awards contenders on DVD: the studio films

December can feel overwhelming, for movie watchers, with all the awards contenders flooding the arthouses — if you’re in New York and Los Angeles — and multiplexes this holiday season. But it’s always true, too, that films from earlier in the year manage to get notice from critics groups in the pre-Oscar-nominations territory… and some never played in an arthouse at all. Here, Part II of a two-part series on catching up with those contenders that are already available on DVD. Previously: the indies. Right here: the studio films.

What’s that? More than one summer blockbuster has ended up with a crapload of notice from critics’ groups and other awards-hander-outers? Amazing. But true. Two of them stand out:
Wall-E [Region 1] [Region 2] [my review]: The little cleaner-upper robot is still cleaning up… awards, that is. The Los Angeles film critics have named it their best film of the year, animated or not. It tied among the Boston film critics for best film of the year. The Hollywood foreign press has nominated it for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Film. So has the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA). The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (of which I’m a member) as well as the film critics groups in New York, the Southeast, Washington D.C., San Diego, Austin, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, St. Louis, and Phoenix have named it their Best Animated Film of the year (and the AWFJ gave it their Best Original Screenplay award, too). The point is: It’s a damn good film. If you missed it this summer, what are you waiting for? It looks great on DVD.

The Dark Knight [Region 1] [Region 2] [my review]: Oh, the accolades! Most are for Heath Ledger for his terrifying turn as the Joker — he’s gotten Best Supporting Actor noms from the Globes and the BFCA, and wins as Best Supporting Actor from the Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Southeastern, Dallas Forth Worth, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Houston, and Austin critics’ groups as well as the AWFJ. The L.A. critics also named the film its runner-up for Best Film and Christopher Nolan its runner-up for Best Director. The BFCA has given it further noms for Best Picture, Best Ensemble, Best Director, and Best Action Movie. The Austin critics named Nolan best director, and gave their adapted screenplay award to Nolan and his cowriter, his brother Jonathan. It’s crazy. This is a comic-book movie. And it’s getting waaaay better notice from the critics at year-end than I was anticipating. That Oscar for Ledger is looking more and more likely.

And don’t miss these flicks, too:

In Bruges [Region 1] [Region 2] [my review]: Remember the hitman black comedy from early this year? The Globes are, with nominations for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, and for costars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson up against each other for Best Actor, Musical or Comedy. The Phoenix critics named it their Best Overlooked Film of 2008, and gave writer-director Martin McDonagh their award for the year’s best Breakout Behind the Camera as well as their award for best original screenplay. The Boston critics gave McDonagh their Best New Filmmaker award.

Mamma Mia! [Region 1] [Region 2] [my review]: The Globes love this one, too, with noms for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy and for Meryl Streep for Best Actress, Musical or Comedy.

Tropic Thunder [Region 1] [Region 2] [my review]: Oh yes, this goofy sendup of Hollywood excess gets love from the Globes, with nominations for both Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. in the Best Supporting Actor category. The BFCA also nominated Downey Jr. for Best Supporting Actor. The Boston critics named the cast the Best Ensemble of the year.

Burn After Reading [Region 1] [Region 2] [my review]: The St. Louis film critics named it the Best Comedy of 2008.

Kung Fu Panda [Region 1] [Region 2] [my review]: It’s nominated for Best Animated Film by both the Globes and the BFCA.

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