Top Film Picks on DVD/Blu-Ray: Chloé Zhao’s Oscars-Dominating ‘Nomadland’; Plus Oscar-Winning Performances by Youn Yuh-Jung & Anthony Hopkins

LJ’s film columnist picks the month’s top indie, foreign, and classic films, now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

La Dolce Vita. b/w. 174+ min. In Italian w/English subtitles. Paramount. 1960. Blu-ray UPC 032429353665. $20.99.
A blasé tabloid journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) indulges in the decadence of his celebrity subjects, capturing the zeitgeist of a liberated Rome in Federico Fellini’s international hit, which inspired the term “paparazzi” and earned the director his “Fellini-esque” trademark. With its wide-screen framing and black-and-white cinematography, this influential film virtually defines its early 1960s era. VERDICT Libraries whose feature film collections don’t have the recently out-of-print Criterion edition should pick up this obligatory foreign-language title in HD.
The Father. 97 min. Sony. 2020. DVD UPC 043396573130. $25.99; Blu-ray 043396573307. $30.99. Rated PG-13.
Still living in his London flat despite worsening dementia, an octogenarian (Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins) is being looked after by his daughter (Olivia Colman), who hopes she has finally found a suitable caregiver (Imogen Poots) after several failed attempts. Co-adapting his own play, Florian Zeller makes a bold directorial debut, presenting an apparently objective reality that turns out to be the point of view of his increasingly confused protagonist. VERDICT Hopkins gives the best performance of his career, making the difficult subject material essential viewing.
Minari. 120+ min. In English and Korean w/English subtitles. Lionsgate. 2020. DVD UPC 031398326564. $14.99; Blu-ray UPC 031398326588. $21.99. Rated: PG-13.
The Korean American Yi family—Jacob (Steven Yeun) and Monica (Yeri Han), plus their two children—move from California to Arkansas to start a small farm. Subsequently joined by Monica’s mother, Soonja (Oscar-winning Youn Yuh-Jung), the family struggles to grow and sell their vegetables. Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s loosely autobiographical story of growing up in rural America is funny and touching but leisurely and conventional—until the metaphorical meaning of “minari” is revealed in an affecting finale. VERDICT A sure bet for patient viewers.
Nomadland. 107+ min. Searchlight. 2020. Blu-ray UPC 786936886566. $29.99. Rated: R.
Laid off and recently widowed, Fern (Frances McDormand) hits the road in a van to take some seasonal work, including a stint at an Amazon fulfillment center, and along the way makes supportive friendships with fellow economic nomads in writer-director Chloé Zhao’s (The Rider) Oscar-winning drama. Inventively adapted from Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book, this poignant but not sentimentalized story of grief, hope, and resilience sprawls across an unpretentiously lyrical American West. VERDICT Notably unreleased on DVD, so the Blu-ray is a must for all collections.
Ponette. 97+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Kino Lorber. 1996. DVD UPC 738329254506. $19.99; Blu-ray UPC 738329253875. $29.99.
Surviving an automobile accident that kills her mother, four-year-old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol) is left to deal with the emotional wreckage in writer-director Jacques Doillon’s child’s-eye view of inconsolable grief. The girl turns inward, waiting for a miraculous return, which occurs—sort of—in the form of a graveside appearance by her mother, who urges Ponette to stop being sad and get on with her life. For her remarkably natural performance, Thivisol won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. VERDICT For teary-eyed viewers, there is expiation in the uplifting end.
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