This week: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams all earned Oscar nominations for their performances in the period drama "The Master," writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's thinly disguised commentary on Scientology.
Box Office: $16 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 86% Fresh
Storyline: Paul Thomas Anderson's portrait of drifters and lost souls in post-World War II America follows a Naval vet (Joaquin Phoenix) who arrives home from war uncertain about his future until he is taken in by "the Cause" and its charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Amy Adams and Laura Dern also star.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Back Beyond," an unconventional collection of deleted scenes set to music by Jonny Greenwood; eight minutes of behind-the-scenes footage; and John Huston's 1946 documentary "Let There Be Light" about the psychiatric treatment of WWII veterans.
We Say: The best aspect about "The Master" is the return to form of Phoenix who, after announcing that he was retiring from acting, took a detour as a rapper as part of a stunt for the faux documentary, "I'm Still Here." Phoenix is the most engaging part of a largely inert, talky movie, and his fits of frustration while trying to process Hoffman's treatment methods are unforgettable -- and for some viewers will mirror their frustration with Anderson's 144-minute think piece. Phoenix, Hoffman and Adams were nominated for Oscars for their performances.
Box Office: $641,100
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% Fresh
Storyline: Follow Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) on his limousine journey through the streets of Paris as he transforms into multiple characters for a serious of perplexing "appointments" in this surreal drama by director Léos Carax that combines elements of film noir, musicals, monster movies and crime thrillers. Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue also star in this film that features new music by Minogue as well.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a making-of featurette and an interview with Minogue.
We Say: When you load this fever dream into your player, dismiss any and all expectations for a story that makes literal sense or is in any way coherent. This is weird for weirdness' sake and makes most of David Lynch's oeuvre seem straightforward by comparison. It's never really clear if Lavant is playing an actor or someone traveling through parallel dimensions (Lavant played one of the characters, Mr. Merde, in the 2008 film "Tokyo!"), but some of the otherworldly segments featuring talking cars and a dance number with illuminated costumes are strangely beautiful.
Box Office: $6 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 33% Rotten
Storyline: This biographical film stars Jonny Weston as real-life surfer Jay Moriarty and chronicles his quest to conquer the big Mavericks wave in Northern California. Gerard Butler plays local surfing legend Frosty Hesson, who becomes Jay's mentor and teaches him how to survive. Along the way, the two develop a unique friendship that goes beyond surfing.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain an audio commentary and deleted scenes.
We Say: "Chasing Mavericks" was made with the help of some of the biggest names in the surfing world and features some of the most impressive real wave footage ever caught on film, but the PG-rated movie is so gentle and earnest that it wipes out in terms of both drama and excitement.