This week, a group of top notch films helmed by top tier auteurs highlight the Blu-Ray/DVD field. In fact, it’s a three-way tie for the big spot today, between “Dunkirk,” “mother!,” and “Stronger“. Each of the trio has locked in a slot on my year end top ten list, so you know the quality is there. This is arguably even the best slate we’ve ever had!

PICK OF THE WEEK

Stronger

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany give two of the best performances of the year in David Gordon Green‘s latest film. Just look at the highly praised “bandage” sequence in this movie for an example of how all three are at the top of their games. You’ll cry more than once while watching the flick, as we said in our rave review on the site:

Tears come early and often during “Stronger,” the incredibly moving biopic of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman. Never manipulative yet always captivating, this portrait of one ordinary man is an extraordinary motion picture.

“Stronger” will wrench your heart. Gyllenhaal and Maslany are Oscar worthy, while Green captures it all with an intimate grace. In a week with two other modern masterpieces, this one still holds its own. It’s a must have!

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $4,211,129 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Actor (Gyllenhaal) at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

Recommended Movies

Dunkirk

One of the great modern auteurs, Christopher Nolan tackles a war movie with “Dunkirk,” something all the legends eventually do. This is his most formally efficient and technical work to date, lean and mean. It’s a triumph. Still a possible Best Picture winner and arguably the front-runner in Best Director, this is going to be heavily cited by the Academy. Clayton was a big fan, writing the following in his review:

Such little words spoken but so much is said with Christopher Nolan’s newest and most personal film, “Dunkirk.”

With “Dunkirk,” Nolan is in position to finally break through with Oscar in the Director category. Pick it up and see why!

Special Features: Featurettes
Total Box Office: $188,045,546
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Drama, Best Director (Nolan), and Best Score at the Golden Globe Awards

mother!

The fact that Darren Aronofsky got “mother!” made at a studio is astounding. Yes, he’s among our finest auteurs, but the premise here is so outlandish, it still boggles the mind…in a good way. Teamed with Jennifer Lawrence, he subverted all expectations in making a biblical/environmental allegory, as opposed to a straight genre outing. The big boss also was taken with it in his review, putting forth this response:

One of the most disturbing, and mind shattering experiences in years, Darren Aronofsky‘s newest psychological thriller “mother!” is a merciless and chilling device.

Time will be kind to Aronofsky and “mother!”. It already has cult status, but cult classic status isn’t far off. Grab this one and see just what made it so divisive!

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $17,800,004
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival

Vintage Viewing

In honor of this week’s release of “Downsizing,” the pick today is the other notable passion project from Alexander Payne, continuing our theme of auteurs. It’s “Nebraska,” which managed to bring legend Bruce Dern back into the spotlight. Clayton was a big fan back when it screened at the New York Film Festival, writing:

There is a magical and profound power that is exuded from Alexander Payne‘s film “Nebraska.”

“Downsizing” may be a misfire from Payne, but “Nebraska” decidedly was not. Give that one another look today!

Other Films Being Released

Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the highly recommended trio of “Dunkirk,” “mother!,” and “Stronger”:

Leatherface

This origin story to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was completely unnecessary. It barely tied itself into the franchise, and only felt like an opportunity to try to make a buck. All of that led to a small scale disappointment. We had this to say in our pan of a review, found here on the site:

Horror movies rarely need origin stories. Either they don’t add anything to an already perfectly good mythology, or they needlessly add complications. It takes a very deft hand to explain how a monster became a monster in any sort of satisfying manner. “Leatherface” is not one of those films.

You can easily pass this one up.

Box Office: N/A

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

One of the biggest surprises of the past decade was how delightful “The LEGO Movie” was. Even earlier this year, “The LEGO Batman Movie” was a delight. This lower profile outing, however, did not share in the acclaim. Entertainment Weekly was just one of the outlets to dismiss it, writing the following:

This mini-franchise may be running out of steam.

LEGO fans only need apply here.

Box Office: $59,281,555

Victoria and Abdul

Judi Dench put off retirement to play a Queen one more time in this enjoyable lark from Stephen Frears. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it shows Dench having some of the most fun that we’ve ever seen her have on screen. It’s actually somewhat infectious too. Our positive take here on the site states just that:

“Victoria & Abdul” accomplishes what it sets out to do. It entertains.

If the above recommended titles are a little intense for you, pick this one up instead.

Box Office: $22,157,715 (and counting)

TV Releases

“Daniel Boone: The Final Season”
“Police Woman: The Complete Third Season”
“Salvation: Season One”
“South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season”
“Stan Lee’s Lucky Man: Season 1”
“Trailer Park Boys: Season 10”

Thoughts on what to watch this week on Blu-ray or DVD? Share them in the comments below!