Films that earned Oscar attention top this week's new DVD releases.
SKYFALL, GRADE B-PLUS: Daniel Craig takes his third turn at playing 007 in Skyfall (a James Bond movie title that actually makes sense). It's not the world that's in danger this time; the challenge hits closer to home as MI-6 comes under attack. Bond must stop the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem) before he destroys the British spy agency.
James Bond films usually bring a white-knuckle opening action sequence, a sexy credits montage, a world-threatening event, beautiful locations, cool gadgets, the exotic Bond woman and a superb villain. Skyfall has five of the seven.
It also has five Oscar nominations, including for cinematography, music (original score) and music (original song).
THE SESSIONS, GRADE A-MINUS: A man (John Hawkes) in an iron lung contacts a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt). These are the kind of acting roles the Oscar voters love to honor, and Hunt picked up a nod in the supporting-actress category.
It's a worthy nomination because Hunt turns in the best performance of her career. She's playing a woman secure enough of herself to engage in the most personal of acts with a stranger, but not so clinical as to hide the painful realities that haunt her own life.
Hawkes is magnificent, despite being stripped of almost all his acting tools. All he has is his very expressive face and the emotion he brings to every word of dialogue to create a performance that will emotionally connect with anyone who sees it.
ALSO NEW ON DVD:
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER: Emma Watson stars in this bittersweet coming-of-age drama.
SILENT HILL: REVELATION: A young girl and her father remain on the run from an evil force.
THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS: A blacksmith must defend his village.
BULLY: Documentary that looks at school bullies.