A mostly black-and-white film about such a dreary subject was certainly not guaranteed to be a box office hit, but Spielberg and screenwriter Steven Zaillian had an intriguing character at the center of the story. Oskar Schindler was a Nazi Party member interested only in making as much money off the war as he could before heading for less-stressful surroundings, and early in the film we see him enlisting the help of Itzhak Stern purely for that effort. Like the other Germans, he is only interested in getting out of the Jewish community whatever he can, while he can. The film occupies the Blu-ray disc by itself and has never looked nor sounded better. The two accompanying DVDs contain a standard-definition version of the movie along with an introduction to the USC Shoah Foundation Story by Spielberg and About IWitness, a new piece that discusses an online application for schools to use when teaching students about the Holocaust. The second DVD also contains the 77-minute Voices From the List. It features interviews with Holocaust survivors and their descendants and is a worthwhile supplement to the film. Brad Cook
In a country that is all about being Number 1, Veep takes us into the world of the most famous Number 2, the Vice President of the United States of America. We meet VP Selina Meyer, and learn that the woman who is one heartbeat away from being the most powerful person on the planet actually has very little power in the Washington machine. Her time is spent trying to keep herself relevant, while recovering from mistakes she and her staff continually make. HBO offers a nice package with its Veep: The Complete First Season release. The show does take time to build, but by the later episodes, the investment is worthwhile as viewers are pulled in to the action and characters’ development. The bonus features complement nicely, providing additional laughs as well as useful background information. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it should be required viewing for all students of American government, it does provide us with a less glamorous but probably more brutally honest look at the machinations of politics and the lack of control the people who control the country actually have. Christine Brandel
Perhaps the most stunning element of this years list is the lack of domination by the broadcast networks. In fact, there are more streaming and pay cable shows taking top honors than any Big Three offering. The future of the medium is here and now.
It was a particularly strong year for women in film. These sensational performances remind us that, when all is said and done, it's character and how an actor or actress creates them that matters as much to a movie as a script, a director, or an idea.