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Oscar ogling Oscar-nominated films coming soon to a DVD near you

We all know someone who schedules their movie watching this time of year around films that have been nominated for Oscars.

Studios have traditionally taken advantage of this renewed interest by re-releasing the movies into theaters (and making a few extra bucks along the way). But now, thanks to the increasingly short time it takes for a movie to make it home on video, you no longer necessarily need to go to a theater to catch up on Oscar films.

Take this year's crop of nominees. Films such as "Crash," "The Constant Gardener," "North Country," "Cinderella Man," "Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" are already available on home video. In the next few weeks, best picture nominees "Walk the Line," "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Capote" arrive.

One of the major DVD releases coming out on Tuesday is also a big Oscar contender, the lovely and romantic remake of Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice" ($29.98, MCA Home Video).

Keira Knightley was deservedly nominated for a best actress Oscar for her energetic and playfully devilish portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, the young woman who meets her match in the stoic Mr. Darcy (appealingly played with brooding romanticism by Matthew MacFadyen).

It wasn't an easy task for the filmmakers to follow in the footsteps of the much-loved BBC miniseries starring the quintessential Darcy and Elizabeth, actors Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. But director Joe Wright and screenwriter Deborah Moggach did an outstanding job with this highly entertaining movie.

The DVD bonus material includes a director's commentary; HBO's "First Look"; and the featurettes "A Bennet Family Portrait" and "Jane Austen: Ahead of Her Time." One unique aspect of the interviews is that they are not limited to the actors and film crew. Only for a film such as this would you find the likes of Louise West of the Jane Austen House and Lady Victoria Leatham, whose ancestral home, the Burghley House, was used in the movie, adding their thoughts.

"It gives us a chance to see behind the scenes and see the domestic trivia. She's so good at that. She puts you on the scene of everyday life," Lady Leatham says about Austen and her writing.

Director Wright and actor Tom Hollander, who plays the dreadful Mr. Collins, are both obviously enamored with their lovely female cast. Hollander, especially, is quite a card. "It was very difficult to focus sometimes -- not on the work, but on which woman to focus on," he cracks.

Here's the status of some of the other Oscar-nominated movies on DVD.

"Capote." Philip Seymour Hoffman's already award-winning portrayal of the eccentric writer arrives on video March 21 ($28.95, Sony Pictures). The DVD includes a two-part making-of documentary; "Answered Prayers," a documentary on Truman Capote; and two audio commentaries (one with director Bennett Miller and Philip Seymour Hoffman and a second with Miller and cinematographer Adam Kimmel).

"Crash." This acclaimed ensemble drama that looks at the interlocking lives of Los Angeles residents is already available on DVD ($19.98, Lions Gate). Bonus features include audio commentary; introduction by director Paul Haggis; and a behind-the-scenes look.

"Good Night, and Good Luck." George Clooney's look at CBS reporter Edward R. Morrow's stand against Sen. Joseph McCarthy will be available on March 14 ($28.98, Warner Home Video). Bonus features include additional scenes and an audio commentary with Clooney and co-screenwriter Grant Heslov.

"Walk the Line." The Johnny Cash biopic is available Tuesday as a single disc ($29.99, 20th Century Fox) or a two-disc collector's edition ($39.99) with bonus features including a commentary by director James Mangold; 10 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Mangold; three extended music videos; and two featurettes.

"Memoirs of a Geisha." Director Rob Marshall's sumptuous film about a Japanese girl who rises from servitude to become an accomplished geisha will be available as a two-disc set on March 28 ($28.96, Sony). Included are 11 featurettes on such topics as the film's look and music, plus commentaries with director Marshall and choreographer John DeLuca, as well as production audio commentaries.

"The Squid and the Whale." Based on the true childhood experiences of director and writer Noah Baumbach (nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay), this film is released on DVD March 21 ($26.96, Sony). Bonus features include a director's commentary; behind-the-scenes featurette; and a conversation with Baumbach and Philip Lopate.

Other nominees:

Of the remaining best picture nominees, Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" has an expected April release on Universal Home Video; there is no definitive word on the release of Steven Spielberg's "Munich."

Other nominees now available on home video: "Hustle & Flow" (Paramount); "JuneBug" (Sony Pictures Classic); and "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (Dreamworks).

Upcoming releases: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," March 7 (Warner); "Howl's Moving Castle," March 7 (Buena Vista); "A History of Violence," March 14 (New Line); and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," April 4 (Walt Disney).


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