In just a few weeks, one of this year's nine best picture nominees will win the Academy Award -- and many of the millions of people watching the telecast around the world will have seen none of the contenders.
Unless you plan to take in AMC's two-day, $70 marathon of the nominated films, making nine trips to the movie theater in five weeks sounds like a daunting task, especially when you factor in those 20 minutes of trailers and the other people in the auditorium who just won't shut up! (Seriously, people. Enough with the chitchat.)
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Luckily, three of the contenders will be available for home viewing before Ellen DeGeneres takes the Oscar stage at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 2.
"Captain Phillips," director Paul Greengrass' account of a raid on a shipping vessel by Somali pirates, hit Blu-ray, DVD and VOD services this past Tuesday. Star Tom Hanks was snubbed by voters, but the film was nominated for best picture, editing, sound editing, sound mixing and adapted screenplay; newcomer Barkhad Abdi garnered a supporting actor nomination for his turn as the fearless leader of the pirates. ("I am the captain now!")
Feb. 4 brings the home release of "Dallas Buyers Club," featuring nominated performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in the tale of a Texas cowboy who brings alternative AIDS treatments across the border. The film also was nominated for best picture, editing, makeup and hairstyling, and original screenplay.
The biggest hit of the bunch, the thrilling space adventure "Gravity," comes home Feb. 25. Its 10 nominations include best picture, best actress for Sandra Bullock, best directing for Alfonso Cuaron, cinematography, editing, original score, production design, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects. Watching it at home won't be nearly the same as the visceral assault of an IMAX screen, but the 3-D Blu-ray -- and a really big TV -- might come close. (If you only see one of the best picture nominees in the theater, "Gravity" is the best choice.)
Amazon is already taking preorders for the other best picture nominees, but none have release dates as of yet. The remaining six movies are: "Her," "Nebraska," "Philomena," "12 Years a Slave," "The Wolf of Wall Street" and my personal favorite, David O. Russell's dizzying, euphoric con-artist comedy, "American Hustle."
All five Oscar nominees for best documentary feature are available at home. They are:
• "The Act of Killing," an astonishing film in which the leaders of an Indonesian death squad are asked to recall (and re-create) the atrocities they committed in the 1960s. Find it streaming on Netflix and on VOD services including vudu.
• "Cutie and the Boxer," chronicling a 40-year marriage, is also streaming on Netflix.
• "Dirty Wars" follows journalist Jeremy Scahill across the globe as he investigates U.S. military strikes, government cover-ups and assassinations. It's streaming on -- you guessed it -- Netflix.
• "The Square," a Netflix-produced account of the Egyptian people's outcry against Hosni Mubarak, is streaming on the service.
• "20 Feet From Stardom" is NOT streaming on Netflix, but you can rent it on vudu. It's also, thankfully, lighter than the other entries in the category -- a portrait of professional backup singers that features Bette Midler, Sting, Stevie Wonder and other giants of pop culture.
• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.