The Best DVDs & Blu-rays of 2012, Part 1

Categories: Film and TV

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Liam Neeson in The Grey
Art Attack film critic Pete Vonder Haar gave you his best films for 2012. We thought we would add our choice for 2012's best DVD/Blu-ray releases to the mix. This list includes releases that we consider must-haves for your collection, sometimes because the film is great and sometimes because all the extras are irresistible.

Best Drama Packaged as an Action Film: The Grey
Like everyone else who saw the trailer for The Grey, we thought it was just another survival story. It looked like it was just a bunch of guys getting stranded in the snow after their plane goes down. Ha! It was actually much, much more. There's a samurai vibe to Liam Neeson's character, the hunter who tries to lead the group to safety. And former Houstonian Dallas Roberts gives the story an emotional center that grounds the rest of the cast. Oh, and there's a really cool wolf.

Best Action Film: The Bourne Legacy
Director Tony Gilroy's Matt Damon-less installment of the Bourne series stars Jeremy Renner as a genetically altered secret agent on the run and Rachel Weisz as the doctor who helps him. The pair absolutely sizzle onscreen. There are lots of chases, shootings, exotic locales and an ever-growing pile dead bodies, with a jumping-off-a-mountaintop scene thrown in for good measure. Oh, and there's a really cool wolf in this one, too.

Best Thriller: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
In his review of the film, Pete Vonder Haar said the director had done "the near-impossible and made an eminently watchable and engaging (albeit abridged) rendition." Although almost completely without the action scenes that one might expect from a spy flick, Tinker Tailor is one of the best thrillers to come along in a while. Gary Oldman gives a stellar performance.

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Astrid Bergès-Frisbey in The Well-Digger's Daughter
Best Foreign Film: The Well-Digger's Daughter
Director Daniel Auteuil remade Marcel Pagnol's 1940 film with a wonderful cast including Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as Patricia, a young woman from a humble family who gets pregnant. As she's unmarried, the situation is difficult for her father to accept. Auteuil, who wrote the screenplay in addition to his director duties, also stars as the girl's stoic and loving, if not completely understanding, father. The Well-Digger's Daughter is a wonderful, tender film that features great performances.
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Stephanie Sigman in Miss Bala
Another contender for the Best Foreign Film nod was Mexico's Miss Bala , about a beauty queen wannabe who gets mixed up with a drug cartel. Raw, gritty and unflinching, Bala's success is due in large part to Stephanie Sigman's performance.

Best Horror Film: The Divide
Michael Biehn proves why he's the best horror film actor out there in the postapocalyptic The Divide, the story of a small group of survivors stuck in a basement after a nuclear explosion. Filled with extreme sex and violence, Divide isn't for the faint of heart, but horror fans will count this as a must-have.

Best Comedy: Bernie
Magazine writer Skip Hollandsworth joined forces with director Richard Linklater to produce one of the blackest comedies we've seen in a long time. The stellar cast included Jack Black as Bernie Tiede, a funeral home assistant who ingratiates himself with an 81-year-old oil heiress (played by Shirley MacLaine), then kills her when she becomes too possessive. (No, that's not a spoiler. You know that from the very start of the film.) Matthew McConaughey plays the East Texas sheriff determined to bring Tiede to justice despite the fact that the townsfolk would just as soon give him a pass for offing the old woman, who was known to be the meanest person in the county. Bernie was based on Hollandsworth's 1998 Texas Monthly article "Midnight in the Garden of East Texas."

Best Texas Story: Breathless
Texas housewife Lorna (Gina Gershon) has a problem in the over-the-top black comedy Breathless. She's accidentally killed her lowlife husband Dale (Val Kilmer). Of course, the fact that he was tied up and she was pointing a gun at him at the time of the shooting does call into question just how "accidentally" it was, but those are small details Lorna's willing to overlook. Now Lorna and her best friend Tiny (Kelli Giddish) have to dump the body and figure out where Dale hid $10,000 he stole from a bank before the sheriff (Ray Liotta) figures out what they've done. Gershon and Giddish play the dingbat desperadoes with admirable commitment, carrying the crazy, convoluted story.

On Wednesday, Part II.




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