"No one can see every release during the entire calendar year - so we hope our lists can introduce and expose some of the many lauded DVDs and Blu-rays that surfaced during 2009. Hopefully you may find some unique surprises. We see no viable reason to discriminate based on regional limitations or broadcast standards. Expanding the borders of your cinema horizons has always been the primary goal of this website. We always appreciate your suggestions and contributions."

DVDBeaver

You think it's a ho-hum year until you start to define a list - and you realize how many incredible discs came out. Another year where being a serious film-fan and digital home-theater aficionado means giving a dedicated effort to staying abreast of everything the world has to offer. DVDBeaver are proud to announce our voting results for DVD and Blu-ray of the Year - 2009. We've done our best to assemble a formidable combination of knowledgeable cinephiles and digital-disc experts to help expose some of the best, and often clandestine, digital packages that surfaced in the last 12 months. As well as many of our astute ListServ members choices this year we are proud to include esteemed journalists Jonathan Rosenbaum, Daryl Chin, author Stuart Galbraith IV, webmasters Daniel Stuyck Ross Willbanks, editor Mikkel Leffers Svendstrup plus the staff of Slant Magazine and many more. Big thanks all who participated and to Adam Lemke for his loyalty and painstaking effort of both organization and tallying. 2009 was another impressive year! 

      

Balloters (click name to access votes):

Noel Bjorndahl      Tom Campo      Daryl Chin     

Eric Cotenas        Ben Ewing       Thomas Friedman

Stuart Galbraith        Chris Galloway         Jerry Gerber      Sean Greenwood     

David Hare         Peter Henne          Peter Hoskin

  Adam Lampe     Jon Lanthier +Staff of Slant      Lynn Lascaro        Adam Lemke       

Tom Mahaffey      Gregory Meshman         Leonard Norwitz       Jason Overbeck

     Luc Pomerleau          Jonathan Rosenbaum        Bill Routt       Robert Seletsky     

David Spector      Per-Olaf Strandberg      Randall Strachan        Daniel Stuyck      

Mikkel Leffers Svendstrup          Ed Taylor         Gary Tooze    

Troy Weets       Ross Wilbanks         Nick Zegarac

The Totals (click to access)

Summation         Label Statistics       Impact Recognition

TOP 25 in Total

THE TOP TEN DVDs OF 2009              11th - 20th

THE TOP TEN Blu-rays OF 2009              11th - 20th

 Double Dipping         Best Cover Design

     Best Audio Commentary       Best Extras

Guilty pleasures

Rants         Raves

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING ARE PURCHASE LINKS:

'BUY from Amazon!' is a clickable purchase link to Amazon

'BUY from CDJapan!' is a clickable purchase link to CDJapan

'BUY from YesAsia!' is a clickable purchase link to YesAsia

'Click to access Warner Archive' is a clickable purchase link to The Warner Archive

 

 


Noel Bjorndahl

Woodford, NSW, Australia

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases

1. Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1

2. Rossellini’s History Films:  Renaissance and Enlightenment BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1972-74) Eclipse; R1

3. The Samuel Fuller Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, et al. 7 discs) Sony; R1

4. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

5. Gervaise BUY from Amazon! (Rene Clement,1955) Criterion Essential Art House; R1

6. Terence Davies Collection BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 4 Discs) BFI; R2 PAL

7. La Tëte contre les Murs BUY from Amazon! (George Franju, 1959) Masters of Cinema; R0

8. Remember the Night BUY from Amazon! (Mitchell Leisen, 1940) TCM Exclusive; R1

9. Man Hunt BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1941) 20th Century Fox; R1

10. Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913 BUY from Amazon! (Various) Kino; R1

Runners up: Kokoro-Ichikawa (MoC), La Gueule Ouverte-Pialat (MoC), The Taking of Power by Louis XIV-Rossellini (Criterion), Mayerling-Litvak (Criterion Essential Art House), Herostratus-Don Levy (BFI), Film Noir Classics 1 (Sony), Claudette Colbert Collection (Universal), Icons of Screwball Comedy (Sony), The Human Condition-Kobayashi (Criterion), Wise Blood-Huston (Criterion).


  Tom Campo

New York, NY, USA

1. The Universal Cult Horror Classics (Dir. Various, 1933-45) Universal; R1

2. Not of this Earth BUY from Amazon! (Roger Corman, 1956) Alive; R2 PAL -- German DVD release available via Amazon.de under title "Die Außerirdischen - Gesandter des Grauens").  Not perfect quality but best yet of this elusive classic. From an indie label rather than the (presumed) rights-holder Warner Bros. (which owns the Allied Artists library).

3. Blindfold BUY from Amazon! (Philip Dunne, 1966) Universal; R2 PAL -- French DVD release available via Amazon.fr under title "Les Yeux Bandes").  An elusive Rock Hudson title now available via a package of Universal releases in France.  Hopefully a portent of more lesser-known Universal releases to come.

4. Buck Rogers BUY from Amazon! (Ford Beebe, 1939) VCI; R1


Daryl Chin

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases of 2009

1. Walden: Diaries, Notes & Sketches BUY from Amazon! (Jonas Mekas, 1970) Microcinema; R1

2. The Exiles BUY from Amazon! (Kent Mackenzie, 1961) Milestone; R1

3. Treasures IV:  American Avant-Garde Film BUY from Amazon! (various, 1947-86) Image; R1 

4. Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913 BUY from Amazon! (Various) Kino; R1

5. Bardelys the Magnificent/Monte Cristo BUY from Amazon! (King Vidor, 1926/Emmett J. Flynn, 1922) Flicker Alley; R1

6. Rossellini’s History Films:  Renaissance and Enlightenment BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1972-74) Eclipse; R1

7a. Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1972) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

7b. La Gueule Ouverte BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1974) Masters Of Cinema UK; R0 PAL

7c. Passe Ton Bac d'Abord BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1979) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

8. Diary for My Children BUY from Amazon! (Marta Meszaros, 1984) Second Run; R2 PAL

9. The Battle of Chile BUY from Amazon! (Patricio Guzman, 1975-1976) Icarus Films; Region 1

10. A Grin Without a Cat BUY from Amazon! (Chris Marker, 1977) Icarus Films; Region 1


 Eric Cotenas

Sacramento, CA, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Messiah of Evil BUY from Amazon! (Willard Huyck, 1973) Code Red; R1

2. Ghost Story BUY from Amazon! (Stephen Weeks, 1973) Nucleus; R0 PAL

3. Silent Scream BUY from Amazon! (Denny Harris, 1980) Scorpion Releasing; R0

4. Footprints BUY from Amazon! (Luigi Bazzoni, 1975) Shameless; R0 PAL

5. Gradiva BUY from Amazon! (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 2006) Mondo Macabro; R0

6. The She-Beast BUY from Amazon! (Michael Reeves, 1965) Dark Sky; R0

7. Hardware BUY from Amazon! (Richard Stanley, 1990) Severin; R0

8. Stunt Rock BUY from Amazon! (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1978) Code Red; R0

9. Night of the Creeps BUY from Amazon! (Fred Dekker, 1986) Sony; R1

10. Deadly Sweet BUY from Amazon! (Tinto Brass, 1967) Cult Epics; R0

Comments: "Code Red has brought us a gorgeous widescreen (finally!) transfer of Messiah of Evil, a seventies sleeper of a horror film long in need of reassessment after years of cropped and pale unauthorized DVDs.  Stunt Rock did not look too interesting in the theatrical trailer featured on past Code Red releases but the film was unexpectedly entertaining and the extras are a labor of love that make it even more entertaining.  Likewise, after years and years as a tape-sourced pan-and-scanned PD eyesore of a DVD release and rumors of either the negative’s destruction or licensors demanding unreasonable fees, She Beast makes its debut in its original scope aspect ratio from Dark Sky with a commentary featuring the film’s stars and producer preserving their recollections of the film and – along with the commentary on the previous year’s restoration of Witchfinder General – of working with Michael Reeves who died young.  As its debut feature, Scorpion Releasing have given us the obscure slasher Silent Scream mastered from a gorgeous HD transfer with illuminating commentary from the film’s star and its writers/producers/uncredited co-directors revealing the otherwise seamless patch-up job done to the original 1978 feature.  Shameless Screen Entertainment not only brings Luigi Bazzoni’s enigmatic Footprints to DVD, right out of the gate they’ve presented the longest version available with only a few video inserts amidst an otherwise gorgeous transfer of Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography.  With Ghost Story, Nucleus Films’ did a great service to the film’s fans and to its underappreciated director Stephen Weeks with a good-as-available transfer (sourced from BBC’s digital master), a commentary track, several of the director’s short films, the rare trailer for the feature, and most welcome a 70 minute documentary featuring most of the surviving participants.  Mondo Macabro was able to release Gradiva as one of the few authorized Robbe-Grillet DVDs in a stunning transfer with some brief but satisfying annotation.  Cult Epics brought us DVDs of Tinto Brass’ The Howl and Deadly Sweet.  While The Howl looked pretty-bad transfer-wise compared to the more colorful Italian master, Cult Epics made use of Tinto Brass’ own elements which featured salacious footage censored from official versions.  Tinto Brass also contributed great commentaries for this and Deadly Sweet."


Ben Ewing

New Haven, CT, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) Criterion; R1

2. The Exterminating Angel BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1962) Criterion; R1

3. Il Grido BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1957) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

4. Magnificent Obsession BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1954) Criterion; R1

5. Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles BUY from Amazon! (Chantal Akerman, 1975) Criterion; R1

6. Lola Montes BUY from Amazon! (Max Ophuls, 1955) Second Sight; R2 PAL

7. Dusan Makavejev - Free Radical BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs)  Eclipse; R1

8. Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933-41) Eclipse; R1

9. My Dinner With Andre BUY from Amazon! (Louis Malle, 1981) Criterion; R1

10. Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1972) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

Comments: I would have placed Lola Montes much higher if didn’t anticipate putting the forthcoming Criterion release at the top of my Blu-ray list next year!

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Playtime BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion; A

2. Last Year at Marienbad BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A

3. Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A

4. Raging Bull BUY from Amazon! (Martin Scorsese, 1980) MGM; ALL

5. Pierrot le Fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; A

6. The Last Metro BUY from Amazon! (Francois Truffaut, 1980) Criterion; A

7. Kagemusha BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 1980) Criterion; A

8. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A

9. A Christmas Tale BUY from Amazon! (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) Criterion; A

10. Monsoon Wedding BUY from Amazon! (Mira Nair, 2001) Criterion; A

Comments: I upgraded to the Playtime Blu-ray from the same Criterion version in SD because it’s one of my all-time favorite films and among the films that benefits most from the clearest possible presentation. Pierrot Le Fou would be much higher if the already available SD-DVD weren’t so good.


  Thomas Friedman

Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. The Seventh Seal  BUY from Amazon! (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A

2. An American in Paris BUY from Amazon! (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner; ALL

3. The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL

4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs BUY from Amazon! (David Hand, 1937) Walt Disney; A

5. Star Trek BUY from Amazon! (J. J. Abrams, 2009) Paramount; ALL

6. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

7. Up BUY from Amazon! (Bob Peterson & Pete Doctor, 2009) Disney/Pixar; A

8a. Star Trek: The Original Series - Seasons One BUY from Amazon! (Various Directors, 7 Discs) Paramount; ALL

8b. Star Trek: The Original Series - Seasons Two BUY from Amazon! (Various Directors, 7 Discs) Paramount; ALL

9. Dr. Strangelove BUY from Amazon! (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Sony; ALL

10a. The Prisoner BUY from Amazon! (Patrick McGoohan, 1968) A&E; A

10b. For All Mankind BUY from Amazon! (Al Reinert, 1989) Criterion, A

Comments:  "Concerning the finest release of the year, it is an impossibility to choose between the dark, yet surprisingly witty allegory of death, The Seventh Seal, and the brilliant, imaginative and daring American in Paris that ends in ballet that I believe is the high point of all American musical cinema.  Both have beautifully realized video and audio.  I was absolutely amazed by what could be drawn from the film on both of these as well as most of the other older films that have been carefully restored.  The true glory of the Blu-ray era may not be the new mega productions but rather the meticulous, great restorations of classics and not so classic but enjoyable entertainments such as Big Trouble in Little China which I don’t mind admitting that I enjoyed very much."


 Stuart Galbraith IV

Kyoto, Japan

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

(in alphabetical order)

Anvil: The Story of Anvil BUY from Amazon! (Sacha Gervasi, 2008) VH1 Films; R1

The Damned (Joseph Losey, 1963) Sony; R2 PAL

Fireball XL5 – The Complete Series BUY from Amazon!  (various, 1962) Network; R2 PAL

Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 3 BUY from Amazon! (William Wellman, 1931-1933) Warner; R1

Harlan Ellison: Dreams with Sharp Teeth BUY from Amazon! (Erik Nelson, 2008) New Video; R1

Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection BUY from Amazon! (Ishiro Honda, 1958-61) Sony; R1

The Complete Steve Canyon – Volume 1 BUY from Amazon! (various, 1958) Milton Caniff Estate; R0

The Complete Steve Canyon – Volume 2  (various, 1959) Milton Caniff Estate; R0

Gordon Scott Tarzan 6 DVD Collection Click to access Warner Archive (various 1949-60) Warner Archive; R0

Tora-san Collector’s Set Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Yoji Yamada, 4 Films) AnimEigo; R1

Our Heavenly Bodies (Hanns Walter Kornblum, 1925) Edition Filmmuseum; R2 PAL

Comments: "Despite a steady decline of DVD rental shops and SD-DVD retail space in America, the format’s future remains bright in other parts of the world, and in other forms (e.g., Warner Archive’s DVD-on-demand). In many ways this is an exciting time for film buffs, with more obscure titles being released than ever before, and all over the world, while the prices of many discs have become astonishingly affordable." 

Top Blu-ray Releases

 (in alphabetical order)

1. Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series BUY from Amazon! (20 Discs, 2004-09) Universal; ALL

2. A Christmas Carol BUY from Amazon! (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951) VCI; ALL

3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The Complete First Season BUY from Amazon! (various, 2000) Paramount; A

4. John Adams BUY from Amazon! (Tom Hooper, 2008) HBO; ALL

5. The New York Ripper BUY from Amazon! (Lucio Fulci, 1982) Blue Underground; ALL

6. Playtime BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion; A

7. Pride and Prejudice BUY from Amazon! (Simon Langton, 1995) A&E; ALL

8. The Robe  BUY from Amazon! (Henry Koster, 1953) 20th Century Fox; A

9. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

10. The Wages of Fear BUY from Amazon! (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) Criterion; A

Comments: "Too few classic films are being released in the United States, with independents like Blue Underground and even VCI showing up some of the major labels. Blu-rays like ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ filmed in Super-16, and the Techniscope ‘New York Ripper’ exhibit just how good older titles in problematic formats can look in high-def given half the chance. Classic and current TV releases really came of age in 2009; choosing among so many worthy titles wasn’t easy."  


Chris Galloway

Website Admin

criterionforum.org

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases of 2009

1. Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933-41) Eclipse; R1

2. The Golden Age of Television BUY from Amazon! (Various, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1

3. Nikkatsu Noir BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Eclipse; R1

4. The Seventh Seal BUY from Amazon! (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; R1

5. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) Criterion; R1

6. Made in U.S.A. BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966) Criterion; R1

7. Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Criterion; R1

8. Wings of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; R1

9. Dusan Makavejev - Free Radical BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs)  Eclipse; R1

10. The Friends of Eddie Coyle BUY from Amazon! (Peter Yates, 1973) Criterion; R1

Comments: Sadly the only DVDs I really bothered with this past year were (again) mostly Criterion releases and this list pretty much represents what I feel to be the studio's best DVDs. They had a particularly strong year with their Eclipse release, with their Shimizu set coming out as my favourite release of theirs this year. The modestly priced 2-disc reissue of The Seventh Seal packed a wonderful new transfer and an incredible number of supplements (though it's the shorter version, the "Bergman Island" documentary is what really sells the set) was probably their best reissue. Their two Godard releases (Made in U.S.A. and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her) both helped me appreciate the director's later work a little more. And while it's unfortunately slim in supplements, their release of The Friends of Eddie Coyle (previously unavailable) was a fantastic treat.

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Comrades BUY from Amazon! (Bill Douglas, 1986) BFI; ALL

2. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

3. The Seventh Seal  BUY from Amazon! (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A

4. Zodiac BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount; ALL

5. Herostratus and Don Levy Shorts BUY from Amazon! (Don Levy, 1967) BFI; ALL

6. Up BUY from Amazon! (Bob Peterson & Pete Doctor, 2009) Disney/Pixar; A

7. Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A

8. Separation BUY from Amazon! (Jack Bond, 1968) BFI; ALL

9. Pierrot le Fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; A

10. A Christmas Carol BUY from Amazon! (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951) VCI; ALL

Comments: It was hard for me to choose my number one pick, but "Comrades", a film I was unfamilar with, was the best surprise I had this year (along with "Herostratus" and "Separation".) This fantastic film gets an unbelievably stunning Blu-ray release from BFI with a sharp transfer and an engaging number of supplements. Close behind was Master of Cinema's "Sunrise", the transfer of which completely exceeded my expectations. "Zodiac" was one of my favourite DVD/HD DVDs of last year and again I still think it's a great release, now on Blu-ray (and still looking great!)  Disney/Pixar's "Up" was probably the most charming childrens film I saw this year (well, next to "Fantastic Mr. Fox") and again their Blu-ray does not disappoint. And while it may not be a perfect Blu-ray release, the child in me jumped with joy when I threw in the VCI Blu-ray for "A Christmas Carol", which is now the sharpest and cleanest I've ever seen it


Jerry Gerber

New York, NY, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Murnau (Nosferatu / Faust / The Last Laugh / Tartuffe / The Haunted Castle / The Finances of the Grand Duke) BUY from Amazon! (FW Murnau, 1921-26) Kino; R1

2. Frank Borzage Vol 1: Seventh Heaven, Street Angel BUY from Amazon! (Frank Borzage, 1929) BFI; R2 PAL

3. Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1

4a. Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1972) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

4b. La Gueule Ouverte BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1974) Masters Of Cinema UK; R0 PAL

4c. Passe Ton Bac d'Abord BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1979) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

5a. The Exterminating Angel BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1962) Criterion; R1

5b. Simon of the Desert BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1965) Criterion; R1

6. Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 3 BUY from Amazon! (William Wellman, 1931-1933) Warner; R1

7. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1964) Criterion; R1

8. Terence Davies Collection BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 4 Discs) BFI; R2 PAL

9. Philippe Garrel x 2 -- I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar, Emergency Kisses BUY from Amazon! (1991, 1989, Philippe Garrel) Zeitgeist; R1

10a. Hunger BUY from Amazon! (Steve McQueen, 2008) Pathe; R2 PAL

10b. Alexandra BUY from Amazon! (Alexander Sokurov, 2007) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

Comments: Picked by what I feel are the great directors/films missing from the catalogue in USA and UK. Kudos to MoC for their continued devotion to Pialat. Number 10 are two new films that we will consider great classics some day.

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL

2. Ashes Of Time Redux BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-Wai, 2008) Artificial Eye; ALL

3. The Red Shoes BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) ITV; B

4. Playtime BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion; A

5. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly BUY from Amazon! (Sergio Leone, 1966) MGM; ALL

6. Gone With The Wind: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL

7. Gigi BUY from Amazon! (Vincent Minnelli; 1959) Warner; ALL

8. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

9. Belle de Jour BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunel, 1967) Optimum; B

10. Chungking Express BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-Wai, 1995) Artificial Eye; B

Comments: I don’t believe I’m a blu-ray expert at this point. What I have purchased are those films that I feel will give me enhanced viewing by the new technology. I think that comes down to color and the quality of the film. I have purchased no films in b&W in blu-ray. So perhaps that tells you where I’m coming from at this point.

 


Jonathan Glover

Washington DC

USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases of 2009

1. Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Criterion; R1

2. Nikkatsu Noir BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Eclipse; R1

3. The Joy of Sex Education BUY from Amazon! (Various, 2 Discs) BFI; R2 PAL

4. A Grin Without a Cat BUY from Amazon! (Chris Marker, 1977) Icarus Films; Region 1

5. My Dinner With Andre BUY from Amazon! (Louis Malle, 1981) Criterion; R1

6. Blood (O Sangue) BUY from Amazon! (Pedro Costa, 1989) Second Run UK; R2; PAL

7. The Human Condition Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-61) Criterion; R1

8. Careful (Remastered and Repressed) BUY from Amazon! (Guy Maddin, 1992) Zeitgeist; R1

9. The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

10. The Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset BUY from Amazon! (Various, 7 Discs) Eureka; R2 PAL

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

2. The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL

3. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A

4. The New World BUY from Amazon! (Terrence Malick, 2005) New Line; ALL

5. Herostratus and Don Levy Shorts BUY from Amazon! (Don Levy, 1967) BFI; ALL

6. A Christmas Tale BUY from Amazon! (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) Criterion; A

7. The Seventh Seal  BUY from Amazon! (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A

8. Zodiac BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount; ALL

9. Comrades BUY from Amazon! (Bill Douglas, 1986) BFI; ALL

10. Up BUY from Amazon! (Bob Peterson & Pete Doctor, 2009) Disney/Pixar; A

 


 Sean Greenwood

New Jersey, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. The Human Condition Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-61) Criterion; R1

2. Il Grido BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1957) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

3. Last Year at Marienbad BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; R1

4. Z BUY from Amazon! (Costa-Gavras, 1969) Criterion; R1

5. Hobson’s Choice BUY from Amazon! (David Lean, 1954) Criterion; R1

6. L’important c’est d’aimer BUY from Amazon! (Andzrej Zulawski, 1975) Mondo Vision; R0

7. L’amour braque BUY from Amazon! (Andzrej Zulawski, 1985) Mondo Vision; R0

8. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

9. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen BUY from Amazon! (Michael Bay, 2009) Paramount; R1

Comments: "Given that I had already made the transition to, and now almost exclusively purchase, Blu-ray, this year it became difficult for me to judge SD-DVD on its own, and in the end I was forced (largely by my own conscience) to mainly choose releases that did not appear on Blu-ray. This is why this list is so bloated with Criterion releases, of which, their long-awaited release of The Human Condition was the release of the year. The MoC Antonioni discs take spots two and three  [La Notte - Sean's third pick - was released in 2008 and did not qualify for this poll. – Ed.] as they are wonderful transfers of two marvelous films, and I was forced grudgingly to give the last spot to the Transformers sequel because of its technical quality."

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

2. The Seventh Seal  BUY from Amazon! (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A

3. The Prisoner BUY from Amazon! (Patrick McGoohan, 1968) Network; B

4. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning BUY from Amazon! (Karel Reisz, 1960) BFI; B

5. Akira BUY from Amazon! (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988) Honneamise; ALL

6. The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL

7. Zodiac BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount; ALL

8a. London in the Raw BUY from Amazon! (Arnold L. Miller, 1964) BFI Flipside; ALL

8b. Primitive London BUY from Amazon! (Arnold L. Miller, 1965) BFI Flipside; ALL

9. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

10. In Bruges BUY from Amazon! (Martin Mc Donagh, 2008) M6/Warner FR; B

Comments: "2009 was a great year for Blu-ray and it shows. The top spot in my list goes to the MoC Sunrise disc for a few reasons. Firstly, it was the first silent film on Blu-ray, and though Kino’s Blu-ray of The General was released only weeks after, the MoC announcement was well before Kino’s. Secondly, the package, including the dual versions of the film, the technical quality of the hi-def video and lossless audio, and the abundant video extras/booklet make for a high-value purchase. Thirdly, this disc cemented in my mind Eureka’s commitment to releasing Region-free Blu-rays whenever possible, even going as far as encoding SD extras in NTSC format to make them playable on North American TVs. Therefore, they just edged out Criterion, who themselves had an excellent line of Blu-ray releases year round, of which The Seventh Seal was my favorite so far (I haven’t had time to watch them all—yet). The BFI also had a stellar year in high-def with a bevy of British classics and the introduction of a new imprint, BFI Flipside, that has brought out some incredible selections of previously neglected or lesser known British cinema, and I can’t wait for more. Finally, I will note that my tenth spot goes to M6/Warner France for being one of two distributors (the other being Scanbox) to bring out my favorite film of 2008, In Bruges, in a full 1080p presentation, something that the film’s US and UK distributors chose not to do."


 David Hare

Sydney, Australia

TOP 8 SD DVDs of 2009

1. Gaumont Le Cinema Premier, Vol.2 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 6 Discs) Paramount; R0 PAL

This outstanding boxset of six discs must take top place for any number of reasons, but principally for the reintroduction of Jean Durand to a contemporary viewing public. Durand came to cinema in 1911 directly from the Circus and the Music Hall, and his status as a pioneer and a master of cinema is enshrined in the two discs he is given here which include shorts from 1911 to 1914 and end with a beautifully, lovingly compiled cine-biography by scholar, Francis Lacassin which is silent and composed entirely of title cards, frame stills and extracts. Durand I believe single handedly created screen Surrealism, even before Feuillade and the disjunction of the subconscious imagination with daily life is deliriously present in this set. The discovery of Durand is for me at least the high point of the year and I hope this set elevates interest in such a neglected and forgotten figure to his rightful place among the first masters of cinema. One only hopes Kino can see its way to reissuing this volume, as they did the Gaumont Vol 1, even if only in a truncated format.

2. Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1

What can I say, Ford's greatest picture, in a gorgeous transfer, and - regrettably - virtually the only recent Warner full SD Classic dvd.

3. Summer Storm BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1944) VCI; R1

Thank god for VCI, and regardless of the occasional weakness of their source elements, who else would have seen their way to releasing this masterpiece from Sirk's 40s period.

4. Wise Blood BUY from Amazon! (John Huston, 1979) Criterion; R1

A fine, underrated late Huston from a fruitful period for the director and a gorgeous transfer (it looks to be identical to the Criterion) that, I only wish had been done in Blu.

5. Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933-41) Eclipse; R1

An introduction with high quality transfers to this little seen director - the very sort of mission the Eclipse label is so magnificently promoting, along with…

6. Rossellini’s History Films:  Renaissance and Enlightenment BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1972-74) Eclipse; R1

I feel compelled to rope in with the Criterion Le Prise de Pouvoir Par Louis XIV - a huge effort to begin redressing the absence of Rossellini to home video. And just as importantly, these discs are literally graced by the critical material created by Tag Gallagher.

7. Muriel BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1963) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

Simply Resnais' greatest film and a perfect tribute to Delphine Seyrig during the year in which she sadly died. Finally in a fine transfer, and in correct AR.

8. Man Hunt BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1941) 20th Century Fox; R1

A great Lang and a missing link (among many) in the director's filmography on home video, for which Fox has gone to considerable trouble to remedy rather substantial damage to obviously compromised elements. And sadly, again, one of the very last Classic SDs (or Blus for that matter) to be released by Fox in an increasingly depressed market.

TOP 10 BLU RAYS FOR 2009

1. The Red Shoes BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) ITV; B

A personal top favorite movie, and a fabulous, beautiful restoration by the best people in the business - Schoonmkaker, Scorsese, Ned Price at Warner, and Lee Kline/Maria Pallazolla at Criterion.  A complete labor of love for a great picture. And, again in its own way a tribute to DP Jack Cardiff who also died this year, just before the restoration's premier at Cannes in June.

2. The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL

The sign of things to come!  Fantastic work by Kino and a very very brave leap into the reissuing of silent cinema in the new format - a terrific job, equaled only by…

3 Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

Another stunning package from this outfit - the image quality on the Czech print  - itself beautifully detailed - is just a flawless transfer into High Def and absolute proof to any doubters the whole format evolution is worthwhile. 

4. Pierrot le Fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; A

A terrific master, flawlessly transferred to Blu, including finally the corrected color filter Scenes with Sam Fuller.  Things are starting to look good for Godard in High Def with the Canal Le Mepris and the forthcoming Femme Mariee from MoC, and a Bout de Souffle next year in Blu.

5. The New World BUY from Amazon! (Terrence Malick, 2005) Roadshow Australia; ALL

Malick's great meditation on our place on the earth, in the long cut, and wonderfully imported by the new medium to a rock solid, perfectly hued and detailed image.

6. Belle de Jour BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunel, 1967) Optimum; B

The first Bunuel in High Def and no better place to start. A fine print, and a flawless transfer, free of manipulation which probably gives the best rendering yet of Sacha Vierney's work as DP on home video.

7. An American in Paris BUY from Amazon! (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner; ALL

While it's not my favorite Minnelli, it is a critical work in the Minnelli/Freed canon, and if only for the ballet alone this disc is a must-have for the ultra tight, lush, deeply saturated rendition of John Alton's incomparable photography of the ballet sequence - we really needed the Blu-ray format if only to finally get a true rendition of IB Technicolor in this print and the stunning color transitions deployed by Alton and Minnelli which literally work as a form of synaesthesia, merging color with music, drama and movement.

8. The Magick Lantern Cycle BUY from Amazon! (Kenneth Anger, 2 Discs) BFI; ALL

This release takes the restored prints used for the excellent Fantoma release of a couple of years ago and ratchets them up to a virtually film-like level of intensity.  As an indication of BFI's responsiveness to customer concerns is their hugely successful cleanup of the frame judder issue in the print of Kustom Kar Kommando which had plagued the SD release.

9. Elephant BUY from Amazon! (Gus Van Sant; 2003) Optimum; B

The first of Gus van Sant's lyrically moody and formally challenging "death cycle". While this is a bare bones edition, it delivers the film in a pristine transfer, in the correct 1.37 AR and with a lossless soundtrack, and it was cheap. While some may bemoan bare bones discs, it's in our interests that labels maximize their Blu releases of catalogue titles, particularly when the source material is good, like this (but NOT like the Optimum Blus of Near Dark or Grifters for instance.)


Peter Henne

San Pedro, CA

USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1a. Rossellini’s History Films:  Renaissance and Enlightenment BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1972-74) Eclipse; R1

1b. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1964) Criterion; R1

2. Parade BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1974) BFI R2 PAL

3. Dodes 'ka-den BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 1970) Criterion; R1

4. Summer Storm BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1944) VCI; R1

5. Boom! BUY from Amazon! (Joseph Losey, 1968) Second Sight; R2 PAL

6. Black Rain BUY from Amazon! (Shohei Imamura, 1989) AnimEigo; R1

7. Empire of Passion BUY from Amazon! (Nagisa Oshima, 1978) Criterion; R1

8. The King and Four Queens BUY from Amazon! (Raoul Walsh, 1956) MGM; R1

9. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) Criterion; R1

10. Anatahan BUY from Amazon! (Josef von Sternberg, 1953) Films sans Frontieres; R2 PAL

Comments: "Anatahan" is missing about three minutes and the image quality of this Frontieres disc is only acceptable, but the brooding and shady atmosphere of the film from the knotted and languid jungle set it depicts survives. This forgotten and often censored film has been a long time coming to the DVD market, and hopefully an improved release based on a recent restoration will someday come along. In the meantime, the Frontieres will serve to give a worthwhile impression of the film.


Peter Hoskin

The Spectator, www.spectator.co.uk

London, UK

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Daisies BUY from Amazon! (Vera Chytilova, 1966) Second Run; R2 PAL

2. The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

3. Jerry Lewis Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Frank Tashlin, Jerry Lewis, et al., 11 Discs) Paramount; R2 PAL

4. Wise Blood BUY from Amazon! (John Huston, 1979) Criterion; R1

5. Of Time and the City BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 2008) BFI; R2 PAL

6. Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1

7. Husbands BUY from Amazon! (John Cassavetes, 1970) Sony; R1

8. The Battle of Chile BUY from Amazon! (Patricio Guzman, 1975-1976) Icarus Films; Region 1

9. Une Femme Mariée BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

10. Dusan Makavejev - Free Radical BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs)  Eclipse; R1

Comments: Ok, so the Jerry Lewis set is a slight cheat: all the discs had been released individually before 2009, and there was already a similar box set in the US.  But this new UK package was just too cost-effective to ignore.  And, what’s more, it is one of the most crazily delightful – and delightfully crazy – collections I’ve ever passed my eyeballs across.  As for the others: Daisies is insuppressible, Wagon Master is Ford at his best, and the Mabuse set is everything I hoped for.

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

2. The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL

3. The Red Shoes BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) ITV; B

4. Comrades BUY from Amazon! (Bill Douglas, 1986) BFI; ALL

5. The Magick Lantern Cycle BUY from Amazon! (Kenneth Anger, 2 Discs) BFI; ALL

Comments: The MoC Blu-Ray of Sunrise is my favourite release of this, or pretty much any other, year.


Adam Lampe

Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases of 2009

1. The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

2. Inglourious Basterds -- Two-Disc Special Edition BUY from Amazon! (Quentin Tarantino, 2009) Universal; R1

3. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965), Criterion; R1

4. The Human Condition Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-61) Criterion; R1

5. Lola Montes BUY from Amazon! (Max Ophuls, 1955) Second Sight; R2 PAL

6. Nikkatsu Noir BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Eclipse; R1

7. Une Femme Mariée BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

8. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs BUY from Amazon! (David Hand, 1937) Walt Disney; R1

9. Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1949-56) Sony; R1

10. Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933-41) Eclipse; R1

Comments: A fully restored Dr Mabuse, the Gambler, sterling transfers of the two sequals and David Kalat's splendid commentaries on all three films makes the Eureka set my pick for 2009. Kudos should go to Eureka's Masters of Cinema Series, which had a superb release schedule this year, including the F.W. Murnau double set Phantom/Die Finanzen Des Großherzogs (including another wonderful Kalat commentary), Alain Resnais' Muriel, ou le Temps d'un retour. and of course Godard's Une Femme Mariée.


Jon Lanthier and Slant Staff

Slant Magazine

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913 BUY from Amazon! (Various) Kino; R1

2. Walden: Diaries, Notes & Sketches BUY from Amazon! (Jonas Mekas, 1970) Microcinema; R1

3. The State: The Complete Series  BUY from Amazon!(Various, 5 Discs) Paramount/MTV; R1

4. The Samuel Fuller Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, et al. 7 discs) Sony; R1

5. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show BUY from Amazon! (Various, 17 Discs) Shout Factory; R1

6. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965), Criterion; R1

7. The Last Days of Disco BUY from Amazon! (Whit Stillman, 1998) Criterion; R1

8. The Friends of Eddie Coyle BUY from Amazon! (Peter Yates, 1973) Criterion; R1

9. Alexander Korda’s Private Lives BUY from Amazon! (Alexander Korda, 4 Films) Eclipse; R1

10. Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Criterion; R1

Comments: Was 2009 the “year of cult” as far as DVD was concerned? It seemed like more long lost (and never-quite-found) favorites were being issued than ever before, making each month’s adjusted release schedule a veritable Pandora’s Box of memories, cinema-related or otherwise. Most of the above DVDs would be welcome releases in ANY quality, but Criterion, Kino, and Shout Factory all stepped up to the proverbial plate with aplomb—The Last Days of Disco was already one of my favorite films before its DVD debut and yet to screen the digital master was to rediscover its coruscating wit all over again.

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. In the Realm of the Senses BUY from Amazon! (Nagisa Oshima, 1976) Criterion; A

2. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

3. The Seventh Seal  BUY from Amazon! (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A

4. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A

5. Playtime BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion; A

6. The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL

7. Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A

8. A Christmas Tale BUY from Amazon! (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) Criterion; A

9. The Last Emperor BUY from Amazon! (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987) Criterion; A

10. Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Collection BUY from Amazon! (Nick Park, 1 Disc) Lionsgate; A

Comments: It’s still difficult to determine what one is supposed to look for in a blu ray that cannot be had from an upconverted standard definition disc – the difference to me has never quite been night and day so much as a choice between two distinct filmic textures (one always pays a cost for clarity). Which is what made Criterion’s release of In the Realm of the Senses such a shock – with a transfer glabrous, flattened and fluid, the film seems less pornographic and yet more assaulting than ever, and as such it’s one of the best arguments for 1080p on the market. The sharpness is as exhausting to observe as the perpetual copulation.

 


 Lynn Lascaro
Long Beach, California
U.S.A.


Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009
1. Man Hunt BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang,1941) 20th Century Fox; R1
2. Michael Powell Double Feature (Age of Consent, Stairway to Heaven) BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, 1969) Sony; R1
3. Looking to Get Out BUY from Amazon! (Hal Ashby, 1982) Warner Home Video; R1
4. Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection BUY from Amazon! (Ishiro Honda, 1958-61) Sony; R1
5. Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro Season One and Two BUY from Amazon! (Norman Foster, 1957-61) Walt Disney; R1
6. Tales From The Darkside BUY from Amazon! (Various, 3 discs,1983) Paramount; R1
7. Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired BUY from Amazon! (Marina Zenovich, 2008) Velocity / Thinkfilm; R1
8. Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 3 BUY from Amazon! (William Wellman, 1931-1933) Warner; R1
9. Pre-Code Hollywood Collection BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1930-34) Universal; R1
10. Under Full Sail, Silent Cinema BUY from Amazon! (Various, 1927) Flicker Alley; Region 0

Top Blu-ray Releases
1. Groundhog Day
BUY from Amazon! (Harold Ramis, 1983) Sony; RA
2.
The Wages of Fear BUY from Amazon! (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) Criterion; A
3.
Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL
4
The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL
5.
Up BUY from Amazon! (Bob Peterson & Pete Doctor, 2009) Disney/Pixar; A
6.
Star Trek BUY from Amazon! (J. J. Abrams, 2009) Paramount; ALL
7. Passion of the Christ
BUY from Amazon! (Mel Gibson, 2004) Sony; RA
8. Goldfinger
BUY from Amazon! (Guy Hamilton, 1964) MGM/Fox; RA
9. North Face
BUY from Amazon! (Philipp Stolzl, 2008) Metrodome Video; Region FREE
10.
Powder Blue BUY from Amazon! (Timothy Linh Bui, 2009) Image Entertainment; Region A

Comments: "The increase of black & white and silent classics on Blu-ray has made me giddy. With Criterion and Kino in the game, things are looking up! This year, many great films made it to Blu-ray and dropping titles from this list to include underdogs was difficult. Top 10 lists are for fun and amusement only."


Adam Lemke www.moviemiser.com

Syracuse, NY, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases of 2009

1. Wendy and Lucy BUY from Amazon! (Kelly Reichardt, 2008) Oscilloscope; R1

2. The Exterminating Angel BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1962) Criterion; R1

3. Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1949-56) Sony; R1

4. Viva: Unrated Edition BUY from Amazon! (Anna Biller, 2007) Cult Epics; R1

5a. Martyrs BUY from Amazon! (Pascal Laugier, 2008) Weinstein Company; R1
5b. The Coffin Joe Collection
BUY from Amazon! (José Mojica Marins, 5 Discs) Anchor Bay; R2 PAL

6. The Samuel Fuller Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, et al. 7 discs) Sony; R1

7. Treasures IV:  American Avant-Garde Film BUY from Amazon! (various, 1947-86) Image; R1 

8. Parade BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1974) BFI R2 PAL

9. Mother BUY from YesAsia! (Bong Joon-ho, 2009) CJ; R3

10. Hunger BUY from Amazon! (Steve McQueen, 2008) Pathe; R2 PAL

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Ballast BUY from Amazon! (Lance Hammer, 2008) Kino; R1

2. Embodiment of Evil BUY from Amazon! (José Mojica Marins, 2008) Anchor Bay; ALL

3. Trick 'r Treat BUY from Amazon! (Michael Dougherty, 2008) Warner; A

4. Tokyo Sonata BUY from Amazon! (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008) Masters of Cinema; ALL

5. Antichrist BUY from Amazon!(Lars von Trier, 2009) M6; ALL

6. Last Year at Marienbad BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A

7. The New World BUY from Amazon! (Terrence Malick, 2005) New Line; ALL

8. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A

9. Dead Snow BUY from Amazon! (Tommy Wirkola, 2009) E1; B

10. Let The Right One In BUY from Amazon! (Thomas Alfredson, 2008) Magnet; A

Comments: My collection grew more this year than any prior year. I believe I purchased every new release from Criterion, Masters of Cinema, BFI, Severin, and Blue Underground, as well as the majority of the other big releases. The problem has been finding the time to watch them all. Many of my favorite viewings from this year were actually releases from prior years as I struggle to keep up with all of the great stuff I’ve acquired. Film distribution in America continues to be a letdown and it is becoming increasingly harder to find a venue to see some of the more creative and edgy works on the big screen. As a result, my list highlights a wide array of powerful works that only are able to reach audiences through the home video market, as wide distribution was scarce or non-existant. Small American Indies like Ballast and Wendy and Lucy deserve to be seen by everyone, horror films that push the boundaries and attempt something new like Martyrs, and Embodiment of Evil, get pushed straight to DVD in favor of the latest remake. Please note that had it not been for the subtitle issue on the Magnet release of Let the Right One In, that would have most certainly taken my #1 slot.


 Tom Mahaffey

Troy, Michigan, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Synecdoche, New York BUY from Amazon! (Charlie Kaufman, 2008) Sony; R1

A drug free acid trip.

2. The Silence of Lorna BUY from Amazon! (Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 2008) New Wave; R2 PAL

Another fine film by the Dardenne brothers and another very good recommendation by Gary.  

3. Simon of the Desert BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1965) Criterion; R1

About as perfect an example of surreal cinema that you will ever see.     

4. A Time to Love and a Time to Die BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1958) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

Sirk’s WWII masterpiece is both beautiful and tragic and is delivered by MOC with great extras (as usual).

5. Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura BUY from Amazon! (Shohei Imamura, 1961-64) Criterion; R1  

All 3 films in this boxset (The Insect Woman, Intentions of Murder and Pigs and Battleships) were an absolute delight to watch.

6. Black Rain BUY from Amazon! (Shohei Imamura, 1989) AnimEigo; R1

This horror story about the atomic bomb in Hiroshima should be required viewing by all human beings.

7. Michael Powell Double Feature (Age of Consent, Stairway to Heaven) BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, 1969) Sony; R1

Who could pass up an opportunity to see Helen Mirren (totally) in her first feature film which includes a nice little extra with a 2008 interview with her about the film.

8. The Girl Cut in Two BUY from Amazon! (Claude Chabrol, 2008) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

Another dark thriller by one of France’s best directors, seen for the first at the DFI (Detroit Film Institute) and enjoyed it even more the second time on DVD.

9. Treeless Mountain BUY from Amazon! (So Yong Kim, 2008) Oscilloscope; R1

Similar to Koreeda’s film “Nobody Knows” but this Korean story about 2 young girls from a broken home has a more positive ending.                  

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. El Norte BUY from Amazon! (Gregory Nava, 1983) Criterion; A

Enlightening film and for those who have a harsh opinion about illegal aliens, it may soften your view.

2. Tokyo Sonata BUY from Amazon! (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008) Masters of Cinema; ALL

Easy to see why this won Cannes 2008 Jury Prize…Superb acting and story.

3. Let The Right One In BUY from Amazon! (Thomas Alfredson, 2008) Magnet; A

Very original Swedish vampire tale.

4. Orphan BUY from Amazon! (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2009) Warner; A

Psychological horror thriller with outstanding performance by child actress Isabelle Fuhrman.

5. Dead Snow BUY from Amazon! (Tommy Wirkola, 2009) E1; B

Norwegian Horror Comedy, “Zombies, Nazis, Blood on Snow” 

6. The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL

Seeing this classic silent film in HD is a real dream come true.

7. Le Mepris BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963) Studio Canal; ALL

2002 Sight and Sound named this Brigitte Bardot film among the best 10 films ever made.  

8. Coco Before Chanel BUY from Amazon! (Anne Fontaine, 2009) Optimum; ?

An easy pick if you’re an ‘Audrey Tautou’ fan, film is loaded with her images.

9. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

One of my favorite Hitch/Grant films looking the best it’s ever looked.

Comments: "Although there were many other films as good and better than some of my choices listed here, it was very difficult to limit my picks and try to have a variety.  There were also a whole bunch of releases from 2009 I just have not gotten time to review, so forgive me for those great ones (ex. MOC Sunrise Blu-Ray) I left out."


 Gregory, Meshman

Atlanta, GA USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1949-56) Sony; R1

2. Death in the Garden BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1956) Microcinema; R1

3. Tora-san Collector’s Set Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Yoji Yamada, 4 Films) AnimEigo; R1

4.  Michael Powell Double Feature (Age of Consent, Stairway to Heaven) BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, 1969) Sony; R1

5.  Nikkatsu Noir BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Eclipse; R1

6.  The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

7.  The Samuel Fuller Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, et al. 7 discs) Sony; R1

8.  The Friends of Eddie Coyle BUY from Amazon! (Peter Yates, 1973) Criterion; R1

9.  Miss Mend BUY from Amazon! (Boris Barnet/Fedor Ozep, 1926) Flicker Alley; R1

10a. Pre-Code Hollywood Collection BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1930-34) Universal; R1

10b. Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 3 BUY from Amazon! (William Wellman, 1931-1933) Warner; R1

 


Leonard Norwitz

San Jose, CA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Time Between Dog & Wolf BUY from YesAsia! BUY from Amazon! (Kim Jin Min, 2007) YA-Entertainment; R1

2. Shakespeare’s An Age of Kings BUY from Amazon! (BBC, 1960) BBC Warner; R1

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Chamagodo: Asian Corridor in Heaven BUY from YesAsia! (Various, 2007) KBS; ALL

2. Dexter: The Complete Third Season BUY from Amazon! (Various, 2008) Showtime; A

3. Goldfinger BUY from Amazon! (Guy Hamilton, 1964) MGM/Fox; RA

4. Pinocchio BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Ben Sharpsteen & Hamilton S. Luske, 1940) Walt Disney; ALL

5. Cape No. 7 BUY from YesAsia! (Wei Te-sheng, 2008) Deltamak; ALL

6. The Red Shoes BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) ITV; B

7. The Sopranos: The Complete First Season BUY from Amazon! (Various, 1999) HBO; ALL

8. Sin City BUY from Amazon! (Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, 2005) Dimension; ALL

9. Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A

10. Let The Right One In BUY from Amazon! (Thomas Alfredson, 2008) Magnet; A

Comments: Chamagodo is the most riveting cultural documentary I’ve seen on video. Stunning photography.  A reach out and touch it image. The Red Shoes is a must if only for the ballet sequence – gorgeous. Cape No. 7 is the sleeper of the year: endearing, funny, romantic, and tuneful. Stunning image. I’ve included Let The Right One In for content rather than image or audio (which are good, but not demonstrable for their own sake.)

 


Jason Overbeck

Los Angeles, CA USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1949-56) Sony; R1

2.  A Christmas Tale BUY from Amazon! (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) Criterion; R1

3.  5 X Roy Andersson (Roy Andersson, Various) Svensk Film; R2 PAL

4.  The Exterminating Angel BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1962) Criterion; R1

5.  The Friends of Eddie Coyle BUY from Amazon! (Peter Yates, 1973) Criterion; R1

6. The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

7. La Gueule Ouverte BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1974) Masters Of Cinema UK; R0 PAL

8. Made in U.S.A. BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966) Criterion; R1

9. Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles BUY from Amazon! (Chantal Akerman, 1975) Criterion; R1

10.  The Last Days of Disco BUY from Amazon! (Whit Stillman, 1998) Criterion; R1

Top Blu-ray Releases

1.  A Christmas Tale BUY from Amazon! (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) Criterion; A

2.  Inglorious Basterds BUY from Amazon! (Quinten Tarantino, 2009) Universal; ALL

3.  Audition BUY from Amazon! (Takashi Miike, 2000) Shout! Factory; A

4.  Kagemusha BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 1980) Criterion; A

5.  Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A

6.  Playtime BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion; A

7.  Last Year at Marienbad BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A

8.  Pierrot le fou BUY from Amazon!  (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; A

9.  Fight Club BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 1999) 20th Century Fox; ALL

10.  The International BUY from Amazon! (Tom Tykwer, 2009) Sony; ALL


Luc Pomerleau

Gatineau, Québec, Canada

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Man Hunt BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1941) 20th Century Fox; R1

2. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) Criterion; R1

3. The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

4. Death in the Garden BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1956) Microcinema; R1

5. Il Grido BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1957) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

6. Il Generale Della Rovere BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1959) Criterion; R1

7a. The Exterminating Angel BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1962) Criterion; R1

7b. Simon of the Desert BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1965) Criterion; R1

8. La Tëte contre les Murs BUY from Amazon! (George Franju, 1959) Masters of Cinema; R0

9. Lonely Are the Brave BUY from Amazon! (David Miller, 1962) Universal; Region 1

10. Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired BUY from Amazon! (Marina Zenovich, 2008) Velocity / Thinkfilm; R1

Comments:  Man Hunt snags first place as an example of a lower-priced title that puts to shame many other prestigious issues: a nice restoration coupled with relevant and interesting extras.  The Godard is a wonderfully balanced transition title between his period of playfulness with the forms of cinema and the more political (and arid) phase that was to follow; it comes with an excellent commentary by Adrian Martin.  He provided another good one for an Australian edition of the Exterminating Angel and had Criterion included it with their issue of the title, it would have placed higher (along with its sibling title) in the list.  Instead, a less celebrated Buñuel edges them out because it got a better treatment.  Criterion did Rossellini proud in 2009, but De Sica's moving portrayal gave the selected title a definitive advantage over the fascinating Eclipse box set of Renaissance films and The Taking of Power by Louis XIV in the main Criterion line.  I am usually allergic to Kirk Douglas's clenched-jaw style of acting, but the David Miller western was a remarkable discovery.  The Antonioni title is rather neglected as compared to his more celebrated output from the 60s, but it is more affecting than these on many aspects.  MoC did us a big favor by choosing this and another lesser-known title from a famous director, Franju's story about conditions in a mental hospital. The Polanski documentary (and the generous supplementary material of this specific edition) makes us realize that even if his decision to flee may have been ill-advised, the legal circumstances of his case were far more complex and nuanced than either his attackers or defenders have let on in recent months.  Finally, the Mabuse set is certainly the best these movies will look for quite some time, and revisiting the often dismissed last title in the series is a much rewarding exercise.

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Last Year at Marienbad BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A

2. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

3. Kagemusha BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 1980) Criterion; A

4. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A

5. Pushing Daisies, Season 2 BUY from Amazon! (Created by Bryan Fuller, 2008) Warner; ALL

6. Coraline BUY from Amazon! (Henry Selick, 2009) Universal; ALL

7. The 400 Blows BUY from Amazon! (François Truffaut, 1959) Criterion; A

8. The Robe BUY from Amazon! (Henry Koster, 1953) 20th Century Fox; A

Comments: The Resnais is only one example of what the BR format can bring to B&W films that rely so much on the visual splendor of their cinematography to achieve the director's intentions.  The two versions of Sunrise on the MoC make for fascinating comparisons and the Czech version is astonishingly beautiful at times for a films so old.  Kagemusha makes us even sadder that Criterion lost the rights to Ran; the rendering of textures (the silk kimonos, the wood structures and the soil most notably) can only hint at what the other more accomplished Kurosawa title might have looked.  We can be thankful that older titles are not forgotten in the rush to BR reissues.  The quirky series Pushing Daisies was a bit cloying at times but its engaging premise and characters eventually won me over; the BR edition does full justice to its over-the-top visual style and color scheme.  The Robe is pure pseudo-historical religious hokum, but it does look superb on BR and comes with an abundant package of extras; and Thesiger and  Robinson are a hoot as the two emperors, compensating for the woodenness of the leads.  Repulsion and The 400 Blows are very contrasted titles, the former being quite consistent with its director's dark world-view while Truffaut avoids the sentimentality that would eventually overwhelm most of this later work.  The theatrical version of Coraline was spectacular in 3D and it's too bad the 3D disc version is mostly a wash; but the film is strong enough that even the 2D version is well worth the watch, both for the script and the visuals.


 Jonathan Rosenbaum

Chicago, Illinois, USA

1. The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

2. Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913 BUY from Amazon! (Various) Kino; R1

3. Daisies BUY from Amazon! (Vera Chytilova, 1966) Second Run; R2 PAL

4. Wise Blood BUY from Amazon! (John Huston, 1979) Second Sight; R1

5. The Exiles BUY from Amazon! (Kent Mackenzie, 1961) Milestone; R1

6. Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933-41) Eclipse; R1

7. Careful (Remastered and Repressed) BUY from Amazon! (Guy Maddin, 1992) Zeitgeist; R1

8. I Love Melvin Click to access Warner Archive (Don Weis, 1953) Warners Archive Collection; R1

9. Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1

10. Terence Davies Collection BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 4 Discs) BFI; R2 PAL

Comments: "I’ve made a point of only citing each label once, and have omitted two favorites (Parade and The Gold Diggers, both BFI) because I wrote the liner notes." 


 Bill Routt

Balwyn, Victoria, Australia

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. The Joyless Street (G.W.Pabst, 1925) Edition Filmmuseum; R0 PAL

2. The Happiest Days of Your Life BUY from Amazon! (Frank Launder, 1950) Optimum; R2 PAL

3. Pure Shit (Bert Deling, 1975) Beyond Home Entertainment; R4 PAL

4. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea BUY from CDJapan! (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008) Studio Ghibli; Region 2

5. Faust BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1926) Kino; R1

6. Celia BUY from Amazon! (Ann Turner, 1989) Second Run; R0 PAL

7. Eagle Shooting Heroes BUY from Amazon! (Jeff Lau, 1993) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

8. The 5 Deadly Venoms BUY from Amazon! (Chang Cheh, 1978) Weinstein; R1

9. Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1

10. Miss Mend BUY from Amazon! (Boris Barnet/Fedor Ozep, 1926) Flicker Alley; R1

Comments: "Titles are sort of in an order of personal happiness. No box sets on this list: they are listed separately below. Sorry about that, but there were quite a few items of note and this is one way to get them noted. There's quite a lot in the "it's about time" category, as I think most Beavers would recognise. That's a worry because the time it is about is probably the time of the DVD format."

SD Box Sets of 2009

1. Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 3 BUY from Amazon! (William Wellman, 1931-1933) Warner; R1

2. Gaumont Le Cinema Premier, Vol.2 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 6 Discs) Paramount; R0 PAL

3. The Jacques Tati Collection BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1949-1974) BFI; R2 PAL

4. The Samuel Fuller Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, et al. 7 discs) Sony; R1

5. Terence Davies Collection BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 4 Discs) BFI; R2 PAL

6. Nikkatsu Noir BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Eclipse; R1

7. Coffret Marcel L'Herbier BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 2 Discs) Paramount; R2 PAL

 


 Robert E. Seletsky

Boston, MA, USA

Top 3 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965), Criterion; R1

2. Faust BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1926) Kino; R1

3. Nightmare Castle BUY from Amazon! (Mario Caiano, 1965), Severin; R1


David Spector

Highland Park, New Jersey USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Ossessione (Luchino Visconti, 1943) RHV; R2 PAL

2. Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura BUY from Amazon! (Shohei Imamura, 1961-64) Criterion; R1

3. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks BUY from Amazon! (Wang Bing, 2003) Tiger Releases; R2 PAL

4. The Exiles BUY from Amazon! (Kent Mackenzie, 1961) Milestone; R1

5. A Grin Without a Cat BUY from Amazon! (Chris Marker, 1977) Icarus Films; Region 1

6. Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933-41) Eclipse; R1

7. Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1

8. Our Heavenly Bodies (Hanns Walter Kornblum, 1925) Edition Filmmuseum; R2 PAL

9. Magnificent Obsession BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1954) Criterion; R1

10. 5ive BUY from Amazon! (Arch Oboler, 1951) Sony; R1

Comments:  A highly subjective list – I chose films that had been previously unavailable or unavailable in decent editions or were very great films now in upgraded editions.

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

2. Last Year at Marienbad BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A

3. Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A

4. Akira BUY from Amazon! (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988) Honneamise; ALL

5. The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL

6. An American in Paris BUY from Amazon! (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner; ALL

Comments:  Only recently acquired a Blu-ray so haven’t been able to view a number of discs have lined up on the shelf.


 Per-Olof Strandberg

Helsinki, Finland

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1.  Zabriskie Point BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970) Warner; R1

2.  The Model Shop BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Demy, 1969) Warner; R1

3.  The Exterminating Angel BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1962) Criterion; R1

4. Il Grido BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1957) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

4. Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura BUY from Amazon! (Shohei Imamura, 1961-64) Criterion; R1

5.  Une Femme Mariée BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

6.  Husbands BUY from Amazon! (John Cassavetes, 1970) Sony; R1

7.  My Dinner With Andre BUY from Amazon! (Louis Malle, 1981) Criterion; R1

8. Dusan Makavejev - Free Radical BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs)  Eclipse; R1

9. Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 3 BUY from Amazon! (William Wellman, 1931-1933) Warner; R1

10. A Time to Love and a Time to Die BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1958) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Playtime BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion; A

2. Belle de Jour  BUY from Amazon!(Luis Bunel, 1967) Optimum; B

3. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly BUY from Amazon! (Sergio Leone, 1966) MGM; ALL

5. Arabian Nights BUY from Amazon! (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1974) BFI; B

6. Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A

7. Raging Bull BUY from Amazon! (Martin Scorsese, 1980) MGM; ALL

8. Le Mepris BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963) Studio Canal; ALL

9. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A

10. Vicky Cristina Barcelona BUY from Amazon! (Woody Allen,

) Scanbox; B

The best new film in 2009.

Comments: "And ..Last Year at Marienbad, The General, North by Northwest, Ashes Of Time Redux, Wizard of Oz, In the Realm of the Senses ..."


 Randall Strachan

Lancaster, CA USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Magnificent Obsession BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1954) Criterion; R1

2. Warner Bros. Romance Classics Collection BUY from Amazon! (Norman Taurog, Delmer Daves, 4 Films) Warner; R1

3. Wise Blood BUY from Amazon! (John Huston, 1979) Second Sight; R1

4. The Friends of Eddie Coyle BUY from Amazon! (Peter Yates, 1973) Criterion; R1

Comments: "Again this year, I’ve been so enamored with Blu-ray that it takes a VERY special standard definition film to entice me to purchase. I still DO greatly appreciate that many great/lost films are finally preserved in SD (which is the bulk of my collection)."

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Easy Rider BUY from Amazon! (Dennis Hopper, 1969) Sony; ALL

2. Up BUY from Amazon! (Bob Peterson & Pete Doctor, 2009) Disney/Pixar; A

3. The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL

4. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

5. Saturday Night Fever BUY from Amazon! (John Badham, 1977) Paramount; ALL

6. Changeling BUY from Amazon! (Clint Eastwood, 2008) Universal; ALL

7. Cold Mountain BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Minghella, 2003) Alliance; A

8. Gran Torino BUY from Amazon! (Clint Eastwood, 2008) Warner; ALL

9. Appaloosa BUY from Amazon! (Ed Harris, 2009) New Line; ALL

10. Doubt BUY from Amazon! (John Patrick Shanley, 2008) Miramax; A

Comments: "WOW! Looking back, this has been a banner year for Blu-rays (41, of which I purchased, were released in 2009 alone!) Several Honorable Mentions include: South Pacific, Do the Right Thing, 12 Monkeys, Coraline, Seventh Seal, Last Year at Marienbad, Drag Me to Hell, Good Bad Ugly, Star Trek 2009, Fargo, Being There, Big Trouble in Little China… any of which could be Top 10. Now… how about, Citizen Kane, Vertigo, Dr. Zhivago, Unbearable Lightness of Being, Strangers When We Meet, Barry Lyndon, Seven Samurai, The Mirror, Valley of the Dolls etc."


Daniel Stuyck

Austin, TX, USA

1. A Grin Without a Cat BUY from Amazon! (Chris Marker, 1977) Icarus Films; Region 1

2. Joris Ivens Wereldcineast Collection BUY from Amazon! (Joris Ivens, 1912-89) Just Entertainment (+12 other organizations); R2 PAL

3. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1964) Criterion; R1

4. The State of Things BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1982) Axiom; R2 PAL

5. Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura BUY from Amazon! (Shohei Imamura, 1961-64) Criterion; R1

6. A Christmas Tale BUY from Amazon! (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) Criterion; R1

7. Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1972) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

8. Of Time and the City BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 2008) BFI; R2 PAL

9. The Ister BUY from Amazon! (David Barrison, Daniel Ross, 2004), First Run/Icarus/Black Box, R1*

*This can be ordered from the filmmakers directly at http://www.theister.com.  They'd undoubtedly appreciate your patronage (plus my guess is they'll see a larger percentage of what you spend if you order from them rather than through another online outlet).


Mikkel Leffers Svendstrup

Editor, Uncut.dk

Denmark

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Sauna (Aj Annila, 2008) Another World Entertainment; R2 PAL

2. Dead Men Ride  (Aldo Florio, 1971) Koch Media; R2 PAL
Released under the title: Knie nieder und Friss Staub

3. Porcile  (Pier Paolo Passolini, 1964) Another World Entertainment; R2 PAL

4. Ill Met by Moonlight BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1957) NTC; R2 PAL

5. Jørgen Leth Collection # 6 – The Experimental Films BUY from Amazon! (Jørgen Leth, 1963-2009) DFI; R0 PAL

6. Silver Saddle (Lucio Fulci, 1978) Koch Media; R2 PAL

Released under title: Silbersattel

7. Inger Christensen – Cikaderne Finds (Jytte Rex, 1998) Another World Entertainment; R2 PAL

Comments: "2009 has been mostly Blu on my part, so I missed out on a lot of potential winners in standard definition Danish distributors Another World Entertainment had another great year, with lots of rare films from Danish documentaries to Finnish horror. German spaghetti western masters Koch Media also impressed with high quality packages, and of course the Danish Film Institute should be saluted for finishing their astonishing Jørgen Leth Collection."

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Antichrist BUY from Amazon! (Lars von Trier, 2009) SF Film [Denmark release]; B

2. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

3. Belle de Jour  BUY from Amazon!(Luis Bunel, 1967) Optimum; B

4. Last Year at Marienbad BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A

5. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

6. 2010: The Year We Make Contact BUY from Amazon! (Peter Hyams, 1984) Warner; ALL

7. Easy Rider BUY from Amazon! (Dennis Hopper, 1969) Sony; ALL

8. The Seventh Seal  BUY from Amazon! (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A

9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs BUY from Amazon! (David Hand, 1937) Walt Disney; A

10. Che BUY from Amazon! (Steven Soderbergh, 2008) Scanbox; B

Comments: "2009 was a great year for high definition. Unfortunately I did not wach as many films this year as previous years due to heavy work overload. But some discs got through the machinery, and I’m rediscovering my love to cinema in 1080p as often as possible as well as contributing to the Danish Film Institutes forth coming Carl Th. Dreyer site – be sure to check it out mid February 2010. On the video quality site, I have to mention Braveheart – wow… sums it up, this is how a catalogue release is supposed to look. Other honorable 1080p mentions: Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Dances with Wolves, Monsoon Wedding, Playtime, Kagemusha, Watchmen, Howard’s End, Ashes of Time Redux, The Last Metro, Ran, The Elephant Man, Mammut, Fight Club, Star Trek, Monsters, Inc. – all are worth you time and money."

 


 Ed Taylor

Australia

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

Comments: I have not bought a DVD since 2007

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Baraka BUY from Amazon! (Ron Fricke, 1992) Beyond Home Entertainment; B

2. Akira BUY from CDJapan! (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988) Bandai Japan; B

3. Fight Club BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 1999) 20th Century Fox; ALL

4. Inglorious Basterds BUY from Amazon! (Quinten Tarantino, 2009) Universal; ALL

5. Ran BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 1985) Studio Canal; ALL

6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button BUY from Amazon! (David Ficher, 2008) Criterion; A

7. Gladiator BUY from Amazon! (Ridley Scott, 2000) Universal UK; B

8. Terminator 2 Skynet Edition BUY from Amazon! (James Cameron, 1992) Universal; B

9. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan BUY from Amazon! (Nicholas Meyer, 1982) Paramount; ALL

 


Gary Tooze

Toronto, Canada

 

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009
1. AK 100: 25 Films of Akira Kurosawa BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 25 Discs) Criterion; R1
2. The Silence of Lorna BUY from Amazon! (Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 2008) New Wave; R2 PAL
3. Lonely Are the Brave BUY from Amazon! (David Miller, 1962) Universal; Region 1
4. Nikkatsu Noir BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Eclipse; R1
5. The Samuel Fuller Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, et al. 7 discs) Sony; R1
6. Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1949-56) Sony; R1
7. The Whole Shoot'in Match BUY from Amazon! (Eagle Pennell, 1978) Watchmaker Films; Region 1, 2, 4
8. Man Hunt BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang,1941) 20th Century Fox; R1
9. The Limits of Control BUY from Amazon! (Jim Jarmusch, 2009) Universal; Region 1,4
10.Waterloo Bridge BUY from Amazon! (Mervyn LeRoy, 1940) Warner; Region 1,2,3,4
Comments:
For obvious reasons I didn't include any titles that elevated to Blu-ray. Warner's anamorphic Zabriskie Point was an huge oversight - it should be there - somewhere in the mix. The Kurosawa boxset is filled with so much excellence - after reviewing it was impossible for me to choose another number one. I continue to adore the Dardenne brothers work, my third pick is now my favorite Kirk Douglas film, I doubt I'll ever forget #7 and Waterloo Bridge was one of the first films that steered me onto this cinema passion - I cherish these DVDs... screw Blu-ray.     

Top Blu-ray Releases
1. The Red Shoes BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) ITV; B
2.
Frozen River BUY from Amazon! (Courtney Hunt, 2008) Sony; Region A
3.
Star Trek BUY from Amazon! (J. J. Abrams, 2009) Paramount; ALL
4.
Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A
5.
Zodiac BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount; ALL
6.
Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL
7.
The Deer Hunter BUY from Amazon! (Michael Cimino, 1978) Studio Canal; Region A/B
8.
In the Electric Mist BUY from Amazon! (Bertrand Tavernier, 2008) TF1; Region B
9.
Powder Blue BUY from Amazon! (Timothy Linh Bui, 2009) Image Entertainment; Region A
10.
Bound BUY from Amazon! BUY from YesAsia! BUY from CDJapan! (Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, 1996) Summit Entertainment; Region FREE

Comments: I go through this constant inner battle with film value vs. transfer excellence repeatedly when making these lists. I've tried my best not to give a crap about anything but my personal enjoyment - so it doesn't surprise me if some of my choices are the lone picks in the entire poll. These discs gave me so much pleasure. If you aren't very careful the higher resolution can become an addiction - yes, it looks that good. Frozen River polarized me in all 3 viewings, Star Trek thrilled me with an intense nostalgia and The Deer Hunter has never impacted me more. Henrik may be right -> the greatest American film ever! I've lost all objectivism regarding Powder Blue - I am more enamored each viewing - <donning flame retardant suit>. I seem to gravitate to films in the deep south (US) and In the Electric Mist settled me into its deft charms with under-spoken zeal. Bound is a lotta sexy cool. The rest are all repeat viewings that altered my initial presentation perceptions with their improved visuals. Long live Blu-ray!

 


 Troy Weets

Fargo, North Dakota, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. The Human Condition Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-61) Criterion; R1

2. Alone Across The Pacific BUY from Amazon! (Kon Ichikawa, 1963) Masters Of Cinema; R2 PAL

3. Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles BUY from Amazon! (Chantal Akerman, 1975) Criterion; R1

4. My Dinner With Andre BUY from Amazon! (Louis Malle, 1981) Criterion; R1

5. La Gueule Ouverte BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1974) Masters Of Cinema UK; R0 PAL

6. Careful (Remastered and Repressed) BUY from Amazon! (Guy Maddin, 1992) Zeitgeist; R1

7. Downhill Racer BUY from Amazon! (Michael Ritchie, 1969) Criterion; R1

8. Blood (O Sangue) BUY from Amazon! (Pedro Costa, 1989) Second Run UK; R2; PAL

9. M. Butterfly BUY from Amazon! (David Cronenberg, 1993) Warner; R1

10. AK 100: 25 Films of Akira Kurosawa BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 25 Discs) Criterion; R1

Comments: "I have really cut back on SD-DVD purchases lately, and usually what I do buy comes from Criterion or MoC, and my list heavily reflects that.  I was also ecstatic about M. Butterfly being released by Warner as it finally completed my Cronenberg on digital collection.  The Human Condition Trilogy if just unbelievable, and a true treasure in my collection.  The AK set would have ranked higher, but I already owned all of the previous Criterion releases, so it was a bit redundant in that respect.  It still gets points for the 5 new inclusions, and also what I would have to say is one of the most beautiful packages available on the format."

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Comrades BUY from Amazon! (Bill Douglas, 1986) BFI; ALL

2. Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A

3. Le Mepris BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963) Studio Canal; ALL

4. Ashes Of Time Redux BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-Wai, 2008) Artificial Eye; ALL

5. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL

6a. Le Dernier Combat BUY from Amazon! (Luc Besson, 1983) Gaumont; ALL

6b. Subway BUY from Amazon! (Luc Besson, 1985) Gaumont; ALL

7. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

8. Election BUY from YesAsia! (Johnnie To, 2005) Panorama; ALL

8b. Election 2 BUY from YesAsia! (Johnnie To, 2006) Panorama; ALL

9a. Red Cliff 1 BUY from YesAsia! (John Woo, 2008) Mei Ah; ALL

9b. Red Cliff 2 BUY from YesAsia! (John Woo, 2009) Mei Ah; ALL

10. City Of Life And Death BUY from YesAsia! (Lu Chuan, 2009) Mega Star; ALL

Comments: "There were so many great releases to choose from in High-Def this year that I decided to limit myself to one per distributor.  I was particularly impressed by some of the foreign releases such as those from France and especially Hong Kong.  I had never seen the early Besson films either, and discovering them was a real treat.  City Of Life And Death managed to sneak in there at the last minute too thanks in large part to its wrenching emotional resonance."

 


James White.

Head of Remastering, BFI

London, UK

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. Husbands BUY from Amazon! (John Cassavetes, 1970) Sony; R1

2. Man Hunt BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1941) 20th Century Fox; R1

3. The Friends of Eddie Coyle BUY from Amazon! (Peter Yates, 1973) Criterion; R1

4. The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

5. The Human Condition Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-61) Criterion; R1

6. Pre-Code Hollywood Collection BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1930-34) Universal; R1

7a. Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1972) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

7b. La Gueule Ouverte BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1974) Masters Of Cinema UK; R0 PAL

7c. Passe Ton Bac d'Abord BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1979) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

8. Miss Mend BUY from Amazon! (Boris Barnet/Fedor Ozep, 1926) Flicker Alley; R1

9. Daisies BUY from Amazon! (Vera Chytilova, 1966) Second Run; R2 PAL

Comments: Some wonderful releases this year, with some personal favorites finally seeing the light of day (Husbands, The Friends of Eddie Coyle), as well as exposure to new releases that demonstrate how much exciting stuff there is still to see (Miss Mend, Maurice Pilat, the ongoing BFI Flipside releases)

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

2. The Red Shoes BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) ITV; B

3. Pierrot le Fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; A

4. Dr. Strangelove BUY from Amazon! (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Sony; ALL

5. The New World BUY from Amazon! (Terrence Malick, 2005) New Line; ALL

6. In the Realm of the Senses BUY from Amazon! (Nagisa Oshima, 1976) Criterion; A

7. Soul Power BUY from Amazon! (Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, 2008) Masters of Cinema; B

8. The Prisoner BUY from Amazon! (Patrick McGoohan, 1968) Network; B

9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs BUY from Amazon! (David Hand, 1937) Walt Disney; A

10. Mad Men: Season 2  BUY from Amazon!(Various, 2008) Lionsgate; ALL

Comments: There were some great releases this year, although I'd like to see more black and white, silent, non-mainstream titles coming out, especially from the studios, who seem to be reserving the format only for their big titles.


Ross Wilbanks

Charlotte, NC, USA

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1.  Joris Ivens Wereldcineast Collection BUY from Amazon! (Joris Ivens, 1912-89) Just Entertainment (+12 other organizations); R2 PAL

2.  GAZWRK – The Films of Jeff Keen BUY from Amazon! (Jeff Keen, 1960-2000) BFI; R2 PAL

3.  Rossellini’s History Films:  Renaissance and Enlightenment BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1972-74) Eclipse; R1

4. Gaumont Le Cinema Premier, Vol.2 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 6 Discs) Paramount; R0 PAL

5.  Becoming Charley Chase BUY from Amazon! (various, 1915-1925) VCI; R1

6.  Treasures IV:  American Avant-Garde Film BUY from Amazon! (various, 1947-86) Image; R1

7. Une Femme Mariée BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

8.  The Exiles BUY from Amazon! (Kent Mackenzie, 1961) Milestone; R1    

9.  Summer Storm BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1944) VCI; R1 

10a.  Joan the Maid:  The Battles BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Rivette, 1994) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

10b.  Joan the Maid:  The Prisons BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Rivette, 1994) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

Comments: "A tremendous year of releases from the BFI & Masters of Cinema; whose booklets and packaging continue to inspire."


Nick Zegarac

Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2009

1. TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams Vol. 2 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1945-52) Warner; R1

2. Lonely Are The Brave BUY from Amazon! (David Miller 1962) Universal; R1

3. Far From The Madding Crowd BUY from Amazon! (John Schlesinger, 1967) Warner; R1

4. Pre-Code Hollywood Collection BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1930-34) Universal; R1

5. The Claudette Colbert Collection BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1933-47) Universal; R1

6. Icons Of Screwball Comedy Vol. 2 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1933-46) Sony; R1
7. That Hamilton Woman
BUY from Amazon! (Alexander Korda, 1941) Criterion; R1

8. Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1949-56) Sony; R1

9. The William Castle Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (William Castle, 5 Discs) Sony; R1

10. AK 100: 25 Films of Akira Kurosawa BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 25 Discs) Criterion; R1

Comments: "2009 will probably go down as the year that killed the classic output of films on DVD. Collections replaced single disc releases and Warner Home Entertainment officially announced its departure as the leader in classic movie output to focus on their burn-on-demand Warner Archive - which STILL does not ship to Canada or any other part of the world! A restructuring effort at Fox killed off their classic film output too. A sad, sad year for film fans everywhere with too many re-issues of discs most collector's already owned."

Top Blu-ray Releases

1. Gone With The Wind: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL

2. The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL

3. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL

4. A Christmas Carol BUY from Amazon! (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951) VCI; ALL

5. Pinocchio BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Ben Sharpsteen & Hamilton S. Luske, 1940) Walt Disney; ALL

6. It's A Wonderful Life BUY from Amazon! (Frank Capra, 1946) Paramount; ALL

7. Miracle on 34th Street BUY from Amazon! (George Seaton, 1947) 20th Century Fox; ALL

8. Gladiator BUY from Amazon! (Ridley Scott; 2000) Paramount; ALL

9. Braveheart BUY from Amazon! (Mel Gibson, 1995) Paramount; ALL

10. Gigi BUY from Amazon! (Vincent Minnelli; 1959) Warner; ALL

Comments: "Gratifying shift to see so many old movies receive their much needed and most welcomed 1080p upgrade. Let's hope this year's promise leads to more classic films reaching the market in 2010 in pristine condition on Blu-Ray."

 

 

Summation: I love this poll for 2 major reasons. I get exposed to important cinema that I may have initially dismissed for intelligent reasons like 'the title'. Secondly, it reminds me of the best releases of the year - my own personal feelings... and more respected individuals. It remains the best time in our history to be a serious film fan and to own, and indulge in, a home theater. Nothing is more comforting than curling up with a well-thought out selection from an expansive library of digital home-entertainment options to seek temporarily escape from the increasing troubles around the globe. I continue to find these mediums and required equipment a mere pittance in comparison to what it is able to return in terms of education, emotional exploration and pure enjoyment. The Masters of Cinema rose to the cream of the crop in both Blu-ray and DVD and Criterion followed with a plethora of fabulous titles. In 2009 we can celebrate Rossellini, Murnau, Lang, Godard, Pialat and so many more. Thanks again to all participants!

Gary W. Tooze

 

 

Stats

42% Blu-ray

58% SD

302 titles

 

Top 25 Total

1. Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL      116.5  points

2. The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL        56           

3. The General BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL           55       

4. The Red Shoes BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) ITV; B       50       

5. North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL            47       

6. Last Year at Marienbad BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A           44       

7. Playtime BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion; A     43.5   

8. The Exterminating Angel BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1962) Criterion; R1        43       

8. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A      43       

9. The Seventh Seal  BUY from Amazon! (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A    42       

10. Nikkatsu Noir BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Eclipse; R1          41

11. Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1        40       

11. Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A                      40       

12. Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1949-56) Sony; R1         39

13. The Human Condition Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-61) Criterion; R1     37       

13. Man Hunt BUY from Amazon! (Fritz Lang, 1941) 20th Century Fox; R1                         37       

13. Rossellini’s History Films:  Renaissance and Enlightenment BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1972-74) Eclipse; R1    37

14. The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL       35

15. The Samuel Fuller Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, et al. 7 discs) Sony; R1   30       

15. Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933-41) Eclipse; R1             30       

16. Comrades BUY from Amazon! (Bill Douglas, 1986) BFI; ALL     29       

16. Il Grido BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1957) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL   29       

17. The Friends of Eddie Coyle BUY from Amazon! (Peter Yates, 1973) Criterion; R1   28

18. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) Criterion; R1         27       

18. Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913 BUY from Amazon! (Various) Kino; R1        27

18. Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura BUY from Amazon! (Shohei Imamura, 1961-64) Criterion; R1       27       

19. Gaumont Le Cinema Premier, Vol.2 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 6 Discs) Paramount; R0 PAL  26       

20. The Exiles BUY from Amazon! (Kent Mackenzie, 1961) Milestone; R1 25

20. La Gueule Ouverte BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1974) Masters Of Cinema UK; R0 PAL    25

20. Pierrot le Fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; A         25       

20. Up BUY from Amazon! (Bob Peterson & Pete Doctor, 2009) Disney/Pixar; A   25       

21. Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 3 BUY from Amazon! (William Wellman, 1931-1933) Warner; R1       24.5   

22. A Grin Without a Cat BUY from Amazon! (Chris Marker, 1977) Icarus Films; Region 1       

23. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965), Criterion; R1 23       

24. Belle de Jour BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunel, 1967) Optimum; B        22       

24. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1964) Criterion; R1  22       

24. Wise Blood BUY from Amazon! (John Huston, 1979) Criterion; R1      22       

25. A Christmas Tale BUY from Amazon! (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) Criterion; A                      20       

25. Daisies BUY from Amazon! (Vera Chytilova, 1966) Second Run; R2 PAL       20       

25. Michael Powell Double Feature (Age of Consent, Stairway to Heaven) BUY from Amazon! (Michael Powell, 1969) Sony; R1  20       

25. Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1972) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL      20       

25. Zodiac BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount; ALL      20       

 

 

 Label Statistics

Label stats

1. Criterion – 50 titles – 27% of the vote – up 183% over last year [continues to be a juggernaut, their Blu-ray releases dominated, and Eclipse continues to source for delight from all. Hobson’s Choice, Danton, The Hit, That Hamilton Woman, Howard’s End, and Gomorrah were their only releases not receive a mention]

2. Masters of Cinema – 14 titles – 10% of the vote – up 163% over last year  [You can’t argue with quality. Masters of Cinema took a film that was part of a boxset that won last years poll, and gave it a winning treatment to win this years by a landslide.]

3. Warner – 21 titles – 8% of the vote – up 380% from last year [Warner was mostly flat in 2009, releasing only a few classic titles and relegating most to their much reviled Archive collection, it was their focus on the HD medium which brought them back from the grave in 2009.]

4. Sony – 18 titles – 6% of the vote – up 157% from last year [It was not the format they own which gave them a boost this year, Sony became a major player in releasing boxsets of classic cinema with their Film Noir, Sam Fuller, Michael Powell, and William Castle sets. Here’s hoping for more!]

4. BFI – 16 titles – 5% of the vote – up 175% from last year  [Their new Flipside releases got them the support of the cult fans, and their breakout into the Hi-def arena made them one of the most improved companies of the year.]

5. Walt Disney – 4 titles – 2% of the vote – barely polled last year [Their practice of releasing Dual SD/BR packages at little to no price increase, along with their restored Hi-Def releases made them a company to support this year]

6. Kino – 5 titles – up 325% from last year [like MoC, their releasing of classic silent cinema on Blu-ray made a huge impact.]

7. Paramount – 14 titles – 3% of the vote – up 380% from last year [Paramount’s year was defined by Star Trek, the new film and the original series]

8. Universal – 12 titles - 3% of the vote - up 7% over last year [with classic horror, pre-code Hollywood, and Lonely Are the Brave, Universal seemed follow the old Warner business model for another solid year of releases.]

9. 20th Century Fox – 5 titles – 2% of the vote - down 65% [The absence of any major boxsets from Fox really hurt their polling]

10. VCI – 4 titles – 1.5% of the vote – barely polled last year [Focusing on less obscure catalogue titles seems to be working]

Major drops – Artificial Eye, Facets (no votes!), Lionsgate, Tartan (no votes)

 

Impact Recognition


35% Criterion/Eclipse
16% BFI
13% Masters of Cinema

 

THE WINNERS

 

First Place with 56 pts – is The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL. Fritz Lang's MABUSE films are among the great movie series of all time, and the complete trilogy is featured here in this collection. Included are both parts of Lang's epic 5-hour masterpiece DR. MABUSE: THE GAMBLER. The director/screenwriter deftly evokes the soiled and shoddy world of crime-infested and inflation-racked post World War I Berlin in the first installment. Employing his supreme powers of disguise and hypnosis, Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) surrounds himself with loyal servants and criminal henchmen who assassinate his rivals, manipulate the stock market and seduce wealthy citizens out of their riches. The dark and mystical adventure of the criminal mastermind careens towards its stylised climax in the second installment.

 

     

 

 

Second Place with 43pts – is The Exterminating Angel BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1962) Criterion; R1.A group of high-society friends are invited to a mansion for dinner and inexplicably find themselves unable to leave in Luis Buñuel’s daring masterpiece The Exterminating Angel (El ángel exterminador). Made just one year after his international sensation Viridiana, this film, full of eerie, comic absurdity, furthers Buñuel’s wicked takedown of the rituals and dependencies of the frivolous upper classes.

.

                                 

 

 

Third Place with 41pts Nikkatsu Noir (Various, 5 Discs) Eclipse; R1. From the late 1950s through the sixties, wild, idiosyncratic crime movies were the brutal and boisterous business of Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan. In an effort to attract youthful audiences growing increasingly accustomed to American and French big-screen imports, Nikkatsu began producing action potboilers (mukokuseki akushun, or “borderless action”) that incorporated elements of the western, comedy, gangster, and teen-rebel genres. This bruised and bloody collection represents a standout cross section of what Nikkatsu had to offer, from such prominent, stylistically daring directors as Seijun Suzuki, Toshio Masuda, and Takashi Nomura.

.

                                   

 

 

Fourth Place with 43pts – is Wagon Master BUY from Amazon! (John Ford, 1950) Warner; R1. Collectivity is one of Ford’s grandest and most persistent themes, and it comes to the fore in this small-scale western with no stars than remained one of Ford’s personal favorites. The minimal plot focuses on the various interactions between half a dozen separate groups: ornery outlaws (who kill a bartender out of spite in the pre-credits sequence), horse traders (Ford regulars Harry Carey Jr. and Ben Johnson), traveling Mormons (including a couple of more Ford standbys, Ward Bond and Jane Darwell) who hire the horse traders to help them out, show people (including Joanne Dru and Alan Mowbray), lawmen, and Indians.

.

                                 

 

 

Fifth Place with 39pts Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Dir. Various, 1949-56) Sony; R1. In the 1940s, a new style - film noir - emerged from the world of "hard - boiled" pulp magazines, paperback thrillers, and sensational crime movies. These films - tough and unsentimental - depicted a black-and-white universe at once brutal, erotic and morally ambiguous. Now, Sony Pictures and The Film Foundation have brought five noir classics together in one collection, all restored and remastered, and featuring brilliant performances by Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin, Kim Novak, Eli Wallach and Gloria Grahame, the genre-defining cinematography of Burnett Guffey, Hal Mohr and Lucien Ballard, and focused, taut direction by celebrated directors including Fritz Lang, Don Siegel and Phil Karlson.

.

                                   

 

Tied for 6th is The Human Condition Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-61) Criterion; R1s. Masaki Kobayashi’s mammoth humanist drama is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. Originally filmed and released in three parts, the nine-and-a-half-hour The Human Condition (Ningen no joken), adapted from Junpei Gomikawa’s six-volume novel, tells of the journey of the well-intentioned yet naive Kaji (handsome Japanese superstar Tatsuya Nakadai) from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet POW. Constantly trying to rise above a corrupt system, Kaji time and again finds his morals an impediment rather than an advantage. A raw indictment of its nation’s wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best.

                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also Tied For 6th Place: Man Hunt  (Fritz Lang, 1941) 20th Century Fox; R1 - One of the best-loved of Lang's spy dramas, Man Hunt is a superbly exciting, tightly constructed picture which stars Pidgeon, terrific as Thorndike, a big-game hunter in the Bavarian Alps who accidentally discovers that he has a chance to assassinate Hitler.

 

              

 

Rossellini’s History Films:  Renaissance and Enlightenment BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1972-74) Eclipse; R1 - In the final phase of his career, Italian master Roberto Rossellini embarked on a dramatic, daunting project: a series of television films about knowledge and history, made in an effort to teach, where contemporary media were failing.

 

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tied For Seventh Place with 30pts – is The Samuel Fuller Film Collection (Samuel Fuller, et al. 7 discs) Sony; R1   30 . In a career spanning more than 60 years, Samuel Fuller never stopped looking for truth and never shied away from controversy. His films were as rough and gritty as the stories he told, combining incisive, intelligent storytelling, with passionate, two-fisted, direction, creating a singularly unique body of work. Now Sony Pictures and the Film Foundation have gathered together all 7 Columbia Pictures features in which he participated as writer or director into an electrifying set - all restored, remastered and new to DVD.

 

                

 

 

Also in Seventh with 30pts – is Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933-41) Eclipse; R1. One of the undisputed masters of Japan cinema, Shimizu Hiroshi (1903-1966) made well over 100 films in his career, ranging from children's films to lighthearted comedies to stories from the fringe. His outstanding cinematic achievements match that of contemporary great and lifelong friend Ozu Yasujiro, though the latter has eclipsed him in recognition.

              

 

 

Eighth Place with  29pts – is Il Grido (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1957) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL. With a script conceived by Antonioni, exquisite cinematography (including a signature concern with desolate vistas), and a plaintive score by renowned composer Giovanni Fusco, the award-winning Il grido – which scooped the “Golden Leopard” at Locarno – is an early key work in the director’s much-celebrated oeuvre. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Il grido for home viewing in the UK for the very first time.

.

     

 

 

Ninth Place with 28pts is The Friends of Eddie Coyle BUY from Amazon! (Peter Yates, 1973) Criterion; R1. In one of the best performances of his legendary career, Robert Mitchum plays small-time gunrunner Eddie “Fingers” Coyle in Peter Yates’s adaptation of George V. Higgins’s acclaimed novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle. World-weary and living hand to mouth, Coyle works on the sidelines of the seedy Boston underworld just to make ends meet. But when he finds himself facing a second stretch of hard time, he’s forced to weigh loyalty to his criminal colleagues against snitching to stay free. Directed with a sharp eye for its gritty locales and an open heart for its less-than-heroic characters, this is one of the true treasures of 1970s Hollywood filmmaking—a suspenseful crime drama in stark, unforgiving daylight.

.

              

 

 

Tenth Place is a 3-way tie with 27 points each for 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) Criterion; R1, Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913 (Various) Kino; R1, and Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura (Shohei Imamura, 1961-64) Criterion; R1

 

               
               
               

 

   

11th - 20th

 

11. Gaumont Le Cinema Premier, Vol.2 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 6 Discs) Paramount; R0 PAL  26 points       

12. The Exiles BUY from Amazon! (Kent Mackenzie, 1961) Milestone; R1 25

12. La Gueule Ouverte BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1974) Masters Of Cinema UK; R0 PAL    25     

13. Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 3 BUY from Amazon! (William Wellman, 1931-1933) Warner; R1       24.5   

14. A Grin Without a Cat BUY from Amazon! (Chris Marker, 1977) Icarus Films; Region 1       

15. Repulsion BUY from Amazon! (Roman Polanski, 1965), Criterion; R1 23               

16. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV BUY from Amazon! (Roberto Rossellini, 1964) Criterion; R1  22       

16. Wise Blood BUY from Amazon! (John Huston, 1979) Criterion; R1      22              

17. Daisies BUY from Amazon! (Vera Chytilova, 1966) Second Run; R2 PAL       20       

18. Michael Powell Double Feature (Age of Consent, Stairway to Heaven) BUY from Amazon! (Powell, 1969) Sony; R1  20       

18. Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1972) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL      20  

19. Joris Ivens Wereldcineast Collection BUY from Amazon! (Joris Ivens, 1912-89) Just Ent (+12 other organizations); R2 PAL - 19       

19. Lonely Are The Brave BUY from Amazon! (David Miller 1962) Universal; R1                        19       

19. Magnificent Obsession BUY from Amazon! (Douglas Sirk, 1954) Criterion; R1                     19       

20. Simon of the Desert BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunuel, 1965) Criterion; R1    19       

       

Stat:

195 titles polled

62% NTSC

38% PAL

 

BLU-RAYs OF THE YEAR

   

First Place with 116.5pts – is Sunrise BUY from Amazon! (F.W. Murnau, 1927) Masters Of Cinema; ALL. Made in the twilight of the silent era, it became both a swan song for a vanishing medium and one of the few films to instantly achieve legendary status. Winner of three Oscars for Best Actress (Gaynor), Cinematography, and a never-repeated award for “Unique and Artistic Picture”, its influence and stature has only grown with each passing year. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present a new 2xDVD and Blu-ray special edition of the film, including an all-new alternate version recently discovered in a Czech archive of a higher visual quality than any other known source.

          

 

 

Second Place with 55pts – is The General (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; ALL. The General is perhaps Buster Keaton's finest film and shows the great comic of the silent era at the height of his powers. Keaton's talent lay in his slapstick ability and his famous stoney face expression which he gave at moments of great confusion. Currently much of his work is being re-appreciated at the true extent of his comic genius re-evalued. Unfortunately for Keaton's career, after the introduction of sound, no one was interested in his comic abilities anymore. His brand of slapstick humour was most appreciated during the silent era when he and his contemporaries Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd ruled the screen but after sound all of their careers went into decline although their influence can still be seen today on comedians such as Steve Martin and Jim Carrey although fun as they are they are nothing compared to Keaton who should be enjoyed here at his best.

.

                   

 

 

Third Place with 50pts – is The Red Shoes (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) ITV; B. A glorious Technicolor epic that influenced generations of filmmakers, artists, and aspiring ballerinas, The Red Shoes intricately weaves backstage life with the thrill of performance. A young ballerina (Moira Shearer) is torn between two forces: the composer who loves her (Marius Goring), and the impresario determined to fashion her into a great dancer (Anton Walbrook).

        

 

 

Fourth Place with  47pts – is North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL. “North by Northwest” is the definitive Hitchcock film. It is a celebration of everything that Hitchcock is about: stunning set pieces, seductive blondes, espionage, double chase motif, mistaken identities, innocent accused, macguffin’s, trains, Hitchcockian wit and Cary Grant. In short, all of Hitchcock’s dreams and nightmares in overdrive.

.

                   

 

 

Fifth Place with 44pts – is Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A. Not just a defining work of the French New Wave but one of the great, lasting mysteries of modern art, Alain Resnais’ epochal Last Year at Marienbad (L’année dernière à Marienbad) has been puzzling appreciative viewers for decades. Written by radical master of the New Novel Alain Robbe-Grillet, this surreal fever dream, or nightmare, gorgeously fuses the past with the present in telling its ambiguous tale of a man and a woman (Giorgio Albertazzi and Delphine Seyrig) who may or may not have met a year ago, perhaps at the very same cathedral-like, mirror-filled château they now find themselves wandering. Unforgettable in both its confounding details (gilded ceilings, diabolical parlor games, a loaded gun) and haunting scope, Resnais’ investigation into the nature of memory is disturbing, romantic, and maybe even a ghost story.

                 

 

 

Sixth Place with  43.5pts – is Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion; A.Jacques Tati’s gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedies about confusion in the age of technology reached their creative apex with Playtime. For this monumental achievement, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production, Tati again thrust the endearingly clumsy, resolutely old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a bafflingly modernist Paris. With every inch of its superwide frame crammed with hilarity and inventiveness, Playtime is a lasting testament to a modern age tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion.

.

                   

 

 

Seventh Place with 42.5pts is Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965) Criterion; A. This 1964 film has invited an array of critical reactions, such as its classification as an exhibition in the boring and the bleak, as well as its estimation as a thoughtful mood piece, and also its recognition on the level of masterpiece. As a rich, multi-layered work, the film readily accommodates a wide categorical continuum.

               

 

 

Eighth Place with  42pts is The Seventh Seal  (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A. Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning, The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet), was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art-house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing.

.

                   

 

 

Ninth Place with 40pts – is Wings Of Desire BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1987) Criterion; A. Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) is one of cinema’s loveliest city symphonies. Bruno Ganz is Damiel, an angel perched atop buildings high over Berlin who can hear the thoughts—fears, hopes, and dreams—of all the people living below. But when he falls in love with a beautiful trapeze artist, he is willing to give up his immortality to come back to earth to be with her. Made not long before the fall of the Berlin Wall, this stunning tapestry of sounds and images, shot in black and white and color by the legendary Henri Alekan, is movie poetry. And it forever made the name Wim Wenders synonymous with film art.

                  

 

 

Tenth Place with 35pts – is The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL. There's no place like home, and there will never be another movie like 'The Wizard of Oz'. Every so often you forget how enchanting this film is... and then a song surfaces on the radio, or a scene is shown on TV. Any single segment of the film has maintained its cultural and sociological status as an embedded icon in our collected memory banks. The dialogue has become the stuff of legend and repeatedly blended with some popular films (ex. Wild at Heart , After Hours etc.) for its extensive longevity and lilting imaginative significance. This is a film that shaped lives... viewers as well as the actors - Judy Garland would forever to be identified as the wide-eyed Dorothy singing "Over the Rainbow" in her own inimitable style.

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11th - 20th

 

11. Comrades BUY from Amazon! (Bill Douglas, 1986) BFI; ALL     29 points       

12. Pierrot le Fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; A         25       

12. Up BUY from Amazon! (Bob Peterson & Pete Doctor, 2009) Disney/Pixar; A   25       

13 Belle de Jour BUY from Amazon! (Luis Bunel, 1967) Optimum; B        22        

14. A Christmas Tale BUY from Amazon! (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) Criterion; A                      20       

14. Zodiac BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount; ALL

15. Kagemusha BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 1980) Criterion; A  19       

15. Star Trek BUY from Amazon! (J. J. Abrams, 2009) Paramount; ALL     19       

16. An American in Paris BUY from Amazon! (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner; ALL    17       

16. The New World BUY from Amazon! (Terrence Malick, 2005) New Line; ALL  17       

17. Ashes Of Time Redux BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-Wai, 2008) Artificial Eye; ALL                       16       

17. Inglorious Basterds BUY from Amazon! (Quinten Tarantino, 2009) Universal; ALL           16       

17. Tokyo Sonata BUY from Amazon! (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008) Masters of Cinema; ALL                    16       

18. Gone With The Wind: 70th Anniversary BUY from Amazon! (Victor Fleming, 1939) Warner; ALL            15

18. In the Realm of the Senses BUY from Amazon! (Nagisa Oshima, 1976) Criterion; A           15       

18. Le Mepris BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963) Studio Canal; ALL   15       

19. The Wages of Fear BUY from Amazon! (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) Criterion; A 14.5   

20. A Christmas Carol BUY from Amazon! (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951) VCI; ALL        13.5

Stat:

51% of people voted Blu-ray compared to last year where 25% of people voted!

 

 

 

Double Dipping

 

3-way-tie
Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961) Criterion; A
North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Warner; ALL
The Seventh Seal  (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion; A
 

Best Cover Design:

 

The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set (Fritz Lang, 1922-60) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL ­ 20% of the vote

 

 

 


Best Audio Commentary

 

Best Audio Commentary:

David Kalat ­ MoC Mabuse / Charley Chase / Finances of the Grand Duke ­ 27% of the Vote


  

Best Extras

 

Best Extras

Tag Gallagher video essay on Roberto Rossellini, The Taking of Power by Louis XIV, Gueule Ouverte short films Masters of Cinema, Une Femme Marie booklet
-- Each received at least 4 mentions.
 


Guilty Pleasure Winner

 

1.  BFI¹s Flipside series

 


Rants

(random complaints from balloters)

 

• Warner Home Video's Warner Archive Collection of classics still NOT shipping beyond the U.S. - forcing collectors such as myself to order some of their titles via 3rd party distributors (when you can find them) who admittedly jack up the price considerably per disc. What a way to shop for your favorite movies! [note: appx 50% of all rants received this year berated Warner¹s Archive Collection in some form or another]

• The general decrease in classic film titles from major studios

• Sony¹s packaging on the Toho Icon¹s set 3 discs stacked on top of each other! Deplorable!

• Lionsgate¹s release of John Huston¹s The Dead ­ Missing an entire reel!

• Criterion's Blu-ray of The Last Emperor, released right after the SD disc, missing International version, and the quality was no better than the SD disc.

• Criterion releasing select titles on Blu-ray

• DNR on Blu-rays (Numerous complaints from Gladiator to It's a Wonderful Life)

• Ridiculous pricing of both Mondo Vision 'Special Editions' and Flicker Alley titles was on many people minds.

• Regardless of the high number of releases, I'm still convinced the Warner Archive Series is a bad idea. Overpriced vanilla DVD-Rs are just no substitute for the expertly produced DVD editions Warner was admired for. Other than that I'd like to have seen Frederick Wiseman's films benefit from new transfers. After so many years I'm just happy to see them out and available, but I hope that one day the films will undergo full remastering, as it's the least that one of our greatest living filmmakers deserves.

• Forced trailers! ­ Biggest offender? Walt Disney. A Blu-ray title after loading and forced trailers can take upwards of 6 minutes before one reaches the main feature.

• Releases that should be avoided:
- Do the Right Thing ­ Blu-ray
- History of Violence - Blu-ray
- Cold Eyes of Fear ­ Redemption
- Near Dark ­ Optimum Blu-ray

• The US DVD and Blu-ray of Tomas Alfredson¹s Let the Right One In, which contained simpler, incomplete English subtitling as compared to the film¹s theatrical release, was ignorant in my opinion. And the fact that Magnet has refused to exchange the disc for new ones, preferring instead to supposedly sell all stock and put the correct subtitles on a re-pressing, is abhorrent.

• Just about every release from MYA films:
- Four Flies on Grey Velvet (Dario Argento, 1971) MYA R0 ­ a beautiful HD-mastered dual-layered transfer let down by missing footage (possibly damage), dubious licensing (although in this case it may have to do with the current confusion over the rights in Italy with more than one company believing they own it), and the use of a poor quality English track that had been pitch-corrected for the unauthorized PAL German DVD and then slowed down for the MYA release without re-correcting the pitch distorting the voices and the music. On top of this, MYA stated that this is how it supposed to sound (although the Italian track¹s pitch matches the soundtrack CD).
- Horrible (Joe D¹Amato as Peter Newlin, 1981) MYA R0 - non-anamorphic with sub-sub-standard video inserts, no subtitles for the Italian track.
- Italian Sex (Sergio Ammirata, 1974) MYA - non-anamorphic widescreen transfer ported over from the Italian release with a brainless new English title and error-ridden, mis-translated English subtitles.
- Legend Of Blood Castle (Jorge Grau, 1974) MYA R0 - a jerky transfer from the non-anamorphic Spanish PAL DVD release with the English, Spanish, and Italian tracks synched to it. The extras featured "deleted scenes" which were actually scenes present in the Italian and English export prints!
- Lucifera The Devil's Lover (Paolo Lombardo, 1973) MYA R0 - fullscreen, VHS-tape sourced transfer (the Japanese tape release was 1.85:1) with instances of tape damage and dodgy subtitling.

• Film Four¹s UK Blu-ray release of Jonathan Glazer¹s Sexy Beast (2000)
 

 

 

Raves (random positives about the year!)

 

• The smaller DVD labels, which have done so much to help restore many classic and independent titles, and have helped to further the cause of film history. Some of these labels include Kino, Flicker Alley, Milestone, VCI, Icarus Films, Microcinema, AnimEigo. I want to take the time to acknowledge
their work and hope that their work (as well as the work of Criterion and of Eureka-Masters of Cinema) prospers in 2010.

• MOC booklets

• Silent and vintage cinema on Blu-ray

• Sony's older cinema boxsets

• Sony Pictures is the best major studio of the year, hands down. And 2010 looks as promising!

• It would behoove all the majors to reconsider their classic film output for the coming year on Blu-Ray and also to market more collectible box sets with lushly packed extras. The days of bare bones movie only transfers is dead - or should be. Warner's lavishly appointed GWTW and Oz boxes and Disney's elephantine Snow White box are the wave of the future for collectors. Read it. Know it. Do it!

• I'd like to see more DVD companies taking risks when they know they have the better product. Code Red released their authorized and superior Terror Circus even after Johnny Legend's Legend House undercut their sales with a blatant bootleg (the title card of which blurred the onscreen copyright). They also put out a 2 disc of Stunt Rock even though the R4 disc released 6 months before would surely undercut their sales. In the UK, Second Sight put out the better transfer of Belle Captive and spent the extra money for a commentary and Masters of Cinema did a director-approved Muriel even though Koch Lorber put out the pair in the US in PAL-NTSC transfers that were nevertheless snapped-up as the seeming only game in town for these lesser-known works of great directors.

• Eclipse

• A BIG rave to Gary Tooze et al. for his fantastic website, diligence and reviews, and for exposing the manufacturers and production companies who release inferior product! Remember to follow his links!

• Incredible bargains on UK DVDs and Blu-rays throughout 2009, with many classic films and television shows 50-80% off their original retail prices….Boutique labels, from Blue Underground to the Milton Caniff Estatte, giving pet projects the love and attention too often denied Big Label catalog titles.

• HD extras—by far my most desired practice is the inclusion of extras in HHD when possible, especially for deleted or alternate scenes or newly created video extras. So far, only two companies consistently render extras in HD: The Criterion Collection and the BFI .

• A new addition this year, we would like you to list some of the practices this year that deserve special recognition. Practices or trends that you would like to see continue in the years to come.

• Paramount's reissues of the Star Trek ­ Original Series, Original Cast Motion Pictures and Next Generation Motion Pictures were extremely well done. The video was exceptionally well done, particularly on the TV series where extensive restoration and new effects were created, and the audio was a robust 7.1 for the TV series or 5.1 for the movies. What was most heartening as a consumer was that the prices for all the collections were very reasonable, far less than when the series and the movies were sold on VHS or DVD. This was quite remarkable and Paramount should be commended as the number of interesting extras has compounded on the Blu Ray. This was more than a fan of 40 years dared hope and in every particular Paramount has exceeded expectations. Hurray and Thanks, Paramount.

• Warners, Disney and Criterion continue to issue extremely high quality remasterings of highly important catalog titles. Warner has even established its on-demand DVD service to provide less marketable product to consumers who desire to purchase these titles. These efforts are most commendable and hopefully profitable.

1. Lots of good films, usually in sets, by directors who are not necessarily rated among the "top ten". We are seeing more and more really fine films that "no one ever heard of". This is probably related to the coming Utter Demise of the DVD, but so far it is paying off.

2. Well, this must be the place to stand up and cheer for Faber on Film, which is maybe the beginning and end of its own trend (the complete criticism of Manny Farber).

3. And I would also like to mention an undated item I got to see for the first time this year: Pitagora Souchi DVD Book 1 (Keito University Masahiko Sato Laboratory). The title translates as Pythagora Switch. You can read about it in the Wikipedia. The book is available from Jbox.com. Your life will be much, much better for seeing the short (18 minute) DVD enclosed in the book. I hope this is the beginning of a trend to (1) release more Pythagora Switch devices and (b) to make the world a better place (through digital technology, of course).

• It's great that we're starting to see some classics and foreign films on Blu-Ray. I also love the whole Community Screening feature... yet another way to bring that 'cinema experience' into one's home theater. I must also commend the Blu-ray release of "Akira" and its format defining Audio track at 192 khz. I would love to see more releases with this type of audio presentation pushing the limits.

 

 

 

 

See you next year! (hopefully)

 





 

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