DVDs of 2013

Alex Cross (PG-13) Crime drama – Tyler Perry assumes the mantle of James Patterson’s best-selling character (from Morgan Freeman) as he faces off against serial killer Matthew Fox.

Anna Karenina (R) Drama – Keira Knightley stars in yet another turgid literary adaptation by director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement).

Argo (R) Drama – CIA agent Ben Affleck, who also directed, leads a group American embassy workers out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. One of the year’s best and a surprise favorite to take the Best Picture Oscar.

Broken City (R) Drama – Ex-cop Mark Wahlberg does dirty work for powerful mayor Russell Crowe. With Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Chasing Mavericks (PG) Drama – Veteran surfer Gerard  Butler teaches young Jonny Weston how to handle the incredibly huge  waves off the Northern California coast. (Based on a true story.

Deadfall (R) Suspense – After knocking over an Indian casino, Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde are stuck in the snowy Michigan (Canadian) wilderness. With Kate Mara, Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson. (Limited theatrical release)

Django Unchained (R) Western – Christophe Waltz and Quentin Tarantino won Oscars (Supporting Actor and Writing) for this ultra-violent tale set in the pre-Civil War South. As the title character, Jamie Foxx is a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter and sets out to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from her owner Leonardo DiCaprio. With Samuel L. Jackson.

End of Watch (R) Crime drama – Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are uniformed LAPD cops who go up against a well-armed drug gang. Smart, funny, involving, believable.

Flight (R) Drama – Alcoholic pilot Denzel Washington manages to land a damaged airliner but still must deal with his many demons. Complex, involving and serious. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. (Another Oscar nomination for Denzel.)

Frankenweenie (PG) Animation – Tim Burton’s short film is expanded into a feature about a boy who resurrects his dog.

Freaky Deaky (R) Crime comedy – Adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel finds Detroit cop Billy Burke investigating bomber Christian Slater. (DVD premiere)

Gangster Squad (R) Crime drama – In 1949 LA, gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is thwarted by rogue cops Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Michael Pena and Anthony Mackie. With Emma Stone.

Guilt Trip (PG-13) Road comedy – Seth Rogen is conned into a cross-country trip with his overbearing mother Barbra Streisand.

A Haunted House (R) Horror comedy – Paranormal Activity and other “found footage” horrors get the comic send-up they so richly deserve. With Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins and Cedric the Entertainer.

Here Comes the Boom (PG) Comedy – High school teacher Kevin James tries to save his school’s music program by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter where the loser of a bout can bring home $10K. With Salma Hayek and Henry Winkler.

Hitchcock (PG-13) Drama – The director (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife (Helen Mirren) run into problems while making Psycho. With Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (PG-13) Fantasy – Overblown, overlong and hugely popular “prequel” to The Lord of the Rings introduced Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen).

Hotel Transylvania (PG) Animation – Adam Sandler provides the voice of Dracula who has turned his castle into a resort for monsters.

House at the End of the Street (PG-13) Horror – Divorcee Elisabeth Shue and her daughter Jennifer Lawrence move next door to an attractive young psycho killer.

Hyde Park on Hudson (R) Period drama – In 1939, FDR (Bill Murray) conducts an affair with his neighbor Laura Linney on the eve of a visit by the King and Queen of England.

The Impossible (PG-13) Fact-based drama – Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and their three sons are on vacation in Thailand when a tidal wave strikes their resort. Extraordinarily realistic, making full use of computer effects.

The Imposter (R) Suspense – Fact-based thriller follows a teenager who disappears in San Antonio and reappears three years later in rural Spain.

The Intouchables (R) Comic drama – Lower-class guy Omar Sy comes to be a friend to quadriplegic rich guy Francois Cluzet. Art house hit from France.

Jack Reacher (PG-13) Drama – Tom Cruise is Lee Child’s tough-as-nails ex-MP hero who investigates a series of sniper murders.

Killing Them Softly (R) Action – After three bozos knock over a Mob poker game, hitman Brad Pitt is dispatched to take care of them.

Les Miserables (PG-13) Musical – Anne Hathaway won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the adaptation of the massive stage hit. With Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.

Life of Pi (PG-13) Magical drama – Director Ang Lee won an Oscar for his adaptation of the hit novel about a young man who is stranded with a Bengal tiger on a lifeboat.

Lincoln (PG-13) Biopic – Daniel Day-Lewis won his third Academy Award for his portrayal of the president near the end of the war. Directed by Steven Spielberg.

Mama (PG-13) Horror – Two little girls disappear in the woods and reappear four years later. When they go to live with their uncle and his girlfriend (Jessica Chastain), something nasty accompanies them.

The Master (R) Drama – Veteran Joaquin Phoenix has trouble adjusting to America in the 1950s until he meets the wealthy and charismatic Philip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

Paranormal Activity 4 (R and un-rated) – The dirt-cheap surveillance video horror has reached an astonishing fourth entry.

Parental Guidance (PG) Comedy – Overprotective parents Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott leave their kids with freewheeling grandparents Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (PG-13) Drama – High school freshman Logan Leman falls for senior Emma Watson and joins her clique. Terrific coming-of-age story from director Stephen Chbosky, based on his novel.

The Possession (PG-13) Horror – Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick confront a spirit from an antique box bought at a yard sale that takes over their daughter. Based on you-know-what.

Promised Land (R) Drama – Corporate pitchman Matt Damon experiences a transformation while trying to persuade rural Pennsylvania residents to sell the fracking rights to the natural gas under their land. With Frances McDormand and Hal Holbrook. Succumbs to its own propaganda.

Red Dawn (PG-13) Action – Remake finds teens in Washington state facing off against North Korean invaders. With Chris Hemsworth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Rise of the Guardians (PG) Animation – The Tooth Fairy, Santa, Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny are recast as superheroes who battle the villain Pitch. Voices provided by Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman and Isla Fisher.

Safe Haven (PG-13) Sappy romance – Yet another adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel about pretty troubled people in North Carolina.

The Sessions (R) Drama – Adult polio victim John Hawkes decides to lose his virginity. Sex therapist Helen Hunt agrees to help. Priest William H. Macy assists.

Seven Psychopaths (R) Action comedy – Writer Colin Farrell becomes involved after his pals Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell kidnap crazy gangster Woody Harrellson’s beloved dog.

Silver Linings Playbook (R) Romantic comedy – Recently released from a mental facility, Bradley Cooper still hasn’t gotten over his divorce when he meets free-spirited widow Jennifer Lawrence, who took home the Best Actress Oscar. One of the year’s best.

Sinister (R) Horror – Writer Ethan Hawke discovers videos of families being massacred, thus calling the supernatural evil upon himself and his family.

Skyfall (PG-13) Action – James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes up against Javier Bardem, an ex-agent who attacks M (Judi Dench). Directed by Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) as an affectionate and exciting tribute to the entire series.

Taken 2 (PG-13 and un-rated) Action – Retired agent Liam Neeson is forced back into action when his family is kidnapped in Istanbul by the father of the guys he took out in the first film.

This Is 40 (R) Comedy – Semi-sequel to Knocked Up finds Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann dealing with their children and careers.

To Rome With Love (R) Comedy – Woody Allen tells intersecting love stories set in the Eternal City. With Alec Bladwin, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg and Penelope Cruz.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 (PG-13) Fantasy – The hit series finally comes to an end. With Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Winner of many many Razzies.

Wreck-It Ralph (PG) Animation – Video-game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) wants to break free of his role and become a beloved hero. With Jane Lynch and Sarah Silverman. From Disney.

Zero Dark Thirty (R) Drama – Jessica Chastain leads a group of CIA analysts who spend years tracking down Osama bin Laden. Realistic, suspenseful but somehow uninvolving. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Books by Mike Mayo