(Ratings for each film begin with a "star'' rating -- one star meaning "poor,'' four meaning "excellent'' -- followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)
"Lion": Recently nominated for six Oscars including best picture, this affecting, fact-inspired drama follows the journey of Saroo, who -- as a youngster (played by Sunny Pawar) -- is separated from his family in India, then is taken in and raised by an Australian couple (Oscar nominee Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Still haunted by his heritage a quarter-century later (and portrayed at that point by Dev Patel, also Academy Award-nominated), he uses the then-nascent Google Earth to find his biological family. Rooney Mara also appears in the moving tale as the central character's girlfriend. DVD extras: deleted scenes; photo gallery; music video. **** (PG-13: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Hidden Figures": A recent Oscar nominee for best picture, this engrossing, inspiring and true drama revolves around female mathematicians who assisted NASA with the space program. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer (nominated for an Academy Award of her own for the film) and singer-actress Janelle Monae play the women in question, whose roles in the solo flight of astronaut John Glenn had impacts on several levels, encompassing gender as well as profession. The movie also earned an Oscar bid for best adapted screenplay. Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory''), Aldis Hodge and "Moonlight'' Oscar winner Mahershala Ali also star. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Henson and director and co-screenwriter Theodore Melfi; deleted scenes; photo gallery. *** (PG: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Toni Erdmann": An Oscar nominee this year for best foreign language film -- and the winner in that category at the Film Independent Spirit Awards -- writer-producer-director Maren Ade's German-Austrian comedy-drama concerns an unconventional man's (Peter Simonischek) efforts to reconnect with his estranged businesswoman daughter (Sandra Huller). To do so, he ultimately adopts an alter ego as a life coach ... and though she recognizes him through the disguise immediately, she decides to play along with his charade, realizing he might have some benefit to her personal and professional lives. DVD extras: audio commentary by Simonischek, Huller and producer Janine Jackowski; AFI Fest panel. *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Monster Trucks": In a fantasy-adventure that was filmed long before he became television's new "MacGyver'' (the movie sat on the shelf for a while), Lucas Till plays a high-schooler whose interest in vehicles leads him to a creature that likes to consume gas as much as anything on four wheels. Of course, some of the results of their partnership are monster trucks of a very literal nature. Though the special-effects team obviously plays a huge role here, the human stars also include Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Jane Levy ("Don't Breathe''), Amy Ryan and Thomas Lennon ("The Odd Couple''). ** (PG: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"VEEP: The Complete fifth Season": Selina Meyer's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) political future hangs in the balance, with the presidential election undecided as this round of the acclaimed, Emmy-winning HBO comedy series begins. She and her aides do all they can to ensure another term for her, but as often is the case, Selina proves to be her own worst enemy on several counts. Brad Hall, Louis-Dreyfus' husband, directed one of the episodes; guest stars include Hugh Laurie, John Slattery ("Mad Men''), Peter MacNicol, Patton Oswalt and Martin Mull. DVD extras: audio commentary by cast and crew members; deleted scenes. *** (Not rated: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Mars: Season One": The recent National Geographic series combines drama and documentary elements to project the first manned mission to the Red Planet. Things don't go as planned during the six astronauts' landing, since they ultimately touch down miles away from the intended location, forcing them and the scientists watching them from Earth to make adjustments that will let the mission succeed. Ben Cotton ("Stargate Atlantis'') plays the leader of the international team that makes the journey, with Olivier Martinez ("Unfaithful'') as the corporate chief behind the expedition. Comments by people connected to the issues that inform the dramatic sequences, including Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson, are interspersed throughout the program. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are among the executive producers. *** (Not rated)
"Hawaii Five-O: The Complete Original Series" (April 18): Jack Lord stars as police-unit chief Steve McGarrett in the crime drama that had a 12-season run. (Not rated: AS, V)
"Sleepless" (April 18): A Las Vegas police detective (Jamie Foxx) faces numerous challenges in one night as he tries to rescue his kidnapped son. (R: AS, P, V)
"Split" (April 18): A man (James McAvoy) with multiple personalities kidnaps several girls in writer-director M. Night Shyamalan's melodrama. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Founder" (April 18): Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, who turned two siblings' restaurant concept into the iconic franchise McDonald's. (PG-13: P)
"Underworld: Blood Wars" (April 25): Selene (Kate Beckinsale) tries to navigate between Lycans and vampires, and also to protect her daughter. (R: AS, P, GV)
"A Dog's Purpose" (May 2): A canine's multiple reincarnations lets him affect several owners; Britt Robertson and Dennis Quaid star. (PG: AS)
"Saturday Night Fever" (May 2): The John Travolta-starring musical drama's 40th anniversary is marked with a ``Director's Cut'' on Blu-ray. (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"The American President" (1995): The widower chief executive (Michael Douglas) falls in love with a lobbyist (Annette Bening) while waging a re-election fight. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"The Help" (2011): Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for the drama about race relations between maids and their employers in the 1960s. *** (Also on Blu-ray) "Mission to Mars" (2000): The members of a rescue mission try to determine what happened to the first manned flight to Mars; Gary Sinise and Tim Robbins star. ***
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending March 26, 2017, Courtesy of comScore)
3) "Marvel's Doctor Strange"
7) "Hacksaw Ridge"
9) "The Accountant"
10) "Nocturnal Animals"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violenc