(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.)
"Manchester by the Sea": Now up for six Oscars including best picture, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's ("You Can Count on Me'') much-praised -- and rightfully so -- drama offers a superb performance by Casey Affleck as a troubled loner stunned, and unsettled, to find he's been given guardianship of his late brother's son (Lucas Hedges). Michelle Williams also is excellent as the Affleck character's remarried ex-wife, with whom he shares a tragic past. Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Tate Donovan and Matthew Broderick also are in the very fine cast, and Matt Damon is among the film's producers. **** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Hacksaw Ridge": Currently Oscar-nominated for his first directorial effort in a decade, Mel Gibson earned wide acclaim for this true drama of an Army doctor (played by Andrew Garfield, also nominated, as is the entire film) who -- while weaponless -- saved numerous lives during the World War II battle of Okinawa. A conscientious objector, he earned the Medal of Honor for his selfless actions, the roots of which are detailed in what amounts to a prolonged flashback. Teresa Palmer, Rachel Griffiths, Hugo Weaving and Gibson's son Milo also appear in the involving film, which viewers should be forewarned includes graphic war sequences. Actor and playwright Robert Schenkkan ("All the Way'') co-wrote the script. DVD extras: deleted scenes; Veterans Day greeting by Gibson. *** (R: AS, GV) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Beauty and the Beast" (La Belle et Bete)'': The story surely is well-known, but the retelling rings quite mature in this version of the classic tale, casting Vincent Cassel ("Black Swan'') and Lea Seydoux ("Spectre'') as the title duo who are brought together when the lovely Belle offers to pay the price for her merchant father's theft of a rose. The Beast shows her mercy, and in turn, she tries to end the curse that has plagued him. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; interviews with Cassel, Seydoux and director Christophe Gans. *** (PG-13: AS, N, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"Bad Santa 2": Billy Bob Thornton is "bad'' again in this 13-years-later sequel, as his character Willie reunites with ex-con sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox), who wants to make up for his past actions. The plan to do so ends up hitting close to home for Willie, who finds a surprising patron in a founder ("Mad Men'' alum Christina Hendricks) of the charity that he and Marcus plot to swindle. Kathy Bates and Brett Kelly also star in the expectedly offbeat comedy, which hits many familiar notes but ultimately is less effective than the original. ** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Grace and Frankie: Season 2": "9 to 5'' alums Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin continue their title parts in the Netflix comedy series, as the dissimilar women move forward with their sometimes tenuous bond over having been left by their husbands (Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston) for each other. Matters of health concerns and old flames are among the issues that arise, with Sam Elliott, Estelle Parsons and Ernie Hudson among guest stars. Brooklyn Decker and Ethan Embry also continue their roles from the show's first season. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
"Air Bound": Animated animals are the "stars'' of this tale, a re-voiced Japanese feature about two mice about to join others of their kind on a sea voyage. Their plans are diverted when another mouse needs their help to defeat a scheming weasel -- a literal weasel in this case, with words spoken by "Saturday Night Live'' alum Jon Lovitz -- in a supposedly idyllic place named Dream Island. Nash Grier, Jimmy Tatro and YouTube personality Justine "iJustine'' Ezarik also are in the voice cast. *** (Not rated: V)
"Chronic" (Feb. 28): A private nurse (Tim Roth) develops highly interdependent relationships with his terminally ill patients. (R: AS, N, P)
"Allied" (Feb. 28): Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard play spies who fall in love while teamed on a top-secret World War II mission. (R: AS, N, P, V)
"Doctor Strange" (Feb. 28): The Marvel Comics character (Benedict Cumberbatch) takes a new path after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Moonlight" (Feb. 28): Director-screenwriter Barry Jenkins' widely acclaimed drama traces the life of a young black man at different stages in his struggles; Naomie Harris plays his mother. (R: AS, P, V)
"Rules Don't Apply" (Feb. 28): Director, screenwriter and star Warren Beatty plays billionaire Howard Hughes; Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich also are featured. (PG-13: AS, P)
"The Eyes of My Mother" (March 7): An ex-surgeon (Diana Agostini) lives an isolated life with her daughter (Olivia Bond) until a visitor arrives. (R: AS, N, P, V)
"Solace" (March 14): A psychically skilled FBI consultant (Anthony Hopkins) goes up against a serial killer (Colin Farrell); Jeffrey Dean Morgan also stars. (R: AS, N, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Braveheart" (1995): Mel Gibson won a best director Oscar for this epic, in which he also stars as Scottish revolutionary William Wallace. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"9 to 5" (1980): Several maligned secretaries (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton) join forces to even the score with their boss. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"You Can Count on Me" (2000): A single mother (Laura Linney) has a tense reunion with her ne'er-do-well brother (Mark Ruffalo). ****
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending February 5, 2017, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Deepwater Horizon"
2) "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"
3) "The Secret Life of Pets"
5) "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children"
6) "Jason Bourne"
7) "The Magnificent Seven"
8) "Boo! A Madea Halloween"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence