BEST OF BLU-RAY
This normally isn’t my column, but unfortunately we’ve had a tiny bit of staff turnover so coming up with this portion of our 2012 recap has been left to me. Honestly, while I watch a ton of stuff on Blu-ray I can’t say I view everything, my focus understandably being more on the theatrical side of things. At the same time, I think I can say with little trepidation that this has been a great year for high definition, a number of quality, extremely in-demand releases finally making their way to the format.
In all honesty, one could do an entire top ten of Criterion Collection releases alone. Some of the outstanding motion pictures given extreme love and care by the studio included Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, Paul Bartel’s Eating Raul, Christopher Nolan’s Following, Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday, Godfrey Reggio’s The Qatsi Trilogy, Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave, Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love, David Fincher’s The Game, Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich, Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla, Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush and Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (just to name a small handful), any of which easily could have made my list as one of 2012’s best.
Then there is Universal, which celebrated its 100th anniversary by bringing a number of treasured titles to Blu-ray. While some still took issue with the studio for their technical practices, overall the majority of these discs were pretty extraordinary, movies such as Pillow Talk, The Sting, Buck Privates, To Kill a Mockingbird, Airport, Harvey and Out of Africa never looking better each given the care and attention they so richly deserved.
There were plenty of other classic titles that finally hit Blu-ray this year. Fox and MGM combined forces to get a trio of Alfred Hitchcock favorites (Notorious, Rebecca, Spellbound) onto store shelves, while Paramount enjoyed their own centennial anniversary by bring a number of treasured titles (including (Wings, Sunset Boulevard, Barbarella, Love Story, To Catch a Thief and Hondo) to the format as well. Disney dropped a ton of animated classics into the marketplace (including The Rescuers, The Aristocats, Finding Nemo and The Great Mouse Detective) as well as making sure Studio Ghibli continued to get the hi-def treatment (The Secret World of Arrietty, Castle in the Sky and Whisper of the Heart).
All of this only skims the surface in regards to how much great stuff hit Blu-ray in 2012. I could go on and on for just about forever (I haven’t even talked about Woody Allen’s Manhattan and Annie Hall, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment or Fox’s glorious presentation of the seven-disc Forever Marilyn collection), this portion of our recap potentially taking up more space than the theatrical sections did.
With that being so, and in the pursuit of brevity, here are my picks for the ten best Blu-ray releases of 2012 as well as a few other titles worthy of being singled out for mention.
1. David Lean Directs Noël Coward (In Which We Serve / This Happy Breed / Brief Encounter / Blithe Spirit) – Criterion Collection
2. Lady and the Tramp – Diamond Edition & Cinderella – Diamond Edition
3. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection
4. Bond 50
5. A Streetcar Named Desire – 60th Anniversary Edition
6. Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures
7. The Big Heat – Twilight Time
8. La Promesse – Criterion Collection & Rosetta – Criterion Collection
9. Jaws & E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
10. All Quiet on the Western Front – Universal 100th Anniversary
A SECOND TWENTY
1. Lawrence of Arabia
2. The Avengers 3D
3. Trilogy of Life (The Decameron / The Canterbury Tales / Arabian Nights) – Criterion Collection
5. The Samurai Trilogy – Criterion Collection
6. The Hunger Games
7. Titanic 3D
8. Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection
9. Rosemary’s Baby – Criterion Collection
11. Belle de Jour – Criterion Collection
12. The Dark Knight Rises
13. Anatomy of Murder – Criterion Collection
14. Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume Two
15. Heaven’s Gate – Criterion Collection
16. Bell, Book, and Candle – Twilight Time
17. Chariots of Fire
18. La Grande Illusion
19. Battle Royal – The Complete Collection
20. Little Shop of Horrors
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