Another week, another couple Oscar noms debut on DVD. But while Kate Winslet, one of the best actors of her generation, was denied a statuette for the fifth time, Jennifer Hudson, one of the best American Idol runner-ups of her generation, predictably got her due for her screen debut. Go figure.
Thanks to what seemed to be a brilliant year-long marketing campaign, Dreamgirls entered the 2006 holiday movie season as an Oscar frontrunner and potential cash cow. But despite generally strong reviews, the film was only recognized for supporting performances and minor categories come Oscar time, and could only be considered a modest success at the box office for just barely crossing the $100 million mark (with a reported budget of $70 M). You can't help but compare the film to Chicago, which took in $170 M and coasted to a Best Picture victory. And that just ain't right. While Chicago was a surprisingly adept adaptation of the stage work, Dreamgirls is so much more invigorating, so much more visual, so much more emotional and so much more layered. As for its gross, I'd ask where the hell all the American Idol junkies went, but y'all voted Jennifer Hudson off the island in the first place, huh? Hudson's Oscar-winning performance is a bit of a paradox: She's outstanding, don't get me wrong, but she's more deserving of a Tony than an Oscar. Her singing is spine-tingling, but her acting? Not bad. And then there's Eddie Murphy, who was as shocked as anybody that he lost out to Alan Arkin in the Battle of the Charming Drug Addict for Best Supporting Actor. But timing is everything: Maybe Eddie has no one to blame but himself and the two other characters he played in Norbit.
Rent or buy the DVD | Watch Jamie Foxx/Beyonce Unscripted
Todd Field's long-awaited follow-up to 2001's In the Bedroom isn't nearly as Motrin-gulping depressing as its predecessor... not on the surface at least. It takes a few days for the despair to sink in, and let me tell you, its well worth the wait. The same can be said for Kate Winslet's beautifully understated performance as a suburban housewife who takes pleasure in literature and Patrick Wilson as "The Prom King." As their picturesque suburban neighborhood spirals toward anarchy with the arrival of a convicted child molester (the incredible Jackie Earle Haley), the two stay-at-homes engage in a heated affair and give a lovely new meaning to the term "doing laundry." Like the visionary Todds before him (Solondz, Haynes), Field has fun with the absurdity of suburbia, but somehow breathes new life into the overly crowded dysfunctional dramedy genre, and the film is elevated by a wry and cheeky narration that's as hilarious as you'll ever hear. It's a much-needed comic contrast to an otherwise pretty gloomy tale.
Rent or buy the DVD | Read Indie Film Guide review
Other New Releases (May 1)
Happily N'Ever After
Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?
Matthew Barney: No Restraint
Fletch: Jane Doe Edition
An Officer and a Gentleman: Collector's Edition