If “Argo” and “Anna Karenina” are still on your need-to-see Oscar list, the nominees are set to arrive on DVD Tuesday. Star ratings are by Seattle Times movie reviewers, freelancers or wire services. For full reviews, search the movie title at seattletimes.com. Release dates are subject to change.
“Argo” (R): This captivating, expertly machined political thriller is serious and substantive, an ingeniously written and executed drama fashioned from a fascinating, little-known chapter of recent history. It also happens to be extremely funny, crafty and entertaining.
Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA expert in disguises and “exfiltration,” who at the height of the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 is called on to get six American diplomats out of Tehran, where they’ve been hiding in the Canadian ambassador’s residence. His scheme is so crazy, it just might work: He’ll impersonate a movie producer who arrives in Iran to scout locations for his upcoming science-fiction flick. He’ll depart with the Americans in tow, each of them playing someone on the film’s crew.
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Working from a well-crafted script by Chris Terrio, Affleck (who also directs) threads viewers through dauntingly tricky geopolitics and tonal shifts with an utterly flawless sense of control.
The film received seven Academy Award nominations — for best picture, film editing, original score, sound mixing, sound editing, adapted screenplay and actor in a supporting role (Alan Arkin).
DVD extra: “Rescued from Tehran: We Were There” featurette.
Also, on Blu-ray: commentary with Affleck; picture in picture: “Eye Witness Account”; featurettes “Absolute Authenticity,” “The CIA and Hollywood Connection” and “Escape From Iran: The Hollywood Option.”
“Anna Karenina” (R): Director Joe Wright’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s tale of forbidden love and unhappy families — starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson — is up for best cinematography, costume design, original score and production design.
“Undefeated” (PG-13): Last year’s Oscar-winning documentary, directed by Dan Lindsay and Seattle native TJ Martin, focuses on three members of a North Memphis high-school team who are competing against obstacles much more intimidating than the opposing team.
“Fun Size” (PG-13): Victoria Justice plays a high schooler who loses her little brother on Halloween.
“Sinister” (R): A true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke), doing research, moves his wife and kids into a suburban home where a family very much like his own has been murdered.
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