Sometimes the ultimate success depends on timing. Imagine being a good-to-great fighter when Muhammad Ali dominated boxing, or having a solid baseball team when the Yankees ruled the world.
In another year, Denzel Washington's excellent performance in Flight (now on DVD and Blu-ray) might have won him yet another Academy Award. Or, if Washington were not in the way, Bradley Cooper might have been striding to the Oscar dais. But not this one.
Because all those guys faced the unstoppable force of Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln.
Day-Lewis became the first person to win three Oscars for best actor for his portrayal as our 16th president, a performance that made the movie more powerful than the sometimes sluggish pace would have allowed.
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Mainly the story of the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned slavery throughout the United States, the movie, available this week on DVD and Blu-ray, can be gripping thanks to the intensity of the debate in it, its blending of the characters' personal and political issues, and the impressive cast around Day-Lewis, including Sally Field (as Lexington native and first lady Mary Todd Lincoln), Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, David Strathairn and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
But it is Day-Lewis' Lincoln, whether talking politics or dealing with his family, who drives the film — and whose presence demands the best of the performers around him. You do not step on camera with this man unless you are bringing your best game.
It is being released in several video packages: a four-disc Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo ($28), two-disc Blu-ray/DVD set ($24.50) and a single-disc DVD-only set ($17.99).
The lone extra on the single DVD is a piece about telling Lincoln's story. The two-disc set adds a segment about shooting the film in Richmond, Va. The four-disc set includes both those pieces plus a closer look at Day-Lewis' performance, the movie's pursuit of period authenticity and other elements.
These DVDs were also released this week:
New films: Killing Them Softly; Parental Guidance; The Collection; Stand Off; Adventures in Zambezia; White Elephant; House Arrest; Bangkok Revenge; Either Way; Dartworth.
Older films: Monsieur Verdoux: The Criterion Collection; A Man Escaped: The Criterion Collection; Easy Money.
TV: The Carol Burnett Show: This Time Together; The Borgias: The Second Season; Men at Work: The Complete First Season; MADtv Season 2; Continuum: Season One; Veep: The Complete First Season; Oliver Twist (1982 CBS miniseries); Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Series 1; Maigret Set 7 and Set 8; The Official Digimon Adventure Set: The Complete Second Season; Shakespeare Uncovered; Frontline: Inside Obama's Presidency; Midsomer Murders: Tom Barnaby's Last Cases; Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot: The Complete Series.
For kids: The Springtime Collection Featuring Max's Chocolate Chicken.
Of special interest: N.A.S.A. The Spirit of Apollo; Tom Green: Live.