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'Animal Kingdom' and 'Mother and Child' are first DVD screeners of Oscar season

October 4, 2010 |  6:38 pm

Oscars screeners

Being first out of the gate often matters a lot in the Oscar derby. "Frozen River" and "Little Miss Sunshine" reaped top nominations in 2008 and 2006, respectively, after being the first DVDs shipped to academy members. This year, that distinction goes to two releases shipped by Sony Pictures Classics late last week: "Animal Kingdom" and "Mother and Child."

In his L.A. Times review, Kenneth Turan praised "Animal Kingdom," which won the world cinema jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival: "Faultlessly acted by top Australian talent, including Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, 'Animal Kingdom' marries heightened emotionality with cool contemporary style to illustrate one of the oldest of genre truths: 'Crooks always come undone, always, one way or another.'"

Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert cheered "Mother and Child," which stars Annette Bening, Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts: "All have rarely been better .... Three mothers in need of a child. Three children, one not yet born. Three lives that are obscurely linked."

To determine how important it is to be out early with DVDs, consider what was shipped to voters during October and November in 2009 and 2008.

2009 DERBY
OCT. 8 — "Anvil!"
OCT. 26 — "Coco Before Chanel," "Whatever Works," "The Damned United"
NOV. 6 — "The Stoning of Soraya M."
NOV. 16 — "An Education," "The Messenger"
NOV. 17 —  "(500) Days of Summer," "Bright Star," "Young Victoria"
NOV. 25 — "District 9," "Julie & Julia," "Pirate Radio," "Away We Go," "Taking Woodstock," "A Serious Man," "Coraline," "Up," the animated feature "9," "The Boys Are Back"
NOV. 27 — "Where the Wild Things Are," "The Informant!," "Two Lovers," "Funny People"

2008 DERBY
LATE SEPTEMBER — "Frozen River"
OCT. 24 — "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
NOV. 1 — "Burn After Reading"
NOV. 7 — "I've Loved You So Long"
NOV. 15-20 — "Slumdog Millionaire," "Rachel Getting Married," "Last Chance Harvey," "Traitor," "The Visitor"
NOV. 21-27 — "Frost/Nixon," "The Duchess," "Quantum of Solace," "The Wrestler," "Che"
NOV. 28-DEC. 1 — "Wall-E," "Elegy," "Nothing But the Truth," "What Doesn't Kill You," "The Yellow Handkerchief," "Synecdoche, New York"

Photo of DVDs by Tom O'Neil for L.A. Times.

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