimating the a-holes who were exploiting her while peeking at cosmic secrets, entirely new realms of human perception, and unfathomable power.
It’s about that time – Oscar predictions have begun.
The year in movies has just a few more weeks to go and the 87th Academy Awards are just around the corner. The race is on, with front-runners taking the lead and others in the mix shaking things up. Every film that hopes to qualify will be in theaters by the last day of December.
Here’s how the top six categories are taking shape, with the top contenders fighting for the five coveted slots (or, in the case of Best Picture, up to ten).
Slap on your headphones and strap in, because you're about to trip the light galactic.
Guardians of the Galaxy hits Blu-ray this week, so it's time to ride shotgun on the Milano with the legendary Star-Lord at the wheel.
Two words: Helen Mirren.
Those two words should be all you need to hear about The Hundred-Foot Journey, which is available on Blu-ray as of today, Tuesday, December 2nd.
After all, Mirren is a peerless thespian, an Oscar-winner and sensuous British sexpot who has been keeping it classy onscreen and off for more than 45 years without losing a step. She's beyond description as an acting powerhouse and screen presence of near-impossible charisma and poise. She's Dame Helen Mirren.
She's the first but far from the only reason to recommend The Hundred-Foot Journey, a sure-footed comedy-drama from director Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules), along with producers Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple, being Oprah) and Steven Spielberg (Lincoln, also The Color Purple).
About 400 days out from its theatrical premiere, the next Star Wars movie now has a full title.
Predictably, there are more opinions about Star Wars: The Force Awakens being caps-lock shouted online than there are womp rats in Beggar's Canyon. Emotions run high. That's just how it is with Star Wars, and J.J. Abrams's patented Mystery Box secrecy only amplifies the immediate, intense scrutiny of every single official scrap from Lucasfilm's table.
The most obvious criticism of The Force Awakens as a title is that it's vague, a little generic, and pretty meaningless. Those very qualities allow Abrams to maintain a sense of mystery that will last until a few weeks before December 18, 2015. By then, in the middle of Disney's all-out global promotional clusterbomb, you'll have to actively avoid spoilers or big story beats.
It's not really any more vanilla than A New Hope or The Phantom Menace, which kicked off their respective trilogies. These monikers aren't really about dynamism, they're about a mood. If nothing else, this new one is more active than those two forerunners: at least here, the title gives the impression that something (the Force) is doing something (awakening).
But The Force Awakens isn't just keeping a secret, nor is it making a bombastic declaration. The title is all about implication, all about so, so quietly whispering sweet, sweet promises into your ear.
What are J.J. and company whispering to us with Star Wars: The Force Awakens? In a sly way, they're promising a return to first principles for the franchise, bringing back that uncut magic and launching a future in which Star Wars is somehow more loyal to what George Lucas created now that Lucas himself is only peripherally involved.
In short, they're promising to make you forget about the prequels.
With Interstellar, Christopher Nolan and his phenomenal cast are boldly taking audiences where no one has gone before.
As a writer-director, Nolan has already explored unusual places, from the labyrinth of an amnesiac's mind (Memento) to levels of dreams (Inception) to the urban battleground of Gotham City (the Dark Knight trilogy).
Interstellar presents a far bigger canvas than any of those films, as the blockbuster auteur uses trippy astrophysics to take mankind to the farthest reaches of space.
The film takes place in a near future in which Earth is on the brink of being unable to support human life. In an effort to find a new home for our species, NASA mounts a mission sending a team of explorers through a wormhole, a cosmic shortcut allowing the intrepid crew to conquer seemingly insurmountable distances.
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club Oscar winner) stars as Cooper, a widowed pilot and engineer called upon to lead the mission, which includes Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables Oscar winner) as Amelia, a scientist with her own deeply personal reasons for exploring space. Jessica Chastain (Oscar nominee for Zero Dark Thirty), meanwhile, stays Earthbound as Murph, Cooper's grown-up daughter.
Thanks to Managing Editor Jami Philbrick, IAR was on hand for the Interstellar Los Angeles press day, where Nolan, McConaughey, Hathaway, and Chastain enthusiastically discussed the origins of Interstellar, its aspirational qualities, the thematic focus on family, their own recollections of NASA, acting in spacesuits, and what, ultimately, Interstellar is all about.
The unexpected journey to the Lonely Mountain gets even longer today, but you don't have to face a dragon spitting hot fire to get at this HD treasure.
Instead, you can simply pick up The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug now that the middle chapter in Peter Jackson's massive trilogy is available in a fully loaded Extended Edition Blu-ray.
In Maleficent, one of Disney's most beloved and notorious animated villains finally gets her due in live action.
With one of the year's biggest hits arriving on Blu-ray this Tuesday, Angelina Jolie's bravura performance as the iconic, misunderstood fairy can be yours to own in high definition.