Best of the Month, Special Features: 'Drive,' 'The Thing,' 'Real Steel,' 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Moneyball' and More

Best of the Month, Special Features: 'Drive,' 'The Thing,' 'Real Steel,' 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Moneyball' and More

Jan 31, 2012

Streaming or downloading movies is a convenient way to rent a flick even though the picture and sound quality are not as good as Blu-ray, but those fun behind-the-scenes extras are not usually available digitally. To keep you spinning physical discs for years to come, studios are including innovative and often immersive bonus features on the DVDs and Blu-rays of your favorite movies and TV shows. Read all about this month's best extras served up on shiny silver platters that take you beyond the feature presentations.

Drive: Forget about the movies with predictable go-to themes that the Academy nominates for Oscars year after year: Drive was one of the best movies of 2011 even though it didn't fit the Academy's usual mold of an Oscar contender. Ryan Gosling plays a man known only as "The Driver"—a Hollywood stuntman by day and a getaway car driver at night. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray is "Drive Without a Driver: Entretien Avec Nicolas Winding Refn," an in-depth interview with the director about the film's shaky six-year journey to the screen.

The Thing: We're not sure why this thrilling prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing didn't connect with fans in theaters, but hopefully they will discover on disc this sci-fi creature feature about a team of American and Norwegian scientists that thaw out a really nasty shape-shifting alien in Antarctica. The Blu-ray exclusive "The Thing Evolves" features the filmmakers discussing how they reverse engineered the film to blend seamlessly with Carpenter's 1982 horror classic.

Real Steel: In the not-so-distant future where boxing is outlawed, Hugh Jackman plays a former fighter who now promotes robot boxers in the ring and creates an unlikely metal champion with the help of his estranged son. Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman's Champ," in which you see how the boxing legend helped train Jackson for the movie. The BD also has the exclusive "Countdown to the Fight: The Charlie Kenton Story," a faux ESPN-like documentary program in which we learn more about the background of Jackman's character.

The Ides of March: George Clooney plays a charismatic presidential candidate who you'd probably want to vote for until a scandalous secret is discovered by his junior campaign manager (Ryan Gosling). Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain the "Believe: George Clooney" featurette in which Clooney acknowledges his reputation for being a prankster on the set and explains what it's like to direct oneself.

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season: This sensational HBO drama about Atlantic City, New Jersey's corrupt treasurer Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and his dealings with organized crime during the Prohibition era will transport you to another time thanks to the attention to details and outstanding performances by the ensemble cast. Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a tour of the biggest speakeasies in Chicago and New York as well as a 30-minute documentary on Atlantic City in the 1920s.

Moneyball: This drama based on a true story features Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, who used a controversial sabermetrics technique to select players for the Oakland A's that gave the baseball team the longest winning streak in history. Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Billy Beane: Reinventing the Game," in which the real Beane and some of the men behind the film discuss Beane the player and Beane the general manager.

What's Your Number?: This lame rom-com about a young woman who reconnects with all her exes after reading an article in a chick magazine that suggests that you've already missed Mr. Right if you've slept with 20 people is a waste of star Anna Faris's comedic talents. Even though the cast struggles with the weak material, the gag reel on the DVD and Blu-ray at least elicits some fantastic answers when the cast is asked how many people they have slept with.

Contagion: Steven Soderbergh's germaphobic nightmare about how Gwyneth Paltrow sparks a deadly global pandemic already had us giving the hairy eyeball to everyone in the theater sniffling or coughing. Now the Blu-ray bonus feature "False Comfort Zone: The Reality of Contagion" does little to calm the nerves with its discussion about how real a viral threat like the one depicted in the movie is and the overwhelming logistical challenges of vaccinating entire populations.

Justified: The Complete Second Season: This FX show based on an Elmore Leonard story stars Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens and features some of the best writing on television. This season, sharpshooter Raylan has his hands full battling a pot ring headed by a Southern family matriarch (Margo Martindale). In the exclusive Blu-ray roundtable discussion, Leonard joins the show's producers and talks about how Justified's success inspired him to write more Raylan Givens stories.

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