This week's DVD releases include two Oscar-nominated films.
"Anna Karenina," Grade A: Keira Knightley stars in the latest film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel.
Movies like "Anna Karenina" are what people mean when they talk about Hollywood magic. Director Joe Wright has taken the much-told tale of the late 19th century Russian heroine and cast a cinematic spell to make his film version as compelling as it is creative.
Wright elevates the movie beyond the typical trappings of the genre by the way he staged the production. He's created a theater space where the action weaves on and off the stage.
"Argo," Grade A-: An agent poses as a filmmaker to save six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis in this Oscar-nominated film that has been sweeping top awards from every other major group and outlet. Ben Affleck stars and directs the film.
The plot sounds like a rejected plot line for "Mission: Impossible." If the film weren't based on a real story, the audacity and absurdity of what transpires would be almost too ridiculous. But this fact-based story ends up as compelling and as exciting as any adventure James Bond ever had.
Affleck has shown again with his solid direction of "Argo" that he's not just another actor who wants to sit in the director's chair.
"Sinister," Grade D-: Home movies spark a nightmare experience for a family.
There are three ways to generate scares in a horror film: smart writing, a creepy filming style or an interesting creature. The better these elements, the better the film. "Sinister" fails on all three counts.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:
"Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season": Superb cable series starring Peter Dinklage.
"Top Gun": The film about hotshot pilots is available in 3D. Tom Cruise stars.
"Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome": Takes place in the midst of the first Cylon war.
"Top Gear: 50 Years of Bond Cars": Richard Hammond celebrates spy vehicles.
"The Thief of Bagdad": The 1924 film starring Douglas Fairbanks is available on Blu-ray.