(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.)
"Snowden": Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the controversial releaser of secret government documents in this drama from director and co-screenwriter Oliver Stone, who's never shied away from hot-button issues in his films. Edward Snowden's revelation of surveillance efforts by the National Security Agency made him a hero to some, and one of the world's most traitorous and wanted men to others. Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson and Melissa Leo also are in the cast. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; deleted scenes; panel discussion with Snowden, Stone, Gordon-Levitt and Woodley. *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Dressmaker": A stylish woman's (Kate Winslet) return to her Australian hometown is tinged with a taste for revenge against those who maligned her in this seriocomic tale from director and co-screenwriter Jocelyn Moorhouse ("How to Make an American Quilt''). While tending to her mother (Judy Davis), the returnee finds an ally in a policeman (Hugo Weaving), but her newfound affection for a farmer (Liam Hemsworth) may inspire her to temper her plans. P.J. Hogan ("Muriel's Wedding'') also contributed to the script, based on Rosalie Ham's novel. Caroline Goodall and Sarah Snook also star. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries; photo gallery. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Coming Through the Rye": The "Rye'' refers to J.D. Salinger's controversial novel "Catcher in the Rye'' in this late-1960s-set drama from writer-director James Sadwith ("Sinatra''), in which Salinger himself is a character as played by Chris Cooper. He's the object of a search by a young man (Alex Wolff) who wants to play the book's Holden Caulfield on stage and film, and he hopes for Salinger's counsel and blessing. The youth has a companion (Stefania Owen) in scouring New Hampshire for the author. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on On Demand)
"Dog Eat Dog": The testosterone is strong as Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe and Christopher Michael Cook play ex-cons having trouble adjusting to civilian life, and seeking one last score, when they're enlisted by a mobster to execute an abduction in this melodrama directed by "Taxi Driver'' writer Paul Schrader. The target is the infant child of an underworld rival, putting the trio in the crosshairs of other criminals as well as law enforcers. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"When the Bough Breaks": As long as movie characters aren't careful about who they let in the house, there will be a place for thrillers like this. Morris Chestnut ("Rosewood'') and Regina Hall hire a surrogate (Jaz Sinclair) to bear a child for them, but the progress of her pregnancy is in direct proportion to the obsession she develops for the husband ... resulting in a situation reminiscent of other recent melodramas along these lines ("The Perfect Guy,'' etc.). Romany Malco also stars. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; audio commentary by Sinclair, director Jon Cassar and screenwriter Jack Olsen; deleted and extended scenes. *** (PG-13: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Ray Donovan: Season Four": Played by Liev Schreiber, the so-called "fixer'' is challenged again to fix his own life in this latest round of the Showtime drama series. His ex-con father Mickey (Jon Voight) and daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) set out on new paths, but Ray's past catches up to him and threatens to set him on a collision course with foreign mobsters -- and to also erase the boundaries he's set between his personal and professional worlds. Lisa Bonet, Stacy Keach, Embeth Davidtz and Ted Levine join the show for this season, for which Schreiber also directed the opening episode. Paula Malcolmson, Dash Mihok, Katherine Moenning and Steven Bauer also continue as cast regulars. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Blair Witch: (Jan. 3): In a familiar premise, several young people enter a Maryland forest to search for those who vanished in "The Blair Witch Project.'' (R: AS, P)
"Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life" (Jan. 3): A youngster (Griffin Gluck) becomes the unlikely inspiration for a revolt by his fellow students. (PG: AS, P)
"Deepwater Horizon" (Jan. 10): In the true drama, Mark Wahlberg plays a supervisor aboard the title oil rig when it's wracked by an explosion. (PG-13: P, V)
"Max Steel" (Jan. 10): A teen (Ben Winchell) and an alien (voice of Josh Brener) unite to form a team to battle extraterrestrial threats. (PG-13: V)
"The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands" (Jan. 10): The legend of ``The Lion King'' continues in episodes from the animated Disney Channel and Disney Junior series. (Not rated)
"Mr. Robot Season 2.1" (Jan. 10): The sophomore round of the acclaimed USA Network series, starring Emmy winner Rami Malek and Christian Slater, comes to home video. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"The Girl on the Train" (Jan. 17): Emily Blunt stars as a troubled commuter who believes harm has come to a woman she frequently has observed. (R: AS, N, P, V)
"The Light Between Oceans" (Jan. 24): A childless, island-bound couple (Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander) claims an infant they find as their own. (PG-13: AS, P)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Leaving Las Vegas" (1995): In his Oscar-winning performance, Nicolas Cage plays a troubled screenwriter who maps out his fate in the gambling mecca. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Midnight Cowboy" (1969): Jon Voight became a star as hustler Joe Buck, who finds a kindred spirit in streetwise Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Titanic" (1997): The movie that cemented Kate Winslet's stardom casts her and Leonardo DiCaprio as romantically entangled travelers aboard the ill-fated ship. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending December 11, 2016, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Bad Moms"
2) "Mechanic: Resurrection"
3) "Finding Dory"
4) "Independence Day: Resurgence"
5) "The Legend Of Tarzan"
6) "Sausage Party"
7) "Pete's Dragon"
8) "Hell or High Water"
9) "Central Intelligence"
10) "Lights Out"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence