(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.)
"Bohemian Rhapsody": Rami Malek's ("Mr. Robot'') dynamic, thoroughly committed performance as lead singer Freddie Mercury -- recently honored with a Golden Globe Award, as was the overall film -- clearly is the strongest suit of this profile of the rock band Queen, now up for five Oscars including best picture and actor. The Anthony McCarten screenplay adds new flavor to the traditional rise-and-fall-and-rise-again premise of dramas about music acts, largely by focusing strongly and logically on Mercury, whose personal life ended up having meaning far beyond his inner circle of friends and associates. Credit goes to Dexter Fletcher, who finished the movie after original director Bryan Singer was removed from it, for holding the result together. The cast also includes Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen and (in a smart turn as a record producer) Mike Myers. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Front Runner": Hugh Jackman followed his success in "The Greatest Showman'' by starring in director and co-screenwriter Jason Reitman's ("Juno'') profile of Sen. Gary Hart, whose presidential aspirations basically were demolished by the revelation of his extramarital affair with Donna Rice (played by Sara Paxton) -- one of the biggest scandals in the history of American politics up to that time. Also in the impressive cast are Reitman's "Up in the Air'' alums Vera Farmiga and J.K. Simmons, as well as Alfred Molina, Ari Graynor ("I'm Dying Up Here''), John Bedford Lloyd, Mike Judge, Kevin Pollak and two veterans of the series "Last Man Standing,'' Kaitlyn Dever and Molly Ephraim. Matt Bai, whose book "All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid'' inspired the film, also worked on the screenplay. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; audio commentary by filmmakers including Reitman; deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Nobody's Fool": With her star generally on the rise in the comedy world in the last couple of years, Tiffany Haddish got a big nod from Tyler Perry by landing the central role in his tale of an ex-convict taken in by her sister (Tika Sumpter) after her release. She then tries to protect her sibling from an online suitor whose actual existence becomes highly suspect. Director Perry's script gives Haddish plentiful chances to play drama as well as humor, and he typically casts very well around her ... with Omari Hardwick, Whoopi Goldberg, Missi Pyle, Mehcad Brooks ("Supergirl'') and Amber Riley ("Glee'') also featured. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing This Week:
"The Happy Prince": Oscar Wilde's name has long been legendary, but the man behind it comes into very sharp focus as Rupert Everett serves as star, writer and -- in his first time in the job -- director of this dramatization of the celebrated and controversial author's final days, spent in Paris. With a title borrowed from one of Wilde's stories, the film traces his relationships with various people as he tries to come to terms with them in the fleeting time he has left. Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson are among the actors working with and for Everett here. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; deleted scenes; Q&A with Everett. *** (R: AS, N, P)
"American Vandal: Season One": With the Funny or Die outlet among its producers, this Netflix series spoofs true-crime shows -- such as the streaming service's own "Making a Murderer'' -- as it investigates a high-school prank. Here, the crime in question is the damage done to faculty members' cars, but some others don't believe the student pegged as the prime suspect actually is responsible. The cast purposely is made up of relative unknowns, though Griffin Gluck has co-starred in such shows as "Back in the Game'' and "Red Band Society,'' and Lifetime viewers may recognize Saxon Sharbino from the oft-repeated movie "Stalker's Prey.'' This series did get a second season revolving around a different "crime.'' *** (Not rated: AS, P)
"A Star is Born" (Feb. 19): Bradley Cooper (also making his directing debut here) and Lady Gaga star in the latest version of the romantic drama about two performers at different career stages. (R: AS, N, P)
"American Masters: Sammy Davis Jr.: I've Got To Be Me" (Feb. 19)
"Overlord" (Feb. 19)
"Robin Hood" (Feb. 19)
"House of Cards: Season Six" (March 5)
"Green Book" (March 12)
"The Last Ship: The Complete Series" (March 12): The concluding round of the TNT adventure-drama, on home video for the first time, is included in this set; Eric Dane and Bridget Regan star. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"The Key to Rebecca'': It's heartening to see home-video companies still going back to release TV movies and miniseries from the era when such projects were frequent, and this is another example of one of the better ones. The adaptation of Ken Follett's novel casts veteran actor Cliff Robertson as a British military man who pursues a German spy ("Starsky and Hutch'' alum David Soul, clearly stretching himself to achieve the role's demands). The chased agent tries to steer the course of World War II by secretly plotting to facilitate the taking of Egypt by "Desert Fox'' General Erwin Rommel (who's portrayed by Robert Culp, of "I Spy'' fame). The 1985 drama also stars Season Hubley, Anthony Quayle and David Hemmings (who directed the project as well). *** (Not rated: AS, V)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending January 27, 2019, Courtesy of comScore, Inc)
2) "Night School"
3) "First Man"
5) "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween"
6) The Equalizer 2"
7) "The House with a Clock in Its Walls"
8) "White Boy Rick"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence