Big Hero 6
, which last month was graced with an Oscar for best animated feature, is a very good film. I'd never dream of denigrating the witty Disney 3D picture, which had so much fun with its cast of Marvel Comics heroes.
But did it deserve to beat out some of this year's other nominees - say, the Irish musical fantasy The Song of the Sea?
One of this year's best films - live-action or animated - the Irish family picture is a transcendent work of art that's almost wasted on kids.
Happily, Universal Studios has released the picture on disc and for digital download.
Deeply rooted in traditional Irish mythology and folklore, The Song of the Sea is carved - one thinks of wood engravings and illuminated manuscripts - with a rich, dynamic visual style and a sophisticated symbolic language that will elicit aesthetic and emotional shivers.
Its story delights at every turn and is propelled by a body of songs that's simply breathtaking.
It helps to know the myths and folktales that inform The Song of the Sea. But the story is so vital and so fundamental in its handling of grounding human emotions such as parental and filial love that it will sing to viewers who haven't the slightest familiarity with the source material.
The story is about a lighthouse keeper named Conor (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) whose wife, Bronagh (Lisa Hannigan), an elegant singer with long waves of black hair, disappears into the sea one night after giving birth to their second child, a girl named Saoirse (Lucy O'Connell).
Now 6, the child seems to live in a world of her own. Her fiercely protective dad dotes on her while virtually ignoring her brother, Ben (David Rawle).
Conor's grief hangs like a black cloud over the family. He's obsessed by one question: Why would his beautiful bride kill herself?
But is she really dead? Surely she died when she plunged into the sea.
Saoirse knows otherwise. Like her mom, she is a selkie, a mythical being from Irish fairy tales that can take on the form of a seal or a human. She hears her mother's song in her heart, and one day she decides to travel deep under the sea in search of her.
And even though she has yet to utter her first word, Saoirse reveals she is capable of song, of bringing forth a magical music that has the power to heal.
The Song of the Sea is a work of rare sublimity that reveals how the human world is maintained through art. (www.universalstudiosentertainment.com; $34.98 DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Combo; rated PG)
Other titles of note
Turn: Washington's Spies. Based on historian Alexander Rose's acclaimed book, this terrific, bold espionage drama stars Jamie Bell as a Long Island farmer living in British-controlled territory who is recruited to spy for the armed insurgents under George Washington's command. (www.anchorbayentertainment.com/; $49.98 DVD; $59.99 Blu-ray; not rated)
The Red Tent. Minnie Driver, Morena Baccarin, and Debra Winger lead a wonderful cast in this two-part mini-series that retells the Biblical story of the pre-Judaism patriarch Jacob from the point of view of the women in his life, including his four wives and his heroic daughter Dinah, played by Driver. (https://sonypicturesstore.com; $26.99; not rated)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The third and final part of Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's tale features an all-star cast, including Martin Freeman as famed hobbit Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, and Benedict Cumberbatch. (www.wbshop.com; $28.98 DVD; $44.95 Blu-ray; rated PG-13)
Interstellar. This lavish sci-fi fantasy stars Matthew McConaughey as a space explorer who goes in search of a new home for humanity, whose time on earth is nearing its end. (www.paramount.com/movies/home-media; $29.98 DVD; $39.99; Blu-ray; rated PG-13)