"Divergence of taste on the part of the audience can be extreme, and this is in no way regrettable or alarming; the fact that people have their own aesthetic criteria indicates a growth of self-awareness."

Andrei Tarkovsky as translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair in Sculpting in Time page 84

 

DVDBeaver are excited to announce our voting results for DVD of the Year - 2005. As well as many of our astute ListServ members choices this year we are proud to include esteemed journalists Jonathan Rosenbaum, Daryl Chin, Acquarello and Dave Kehr, Masters of Cinema archivists/principals Nick Wrigley and Trond Trondsen and many more. Big thanks to Adam Lemke for the organization and tallying. 

      

Balloters (click name to access votes):

Acquarello    Adam Lemke    Anthony Clarke     Bill McAlpine    

Brandon Bentley    Brook Kennon     C.P. Czarnecki     Craig Keller   

Daryl Chin       Dave Kehr       Frank Bidart        Frank C.

Gary Tooze   Henrik Sylow    Ike N.    Irina Lutsky    Jerry Gerber    Jerry Johnson    

Jonathan Rosenbaum        Karim Drissi        Larry Yao

 Maikel Aarts     Matthew McGee     Mikkel Leffers Svendstrup 

        Nick Wrigley     Nick Zegarac     Noel Bjorndahl     Ole Kofoed   Peter Hourigan

        Peter Mann     Per-Olaf Strandberg       Rob Janik      

Ross Wilbanks      Steven Harrison        Thomas Daniel         Tom Mahaffey

Tony Youngblood           Travon Boykins        Trond Trondsen       Wob / Eric

 

The Totals (click to access)

THE TOP TEN    11th - 50th   

Best Production Design      Best Audio Commentary

Best Budget Release     Best Transfer    Best Boxset     Best Extras

Guilty Pleasure    Biggest Disappointment    Deserved Better

Discovery     Best DVD Company     2006?

 

DVDs that received at least one vote

(CLICK COVERS for more information):

   

 

 

Acquarello
http://www.filmref.com
1.
Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1
2.
Humanity and Paper Balloons (Yamanaka, 37) Eureka (MoC); R2
3.
Francesco, giullare di Dio (Rossellini, 50) Eureka (MoC); R2
4.
Happiness /Le Tombeau d'Alexandre (Medvedkin, 32 & Marker, 92) Arte; R2
5.
Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2
6.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (various, 7 discs) New Line; R1
7.
Au hasard Balthazar (Bresson, 66) Criterion; R1
8. Films of Béla Tarr (The Outsider / Prefab People / Family Nest) Facets; R1 3
9. The Railroad Man (Germi, 56) NoShame; R1
10. Boccaccio '70 (Fellini, Visconti, DeSica, 62) NoShame; R1
 

 

Adam Lemke
Syracuse, NY
http://www.moviemiser.com
1. Devils on the Doorstep (Wen, 01) HVE; R1 – Utterly breathtaking film, with the sweep of a great novel. No film hit me as hard this year, as this little seen Chinese masterpiece.
2.
Thieves Highway (Dassin, 49) Criterion; R1
3. Seven Men From Now (Boetticher, 56) Paramount; R1
4.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
5.
Warner Bros. Gangster Collection (Various) Warner; R1
6.
Love (Makk, 71) Second Run; R2/R4
7. Heaven Can Wait (Lubitsch, 43) Criterion; R1
8.
The Big Red One – The Reconstruction (Fuller, 80) Warner; R1
9.
Leave Her to Heaven (Stahl, 45) Fox; R1
10. A Tale of Cinema (Hong, 05) Woo Sung; R3

 

Comments: Regrettably omitted is The River (Criterion), Criterion’s Suzuki and Bresson titles, La Cienaga (HVE), Point Blank (Warner), The Narrow Margin (Warner), Unknown Chaplin (AE), several Artificial Eye titles (including their re-release of Werkmeister Harmonies which should be a model for DVD companies everywhere), Land of the Dead (Universal) and The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection. I confess that I still need to catch up with the entire MoC catalogue, and the Unseen Cinema Box Set. While on the subject of catching up, let me say that watching the Monteiro Box Set from Gemini (2004 release) was a revelation, and that set remains perhaps the most perfectly executed DVD release of any year. Paramount has become one of my new favorites with incredibly priced discs, featuring excellent transfers and superb bonus material. Their The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Danger: Diabolik, and the whole of their ‘Batjac’ releases are essential for any collection. As much as it pains me to admit, the year in DVD was quite possibly more impressive than the year in film.

 

 

Anthony Clarke
Australia
1.
Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (Sandrich, Stevens, Walters, various) Warner; R1 2. The Wizard of Oz - Collector’s Edition (Fleming, 39) Warner; R1
3. The Lina Wertmüller Collection (Wertmüller, 6 Discs) Koch Lorber; R1
4. Errol Flynn: The Signature Collection (Various, 6 Discs) Warner; R1
5. Shoot the Piano Player (Truffaut, 60) Criterion; R1
6.
The King Kong Collection (2-Disc) Tin (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
7.
The Band Wagon (Minnelli, 53) Warner; R1
8. The Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season (Various, 1952) Warner; R1
9. Oklahoma! – 50th Anniversary Edition (Zinnemann, 55) Fox; R1
10. The General (Bruckman & Keaton, 27) AV Channel; R4

 

Comments: Koch-Lorber's Wertmüller Collection gets in the list because of the great content, despite its lack of care given to original-ratio. The only notable features of my list is that it's certainly the year of great collections, and that I seem to be keeping Warner Brothers in business! I also love musicals and had to toss up between the new transfer of Oklahoma or Warner's Easter Parade with the great bonus doc on the life of Judy Garland.

 

 

Bill McAlpine
Ontario, Canada
1.
Ran (Kurosawa, 85) Criterion; R1
2.
King Kong (2-Disc) Collector’s Tin (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
3.
The Hammer Horror Series (Various, 2 Discs) Universal; R1 8
4.
Lars von Trier’s Europa Trilogy (4 Discs) Electric Parc; R2 DK
5. Léolo (Lauzon, 93) Image; R1
6.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (Argento, 70) Blue Underground; R1
7.
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Roeg, 76) Criterion; R1
8.
Bad Timing (Roeg, 80) Criterion; R1
9.
Bambi (Hand, 42) Disney; R1
10. Mike Oldfield - Exposed (live concert) Virgin/EMI; R2

 

Comments: Honorable mentions include: Tales of Hoffman (Criterion), Boccaccio '70 (NoShame), Danger: Diabolik (Paramount), The Blind Dead Collection (Blue Underground), Hoop Dreams (Criterion), Kung Fu Hustle (Columbia R3), L'Eclisse (Criterion), Career Girls (Fox), Secrets & Lies (Fox), Bob Dylan: No Direction Home (Paramount), Zero Patience (Strand), The Devil's Rejects (Lions Gate), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory SE (Warner), Cry-Baby (Universal), Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (New Video) and two films that bypassed US theatrical release and went straight to DVD : They Came Back (Wellspring) and The Life & Death of Peter Sellers (HBO). A mention should also be made for the excellent re-issues of Paul Morrissey's Flesh/Trash/Heat / Women in Revolt / Blood for Dracula / Flesh for Frankenstein (all Image), M (Criterion), The Fly (86, Fox) War of the Worlds (1953, Paramount), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (Dark Sky), The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition Seasons 2-5 (Image)

 

 

Brandon Bentley
Atlanta GA
1.
Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1
2. Phantasm Sphere: The Complete Collection (Coscarelli. 79-98) Anchor Bay; R2
3. F for Fake (Welles, 74) Criterion; R1
4. The Big Red One – The Reconstruction (Fuller, 80) Warner; R1
5.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (various, 7 discs) New Line; R1
6. Cowards Bend the Knee (Maddin, 03) Zeitgeist; R1
7. House of Bamboo (Fuller, 55) Fox; R1
8. Land of the Dead (Romero, 05) Universal; R1
9. The House is Black (Farrokhzad, 63) Facets; R1-6
10. The Frighteners: Director’s Cut (Jackson, 96) Universal; R1

 

Comments: 2005 was a good year to catch up on 2004 releases. I am looking forward to seeing some 2005 releases in 2006.

 

 

Brook Kennon
Duluth, Georgia
USA
1. The Eric Rohmer Collection (8 Discs) Arrow Films; R0
2.
Casque d’Or (Becker, 52) Criterion; R1
3.
Harakari (Kobayashi, 62) Criterion; R1
4. The
King Kong Collection (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
5.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
6. Hoop Dreams (James, 94) Criterion; R1
7.
Crazed Fruit (Nakahira, 56) Criterion; R1
8. The Devil’s Rejects (Zombie, 05) Lion’s Gate; R1
9.
The Val Lewton Horror Collection (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; R1
10.
The Brown Bunny (Gallo, 03) Sony; R1

 

Comments: Honorable mention to Blue Underground’s release of Dario Argento’s The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. I bought little non-r1 fare since I can’t keep up with watching even limited r1 purchases. I saw almost 100 fewer films in 2005 than I did in 2004 with a final count around 320.

 

 

C.P. Czarnecki
Germany
1. Au hasard Balthazar (Bresson, 66) Criterion; R1
2. Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
3.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
4.
Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1
5. Raging Bull (Scorsese, 80) MGM; R1
6.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
7. L’Argent (Bresson, 83) Artificial Eye; R2
8. Casino (Scorsese, 95) Universal; R1
9.
F for Fake (Welles, 74) Criterion; R1
10. Weekend (Godard, 67) Artificial Eye; R2

 

Comments: First of all, I finished building my home theatre with projector and 5.1 system in 2005. That, plus all the great DVDs released in the past 12 months make it a wonderful year. The DVDs on my list show films that I love presented in stellar quality in the digital medium. I did not include Vincent Gallo's wonderful The Brown Bunny because I already owned the Japanese version.
 

 

 

Craig Keller
Plainsboro, U.S.A.
1. Serge Gainsbourg: D’autres nouvelles des étoiles (Gainsbourg, Averty, et al) Universal; R2
2. Aller au cinéma: Post-face à “Boudu sauvé des eaux” (Eric Rohmer) – included on
Boudu Saved From Drowning by Criterion; R1
3. Letter to Jane (Godard and Gorin, 72) included on Tout va bien – Criterion; R1
4.
Jules and Jim (Truffaut, 62) Criterion; R1
5. Happiness /Le Tombeau d'Alexandre (Medvedkin, 32 & Marker, 92) Arte; R2
6. Humanity and Paper Balloons (Yamanaka, 37) Eureka (MoC); R2
7. Francesco, giullare di Dio (Rossellini, 50) Eureka (MoC); R2
8.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
9. Kagemusha (Kurosawa, 80) Criterion; R1
10. Story of a Love Affair (Antonioni, 50) NoShame; R1

 

Comments: I’d be remiss not to register four items of dissent against Criterion, in spite of their general excellence: (1) This is the year that certain “supplements” should have been given equal billing with the main feature. I’m thinking of Letter to Jane on Tout va bien, and the “lost” Rohmer film on Boudu. (2) Criterion MUST stop “excerpting” from complete Jacques Rivette works (whether made for “mere” TV or not). A stand-alone Criterion release of Jean Renoir, le patron in all three parts would be enough to garner a DVD of the Year nod from me. (3) Neil Kellerhouse’s menu designs are often overelaborate, inappropriate, and gauche. Kellerhouse + Godard/Gorin = MTV. (4) Better to include no trailer at all, than a (n apparently) truncated black-and-white version of the F for Fake trailer; otherwise this release would have been a Top 3 of the year for me.

 

 

Daryl Chin
1.
Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1
runner-up:
Avant Garde – Experimental Cinema of the 1920’s and 30’s (Kino; R1)
2.
Laura (Preminger, 44) Fox; R1
runners-up: Panic in the Streets (Fox; March 2005; Region 1), The Innocents (Fox; R1), Two For the Road (Fox; R1), The Dark Corner (Fox; R1)
3. Hindle Wakes (Elvey, 27) Milestone; R1
runners-up: Piccadilly (Milestone; R1), The Olive Thomas Collection (Milestone; R1)
4. The Gary Cooper Collection (Various) Universal; R1
runners-up: The Bela Lugosi Collection (Universal; R1),
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Paramount; R1) note: Paramount and Universal are actually subsidiaries of MCA-Universal
5a.
The Val Lewton Horror Collection (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; R1
5b.
Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (Sandrich, Stevens, Walters, various) Warner; R1
runners-up:
Classic Comedies Collection (Warner: R1), Controversial Classics Collection (Warner; R1), Garbo – The Signature Collection (Warner; R1)
6.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
runners-up:
Au hasard Balthazar (Criterion; R1), Le Notti Bianche (Criterion; R1), Pickpocket (Criterion; R1)
7.
Story of a Love Affair (Antonioni, 50) NoShame; R1
runners-up:
Boccaccio '70, Love and Anger
8. Three Dancing Slaves (Morel, 04) TLA; R1
runners-up: Ma Mere (TLA; R1), Mysterious Skin (TLA; R1)
9.
2046 (Wong, 04) Sony; R1
10.
Sunrise (Murnau, 27) Eureka (MoC); R2
runners-up: Spione (Eureka – MoC; R2),
Francesco, giullare di Dio (Eureka – MoC; R2)

 

Comments: Special Mention:The films of Jean-Luc Godard: 3 Films by Jean-Luc Godard, Volume 2 (Pierrot le Fou; Made in USA; Prenom Carmen) (Warners; Region 2), Masculin Feminin (Criterion; Region 1), Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Nouveaux Pictures; Region 2), La Chinoise (Optimum World; Region 2), Weekend (Artificial Eye; Region 2) But not the New Yorker Weekend, though it contains some excellent extras, the transfer of the film itself is weak. I make this special mention because these editions are quite good (the Criterion Masculin Feminin is excellent), and I consider Godard the most important artist of the second half of the 20th Century (in any art form) and I consider those six films (Pierrot le Fou, Masculin Feminin, Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Made in USA, La Chinoise, Weekend) to be his greatest films. My other special mention is the 7 disc set Written and Directed by Preston Sturges (Universal; Region 2). That's also very well done, and if The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Unfaithfully Yours had been included, that would have marked the major works of Sturges's career (but Morgan’s Creek is available in an excellent edition from Paramount in Region 1, and Unfaithfully Yours available in a superb edition from Criterion in Region 1).

 

 

Dave Kehr (www.davekehr.com)

New York, New York

1. Buster Keaton Les Meilleures Années  (Various) Mk2; R2
2. Four Edgar Ulmer (37-40, 4 DVD) – The National Center For Jewish Film; R1
3. Alfred Hitchcock Les Premières Oeuvres (vol 1,2,3) – Studio Canal; R2
4. Boudu Saved From Drowning (Renoir, 32) Criterion; R1
5. L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
6. Whirlpool (Preminger, 50) Fox; R1
7. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Sturges, 44) Paramount; R1t
8.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (various, 7 discs) New Line; R1
9. Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 –  (Various) Image; R1
10. Bringing Up Baby – (Hawks, 38) Warner; R1

 

 

Frank Bidart
Cambridge, MA
1. East of Eden (Kazan, 55) Warner; R1
2. Harakari (Kobayashi, 62) Criterion; R1
3.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
4.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
5.
King Kong (2-Disc) (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
6.
Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (Sandrich, Stevens, Walters, various) Warner; R1
7.
The Val Lewton Horror Collection (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; R1
8.
Garbo – The Signature Collection (Various, 10 Discs) Warner; R1
9.
Tales of Hoffman (Powell and Pressburger, 52) Criterion; R1
10.
Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1

 

Comments:  My deepest attachments are still stuck in the thirties through mid-sixties. I’m still at the stage where I’m trying to see the films I wanted to see but was denied seeing (at least often enough) as a kid. This is not a “best-of” list; too many important releases I’ve had no time even to open. But these DVDs I’m sure to return to, again and again. “Hara-kiri” was for me the discovery of the year: this and “Seven Samurai” are the greatest samurai films I’ve ever seen. The restoration of the problematic but brilliant “Tales of Hoffman” was better than I hoped. I wish I had room to include “The Bitter Tea of General Yen”, Hirokazu Koreeda’s “Dare Mo Shiranai”, Franju’s “Eyes Without a Face”.

 

 

Frank C.
Camarillo, CA
1.
Au hasard Balthazar  (Bresson, 66) Criterion; R1
2.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
3.
Le Samouraï (Melville, 67) Criterion; R1
4. Kagemusha (Kurosawa, 80) Criterion; R1
5. Laura (Preminger, 44) Fox; R1
6.
Landscape in the Mist (Angelopoulos, 89) New Yorker; R1
7.
Casque d’Or (Becker, 52) Criterion; R1
8. Lifeboat (Hitchcock, 44) Fox; R1
9.
Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
10. The Palm Beach Story (Sturges, 42) Universal; R1

 

Comments: Great to see the long overdue releases of Bresson and Mizoguchi films, but what happened to all Ozu films we were led to believe were just around the corner? It was very difficult to trim this list down to 10 films, hopefully I'll have the same problem next year.

 

 

Gary Tooze

Toronto, Canada

1. L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1 - debatably flawed DVD but I find the film too important not to acclaim with a premium ranking.
2. Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger, 47) Network; R2 - a brilliant and superior transfer of one of cinema's pure masterpieces.
3. Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2 - certainly many cineastes most desired boxset for 2005.
4. Metropolis (Lang, 27) Eureka (MoC); R2 - the history of the film and its immaculate transfer put me in a virtual catatonic stupor. I was left speechless.
5. Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection (Hitchcock, var.) Universal; R1 - Even if it was only improvements in Vertigo, Rear Window, The Birds, Marnie and Psycho - it would still be the best deal in DVD history... but it's that AND 9 more of 'The Masters' films! Some flaws? sure - but what do you want for $6/disc.
6. The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (various, 7 discs) New Line USA - our long wait for this talented and charismatic performers' work to surface in digital seems totally worthwhile now.    
7. Fury (Lang, 36) Warner; R1 - An incredibly impacting film experience that I can't seem to shake.
8. Love (Makk, 71) Second Run; R2/R4 - haunting, atmospheric and beautifully transferred film.
9. World Poker Tour - Best of Season 3 (Shout Factory, 2004) - the sociological impact of this new poker phenomenon is heightened by the eccentric characters who inhabit and succeed in its environment. The interpretations of human communication and miscommunication are beyond fascinating for me - riveting interaction.
10 (tie). Ozu Panorama's - Equinox Flower, Tokyo Twilight, There Was a Father and The Only Son - Panorama Region 3 Hong Kong - We all know these deserve better treatment but I am eternally grateful at having been introduced to much of Ozu through these imperfect DVDs where the films continue to formulate and alter my entire outlook on cinema.

 

Comments:
Regrettably, there is too much I have left off - King Kong, Criterion's Pickpocket, Ugetsu and Thieves Highway, BFI's Drunken Angel and The Bad Sleep Well, NY'er's Loving Couples, Fox's Kiss of Death, Eureka's Onibaba, The Idiot and much more from them, The Eric Rohmer Collection, Studio Canal's Hitchcock boxsets, MK2's Buster Keaton Collection to name a few and I LOVED The Hammer Horror Series as a great escape from everyday life. My reasoning is that I tried a balance of taking only one from each DVD production company as I found there to be far too many deserving releases. I should note how French production companies are continuing to soar above many US counterparts with very desirable classic ' inaugural ' (previously unreleased) issues sporting excellent transfers. One can't ignore all the classic TV shows either coming out and I enjoyed Columbo - Season 2 + 3, The Rockford Files and many more.  No individual can see all the years releases so I appreciate Adam's work to create this format and establish a decent consensus. Overall, it has been a bountiful year for DVD - the most extensive in its short history. 

 

 

Henrik Sylow (http://www.kitanotakeshi.com/)
Denmark
1. The
King Kong Collection (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1 - The most stunning restoration of the year, an incredible commentary, an even more incredible 158 minute documentary, incredible restoration of the two spin-offs. Nuff Said.
2.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
3.
Ben-Hur: Deluxe 4-Disc Collector’s Edition (Various, 25, 59) Warner; R1
4.
The Wizard of Oz: Three Disc Collector’s Edition (Fleming, 39) Warner; R1
5. The John Cassavetes Collection (Cassavetes, 6 Discs) Optimum; R2
6.
The Big Red One – The Reconstruction (Fuller, 80) Warner; R1
7.
Warner Bros. Gangster Collection (Various) Warner; R1
8.
Lars von Trier’s Europa Trilogy (4 Discs) Electric Parc; R2 DK
9.
Tales of Hoffman (Powell and Pressburger, 52) Criterion; R1
10. Walt Disney Treasures – Chronological Donald, Volume 2 (42-46, Various) Disney; R1
 

 

Ike N.
Texas, USA
1.
Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
2.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
3.
Weekend (Godard, 67) Artificial Eye; R2
4. The Phantom of Liberty (Buñuel, 74) Criterion; R1
5. Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais, 61) Optimum; R2
6. The Face of Another (Teshigahara, 66) Eureka (MoC); R2
7. Sword of Doom (Okamoto, 66) Criterion; R1
8. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai, 05) DeltaMac; R0
9. A Bittersweet Life (Kim, 05) CJ Entertainment; R3
10. The American Astronaut (McAbee, 01) Facets; R1
 

 

Irina Lutsky
Chicago, USA
1.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (various, 7 discs) New Line; R1
2.
The King Kong Collection (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
3. Garbo – The Signature Collection (Various, 10 Discs) Warner; R1
4. Warner Bros. Gangster Collection (Various) Warner; R1
5. The Complete Thin Man Collection (Various, 7 Discs) Warner; R1
6. Night and the City (Dassin, 50) Criterion; R1
7. Touchez Pas au Grisbi (Becker, 60) Criterion; R1
8. Casque d’Or (Becker, 52) Criterion; R1
9. Tales of Hoffman (Powell and Pressburger, 52) Criterion; R1
10. Barbara Stanwyck – Screen Goddess Boxset (Various, 6 discs) Universal; R2

 

Comments: I think that The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection has a huge historical significance by making these phenomenal movies available on DVD. In my opinion, this DVD set is an undisputed leader. My second choice was an easy one, too. Significance of 'King Kong' release on DVD cannot be overestimated.

 

 

Jerry Gerber
New York City
1.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
2.
Humanity and Paper Balloons (Yamanaka, 37) Eureka (MoC); R2
3. Seven Men From Now (Boetticher, 56) Paramount; R1
4.
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Sturges, 44) Paramount; R1
5. The Naked Island (Shindô, 60) Eureka (MoC); R2
6. Kuroneko (Shindô, 68) Eureka (MoC); R2
7. Preston Sturges – Box Set (Sturges, 7 Discs) Universal; R2
8.
Barbara Stanwyck – Screen Goddess Boxset (Various, 6 discs) Universal; R2
9. The Palm Beach Story (Sturges, 42) Universal; R1
10. Landscape in the Mist (Angelopoulos, 89) New Yorker; R1

 

Comments: Tough choices this year and pressed for time. My priorities are those titles which fill in large holes in the film canon on DVD. Although I wish there was room for Black Girl and the Wadja’s from Criterion and having a good transfer of the great Hari-kiri.

 

 

Jerry Johnson
Washington D.C.
1.
Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection (Hitchcock, var.) Universal; R1
2.
Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
3.
Metropolis (Lang, 27) Eureka (MoC); R2
4. Shoot the Piano Player (Truffaut, 60) Criterion; R1
5. Sunrise (Murnau, 27) Eureka (MoC); R2
6.
Boudu Saved From Drowning (Renoir, 32) Criterion; R1
7. The Band Wagon (Minnelli, 53) Warner; R1
8. Ran (Kurosawa, 85) Criterion; R1
9. Thieves’ Highway (Dassin, 49) Criterion; R1
10. Laura (Preminger, 44) Fox; R1
 

 

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Chicago, Illinois

1. Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1
2. Rendez-vous à Bray (box set) (André Delvaux, 1971) Boomerang Pictures (Belgium; all regions)
3.
Metropolis (Lang, 27) Eureka (MoC); R2
4.
Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2
5. En rachâchant (Straub-Huillet, 1982) + Cézanne (Straub-Huillet, 1989) Cinéma 010 France (Éditions Léo Scheer)
6. Entuziazm (Simfonija Donbassa) – Dziga Vertov, 1930 Österreichisches Filmmusuem (Wien) Austria
7.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
8.
Jules and Jim (Truffaut, 62) Criterion; R1
9. Not on the Lips (Resnais, 03) Wellspring; R1
10. Bitter Victory (Ray, 57) Columbia; R1
 

Comments: I’ve decided, after some hesitation and with some embarrassment, to include one box set here (#3) that I furnished liner notes for.
 

 

Karim Drissi
Sacramento, CA
USA
1.
The Brown Bunny (Gallo, 03) Sony; R1
2.
Jules and Jim (Truffaut, 62) Criterion; R1
3.
Ran (Kurosawa, 85) Criterion; R1
4.
Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
5. Naked (Leigh, 93) Criterion; R1
6. Le Samouraï (Melville, 67) Criterion; R1
7. Saraband (Bergman, 03) MK2; R2
8. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Argento, 70) Blue Underground; R1
9. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Peckinpah, 74) MGM; R1
10. The Corporation (Achbar & Abbot, 04) Zeitgeist: R1
 

Comments: Interestingly enough, a few of the films on my list feature minute drawbacks in terms of their DVD presentations. For example, Le Samouraï is not presented in its "country-of-origin" OAR, and The Brown Bunny is lacking its original mono sound mix (as well as the infamous Gallo commentary). However, these flaws do not adversely affect one's viewing experience to the extent that one should not purchase the discs in question. On the contrary, the aforementioned discs should be treasured despite their prominent, yet ultimately inconsequential, flaws. On a more somber note, I must condemn Wellspring for releasing In the Realms of the Unreal without anamorphic enhancement. Moreover, I must also condemn MGM for releasing Me and You and Everyone We Know without the involvement of Miranda July.

 

 

Larry Yao
Maryland
USA
1.
Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection (Hitchcock, var.) Universal; R1
2.
Garbo – The Signature Collection (Various, 10 Discs) Warner; R1
3.
Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2
4.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
5.
Le Samouraï (Melville, 67) Criterion; R1
6.
Boccaccio '70 (Fellini, Visconti, DeSica, 62) NoShame; R1
7.
Story of a Love Affair (Antonioni, 50) NoShame; R1
8. Devil in the Flesh (Bellocchio, 86) NoShame; R1
9. My Brilliant Career (Armstrong, 79) Blue Underground; R1
10. Interrogation (Bugajski, 82) Second Run; R2
 

 

Maikel Aarts
The Netherlands
1.
Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1
2.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
3. The Val Lewton Horror Collection (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; R1
4. My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 91) Criterion; R1
5.
Weekend (Godard, 67) Artificial Eye; R2
6.
Metropolis (Lang, 27) Eureka (MoC); R2
7. Classic Comedies Collection (Various, 6 discs) Warner; R1
8.
The Face of Another (Teshigahara, 66) Eureka (MoC); R2
9. Bad Timing (Roeg, 80) Criterion; R1
10. Point Blank (Boorman, 67) Criterion; R1

 

Comments: My true winner is without a doubt the beautiful Unseen Cinema box Set, a wet dream for an avant-garde freak like me. Criterion did fall a little bit behind comparing with last year in truly spectacular releases, but overall their standard was as high as ever. MoC is closing in rapidly however and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re able to rob Criterion of their number 1 status in the near future. In general, I feel it’s been a great year for DVD releases, with several films by important directors (Godard, Antonioni, Bresson, Mizoguchi, Welles, Roeg etc.) finally becoming available on DVD. But there is still a lot to do in 2006, such as: Everything by Kenneth Anger, Wavelength (Michael Snow), Celine and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette), Satantango (Bela Tarr), and The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel)

 

 

Matthew McGee
Iberia, MO
1.
Ran (Kurosawa, 85) Criterion; R1
2.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
3.
Vengeance is Mine (Imamura, 79) Eureka (MOC); R2 PAL
4
 A Tale of Cinema (Hong, 05) Woo Sung; R3
5.
Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
6.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
7. My Neighbors the Yamadas (Takahata, 99) Disney; R1
8.
Au hasard Balthazar (Bresson, 66) Criterion; R1
9.
The Big Red One – Reconstruction (Fuller, 80) Warner; R1
10.
The Val Lewton Horror Collection (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; R1

 

Comments: Time, time time. Where does it go? One thing’s for certain, most of mine didn’t—for once—go into watching a lot of DVDs, though the act of buying them certainly did. Nevertheless, the list I’ve composed represents the best, though not necessarily my favorite, viewing experiences of DVDs in 2005. My goal for 2006 is to actually sit down and watch what I’ve accumulated. I look forward to the 2005 End of Year results, and appreciate everyone’s participation!

 

 

Mikkel Leffers Svendstrup
5000 Odense C, Denmark
1. Ivan’s Childhood (Tarkovsky, 62) Mk2; R2
2.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
3.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
4. Naked Island (Shindô, 60) Eureka (MoC); R2
5. Sergio Sollima Italo Western Box (Sollima) Koch Media; R2
6.
Le Samouraï (Melville, 67) Criterion; R1
7. The Trial of Joan of Arc (Bresson, 62) Artificial Eye; R2
8. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai, 05) DeltaMac; R0
9.
The Brown Bunny (Gallo, 03) Sony; R1
10. Story of a Love Affair (Antonioni, 50) NoShame; R1
 

Comments: It’s always almost impossible to nail down your ten favorites, and 2005 is no exception. A couple of my other 2005 favorites are Criterion’s Au hazard Balthazar and Sword of Doom, Warner’s The Big Red One – Reconstruction, Lars von Trier’s Europa Trilogy and Dogme 95 #1-4 Collection and let’s not forget Columbia/Sony’s release of the chop-socky masterpiece Kung Fu Hustle.

 

 

Nick Wrigley (http://www.mastersofcinema.org/)
England
1.
Love (Makk, 71) Second Run; R2/R4
2.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
3. Howl’s Moving Castle (Miyazaki, 04) Buena Vista JP; R2
4.
Boudu Saved From Drowning (Renoir, 32) Criterion; R1
5. Geoffrey Jones: The Rhythm of Film (9 Shorts) bfi; R2
6. Van Gogh (Pialat, 91) Artificial Eye; R2
7.
Au hazard Balthazar (Bresson, 66) Criterion; R1
8. Portrait of Jason (Clarke, 67) Second Run; R0
9. On and Off the Rails (Various) bfi; R2
10. Bambi (Hand, 42) Walt Disney; R1
 

Comments: I obviously haven't voted for MoC titles but I'm very proud of Vengeance is Mine, Onibaba, Naked Island, and Humanity and Paper Balloons. I haven't seen everything I'd like to see this year --- not had much spare time --- but there are many things that have been recommended to me, which I hope to see next year... perhaps

 

 

Nick Zegarac
1. Ben-Hur: Deluxe 4-Disc Collector’s Edition (Various, 25, 59) Warner; R1
2. The Wizard of Oz: Three Disc Collector’s Edition (Fleming, 39) Warner; R1
3. Cinderella (Geromini, 50) Disney; R1
4. The Sound of Music: 40th Anniversary Edition (Wise, 64) Fox; R1
5. The Sting (Hill, 73) Universal; R1
6. The Rains Came (Brown, 39) Fox; R1
7. Camille (Cukor, 37) Warner; R1
8. Gladiator: Extended (Scott, 00) Dreamworks; R1
9.
The Complete Thin Man Collection (Various, 7 Discs) Warner; R1
10. La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 61) Koch Lober; R1

 

Comments: And there you have it. Since we’re fast approaching the years end, may all your hearts be warm with pride, your lives be rich with the love and respect of family and friends and may the spirit of the season linger long after the tinsel and holly has come down. My sincere wishes are for the world to find peace, contentment and the even timber that we, at least in the past, have so often taken for granted.

 

 

Noel Bjorndahl
Winmalee, Australia
1.
Francesco, giullare di Dio (Rossellini, 50) Eureka (MoC); R2 - Congratulations to the MoC team again for providing this labour of love: a wonderfully restored version of another of Rossellini's treasures. The excellent booklet was a bonus.
2.
Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2 - Stunning prints of Pickpocket and L'Argent especially. Illuminating extras. MK2 should release everything with EST because their print quality is consistently up there with the best of MoC, WB, Criterion, Fox
3.
Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection (Hitchcock, var.) Universal; R1 – The deal of the year with mostly improved prints (I wish they'd get Vertigo and Rear Window right, though). The Garbo Signature collection was the only other contender in this kind of value for money stakes.
4. Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (Sandrich, Stevens, Walters, various) Warner; R1 - At last, with the DVD quality these endlessly pleasurable gems of art deco and goose-bumpy terpsichore deserve. Great extras! I want to watch them all frequently.
5. Hondo (Farrow, 53) Paramount; R1 - Most of the Batjac releases, long missing from the catalogue, are proving fruitful, none more so than this minor masterpiece from John Farrow, a very underrated talent. John Wayne's second best performance (after The Searchers) is tough, mythic, tender and lyrical by turn. Paramount is starting to measure up to its heady competitors in both print quality and extras. I'm really looking forward to Seven Men from Now in late December.
6. Masculin Feminin/
Ugetsu Criterion; R1 - A tie for the best Criterions of the year, IMHO. M-F for the sheer brilliance of its b/w image quality and Ugetsu for offering the best print I've yet seen of M's multilayered masterpiece (plus the icing on the cake: Shindo's searching documentary on its brilliant, troubled author).
7. The Girl Can’t Help It (Tashlin, 56) AV Channel; R4 - Surprise, an antipodean release ahead of the game. A very good letterbox print of Tashlin's hilarious satirical take on the rock and roll industry.
8. Man in the Saddle (De Toth, 51) Sony; R1 - I'm thrilled to see some superior Randolph Scott westerns being released by Columbia/Sony in quantity at last. This De Toth effort from 1951 with its atmospheric night-time cinematography has been beautifully captured on this DVD. Maybe, we'll at last see some similar quality Boettichers in the not-too-distant future?
9. The River (Renoir, 50) Criterion; R1 - A much-anticipated release which perfectly captures the hues and the moods of this major Renoir film.
10a. Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Season One (Various, 1955) Universal; R1 - It's to be hoped that the entire series with its 20 plus episodes directed by Hitch himself will eventually be released. The first box is worth the price for Hitch's wickedly funny introductions and conclusions alone.
10b.
Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger, 47) Network; R2
 

Comments: Runners-up: Der Var Engang (Danish Film Instiute R2), The Complete Thin Man Collection (WB-R1), Anne of the Indies (MCONE R2 Germany), The Val Lewton Horror Collection (WB R1), The Band Wagon (WB R1), Burden of Dreams (Criterion R1), L'Eclisse (Criterion R1), Torment (Tartan R2), Late Spring (Panorama R3), Nightmare Alley (Fox R1), Somewhere in the Night (Fox R1), Kiss of Death (Fox R1).

 

 

Ole Kofoed
Denmark
http://www.dvd-basen.dk
1.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (various, 7 discs) New Line; R1
2.
Lars von Trier’s Europa Trilogy (4 Discs) Electric Parc; R2 DK
3. The Essential Steve McQueen Collection (Various, 6 Discs) Warner; R1
4.
Classic Comedies Collection (Various, 6 discs) Warner; R1
5. The Forgotten Films of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle (Various, 4 Discs) Mackinac Media; R1
6. Touchez Pas au Grisbi (Becker, 60) Criterion; R1
7. Night and the City (Dassin, 50) Criterion; R1
8.
Warner Bros. Gangster Collection  Collection (Various) Warner; R1
9. Cannibal Holocaust (Deodato, 79) Grindhouse; R1
10.
The Big Red One – The Reconstruction (Fuller, 80) Warner; R1
 

 

Peter Hourigan
Melbourne, Australia
1. Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow (Angelopoulos, 04) Artificial Eye; R2
2.
My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 91) Criterion; R1
3.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
4. Kore-Eda Hirozazu Collection (Nobody Knows, Maborosi, 3 Discs) Spectrum; R3
5. Histoire de Maries et Juilen (Rivette, 03) Artificial Eye; R2
6. 1900 [5+ hour cut] (Bertolucci, 76) MGM; R4
7. 3-Iron (Kim, 04) Bitwin; R3
8. In The Land of the Deaf (Philibert, 92) Second Run; R2/R4
9. Leave Her to Heaven (Stahl, 45) Fox; R4
10. The Innocents (Clayton, 61) Umbrella; R4
 

Comments: It’s been hard – nothing really seemed to stand out compared to last year, and some of my possible “bests” are still unwatched, or haven’t arrived in Australia. Special mention to what some film archives are doing – I say this having just received two wonderful releases from the Belgian Archives (Malpertuis and Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short).

 

 

Peter Mann
Canada
1.
Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection (Hitchcock, var.) Universal; R1
2.
Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
3.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
4.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
5.
Le Samouraï (Melville, 67) Criterion; R1
6.
The Val Lewton Horror Collection (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; R1
7.
F for Fake (Welles, 74) Criterion; R1
8.
King Kong (2-Disc) (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
9. Bad Timing (Roeg, 80) Criterion; R1
10. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - 2 Disc Version (Anderson, 04) Criterion; R1
 

 

Per-Olof Strandberg
Helsinki, Finland
1.
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 62) Criterion; R1
2.
Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
3.
Jules and Jim (Truffaut, 62) Criterion; R1
4.
Van Gogh (Pialat, 91) Artificial Eye; R2
5. Dogme Collection (Various, 4 discs) Sandrew-Metronome; R2
6. Asphalt (May, 29) Eureka (MoC); R2
7.
Garbo – The Signature Collection (Various, 10 Discs) Warner; R1
8. Naked (Leigh, 93) Criterion; R1
9. Le Notti Bianche (Visconti, 57) Criterion; R1
10. Eros (Wong, Antonioni, Soderburgh 04) Mei Ah
 

Comments: Of new films here could be Sideways and Before Sunset. Most probably also Errol Morris 3 disc set, but I don't have it! Five Criterions is fair. The list could be entirely their titles! I enjoyed a lot also For a Few Dollars More (MGM /R2), but it's a scandal not to include the original sound track! The Mei Ah DVD is included also because of their good effort. I can see good films years before they may end up in my country, if ever!

 

 

Rob Janik
Boston, MA USA
1. Où gît votre sourire enfoui? (Costa, 01) Assírio & Alvim; R2
2. Café Lumière (Hou, 03) Sinomovie; R3
3. Nobody Knows (Koreeda, 04) Emotion; R2
4. Mother Joan of the Angels (Kawalerowicz, 61) Second Run; R2
5.
Francesco, giullare di Dio (Rossellini, 50) Eureka (MoC); R2
6. Notre Musique (Godard, 04) Wellspring; R1
7. The Man Who Fell To Earth (Roeg, 76) Criterion; R1
8. Chinmoku (Shinoda, 71) Toho; R2
9. Fons Rademakers Zijn Complete Oeuvre (Rademakers) A-Film; R2
10a.
Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2
10b. Ossos (Costa, 97) Gemini; R2
10.c Enthusiasm (Vertov, 31) Edition Filmmuseum; R0

 

Comments: I've decided to pick one title from a given label rather than compiling a top 10 that could easily be filled with Criterion or Eureka/MoC etc. Promulgation of new less known labels is always welcomed, NoShame, Osterreichisches Edition Filmmuseum and especially Second Run (Best of 2005!). The newcomers are truly so exciting with their less known titles that even the creme de la creme companies wouldn't dare to touch nor their production schedule would allow. Film boundaries seem to dissipate, one can order a DVD from South Africa, Brazil or Philippines, allowing us to see films that normally we would have to wait for years or even a decade before well established label might consider getting DVD distributing rights. Looking forward to share the passion with the rest of the international DVDBeavers in 2006. HERE "Let's Save The DVDBeaver"

 

 

Ross Wilbanks
Charlotte, North Carolina
United States
1.
Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1
2.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
3. The Corporation (Achbar & Abbot, 04) Zeitgeist: R1
4.
Happiness /Le Tombeau d'Alexandre (Medvedkin, 32 & Marker, 92) Arte; R2
5.
Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2
6. Onde Jaz O Sorriso (Costa, 01) Assírio & Alvim; R2
7. The River (Renoir, 50) Criterion; R1
8.
F for Fake (Welles, 74) Criterion; R1
9. He Who Hits First Hits Twice: The Urgent Cinema of Santiago Álvarez (Álvarez, 7 films) ExtremeLowFrequency; R0
10. Casa de Lava (Costa, 95) Gemini; R2

 

Comments: Some great films that qualify for approximately this year that do not have a top DVD release: Tropical Malady, Yes, Mondovino, Me and You and Everyone We Know, The Wayward Cloud, A History of Violence, Alexandra's Project, Not on the Lips, The World, The Models of Pickpocket
VHS, DVD-R's and others that slip through the cracks:
Filmmakers: Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet, Ritwik Ghatak, Gregory Markopolous, Guru Dutt, Bruce Conner, Mrinal Sen, Frederick Wiseman, Michael Snow
Films: Ma 6-T Va Cracker, A Brighter Summer Day, Make Way for Tomorrow, Chameleon Street, Outer Space, Pakeezah, Confessions of Opium Eater, Edvard Munch, Nathalie Granger. I dream of more available films from Carlos Reichenbach
2005 was a good year. Count your blessings.

 

 

Steven Harrison
Greensboro, NC
1.
Humanity and Paper Balloons (Yamanaka, 37) Eureka (MoC); R2
2. Pour la sexualite et la politique [68-73] (Yoshida "Kiju" Yoshida) Geneon; R2
3.
F for Fake (Welles, 74) Criterion; R1
4. Mikio Naruse, The Masterworks Volume 1 (Naruse) Toho; R2
5. Buraikan (Shinoda, 70) Toho; R2
6. Inferno of First Love (Hani, 68) Geneon; R2 5
7.
Love (Makk, 71) Second Run; R2/R4
8. People on Sunday (Siodmak, Ulmer, Zinnemann, 30) bfi; R2
9. Pastoral: To Die in the Country (Terayama Shuji) BOOTLEG (R0)
10. Tokyo Inn (Ozu, 35) Panorama; R3

 

Comments: My choices are personal, and not meant to represent a list of DVDs for their objective importance, influence, or technical quality. The value of DVD, to me, is its price, its ability to make available films that would otherwise receive little or no attention, or be exhibited only rarely, to a lucky few. These are the DVDs that I've gotten excited about in 2005, and if you haven't seen them, I can't say enough to go out of your way for them (subtitled or not).

 

 

Tony Youngblood
Mayfield, Kentucky USA
1. Heimat 2 (Reitz, 84) Tartan; R2
2.
Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (Sandrich, Stevens, Walters, various) Warner; R1
3.
Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Various) Image; R1
4. Night and the City (Dassin, 50) Criterion; R1
5.
Francesco, giullare di Dio (Rossellini, 50) Eureka (MoC); R2
6. Hukkle (Pálfi, 02) HVE; R1
7. Thieves’ Highway (Dassin, 49) Criterion; R1
8.
Pickpocket (Bresson, 59) Criterion; R1
9.
Love (Makk, 71) Second Run; R2/R4
10.
Le Notti Bianche (Visconti, 57) Criterion; R1
 

 

Thomas Daniel
Hawaii USA
1.
Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (Sandrich, Stevens, Walters, various) Warner; R1
2.
King Kong (2-Disc) (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
3.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
4.
Touchez Pas au Grisbi (Becker, 54) Criterion; R1
5.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (various, 7 discs) New Line; R1
6.
Garbo – The Signature Collection (Various, 10 Discs) Warner; R1
7. Rebel Samurai - Sixties Swordplay Classics (Various, 4 Discs) Criterion; R1
8. Sin City (Rodriguez, Miller, 05) Buena Vista; R1
9. Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood, 04) Warner; R1
10.
Night and the City (Dassin, 50) Criterion; R1

 

Comments: These represent only the DVDs I've seen. I'm sure there are many other worthy contenders I haven't seen. After you've been bored stiff from watching some Bergman or Antonioni snoozer, (cue music) "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again" with the timeless entertainment of Fred and Ginger.

 

 

Tom Mahaffey
Troy, Michigan
1.
Au hasard Balthazar (Bresson, 66) Criterion; R1
2.
King Kong (2-Disc) (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
3. The Killing of Sister George (Aldrich, 68) MGM; R1
4. Avant Garde – Experimental Cinema of the 1920’s and 30’s (Various) Kino; R1
5. The War of the Worlds: Special Collector’s Edition (Haskin, 53) Paramount; R1
6. Crazed Fruit (Nakahira, 56) Criterion; R1
7. Tony Takitani (Ichikawa, 04) Geneon; R2
8.
Humanity and Paper Balloons (Yamanaka, 37) Eureka (MoC); R2
9.
Love (Makk, 71) Second Run; R2
10. Land of the Dead (Romero, 05) Universal; R1

 

Comments: 2005 – I find it very hard to limit myself to 10 choices. The truth is there were probably many DVDs that are equal to or even better than my choices but many are still in my closet or unordered. There is just not enough time to enjoy all the wonderful films that were released on DVD this past year. I look forward to another year of new releases, especially MoC (Twenty Four Eyes) and Criterion (Virgin Spring, Children are Watching). Still waiting for DE ZAAK ALZHEIMER to make it to DVD with English subtitles.

 

 

Travon Boykins
Augusta, GA
1.
Warner Bros. Gangster Collection (Various) Warner; R1
2.
The King Kong Collection (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
3. Last Life in the Universe (Ratanaruang, 03) Palm Pictures; R1
4. Primer (Carruth, 03) New Line; R1
5.
The Hammer Horror Series (Various) Universal; R1
6. Hoop Dreams (James, 94) Criterion; R1
7. Murderball (Rubin/James, 05) THINKFilm; R1
8. Arrested Development – Season Two (18 Episodes, 03) Fox; R1
9. The Flaming Lips: The Fearless Freaks (04) Shout Factory; R1
10. The Aviator (Scorsese, 04) Warner; R1

 

Comments: This year has been mainly buying some older titles, so not a lot of newer releases (Damn you student loans). But overall, a solid year of releases and what is shaping up to be yet another expensive year.

 

 

Trond Trondsen (http://www.mastersofcinema.org/)
Calgary, Canada
1. Café Lumière (Hou, 03) Wellspring; R1
2. 2046 (Wong, 04) Tartan; R2
3. Edvard Munch (Watkins, 73) Doriane Films; R0
4. Alexandre Alexeïeff Animation Works (Alexeïeff) Cinédoc; R0
5. Nobody Knows (Koreeda, 04) Emotion; R2
6. Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Huillet/Straub, 68) New Yorker; R1 5
7.
Ivan’s Childhood (Tarkovsky, 62) Mk2; R2
8. Best Intentions (August, 92) Uplink; R2jp
9.
Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2
10. Bruce Springsteen Live Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 – Sony; R1

 

Comments: The list reflects my joy over seeing certain films released on DVD, rather than DVD production value per se.

 

 

Wob/Eric
Amsterdam
1.
Buster Keaton Les Meilleures Années (Various) MK2; R2
2. Rendez-vous à Bray (box set) (Delvaux, 71) Boomerang Pictures; R0
3. The Fugitive Kind (Lumet, 59) MGM; R1
4. Drunken Angel (Kurosawa, 48) bfi; R2
5.
Coffret Bresson 3 DVD (Bresson, 59, 62, 83) MK2; R2
6. The Man Who Fell To Earth (Roeg, 76) Criterion; R1
7.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (various, 7 discs) New Line; R1
8. Le Notti Bianche (Visconti, 57) Criterion; R1
9.
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1
10.
F for Fake (Welles, 74) Criterion; R1

 

Comments: Of course the MGM Disc of The Fugitive Kind is horrible. But my old VHS tape has been worn out completely, and I have been waiting for this for so long ! (Same goes for Mario Lanza, and where is he !!??) A lot of Criterion, even though they infuriated me with their re-releases of sloppy work (Wages of Fear)...

 

 

THE WINNERS

 

First Place with 116½ pts – 17 votes is Criterion's Ugetsu (aka 'Ugetsu Monogatori') directed by Kenji Mizoguchi in 1953. Criterion's DVD came out on November 8th, 2005. “Quite simply one of the greatest of filmmakers,” said Jean-Luc Godard of Kenji Mizoguchi. And Ugetsu, a ghost story like no other, is surely the Japanese director’s supreme achievement. Derived from stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant, this haunting tale of love and loss—with its exquisite blending of the otherworldly and the real—is one of the most beautiful films ever made.

                   

 

 

Second Place with 101pts – 13 votes is Criterion's L'Eclisse (aka 'The Eclipse') directed by Michelangelo Antonioni in 1962. The Criterion DVD came out March 15th, 2005. The conclusion of Michelangelo Antonioni’s informal trilogy on modern malaise, L'Eclisse tells the story of a young woman (Monica Vitti) who leaves one lover (Francisco Rabal) only to drift into a relationship with another (Alain Delon). Using the architecture of Rome as a backdrop for the couple’s doomed affair, Antonioni reaches the apotheosis of his modernist style, returning to his favorite themes: alienation and the difficulty of finding connections in an increasingly mechanized world.

                   

 

 

Third Place with 78pts – 10 votes is Image Entertainment's Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941. This DVD surfaced on October 18th, 2005. With 7 DVDs – 20 Hours and 155 Classics of Avant Garde Cinema this box set is by far the most comprehensive collection of avant-garde films to have ever been released on DVD, which in itself makes it a very special release. Add to that the fact that most of these films warrant multiple viewings and you have a box set that’s not only a document to be studied and analyzed, but also an endless source of visual pleasure.

                   

 

 

Fourth Place with 65pts – 9 votes is Criterion's Pickpocket directed by Robert Bresson in 1959. the Criterion Collection DVD became available in November 2005. Robert Bresson’s incomparable tale of crime and redemption follows Michel, a young pickpocket who spends his days working the streets, subway cars, and train stations of Paris. As his compulsion grows, however, so too does his fear that his luck is about to run out. Tautly choreographed and crafted in Bresson’s inimitable style, Pickpocket reveals a master director at the height of his powers.

                   

 

 

Fifth Place with 53pts – 9 votes is MK2's Coffret Bresson 3 DVD a Region 2 - PAL package which contains 3 Bresson films; Pickpocket, 1959, Trial of Joan of Arc, 1962 and L'Argent (83'). Certainly too inaccessible for the established mainstream viewer and quite separate from his contemporaries and countrymen attached to the French New Wave Robert Bresson fervently explored the theme of redemption in his increasingly idiosyncratic and bare minimalist style with flat austere images, vague descriptions, lack of flowing narrative and often unrealistic dialogue further emphasized by the use of purposely expressionless non-professional actors.

   

 

 

Sixth Place with 49pts – 7 votes is New Line Entertainment's 7 disc The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection released ion November of 2005. Having appeared in more than 200 films and widely considered to be one of cinema's most respected comic geniuses, Harold Lloyd was one of Hollywood's first true movie stars. Now, entertainment enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy the work of the man who inspired generations of acting greats with The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection

                   

 

 

Seventh Place with 44pts – 6 votes is Warner's Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 released in August of 2005. Fans of classic movie musicals found themselves in heaven with this package featuring the DVD debut of five films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the quintessential dancing duo. The two gems of the set are Top Hat (1935), generally considered their definitive movie, and Swing Time (1936), which many consider their most enjoyable. Follow the Fleet (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), and The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) fill out the set, each with its own charms.

                   

 

 

Eighth Place with  44pts – 5 votes is Universal's Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection. This highly anticipated package was released in October of 2005 and represents 14 Hitchcock films including some of his best work and covering over 30 years of cinema. New bonus disc extras and a collectable booklet help mark this as one of the most intriguing releases... in a year marked with extensive value. Re-mastered anamorphic transfers of Vertigo (1958) and Psycho (1960) only add more fuel to the fire.

                   

 

 

Ninth Place with 41pts – 6 votes is Warner's 2-disc Special edition of King Kong that came out in November of 2005. Not surprisingly, the eighth wonder of the world’s DVD treatment is nothing short of spectacular. The newly restored, digitally mastered print of the 1933 version of King Kong is sharp, well balanced, and given that this film is seventy years old, has very few scratches or blemishes. The restoration is nothing short of amazing. This package includes The Making of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World is a two and a half hour documentary broken into 7 parts. Also included is a recreation of the legendary "The Lost Spider Pit Sequence" by filmmaker Peter Jackson."

                   

 

 

Tenth Place with 41pts – 6 votes is the Criterion Collection's treatment of Robert Bresson's 1966 classic Au hasard Balthazar released in June of 2005. A profound masterpiece from one of the most revered filmmakers in the history of cinema, director Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar follows the donkey Balthazar as he is passed from owner to owner, some kind and some cruel but all with motivations beyond his understanding. Balthazar, whose life parallels that of his first keeper, Marie, is truly a beast of burden, suffering the sins of man. But despite his powerlessness, he accepts his fate nobly. Through Bresson’s unconventional approach to composition, sound, and narrative, this seemingly simple story becomes a moving parable of purity and transcendence.

                   

 

   
 

Comments: Akira Kurosawa's films were very strongly represented on DVD in 2005 (BFI's Drunken Angel and The Bad Sleep Well, Criterion's Ran, Master's of Cinema's The Idiot and Scandal) although, surprisingly, none reached DVDBeaver's Top 10. Michelangelo Antonioni achieved digital accessibility with two more strong, previously unreleased, films to acclaimed DVD transfers with Criterion's L'Eclisse and NoShame's Story of a Love Affair. Boxsets came into their own in 2005 with ample representation in our Top 50 and the extensive wait for Mizoguchi-to-DVD brought jubilation to cineastes with Criterion's magnificently packaged and transferred Ugetsu. Surely though this was the year of Robert Bresson with 3 selections in the Top 10; Criterion's Pickpocket and Au hasard Balthazar and MK2's Coffret Bresson 3 DVD containing Pickpocket (1959), Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) and L'Argent (83'). Hopefully a new trend of exposing highly under-represented directors to the digital medium has only started as we still await Mikio Naruse, more Mizoguchi, restored Ozu, Fuller, Ray, Boetticher and many more. It has never been a better time to be a film fan.

 

11th - 50th

11. 36pts – 5 votes Humanity and Paper Balloons (Yamanaka, 37) Eureka (MoC); R2
12. 35pts – 4 votes The King Kong Collection (Schoedsack, 33) Warner; R1
13. 34pts – 5 votes Francesco, giullare di Dio (Rossellini, 50) Eureka (MoC); R2
14. 31pts – 4 votes Ran (Kurosawa, 85) Criterion; R1
15. 30pts – 5 votes Warner Bros. Gangster Collection (Various) Warner; R1
16. 30pts – 5 votes Le Samouraï (Melville, 67) Criterion; R1
17. 29pts – 5 votes Garbo – The Signature Collection (Various, 10 Discs) Warner; R1
18. 28pts – 4 votes Boudu Saved From Drowning (Renoir, 32) Criterion; R1
19. 28pts – 4 votes Metropolis (Lang, 27) Eureka (MoC); R2
20. 27pts – 4 votes Jules and Jim (Truffaut, 62) Criterion; R1
21. 26pts – 6 votes The Val Lewton Horror Collection (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; R1
22. 26pts – 6 votes Love (Makk, 71) Second Run; R2/R4
23. 26pts – 6 votes F for Fake (Welles, 74) Criterion; R1
24. 25pts – 3 votes The Wizard of Oz - Collector’s Edition (Fleming, 39) Warner; R1
25. 20pts – 3 votes Happiness /Le Tombeau d'Alexandre (Medvedkin, 32 & Marker, 92) Arte; R2
26. 20pts – 2 votes Buster Keaton Les Meilleures Années 10 DVD (Various) MK2; R2
27. 19pts – 3 votes Lars von Trier’s Europa Trilogy (4 Discs) Electric Parc; R2 DK
28. 18pts – 5 votes The Big Red One – The Reconstruction (Fuller, 80) Warner; R1
29. 18pts – 2 votes Rendez-vous à Bray (box set) (Delvaux, 71) Boomerang Pictures; R0
30. 18pts – 2 votes Ben-Hur: Deluxe 4-Disc Collector’s Edition (Various, 25, 59) Warner; R1
31. 17pts – 4 votes Night and the City (Dassin, 50) Criterion; R1
32. 17pts – 2 votes Harakari (Kobayashi, 62) Criterion; R1
33. 16pts – 3 votes Touchez Pas au Grisbi (Becker, 54) Criterion; R1
34. 16pts – 3 votes Laura (Preminger, 44) Fox; R1
35. 16pts – 3 votes Casque d’Or (Becker, 52) Criterion; R1
36. 16pts – 2 votes Seven Men From Now (Boetticher, 56) Paramount; R1
37. 16pts – 2 votes My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 91) Criterion; R1
38. 15pts – 3 votes Weekend (Godard, 67) Artificial Eye; R2
39. 15pts – 2 votes Onde Jaz O Sorriso (Costa, 01) Assírio & Alvim; R2
40. 15pts – 3 votes Thieves’ Highway (Dassin, 49) Criterion; R1
41. 14pts – 2 votes Nobody Knows (Koreeda, 04) Emotion; R2
42. 14pts – 2 votes Ivan’s Childhood (Tarkovsky, 62) Mk2; R2
43. 14pts – 2 votes Hammer Horror Series (Various) Universal; R1
44. 13pts – 3 votes The Man Who Fell To Earth (Roeg, 76) Criterion; R1
45. 13pts – 3 votes The Brown Bunny (Gallo, 03) Sony; R1
46. 13pts – 2 votes The Naked Island (Shindô, 60) Eureka (MoC); R2
47. 13pts – 2 votes Shoot the Piano Player (Truffaut, 60) Criterion; R1
48. 12pts – 2 votes Van Gogh (Pialat, 91) Artificial Eye; R2
49. 11pts – 2 votes The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Sturges, 44) Paramount; R1
50. 11pts – 2 votes Classic Comedies Collection (Various, 6 discs) Warner; R1
51. 10pts – 4 votes Story of a Love Affair (Antonioni, 50) NoShame; R1
 


Best Production Design

Winner - Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 53) Criterion; R1 – 14% of votes
 

Runners-up - Ran (Kurosawa, 85) Criterion; R1 – 10% of votes
King Kong (Special Edition) Warner; R1 – 10% of votes
 

For Your Consideration My Own Private Idaho or The Barbara Stanwyck Screen Goddess Collection for its unique shelving box for keep cases it definitely deserves a mention (see image HERE)
 


Best Audio Commentary


 

Winner - Tony Rayns – Ugetsu (Criterion) & Vengeance is Mine (MoC) & Pitfall (MoC) – 40% of votes
 

Runner-up - Richard Peña - L'Eclisse (Criterion) – 8% of votes
 

For Your Consideration – In a rare exception, DVDBeaver would like to acknowledge a director commentary that, it appears, NO ONE was privy to prior to 2005, although officially The Brown Bunny (censored Japanese) DVD came out in very late 2004. The absolute candid openness and frank anecdotes of the production and subsequent panning at Cannes are discussed with practical awareness. His commitment to his artistic expression are so bold and forthright that it deserves an equally aggressive recognition. Vincent Gallo reminds us that the artists struggle continues to be a viable reality to all who are committed to an unfettered expression.
 


Best Budget Release

 

Winners – Fox Film Noir Series – Laura, House of Bamboo, Nightmare Alley – 29% of votes
 

Runners-up The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Paramount) – 16% of votes, The Palm Beach Story (Universal) – 10% of votes
 

For Your Consideration – When Paramount Home Entertainment announced that they had entered an agreement with Batjac productions ­- the production company founded by John Wayne and now run by the wife of his late son ­- to release a wave of beautifully restored John Wayne and Wayne produced films on DVD, there was no doubt reasons to cheer. One year later, after seeing such beautifully
produced DVDs like The High and the Mighty, Hondo, and Budd Boetticher's exquisite
Seven Men From Now, each of which come with loads of extra features and a retail price of a mere $14.99, and you can why we¹re not just cheering, but cherishing these wonderful discs. On the horizon? William A Wellman's delayed release of Track of the Cat finally available in it¹s intended 2.55:1 aspect ratio.

­ Adam Lemke

 



Best Transfer

Winner L'Eclisse (Criterion)
 

Runners-up King Kong (Warner), Ran (Criterion), The River (Criterion)
 

For Your Consideration - I recall how many of us thought that RusCiCo's (Russian Cinema Council) DVD edition of Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris could never be eclipsed... but eventually Criterion proved us all wrong and likewise this year the greatest DVD company in the world showed they too are imperfect having their Black Narcissus release look measurably weak next to Network's (UK) 2005 DVD edition. Network's transfer is off a new interpositive struck directly from the YCMs. The colors are brilliant. Special note should be made of Master's of Cinema's Humanity and Paper Balloons - an irreparably damaged film that saw the digital light of day thanks to commitment and diligence. As Jerry Gerber states 'given the obstacles, it’s a miracle'.  - Gary Tooze
 


Best Box Set

Winner - Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection (Universal; R1) 15% of votes
 

Runners-up King Kong Collection (Warner; R1) 13% of votes, The Val Lewton Horror Collection (Warner; R1) 13% of votes, Unseen Cinema – Early American Avant-Garde Film 1891-1941 (Image) 10% of votes, Warner Bros. Gangster Collection – 10% of votes, The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection – 10% of votes
 

For Your Consideration - Released in December of 2004, we have allowed this set in our 2005 poll, mainly because a couple of our voters (including Jonathan Rosenbaum) felt so strongly about it, but also to illuminate something that hardly anybody got to look at during 2004. Part of owning a multi-region player means you are willing to take the occasional gamble on titles from obscure retailers, and
often wait a long time to receive your discs. Sometimes these gambles can be costly, but often times they pay off, as in the case of André Delvaux's
Rendez-vous à Bray from Boomerang Pictures. Next year, our voters may encounter a similar situation with Gaumont¹s late December release of Histoire(s) du cinema.  


Best Extras

Winner King Kong (2 Disc SE) Warner; R1 – 19% of votes
 

Runner-up Ugetsu (Criterion; R1) – 18% of votes
 

For Your Consideration – DVDBeaver has never been the biggest fan of the lackluster transfers from Wellspring DVD. Over 2005 however, Wellspring has proven that despite releasing transfers that pale in comparison to their Asian counterparts, this Region 1 company can make their discs a worthwhile purchase by raising the bar on the special features. Their release of Tsai Ming-liang¹s
Goodbye, Dragon Inn was pushed into the must-own category for the inclusion of Tsai's fascinating short film The Skywalk is Gone. Fans will certainly want to check this short film out before seeing his latest work The Wayward Cloud. Another strong release from Wellspring in a similar vein is the recent
Café Lumière DVD with its excellent documentary and interviews.
 


Guilty Pleasure

Winner Danger: Diabolik (Paramount; R1) 15% of votes
 

Runner-up - The Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season (Warner; R1) 10% of votes
 

For Your Consideration – With the passing of the unforgettable Russ Meyer in 2004, there is a renewed interest in the curvaceous 'body' of the late auteur¹s work. Arrow films in the UK have given these films the attention they deserve with sharp transfers and cool retro packaging. We highly recommend a late night viewing of Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! Please note that many of these movies are available in the US from Meyer¹s own production company RM films, but unfortunately these editions skimp over in practically every area of the DVD release. - Adam Lemke



Biggest Disappointment

 

Winner Tristana (bfi; R2) 30% of votes
 

Runner-up – Everything from MGM – Burn, The Fugitive Kind etc. – 27% of votes
 

For Your Consideration - Jules and Jim – receiving both good and bad votes
Releases with forced ads condemning piracy:


That the otherwise excellent
The Val Lewton Horror Collection on Warner Home Video didn't include all his RKO features – J. Rosenbaum

 



Release that Deserved Better

Winner Scarlet Street (Kino; R1)
 

Runners-up: Facets Bela Tarr’s , New Yorker's Sembene’s (Mandabi, Xala, Black Girl), Studios leaving out the director involvement and commentaries (The Brown Bunny, Me and You and Everyone We Know)
 

For Your Consideration: Perhaps its is too obvious to even mention but Panorama's Ozu releases of this year (ex. Equinox Flower, Tokyo Twilight, There Was a Father and The Only Son) are the DVD editions in most need of attention and the ones that deserve a far better digital treatment. To complain about the Hitch masterpiece collection in comparisons is absurd. -- G. Tooze



Discovery

Winner Love (Makk) + Second Run in general
 

Runners-up: The House is Black (Facets; R1), Films by Pedro Costa – Onde Jaz O Sorriso, Casa de Lava
 

For Your Consideration Portrait of Jason Second Run; R0 - We are talking grassroots cinema here folks - Shirley Clarke's expose on a black male prostitute named Jason Holliday is the essence of the, then budding, cinema verite movement. How Second Run decided to expose this little marvella was a stroke of genius. This film is as pure a cinema as many may wish to venture. When the party gets a little dull, pull this baby out and slowly rivet the room's attention.



Best DVD Company

Criterion – 48%
Masters of Cinema – 22%
Warner – 16%
Second Run – 5%


2006?

 

Directors...
More Mizocuchi – 6 vote
More Ozu – 4 Vote
Naruse – 3 vote
Sam Fuller
Nicholas Ray
Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep)
Robert Bresson – 2 vote
Budd Boetticher – 2 vote
Shohei Imamura
Yasuzo Masumura
Theo Angelpoulos
Ken Russell x 2 (The Devils)
Lindsay Anderson
Avant-Garde - Michael Snow, Kenneth Anger, Ken Jacobs, Stan Brakhage

 

Releases...

Peckinpah Box Set – 5 vote

The Passenger – 2 vote
Satantango – 3 vote
Four Flies on Grey Velvet – 3 vote
Astaire/Rogers 2  - 3 vote
Mr. Arkadin - 2 vote
Celine and Julie go boating (Jacques Rivette) – 2 vote
Ashes of Time (Wong) in a decent transfer
Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel)
Double Life of Veronique (Kieslowski)

 

 
 

 

 
 


 




 

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