One of this year’s Academy Awards favorites is “Moonlight,” an intimate and poetic portrayal of growing up gay in a gang-ravaged Miami neighborhood. Mahershala Ali stands a good chance to win the supporting actor Oscar for his performance as a surprisingly sensitive drug-dealing mentor, and Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney could win for adapted screenplay for how creatively they turned McCraney’s unproduced play into an aching art film.
Two days after the ceremony, though, the real winners will be all the cinephiles across the country who’ve been wanting to see “Moonlight” but never had the chance to catch it at their local multiplex. Unlike a decade or so ago, when Oscar-approved movies took months to make it to the boondocks, “Moonlight” (Lionsgate DVD, $14.99; Blu-ray, $24.99) will be available to rent or buy on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital this Tuesday.
And that’s not the only high-profile Oscar pic that can be watched right now. Here are some of the other major nominees in stores (nearly all of which can also be streamed).
No, “La La Land” isn’t for sale yet, nor is the box-office smash “Hidden Figures.” But writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s tear-jerking family drama “Manchester by the Sea” (Lionsgate DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99) just recently hit the racks, allowing everyone to marvel at Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams’ masterfully modulated performances as ex-spouses coping with profound grief. The macho action-adventures “Hell or High Water” (Lionsgate DVD/Blu-ray, $39.99) and “Hacksaw Ridge” (Lionsgate DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99; 4K, $42.99) are available too, as is the smart sci-fi picture “Arrival” (Paramount DVD, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99; 4K, $48.99). For anyone who thinks that the academy only recognizes sober art films, these three excellent genre-pieces make a fine counter-argument.
This category has been characterized as a battle between brothers, as Disney’s socially conscious cop flick “Zootopia” (Walt Disney DVD, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99; 3D, $39.99) squares off against the Disney-affiliated Pixar’s buoyant island musical “Moana” (not yet available on home video). But many animation buffs actually consider these two the weakest of the five nominees, preferring the more original, still-in-theaters “The Red Turtle” and “My Life as a Zucchini,” or Laika’s beautifully designed Japanese quest tale “Kubo and the Two Strings” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; 3D, $44.98). “Kubo” under-performed at the box office but has been picking up fans since its DVD/BD/VOD release late last year.
One of the big stories in this year’s documentary race has been the inclusion of a couple of films well outside the usual distribution chains: Ava DuVernay’s Netflix original “13th” (about how the cycles of incarceration have become a stealthy perpetuation of slavery), and the eight-hour ESPN series “O.J: Made in America” (ESPN DVD/Blu-ray, $39.98). Both of those have already been seen way more on television than in theaters, where they primarily played to qualify for awards. Far more conventional — but no less outstanding — is “Life, Animated” (Sony DVD, $14.51), a moving look at an autistic man who learned to communicate by memorizing Disney cartoons.
The acting categories are mostly filled with the stars and co-stars of the most-nominated films, but the more interesting cases are the nominees recognized for movies that are otherwise unrewarded. Michael Shannon’s nothing-to-lose cop in “Nocturnal Animals” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98), Ruth Negga’s quietly determined civil-rights heroine in “Loving” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98), and Viggo Mortensen’s heartbroken hippie patriarch in “Captain Fantastic” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98) were all so remarkable that the academy couldn’t ignore them.