“Frozen,” Grade A-minus: Anna (Kristen Bell) must find a way to thaw her sister’s cold heart in this year’s Oscar winner for Best Animated Film.
The production, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” has the successful Disney combination of a solid story, strong animation, breakout characters and memorable music. That’s the blend that has worked for decades and continues to work here.
The movie has the strongest soundtrack since the 1996 release of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
“American Hustle,” Grade A: A con man (Christian Bale) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent.
Director David O. Russell has taken the emotional rawness central to his “Silver Linings Playbook” and added layers of seduction and corruption, painted against the excessiveness that was the late ’70s, to create a production that’s even more Oscar-worthy than “Playbook.”
Jennifer Lawrence turns in a performance as a passive-aggressive real-world answer to the Mad Hatter. She is electrifying, whether she’s manipulating her husband or performing a cleaning scene to “Live and Let Die.” Russell strips Amy Adams down to an emotional raw nerve to play a stripper turned con artist.
“Saving Mr. Banks,” Grade B-plus: Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) fights to get the rights from the author of the Mary Poppins books so he can make them into a movie.
The overall strength comes from Hanks and Emma Thompson, who once again transform themselves to portray the spirit of their characters with such honesty and courage that the movie is never in danger of being a dry tale of Hollywood politics.
Thompson brilliantly faces every challenge, from a quiet – but extremely touching – moment when the author first sees the film to her unlikely connection with the man (Paul Giamatti) assigned to be her driver. Thompson finds that razor-sharp edge of being cantankerous while leaving enough room for her humanity to slip out as needed.
“Transformers Rescue Bots: Heroes on the Scene”: Rescue Bots go undercover to protect Griffin Rock.
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”: Film based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. Idris Elba stars.
“Reasonable Doubt”: A lawyer throws a case only to find the man he helps free has some dark secrets.
“Green Lantern: The Complete Animated Series”: Josh Keaton is the voice of Green Lantern in this 26-episode series.
“Jeff Dunham: Achmed Saves America”: Animated movie based on the comedians characters.
“Return To Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 1”: Tromaville High School is anything but normal.
“Cybergeddon”: Chloe Jocelyn investigates a slew of seemingly unrelated cyber attacks.
“Kill Your Darlings”: Recounts the pivotal year that changed Allen Ginsberg’s life.
“Monsters: The Complete Series”: TV series brings to life the monsters of which nightmares are made.
“Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales”: Horror legend Tom Holland dares you to join him for nine scary stories.
“20 Ft. Below: The Darkness Descending”: Dangerous world is hidden in shadows of New York’s abandoned subway tunnels.
“Almost Sharkproof”: Two friends risk it all to strike it rich. Jon Lovitz stars.
“Kingdom of Conquerors”: A look at the rise of Genghis Khan.
“The Slumber Party Massacre”: The 1982 horror film is now on Blu-ray.
“The Patience Stone”: Adapted from the best-selling novel by Atiq Rahimi.
“Here Comes the Devil”: Two youngsters exhibit strange behavior after being lost on a mountainside.
“The Horror at 37,000 Feet”: William Shatner, Buddy Ebsen and Chuck Connors star in made-for-TV thriller.
“Atlantis: Season One”: When Jason sets out to find his father, he could never have anticipated where his journey would lead.
“The Wrath of Vajra”: A man trained to be an assassin begins a quest to protect the innocent.
“Flu”: A human trafficker unleashes a wave of death after he’s infected with an unknown virus.
“To Catch a Trader”: Story of the government investigation that led to the largest insider trading case in U.S. history.
“Commitment”: Son of a spy is pulled into his own mystery.
“Discovery Channel’s Survivorman 10 Days”: Les Stroud attempts to survive 10 days in the dangerous wilderness.
“Flashpoint: The Final Season”: The unit tackles everything from rescuing hostages to defusing bombs.
Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee