A Royal Affair

discs natalie portman

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Beautiful Girls Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) has returned home for his high school reunion at a very confused time in his life. His long time girlfriend (Annabeth Gish) joins him on the trip as he visits with friends, strikes up a purely platonic relationship with a 15-year-old neighbor girl (Natalie Portman) and decides if he’s ready to settle down and get married. The late Ted Demme has a few fine films to his name including The Ref and Blow, but this sweet, honest and funny movie remains his high point. Portman’s perfect encapsulation of the untouchable teen is fantastic in every regard, but to be fair her storyline is only a small part of the whole. Willie’s friends (Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich, Max Perlich, Michael Rapaport, Rosie O’Donnell and more) run the gamut of emotional stages as some are satisfied with their lives and others are not, but all of them feel authentic. The story threads fold together so effortlessly, the performances feel so real and the Blu-ray debut is long overdue. Also, Natalie Portman. [Blu-ray extras: None]

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Best Foreign Language Film

More so than every other category at the Academy Awards, the winners of the Best Foreign Language category are rarely the actual best film. That’s due as much to the Academy’s voters as it is to the process that sees countries having to each choose a singular film to represent their entire annual output for the year. The process leaves brilliant and fantastic films out of the running each and every time. This year’s nominees feature a rarity in that one of the films is also up for Best Picture. That’s only happened three times, and in all three cases (Algeria’s Z, Italy’s Life is Beautiful and Taiwan’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) the films won in the latter category. It seems obvious that they would simply by definition… if it’s the only one of the five up for Best Picture then isn’t it the Best Foreign Language by default? But I digress. The staggeringly problematic structure of the category aside, keep reading for a look at all five of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Language Film along with my predicted winner in red…

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ted_02037204

Once upon a time, the Oscar nominations were filled with titles unfamiliar to the regular Joe. Not unknown, necessarily, but at least not widely seen. But today, thanks to all kinds of home video platforms and theatrical distribution for even the short film nominees, it’s not always so impossible to see everything before the big night. To help those of you wishing to be completists, I’ve listed all of this year’s recently announced Oscar nominees and noted how and where you can see them, whether presently or soon enough. It may not be entirely doable, as some foreign films haven’t officially been released here, including one that doesn’t even yet have a date, and some titles are in the middle of their theatrical to DVD window. But there are a bunch that can be streamed right this moment on your computer via Amazon, Google, YouTube and other outlets, each of which I’ve marked accordingly courtesy of GoWatchIt. Only three are through Netflix Watch Instant, by the way (How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War and Mirror Mirror). And one short has been embedded in the post. 

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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