This week's releases include a film that should be an Oscar contender and a superb animated look at a film classic.
"The Beaver" — Under normal circumstances, all the talk about this film would be about potential Oscar nominations for star Mel Gibson and supporting actors Jennifer Lawrence and Anton Yelchin. There also would be plenty of buzz for director Jodie Foster.
There's been nothing normal about "The Beaver," from its odd name to the plot: a man falls into such a deep depression that he can only communicate through a hand puppet.
It was considered unfilm-able. It took someone with the clout and talent of Foster to make the movie and create a story about love and life so poignant that even the absurdities of the story line (and Gibson's real- life drama) fade away.
Foster has created a moving story that's one of the best of the year.
"Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz" — Usually when cartoon characters pay tribute to a classic film or TV show, the characters take over the iconic roles. This is cute for a short time but quickly gets old.
This film avoids that problem. It's very loyal to the MGM classic, from dialogue to plot. Tom and Jerry are characters who get woven into the story as accents and not the focus. It's a perfect melding of the popular film with the animated duo.
"Win Win" — A lawyer and part-time wrestling coach (Paul Giamatti) helps a troubled teen find his potential. Don't call this a sports movie.
Director Tom McCarthy merely uses sports as a backdrop for this touching story of how life is a struggle at all ages. With its many emotional layers, the film soars because of Giamatti, who has an uncanny ability to bring a character to life.
The DVD has versions where the opening is in a sepia tone like the original movie and is also in full color.
"POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" — Morgan Spurlock's documentary examines the trend of product placements in movies by selling them in his own film.
He mixes commentary from advertising experts and film directors with promotional plugs for his investors.
The problem is that Spurlock eventually gets so tangled in his commitments he creates self-censorship. He can wink at the camera all he wants, but he sold out in the end.