"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 2008. 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

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 - 2008. 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, Dave Kehr, Acquarello Daryl Chin, author Stuart Galbraith IV, webmasters Daniel Stuyck Ross Willbanks, and 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. 2008 was another tremendous year! 

      

Balloters (click name to access votes):

   Acquarello          Jeffrey M. Anderson          Alex Barrett

Noel Bjorndahl      Tom Charity       Daryl Chin     

Eric Cotenas     Ali Dhagher        Marshall Deautelbaum        Karim Drissi    

Stuart Galbraith        Chris Galloway         Jerry Gerber       

 Peter Henne        Peter Hourigan        Dave Kehr        Craig Keller      

  Adam Lampe         Adam Lemke        Irina Lutsky

Tom Mahaffey      Gregory Meshman        John Nelson        Jason Overbeck

     Luc Pomerleau          Luiz de Rocha      

Jonathan Rosenbaum       Bill Routt        Slant Magazine Staff         Vic Spicer

Per-Olaf Strandberg      Randall Strachan        Daniel Stuyck       Mikkel Leffers Svendstrup   

Gary Tooze         Ross Wilbanks         Nick Zegarac

The Totals (click to access)

Summation         Digital Production 'Impact Recognition'

THE TOP TEN DVDs OF 2008              11th - 20th

THE TOP TEN Blu-rays OF 2008              11th - 20th

 Double Dipping         Best Production Design

     Best Audio Commentary       Best Extras

Best Cult/Horror Release    Best TV on DVD

Discovery         Bad Bad Bad!

NOTE: Some region codes (especially for Blu-ray) may actually be 'zero' but we have decided to err on the side of discretion.

'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

 

 

Acquarello

Washington DC

USA

1a. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 1: Landscape BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1933-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

1b. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 2: Children BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1937-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

3. L'Enfance-nue BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1968) Masters of Cinema Series; R2 PAL

4.  Alexander Kluge - The films for cinema (Eight 2-disc DVDs) Edition Filmmuseum; R2 PAL

5. Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11 BUY from Amazon! (2 Discs) Criterion; R1

6.  Rat-Trap BUY from Amazon! (Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 1981) Second Run DVD; R2 PAL

7.  José Luis Guerin: Innisfree/Tren de sombras/Unas Fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Versus Entertainment; R2 PAL

8.  Chikamatsu Monogatari / Uwasa No Onna BUY from Amazon! (Kenji Mizoguchi, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

9.  Nathalie Granger BUY from Amazon! (Marguerite Duras, 1972) Blaqout/Facets, R1

10. Bill Douglas Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (1972-1978, 2 Discs) BFI/Facets; R1

Comments: A lot of great, rare films released on DVD this year so coming up with a list was easy…paring it down to ten was a challenge. 


Jeffrey M. Anderson

San Francisco, CA

USA

1. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

2. Satantango BUY from Amazon! (Béla Tarr, 1994) Facets Video; R1

3. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

4. Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies - Eclipse Series 10 BUY from Amazon! (1931-33, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1

5. The General: Ultimate 2-Disc Edition BUY from Amazon! (Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; R1

6. White Dog BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, 1982) Criterion; R1

7. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (Orson Welles, 1958) Universal; R1

8. Harry Langdon: Three's a Crowd/The Chaser BUY from Amazon! (Harry Langdon, 1927) Kino; R1

9. The Furies BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion; R1

10. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema BUY from Amazon! (1896-1913) (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1


Alex Barrett

Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey

England

1. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

2. BFI 75th Anniversary Box Set (Play.com Exclusive) (Melville, Renoir, et al., 10 Discs) Bfi; R2 PAL

3. BFI 75 Anniversary Box Set - European Cinema BUY from Amazon! (Amazon.co.uk Exclusive) (Davies, Rivette, et al., 10 Discs) Bfi; R2 PAL

4. BFI 75th Anniversary Box Set - A Centenary of British Film (MovieMail Exclusive) (Powell, et al., 10 Discs) Bfi; R2

5. La Notte BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

6. The Red Desert BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) Bfi; R2 PAL

7. The Devil, Probably BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1977) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

8. The Hourglass Sanatorium BUY from Amazon! (Wojciech Has, 1973) Mr Bongo; R2 PAL

9. Identification of a Woman BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982) Mr Bongo; R0 PAL

10. The Phantom Carriage/The Image Makers BUY from Amazon! (Victor Sjöström/Ingmar Bergman, 1921/2000); Tartan R2 PAL

Comments: A few of these discs have been chosen for the films rather than the discs themselves, and the three BFI boxsets have been included for their combination of great films with low prices. Vampyr gets my top vote not only because of my love for Dreyer, but also because of the staggering package of fantastic extras assembled. I have recently been watching a lot of Antonioni, and it felt like a good year to be a fan of his work. It was also good to have my favourite Bresson released, along with another film from Wojciech Has, who is quickly becoming one of my favourite directors.


Noel Bjorndahl

Winmalee, Australia

1. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

2. Lubitsch Musicals - Eclipse Series 8 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

3. Intégrale Jacques Demy BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) Arte Video; R2 PAL

4. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema BUY from Amazon! (1896-1913) (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1

5. Midnight BUY from Amazon! (Mitchell Leisen, 1939) Universal; R1

6. There's Always Tomorrow from Douglas Sirk Collection BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Koch Media; R2 PAL

7. Miss Julie BUY from Amazon! (Alf Sjöberg, 1950) Criterion; R1

8. The Long Day Closes BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 1992) Bfi; R2 PAL

9. Verboten! BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, 1959) Warner- Fr; R2 PAL

10. The Search BUY from Amazon! (Fred Zinnemann, 1948) Warner- Fr; R2 PAL [note this was released in ’07, but for the purposes of this poll we are counting it as ‘08]

Comments: Pieces of eight everywhere this year, with France and other European sources frequently supplying the largest booty. I suspect the Murnau/Borzage Collection would have headed my top ten but it has only just been dispatched. Others edged out this year (by a whisker) were: three films by the great, neglected Victor Sjostrom - Terje Vigen, Ingeborg Holm and The Outlaw and His Wife (Kino, R1); A Time to Love and a Time to Die (Carlotta, R2); Stranger on Horseback (VCI, R1-not the best transfer but a good Tourneur long out of circulation); Desert Fury (Lewis Allen, DV1, an unusually bright colour copy from this obscure R4 Australian source); Vampyr (Dreyer, Criterion, R1); Alice Faye Collection Vol 2 (Fox, R1); The Thief of Bagdad (Korda/Powell et al, Criterion R1-an exquisite copy);  El Cid (Anthony Mann, The Miriam Collection, R1); The Devil, Probably (Bresson, Artificial Eye, R2); Satyajit Ray Collection Vol.1 (Artificial Eye, R2); much improved Special Editions of two important Minnelli musicals - An American in Paris and Gigi, Warner Bros, R1; Warner Bros Western Classics Collection (especially The Law and Jake Wade and The Stalking Moon) R1; The World in His Arms (Raoul Walsh, from The Gregory Peck Film Collection, Universal, R1); The Red Balloon (Lamorisse, Criterion, R1) and The Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, IFC, R1); and Stavisky (Alain Resnais, Studio Canal R4).


Tom Charity

Vancouver, BC

Canada

1. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

2. L'Enfance-nue BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1968) Masters of Cinema Series; R2 PAL

3. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (Orson Welles, 1958) Universal; R1

4. An Autumn Afternoon BUY from Amazon! (Yasujiro Ozu, 1962) Criterion; R1

5. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

6. Pierrot le fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; R1

7. Verboten! BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, 1959) Warner- Fr; R2 PAL

8. Quiet City/Dance Party, USA BUY from Amazon! (Aaron Katz, 2006-07) Benten Films; R1

9. The Big Trail BUY from Amazon! (Raoul Walsh, 1930) 20th Century Fox; R1

10. Satyajit Ray Collection Vol.1 BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL


Daryl Chin

Brooklyn, New York

USA

1. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

2a. J'Accuse BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance 1919) Flicker Alley; R1

2b. La Roue BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance, 1923) Flicker Alley; R1

3. Chikamatsu Monogatari / Uwasa No Onna BUY from Amazon! (Kenji Mizoguchi, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

4. The Dragon Painter (William Worthington, 1919) Milestone; R1

5a. Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies - Eclipse Series 10 BUY from Amazon! (1931-33, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1

5b. Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women - Eclipse Series 13 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

6. Happiness/The Last Bolshevik BUY from Amazon! (Alezandr Medvedkin, 1934; Chris Marker; 1992) Icarus; R1

7. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

8. Glitterbox: Derek Jarman x 4 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Zeitgeist; R1

9. Griffith’s Masterworks Vol. 2 BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Kino; R1

10a. Black Widow BUY from Amazon! (Nunnally Johnson, 1954) 20th Century Fox; R1

10b. Dangerous Crossing BUY from Amazon! (Joseph M. Newman, 1953) 20th Century Fox; R1

10c. Daisy Kenyon BUY from Amazon! (Otto Preminger, 1947) 20th Century Fox; R1

10d. Moontide BUY from Amazon! (Archie Mayo, 1941) 20th Century Fox; R1

10e. Road House BUY from Amazon! (Jean Negulesco, 1948) 20th Century Fox; R1

10f. Boomerang! BUY from Amazon! (Elia Kazan, 1947) 20th Century Fox; R1


Eric Cotenas

Sacramento, CA

USA

1. Le Femme Publique BUY from Amazon! (Andrjez Zulawski, 1984) Mondo Vision; R0

2. Chungking Express BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-wai, 1994) Criterion; R0

3. Icons Of Horror: Hammer Films BUY from Amazon! (Terence Fisher, Seth Holt, et al., 2 Discs) Sony; R1

4. The Skull BUY from Amazon! (Freddie Francis, 1965) Legend Films; R1

5. Pieces BUY from Amazon! (J. P. Simon, 1982); Grindhouse Releasing; R1

6. Beyond the Door BUY from Amazon! (Ovidio G. Assonitis, 1974) Code Red; R1

7. The Frightened Woman BUY from Amazon! (Piero Schivazappa, 1969) Shameless; R2

8. Alain Delon – 5-Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Various, 1967-1984) Lionsgate; R1

9. Belle Toujours BUY from Amazon! (Manoel de Olivera, 2006) New Yorker; R1

10. Killer’s Moon BUY from Amazon! (Alan Birkinshaw, 1977) Redemption; R0

Comments: Le Femme Publique tops several categories for me.  It’s a discovery (previously unavailable subtitled) with great packaging, extras (commentary, booklet, and soundtrack).  Legend Films unearthed a gorgeous scope transfer of Freddie Francis’ The Skull (one of many neglected Paramount vault titles).  No extras but, in this case, an OAR copy is truly enough.  Sony’s Hammer set makes available on the DVD format for the first time in the US four of Columbia’s elusive Hammer holdings (all but one were available on tape cropped and, in the case of JEKYLL, censored).  Belle Toujours was not only interesting in itself but has gotten me interested in seeing more by the director.  Chungking Express has been well-represented on DVD but Criterion finally gives it first class treatment.  Alain Delon – 5-Film Collection gives us the opportunity to see some of his lesser known films in anamorphic transfers (SWIMMING POOL and DIABOLICALLY YOURS had dubbed tape releases but they are hard to find).  Code Red went above and beyond with Beyond the Door providing two commentary tracks and interviews making this EXORCIST rip-off worth seeing again.  Shameless Entertainment assembled the longest cut of Piero Schivazappa’s kitschy piece of S&M psychedelic erotica (previously available in its US Audubon Films version in only fair quality).  Redemption made me reassess the grim proto-slasher Killer’s Moon with fresh eyes (and ears due to the enjoyable yet frank actor/director commentary).  The same goes for Grindhouse Releasing’s special edition of J.P. Simon’s Pieces.  While the anamorphic transfer and optional Spanish track (with wisely-replaced original score by Librado Pastor) do not scrub off any of the grime of this laughably absurd unrated gorefest, the 5.1 “Vine Theater Experience” track assured me that the film’s rabid fans were laughing at the same inanities I was (and a few new ones).  No Hitchcocks on my list because I’m a bit “Hitchcocked Out” and will probably not get around to picking some of those up until the New Year (I still haven’t checked out the BLADE RUNNER set) but to prove I’m no philistine, I did vote for Criterion’s SALO and Vampyr in the “double dipping” section.


Ali Dagher

Dearborn, Michigan

USA

 

Red Cliff  BUY from YesAsia! (John Woo, 2008) Mei Ah - Blu-ray; Region-free


Marshall Deutelbaum

West Lafayette, Indiana

USA

1. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

2. Gaumont Le cinema premier 1897-1913, Vo1. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Guy, Feuillade, et al., 7 discs) Gaumont; R0 PAL

3. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema BUY from Amazon! (1896-1913) (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1

4. Emile Cohl: L’Agitateur aux mille images (Emile Cohl, 2 Discs) Gaumont; R0 PAL

5. Lubitsch Musicals - Eclipse Series 8 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

6. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

7. The Long Day Closes BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 1992) Bfi; R2 PAL

8. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 1: Landscape BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1933-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

9. Kim Ki Young Collection BUY from YesAsia! (4 Discs) The Korean Film Archive/Taewon Entertainment; R0

10. Anthology of Polish Experimental Animation (3 Discs, 40 Films) Polskie Wydawnictwo Audiowizualne, R0 PAL

Comments: 2008 has been a remarkable year for the release of silent film on DVD. So many excellent films that were impossible to see outside of a film archive have become available for home viewing over the past year.


Karim Drissi

Sacramento, CA

USA

1. The Wire: Complete Series BUY from Amazon! (2002-08, 23 Discs) HBO; R1

2. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (Orson Welles, 1958) Universal; R1

3. The Fire Within BUY from Amazon! (Louis Malle, 1963) Criterion; R1

4. L’Argent BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

5. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters BUY from Amazon! (Paul Schrader, 1985) Criterion; R1

6. The Delirious Fictions of William Klein - Eclipse Series 9 BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Criterion; R1

7. JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri, 2008) Gaumont; R2

8. Generation Kill (2008, 3 Discs) HBO; R1

9. Redacted BUY from Amazon! (Brian De Palma, 2007) Magnolia; R1

10. Her Name is Sabine BUY from Amazon! (Sandrine Bonnaire, 2007) Film Movement; R1

Comments: Simply put, I am fond of these ten DVD releases as they represent some of the very best that was offered cinéastes during the calendar year of 2008.  To be sure, The Wire: Complete Series tops my list not only because of its above-average DVD presentation, but also because it constitutes one of the greatest works of art produced in recent years.  Sadly, The Wire has more or less gone unnoticed in many circles.  For those who are unwilling to think of television as anything but the junk food equivalent of cinema, this show is not for you.  For those who are open to the possibility of a television programme transcending its medium in order to showcase genuine artistry at work, give this show a chance.

Best Blu-ray:

1. Black Narcissus BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) ITV; Region-free

2. Halloween BUY from Amazon! (Rob Zombie, 2007) Genius/Dimension; Region-free

3. The Adventures of Robin Hood BUY from Amazon! (Michael Curtiz, 1938) Warner; R0

4. Casablanca – Ultimate Collector’s Edition BUY from Amazon! (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Warner; Region-free

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street BUY from Amazon! (Wes Craven, 1984) Alliance; RA


Samuel Frederick

Pendleton, SC

USA

1. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

2. Berlin, die Sinfonie der Großstadt & Melodie der Welt (Walther Ruttmann, 1927, 1929) Editions Filmmuseum; R0 PAL

3. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema BUY from Amazon! (1896-1913) (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1

4. Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies - Eclipse Series 10 BUY from Amazon! (1931-33, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1

5. The General: Ultimate 2-Disc Edition BUY from Amazon! (Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; R1

6a. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

6b. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

7. L’Argent BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

8. Bill Douglas Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (2 Discs) Bfi; R2 PAL

9. Gerhart Meier: Das Wolkenschattenboot (Friedrich Kappeler, 2007) Pelican Films; R2 PAL

10. The Furies BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion; R1

Best Blu-ray

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas BUY from Amazon! (Henry Selick, 1993) Walt Disney; A

2. Bottle Rocket BUY from Amazon! (Wes Anderson, 1996) Criterion; A

3. Mad Detective  BUY from Amazon! (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2007) Masters of Cinema; Region-free

4. Michael Clayton BUY from Amazon! (Tony Gilroy, 2007) Warner; Region-free

5. Red Desert  BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) Bfi; B

6. Caché BUY from Amazon! (Michael Haneke, 2005) Artificial Eye; Region-free

7. Encounters at the End of the World BUY from Amazon! (Werner Herzog, 2007) Image; A

8. WALL•E  BUY from Amazon! (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Walt Disney; A


Stuart Galbraith IV

Kyoto, Japan

1. Charlie Chan Collection, Volume 5 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

2. TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2 BUY from Amazon! (Wellman, Curtiz, et al. 3 Discs) Warner; R1

3. Alain Delon – 5-Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Various, 1967-1984) Lionsgate; R1

4. Forgotten Noir & Crime Vol. 4 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 3 Discs) VCI; R1

5. Kabei – Our Mother BUY from YesAsia! BUY from CDJapan! (Yoji Yamada, 2008) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

6. Life After Tomorrow BUY from Amazon! (Gil Cates Jr. and Julie Stevens, 2006) Arts Alliance America; R1

7. Pete Seeger: The Power of Song BUY from Amazon! (Jim Brown, 2007) Genius; R1

8. Perry Mason – 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Paramount; R1

9. Icons of Adventure BUY from Amazon! (Terence Fisher, et al. 2 Discs) Sony; R1

10. The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 3: 1940-1942 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 2 Discs) Sony; R1

Blu-ray Top 10

1. Dr. No BUY from Amazon! (Terence Young, 1962) MGM; A

2. Casablanca – Ultimate Collector’s Edition BUY from Amazon! (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Warner; Region-free

3. How the West Was Won BUY from Amazon! (Hathaway, Marshall, Ford, 1962) Warner; A

4. Black Narcissus BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) ITV; Region-free

5. A Passage to India BUY from Amazon! (David Lean, 1984) Sony; A

6. Great Expectations BUY from Amazon! (David Lean, 1946) ITV; Region-Free

7. Lonesome Dove BUY from Amazon! (Simon Wincer, 1989) Genius; A

8. Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary Collection BUY from Amazon! (various, 1967-1973) Fox; A

9. The Boys from Brazil BUY from Amazon! (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1978) ITV; Region-Free

10. Bob Hope Collection My Favorite Brunette / Son of Paleface BUY from Amazon! [HD DVD] (Elliott Nugent, Frank Tashlin, 1947, 1952) BCI/Navarre; Region-Free


Chris Galloway

Puyallup, WA

USA

1a. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters BUY from Amazon! (Paul Schrader, 1985) Criterion; R1

1b. Patriotism BUY from Amazon! (Yukio Mishima, 1966) Criterion; R1

3. Zodiac: Director’s Cut BUY from Amazon! (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount; R1

4. Brand Upon the Brain! BUY from Amazon! (Guy Maddin, 2006) Criterion; R1

5. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

6. Rear Window: Legacy Series BUY from Amazon! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Universal; R1

7. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold BUY from Amazon! (Martin Ritt, 1965) Criterion; R1

8. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (Orson Welles, 1958) Universal; R1

9. Mon oncle Antoine BUY from Amazon! (Claude Jutra, 1971) Criterion; R1

10. Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy – Eclipse Series 12 BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Criterion; R1

Comments: Admittedly I’m leaning heavily towards Criterion and after going through the list of DVDs that I’ve seen released this past year over and over I have to be honest and say they released most of my favorite DVDs (based on technical merits,) still delivering the best transfers (like the one for the heavily damaged “Vampyr”) and supplements. I felt their releases of “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters” and “Patriotism”, together, were their best efforts, not only offering strong transfers and excellent insight into their respective films through their supplements, but also offering a wonderful and incredibly thorough, if not at all flattering, examination of a complex man. Criterion also delivered some real gems in their Eclipse line, most specifically with their Aki Kaurismaki box set. Universal rarely impresses me but they did do a nice job on their Hitchcock re-releases, “Rear Window” being my favorite of their batch of Legacy Series titles, and they put an extensive amount of effort into their “Touch of Evil” release, including three versions of the film. And it’s very rare where a DVD for a bigger, recent film stands out, but Paramount’s release for the director’s cut of David Fincher’s “Zodiac” presented supplements that thoroughly covered the film and actual Zodiac case and was easily one of the more satisfying releases I went through this year.

Best Blu-ray

1. WALL•E  BUY from Amazon! (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Walt Disney; A

2. Iron Man BUY from Amazon! (Jon Favreau, 2008) Paramount; A

3. The Proposition BUY from Amazon! (John Hillcoat, 2005) First Look; A

4. From Russia With Love  BUY from Amazon! (Terence Young, 1963) MGM; A

5. The Visitor BUY from Amazon! (Thomas McCarthy, 2007) Anchor Bay; A


Jerry Gerber

New York, NY

USA

1. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

2. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

3. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 1: Landscape BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1933-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

4. L’Argent BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

5. White Dog BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, 1982) Criterion; R1

6a. Chikamatsu Monogatari / Uwasa No Onna BUY from Amazon! (Kenji Mizoguchi, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

6b. Ugetsu Monogatari / Oyu-Sama BUY from Amazon! (Kenji Mizoguchi, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

7. Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11 BUY from Amazon! (2 Discs) Criterion; R1

8. Satyajit Ray Collection Vol.1 BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

9a. Make Way For Tomorrow BUY from Amazon! (Leo McCarey, 1937) BaC; R2PAL

9b. J'Accuse BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance 1919) Flicker Alley; R1

10a. Le Deuxième Souffle BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1966) Criterion; R1

10b. La Signora di Tutti (Max Ophüls, 1934) RHV; R0 PAL

Best Blu-ray

1. Baraka BUY from Amazon! (Ron Fricke, 1992) MPI; A

2. Black Narcissus  BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) ITV; Region-free

3. WALL•E BUY from Amazon! (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Walt Disney; A

4. How the West Was Won BUY from Amazon! (Hathaway, Marshall, Ford, 1962) Warner; A

5. The Dark Knight  BUY from Amazon! (Christopher Nolan, 2008) Warner; A


Peter Henne

San Pedro, CA

USA

1. Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women - Eclipse Series 13 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

2. Colecao Glauber Rocha (8-Discs, including Terra em Transe, Antonio das Mortes, et al.)  Versatil; R0

3. Jean-Luc Godard: 3-Disc Collector's Edition BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Lionsgate; R1

4. Love on the Ground BUY from Amazon! (Jacques Rivette, 1984) Bluebell; R2 PAL

5. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

6. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

7. Le Gai savoir  BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1968) Koch Lorber; R1

8. The New World – The Extended Cut BUY from Amazon! (Terrence Malick, 2005) New Line, R1

9. Judex / Nuits Rouges BUY from Amazon! (Georges Franju, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

10. Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies - Eclipse Series 10 BUY from Amazon! (1931-33, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1

Comments: My voting factors included having English subtitles, whether the title had been released previously in a decent edition, my guess of how likely and fast an improved edition will come out, image/sound quality, and cost to a U.S. consumer. Note: three of the four feature films in the Rocha set were released by Versatil in 2008, and the widescreen films are letterboxed but non-anamorphic. Some DVDs from this year I look forward to watching: Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set; Red Desert (BFI); La Notte (MoC); Douglas Sirk Collection 2  (Carlotta); The Long Day Closes (BFI); La Signora di Tutti (RHV); Private Vices Public Virtues (Jef).


Peter Hourigan

Melbourne, Victoria

Australia

1. Manoel de Oliveria 100 anos (21 Films) Zon Lusomondo; R2 PAL

2. Intégrale Jacques Demy BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) Arte Video; R2 PAL

3. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

4a. La Roue BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance, 1923) Flicker Alley; R1

4b. J'Accuse BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance 1919) Flicker Alley; R1

5. Silent Light BUY from Amazon! (Carlos Reygadas,  2007) Tartan; R2 PAL

6. Solitary Fragments  BUY from Amazon! (Jaime Rosales, Spain 2007) Cameo Media; R0 PAL

7. In the City of Sylvia BUY from Amazon! (José Luis Guerín, 2007)  Cameo Media; R0 PAL

8.Toutes Les Nuits BUY from Amazon! (Eugene Green, 2000) Arcades; R2 PAL [Late Dec. ’07 release qualifies for this poll – ed.]

9. 4 by Agnès Varda BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

10. Mon oncle Antoine BUY from Amazon! (Claude Jutra, 1971) Criterion; R1

Comments: With several unbelievably rich and invaluable box sets (giving me a “cheating” total of about 50 films) the honour has to go to de Oliveira – surely one of the most amazing careers – still going strong at 100. An impeccable, compactly packed set, accessible to non-Portuguese speakers for the most part. Otherwise, it’s great to acknowledge several wonderful discoveries DVD made possible for me this year.


Dave Kehr

New York, NY

USA

[Alphabetical]

Come Drink with Me BUY from Amazon! (King Hu, 1966) Weinstein; R1

Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer  BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1

Easy Living BUY from Amazon! (Mitchell Leisen, 1937) Universal; R1

The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Discs) Paramount; A

Griffith’s Masterworks Vol. 2 BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Kino; R1

How the West Was Won  BUY from Amazon! (Hathaway, Marshall, Ford, 1962) Warner; A

Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women - Eclipse Series 13 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

Man of the West BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1958) MGM; R1

Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

Sleeping Beauty BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Geronimi, 1959) Walt Disney; A


Craig Keller

Princeton, NJ

USA

1. The Last Letter (Frederick Wiseman, 2002) Zipporah Films; R0

2. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

3. Boarding Gate BUY from Amazon! (Olivier Assayas, 2007) Magnet; R1

4. Blast of Silence BUY from Amazon! (Allen Baron, 1961) Criterion; R1

5. L'Enfance-nue BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1968) Masters of Cinema Series; R2 PAL

6. Le Gai savoir BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1968) Koch Lorber; R1

7. Police BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1985) Masters of Cinema Series; R2 PAL

8. Pierrot le fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; R1

9. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

10. The Sixth Side of the Pentagon / The Embassy BUY from Amazon! (Chris Marker, 1968 & 1973) Icarus; R1

Comments: I could have chosen ten random Frederick Wiseman films as the releases of the year. The impulse to give Lionsgate props for the four-film Jean-Luc Godard Collector's Set is checked by the fact that the soundtracks to both Détective and Hélas pour moi have been converted to mono, from their virtuosic and essential original stereo mixes (the earlier film retaining the stereo mix on its Optimum R2 UK release). Swap out any of the above with Kino's Griffith’s Masterworks Vol. 2; or Criterion's release of Tati's Trafic or Martha Graham on Film or Lubitsch Musicals; or Fox's release of Walsh's The Big Trail or the Murnau, Borzage and Fox box; or IFC's no-frills releases of Hou's Flight of the Red Balloon or Korine's Mister Lonely or Rivette's Ne touchez pas la hache; or VCI's sets of Eason's and Brower's The Phantom Empire, Ford's This Is Korea!, and Tourneur's Stranger on Horseback. In a year in which it's easier to come by L’Argent  than it is money, it's painful to distribute non-voting shares.

Blu-ray

1. How the West Was Won BUY from Amazon! (Hathaway, Marshall, Ford, 1962) Warner; A

2. Chungking Express  BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-wai, 1994) Criterion; A

3. Mad Detective  BUY from Amazon! (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2007) Masters of Cinema; Region-free

4. Caché BUY from Amazon! (Michael Haneke, 2005) Artificial Eye; Region-free

5. The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Discs) Paramount; A


Adam Lampe

Darwin, Northern Territory

Australia

1. A Man Escaped BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1956) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

2. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

3. Cluny Brown BUY from Amazon! (Ernst Lubitsch, 1946) BFI Video; R2

4. Midnight BUY from Amazon! (Mitchell Leisen, 1939) Universal; R1

5. The Picture of Dorian Gray BUY from Amazon! (Albert Lewin, 1945) Warner; R1

6. La Ronde BUY from Amazon! (Max Ophüls, 1950) Criterion; R1

7. Lubitsch Musicals - Eclipse Series 8 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1          

8. Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection BUY from Amazon! (8 Discs) MGM; R1

9. The Naked Prey BUY from Amazon! (Cornel Wilde, 1966) Criterion; R1

10. La Notte BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL0

Comments: Along with A Man Escaped, Artificial Eye also released the majestic Lancelot du Lac and the bleak but unshakable The Devil, Probably. They were also essential purchases for 2008. A Man Escaped, though, is my favourite Bresson film, and A.E.’s inclusion of the excellent documentary The Road to Bresson nails this release to the top of my list. The greatness of Lubitsch is preserved by the Eclipse set of early musicals, which shows a group of playful talents (inc. Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald) at their peak. Cluny Brown, on the other hand, is a wise and optimistic final statement, somewhat underrated in my view, worth revisiting in BFI’s sturdy, no-frills release. Indeed, 2008 was a good year for comedy. Leisen’s Midnight, for example, was the best in a quartet of comedy DVDs from Universal, including the welcome release of a decent transfer of Billy Wilder’s The Major and the Minor. One of the more controversial releases of the year was the Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection. Fortunately, my Collection was undamaged, and all the DVDs played perfectly. My heart goes out to those who didn’t get a fully functional set, because this was one of the most important releases of the year, in spite of its flaws. The most essential element in the collection was the restored prints of The Lodger, Sabotage and Young and Innocent, along with the excellent commentaries for each film. These transfers fully eclipse those on Concorde Home Entertainment’s Alfred Hitchcock: The Early Years. One hopes MGM will release more restorations and special editions of Hitchcock films, especially from his pre-Hollywood era, and take more care in how they are packaged.


Adam Lemke

www.moviemiser.com & DVDBeaver contributor

Syracuse, NY

USA

1. White Dog BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, 1982) Criterion; R1

2. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

3. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

4. In the City of Sylvia BUY from Amazon! (José Luis Guerín, 2007) Cameo Media; R0 PAL

5. Princess BUY from Amazon! (Anders Morgenthaler, 2006) Tartan; R2 PAL

6. Inside BUY from Amazon! (Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury, 2007) Genius; R1

7. Quiet City/Dance Party, USA BUY from Amazon! (Aaron Katz, 2006-07) Benten Films; R1

8. Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies - Eclipse Series 10 BUY from Amazon! (1931-33, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1

9. Lubitsch Musicals - Eclipse Series 8 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1          

10. Spaced: The Complete Series BUY from Amazon! (Edgar Wright, 3 Discs) BBC; R1

Blu-ray

1. WALL•E BUY from Amazon! (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Walt Disney; A

2. Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector's Edition BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; Region-free

3. There Will Be Blood BUY from Amazon! (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) Paramount; A

4. Chungking Express  BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-wai, 1994) Criterion; A

5. Sleeping Beauty BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Geronimi, 1959) Walt Disney; A

6. CJ7 BUY from Amazon! (Stephen Chow, 2008) Sony; Region-free

7. Juno BUY from Amazon! (Jason Reitman, 2007) 20th Century Fox; A

8. Baraka BUY from Amazon! (Ron Fricke, 1992) MPI; A

9. 30 Days of Night BUY from Amazon! (David Slade, 2007) Sony; A

10. Faces of Death BUY from Amazon!(John Alan Schwartz, 1978) Gorgon; Region-free (just for existing)

Comments: My collection grew by almost 700 DVD’s this year and every year I ask myself the same question when selecting my #1 choice… what disc will I still be watching 10 years from now? The choice was simple, as Fuller’s masterpiece is as biting today as it was 26 years ago and as it will be 10 years from now…cinema, pure and simple and of the highest order. Murnau, Borzage, Boetticher, Lubitsch, and Ozu boxsets all get a nod -- here’s hoping that companies continue recognizing directors over actors/genres with the sets that they release. Some of the best films of 2008/2007 get nods including In the City of Sylvia, WALL•E and There Will Be Blood. Props to Benten films for releasing top-notch indie films in well-crafted editions. The rest of my favorite viewings this year were edgy genre films that pushed the limits of the medium, and as a result, were forced to exist outside of the big screen. Inside, Princess, Red, Trigger Man, Rogue, Boachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight and The Lost were just a few of the films that came into light on the small screen in 2008. I praise the efforts of Criterion and MoC, but the folks at Dark Sky, Severin, Synapse, and Dimension Extreme continue to earn my respect with their edgy distributions… I wish these brave companies the best of luck in ’09… keep taking risks and releasing these movies!


Irina Lutsky

Chicago, IL

USA

1. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

2. L’Argent BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

3. TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2 BUY from Amazon! (Wellman, Curtiz, et al. 3 Discs) Warner; R1

4. The Furies BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion; R1

5. La Signora di Tutti (Max Ophüls, 1934) RHV; R0 PAL

6. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

7. Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection BUY from Amazon! (Hathaway, Litvak, Roy, et al. 5 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

8. Chikamatsu Monogatari / Uwasa No Onna BUY from Amazon! (Kenji Mizoguchi, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

9. Ugetsu Monogatari / Oyu-Sama BUY from Amazon! (Kenji Mizoguchi, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

10. Miss Julie BUY from Amazon! (Alf Sjöberg, 1950) Criterion; R1

Comments:

I feel very fortunate to finally be able to watch Borzage’s Lucky Star and Street Angel in decent quality and finally retire my barely watchable non-commercial copies. I can also retire the Spanish edition of Seventh Heaven, too. The entire set is heaven on earth. L’Argent was a real treat – the decadent opulence of the late silent era at its best. The Tyrone Power set was a real eye opener – the actor had an incredible range; his comedic chemistry with Loretta Yong has to be seen to be believed.  The famous Ophul’s camera did not fail to dazzle again in a fabulous La Signora di Tuttii. I was grateful to TCM for releasing more pre-codes. I hope to see more released next year – we have some serious pre-code gaps that need to be closed. Kenji Mizoguchi is always a treat.


Tom Mahaffey

Troy, Michigan

USA

1. Imitation of Life -- Universal Legacy Series BUY from Amazon! (John M. Stahl, 1934) Universal; R1

In a different era,  Freidi Washington may well have been the first female African-American Oscar winner. 

2. Rocco and His Brothers BUY from Amazon! (Luchino Visconti, 1960) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

Great transfer, first class production by Masters of Cinema with the beautiful Claudia Cardinale.

3. Night of the Shooting Stars (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, 1982) Koch Lorber; R1

Excellent storytelling highlights this Taviani Masterpiece.

4. Breath BUY from YesAsia! (Kim Ki-duk, 2007) TaeWon Entertainment; R3 

Another intriguing tale by the director of The Isle & 3-Iron

5. Ugetsu Monogatari / Oyu-Sama BUY from Amazon! (Kenji Mizoguchi, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

Beautiful scenery, flawless camera work and outstanding direction.

6. The Lodger -- from Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection BUY from Amazon! (1927) MGM; R1        

Considered Hitchcock’s “First Hitchcock” film, I was mesmerized by the images and fine storytelling.

7. Antonio Gaudi BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Teshigahara. 1984) Criterion; R1

I was completely blown away by the sheer volume of work, as well as the educational value of this wonderful film. 

8. Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11 BUY from Amazon! (2 Discs) Criterion; R1

Standout was Wings, I really loved this actress and the true to life feeling the film conveyed.

9a. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

9b. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

I prefer the more raw/natural look of the MOC version but I have to admit the improved English text is a real standout on the Criterion edition.

10. Four Minutes BUY from Amazon! (Chris Kraus, 2006) Petit Peche; R2 PAL

Very strong acting by both female leads.

Blu-ray Top 10

1. Juno BUY from Amazon! (Jason Reitman, 2007) 20th Century Fox; A

2. Hellboy II: The Golden Army BUY from Amazon! (Guillermo del Toro, 2008) Universal; A

3. Slither BUY from Amazon! (James Gunn, 2006) DutchFilmWorks; B

4. Night of the Living Dead BUY from Amazon! (George A. Romero, 1968) Optimum; B

5. 30 Days of Night BUY from Amazon! (David Slade, 2007) Sony; A

6. The Day the Earth Stood Still BUY from Amazon! (Robert Wise, 1951) 20th Century Fox; A

7. Tell No One BUY from Amazon! (Guillaume Cantet, 2006) Europa Corp; B

8. Mad Detective   BUY from Amazon! (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2007) Masters of Cinema; Region-free

9. Black Narcissus BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) ITV; Region-free

10. No Country for Old Men BUY from Amazon! (Coen Bros, 2007) Miramax; A


Gregory Meshman

Atlanta, GA

USA

1. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

2. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema BUY from Amazon! (1896-1913) (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1

3. Before the Rain BUY from Amazon! (Milcho Manchevski, 1994) Criterion; R1

4. Road House BUY from Amazon! (Jean Negulesco, 1948) 20th Century Fox; R1

5. The Furies BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion; R1

6. Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11 BUY from Amazon! (2 Discs) Criterion; R1

7. Judex / Nuits Rouges BUY from Amazon! (Georges Franju, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

8. Fox Western Classics BUY from Amazon! (Henry Hathaway, et al., 3 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

9. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (Orson Welles, 1958) Universal; R1

10. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

Comments: I’m yet to go Blu, but this year I cut back on my purchases, especially from other regions, so my choices mostly come from region 1.  Content of Murnau, Borzage box should get the first place, but terrible packaging caused me to move it to last.  I had to track it down at a local B&M store to avoid damaging it during shipping.


John Nelson

Frederick, MD

USA

1. Death of a Cyclist BUY from Amazon! (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1955) Criterion; R1

2. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

3. Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women - Eclipse Series 13 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

4. Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 6 Discs) Warner; R1

5. The Darjeeling Limited BUY from Amazon! (Wes Anderson, 2007) 20th Century Fox; R1

6. The Clouded Yellow BUY from Amazon! (Ralph Thomas, 1950) Eureka; R2 PAL

7. Man on Wire BUY from Amazon! (James Marsh, 2008) Magnolia; R1

8. The Devil, Probably BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1977) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

Best Blu-ray

1. Zulu BUY from Amazon! (Cy Endfield, 1964) Paramount; Region-free

2. Black Narcissus  BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) ITV; Region-free

3. Casablanca – Ultimate Collector’s Edition BUY from Amazon! (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Warner; Region-free

4. Red Desert  BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) Bfi; B

5. The Ipcress File BUY from Amazon! (Sidney J. Furie, 1965) 101 Distribution; Region-free

6. An American in Paris BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner; Region-free

Comments: I’m reluctant to say that these are in any order. Suffice it that these are a grouping of favorites.

Another note, in 2008 I purchased some Blu-Ray titles, but not owning a suitable player, I viewed these on a friend’s compatible system


Jason Overbeck

Los Angeles, CA

USA

1. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

2. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

3. L'Enfance-nue BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1968) Masters of Cinema Series; R2 PAL

4. Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11 BUY from Amazon! (2 Discs) Criterion; R1

5. You the Living BUY from Amazon! (Roy Andersson, 2007) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

6. The Devil, Probably BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1977) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

7. Lubitsch Musicals - Eclipse Series 8 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

8. The Small Back Room BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1949) Criterion; R1

9. Alice in the Cities BUY from Amazon! (Wim Wenders, 1974) Axiom; R2 PAL

10.  Andre Techine Boxset BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Lions Gate; R1

Best Blu-ray

1. The Third Man BUY from Amazon! (Carol Reed, 1949) Criterion; A

2. There Will Be Blood BUY from Amazon! (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) Paramount; A

3. Sunshine BUY from Amazon! (Danny Boyle, 2007)  20th Century Fox; A

4. Bottle Rocket BUY from Amazon! (Wes Anderson, 1996) Criterion; A

5. Chungking Express BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-wai, 1994) Criterion; A


Pat Pilon

Ottawa, Ontario

Canada

1. Postwar Kurosawa - Eclipse Series 7 BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Criterion; R1

2. Sukiyaki Western Django BUY from YesAsia! (Takashi Miike, 2007) Geneon; R2 NTSC

3. M BUY from YesAsia! (Lee Myung-se, 2007) KD Media; R3

4. Time + Breath SE: Limited Edition BUY from YesAsia! (Kim Ki-duk, 2007) Taewon; R3

5. Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol. 1+2 BUY from Amazon! (Various, 6 Discs) Universal; R1

6. High and Low BUY from Amazon! (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) Criterion; R1

7. Baraka: 2-Disc SE BUY from Amazon! (Ron Fricke, 1992) MPI; R1

8. The Last Emperor BUY from Amazon! (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987) Criterion; R1

9. Les Vampires BUY from Amazon! (Louis Feuillade, 1915) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

10. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead BUY from Amazon! (Lloyd Kauffman and Michael Herz, 2008) Troma; R0

Comments: Buying habits have changed for me, as Blu-rays have become my primary buys (though unfortunately I'm limited to region A only), but this year saw some nice releases.  My number one is essential for Kurosawa fans and it's terrific to see some of his smaller, earlier films finally make it onto decent DVDs.  The rest of my selections have good transfers and audio presentations, as well as a good selection of extras (save for the Sci-Fi collection, which is priceless in itself).  I had to include that last one simply to give props to Mr. Kauffman and his consistently packed discs, even if his releases have the obvious technical shortcomings.  He's one of the only directors out there that's willing to show the warts of low-budget filmmaking, and the extras in here are terrific.  I also have to give props to Eclectic DVD for producing Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter on Blu-ray.  Who knew a small movie from my hometown would end up on Blu-ray?

Best Blu-ray

1. WALL•E BUY from Amazon! (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Walt Disney; A

2. Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006) Sony; A

3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre BUY from Amazon! (Tobe Hooper, 1974) Dark Sky; A

4. Sunshine BUY from Amazon! (Danny Boyle, 2007)  20th Century Fox; A

5. 3:10 to Yuma BUY from Amazon! (James Mangold, 2007) Lionsgate; Region-free

6. Chungking Express BUY from Amazon! (Wong Kar-wai, 1994) Criterion; A

7. Protégé BUY from YesAsia! (Derek Yee, 2006) Deltamac; Region-free

8. The Fall BUY from Amazon! (Tarsem Singh, 2006) Sony; Region-free

9. Ray Harryhausen Collection BUY from Amazon! (Varions, 4 Discs) Sony; A

10. Live and Let Die BUY from Amazon! (Guy Hamilton, 1973) MGM; A


Luc Pomerleau

Gatineau, Québec

Canada

1. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (Orson Welles, 1958) Universal; R1

2. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

3. Le Deuxième Souffle BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1966) Criterion; R1

4. Judex / Nuits Rouges BUY from Amazon! (Georges Franju, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

5. Earrings of Madame de… BUY from Amazon! (Max Ophüls, 1953) Criterion; R1

6. Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies - Eclipse Series 10 BUY from Amazon! (1931-33, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1

7. Pierrot le fou BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; R1

8. The Phantom Carriage/The Image Makers (Victor Sjöström/Ingmar Bergman, 1921/2000); Tartan R2 PAL

9. The Furies BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion; R1

10. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

Comments: The Welles re-issue is exemplary: relevant commentaries (not always a given), 3 versions for cinephiles to play endless comparison games, and other substantial extras.  I am surprised to list westerns, a genre I used to dislike -- except for isolated works by Hathaway, Mann and Hawks -- but Boetticher is a revelation.  As for Ophuls and Melville, other titles released by Criterion and Second Sight could also have found their way on the list.  I chose the Ozu Box set over the beautiful An Autumn Afternoon simply because it makes available works from his formative period, including at least one true masterpiece. Several other titles could well have made the final cut, like This Sporting Life, Abel Gance's La Roue or the James Stewart Western Collection.


Luiz Rocha

São Paulo

Brazil

1. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 1: Landscape BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1933-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

2. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 2: Children BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1937-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

3. Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy – Eclipse Series 12 BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Criterion; R1

4. The Round-up BUY from Amazon! (Miklós Jancsó 1966) Second Run; R0 PAL

5. Rat-Trap BUY from Amazon! (Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 1981) Second Run DVD; R0 PAL

6. Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women - Eclipse Series 13 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

7. 4 by Agnès Varda BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

8. Makoto Sato Complete Works BUY from CDJapan! (6 Discs) Siglo Japan; R2 NTSC

9. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

10. Min Byung Hoon Collection Boxset BUY from YesAsia! (3 films, 3 Discs) Taewon; R3

Comments: This selection is not solely based on picture quality, as I take the whole package into consideration when selecting, but I am also valuing some of the rich, new material that was unknown to me and released this year in acceptable and affordable packages.

Best Blu-ray

1. The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Discs) Paramount; A

2. The Third Man BUY from Amazon! (Carol Reed, 1949) Criterion; A

3. Bottle Rocket BUY from Amazon! (Wes Anderson, 1996) Criterion; A

4. Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector's Edition BUY from Amazon!(Various, 5 Discs) Warner; Region-free

5. Mad Detective   BUY from Amazon! (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2007) Masters of Cinema; Region-free

This very basic Blu-ray selection was based on a mix of film value (considering the unimpressive availability of valuable films released in a quality HD transfer), picture quality and package content. Unfortunately, the whole BD catalogue is still depressively short of good classics and contemporary quality films. I am happy Criterion and MoC took a step in the BD direction...


Jonathan Rosenbaum

Chicago, Illinois

USA

1. Intégrale Jacques Demy BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) Arte Video; R2 PAL

2. The Long Day Closes BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 1992) Bfi; R2 PAL

3. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema BUY from Amazon! (1896-1913) (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1

4. Satantango BUY from Amazon! (Béla Tarr, 1994) Facets Video; R1

5. L’Argent BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Gaumont Columbia Tristar; R2 PAL

6. Mélo BUY from Amazon! (Alain Resnais, 1986) Kino; R1

7. White Dog BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, 1982) Criterion; R1

8. Judex / Nuits Rouges BUY from Amazon! (Georges Franju, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

9. The Horse Thief BUY from Amazon! (Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1985) Chinese Follow Me; R0

10. The Delirious Fictions of William Klein - Eclipse Series 9 BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Criterion; R1


Bill Routt

Melbourne, Victoria

Australia

1. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

2. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 1: Landscape BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1933-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

3. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 2: Children BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1937-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

4. The Big Trail BUY from Amazon! (Raoul Walsh, 1930) 20th Century Fox; R1

5. Gaumont Le cinema premier 1897-1913, Vo1. 1 BUY from Amazon! (Guy, Feuillade, et al., 7 discs) Gaumont; R0 PAL

6. La Roue BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance, 1923) Flicker Alley; R1

7. Nerven (Robert Reinert , 1919) Editions Filmmuseum; R0 PAL

8. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

9. J'Accuse BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance 1919) Flicker Alley; R1

10. L’Argent BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Gaumont Columbia Tristar; R2 PAL

Comments: Some year! Especially for people like me, who are hopelessly entangled in the past. God bless Flicker Alley, Lobster, Editions Filmmuseum, Carlotta and Digital Meme in addition to Criterion and Masters of Cinema (and even the Collection RKO). I wish there was space to include the Boetticher set, the Varda set, the Demy set, the Lubitsch Musicals, the Shepitko set, Saved from the Flames, the Melies set, Kid Commotion, Jirochiki the Rat, Satantango; and well, There's Always Tomorrow


Slant Magazine - Staff

New York, NY

USA

1. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set  BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

2. The Wire: Complete Series BUY from Amazon! (2002-08, 23 Discs) HBO; R1

3. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

4. The Godfather: The Coppola Restorations BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 5 Discs) Paramount; R1

5. Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women - Eclipse Series 13 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

6. Earrings of Madame de… BUY from Amazon! (Max Ophüls, 1953) Criterion; R1

7. Glitterbox: Derek Jarman x 4 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Zeitgeist; R1

8. The Last Emperor BUY from Amazon! (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987) Criterion; R1

9. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

10. Wall-E BUY from Amazon! (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Walt Disney; R1

Best Blu-ray

1. WALL•E  BUY from Amazon! (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Walt Disney; A

2. The Man Who Fell to Earth BUY from Amazon! (Nicolas Roeg, 1976) Criterion; A

3. The Third Man BUY from Amazon! (Carol Reed, 1949) Criterion; A

4. The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Discs) Paramount; A

5. The Dark Knight BUY from Amazon! (Christopher Nolan, 2008) Warner; A

6. Iron Man BUY from Amazon! (Jon Favreau, 2008) Paramount; A

7. Bottle Rocket BUY from Amazon! (Wes Anderson, 1996) Criterion; A

8. The Proposition BUY from Amazon! (John Hillcoat, 2005) First Look; A

9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street BUY from Amazon! (Tim Burton, 2007) Paramount; A

10. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull BUY from Amazon! (Steven Spielberg, 2008) Paramount; A


Vic Spicer

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Canada

1. Antonio Gaudi BUY from Amazon! (Hiroshi Teshigahara. 1984) Criterion; R1

2. Brand Upon the Brain! BUY from Amazon! (Guy Maddin, 2006) Criterion; R1

3. The Long Day Closes BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 1992) Bfi; R2 PAL

4. Land of Promise: British Documentary Movement 1930-1950  BUY from Amazon! (H. Jennings, et al., 4 Discs) Bfi; R2 PAL

5. My Winnipeg BUY from Amazon! (Guy Maddin, 2007) Seville; R1 CA

6. Bill Douglas Trilogy BUY from Amazon! (2 Discs) Bfi; R2 PAL

7. An Autumn Afternoon BUY from Amazon! (Yasujiro Ozu, 1962) Criterion; R1

8. Postwar Kurosawa - Eclipse Series 7 BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Criterion; R1

9. Ashik Kerib BUY from Amazon! (Sergei Paradjanov, 1988) Kino; R1

10. Five Films by Dario Argento BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Anchor Bay; R1


Per-Olof Strandberg

Helsinki, Finland

1. Identification of a Woman BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982) Mr Bongo; R0 PAL

2. La Notte BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

3. Trafic (Jacques Tati, 1971) Criterion; R1

4a. A Man Escaped BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1956) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

4b. The Devil Probably BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1977) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

4c. Lancelot du Lac BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1974) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

5. The Watchmaker Of St. Paul BUY from Amazon! (Bertrand Tavernier, 1974) Optimum; R2 PAL

6. La vie de Jésus BUY from Amazon! (Bruno Dumont, 1997) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

7. Le Deuxième Souffle BUY from Amazon! (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1966) Criterion; R1

8. Lubitsch Musicals - Eclipse Series 8 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

9. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

10. The Fire Within BUY from Amazon! (Louis Malle, 1963) Criterion; R1

Comments: I should have included Taviani's KAOS from Koch Lorber, but the transfer is not the best standard.  Many films are still unopened, and I can't judge the two Pialat movies from Eureka/MoC, or Borzage's The River published by the Edition Filmmuseum.  I believe that they should be in the list.

1. Red Desert BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)  Bfi; B

2. The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Discs) Paramount; A

3. Fanny & Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1983) SF DVD; B

4. Cassandra's Dream (Woody Allen, 2007) Scanbox; Region-free

5. Casablanca – Ultimate Collector’s Edition BUY from Amazon! (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Warner; Region-free

6. No Country for Old Men BUY from Amazon! (Coen Bros, 2007) Miramax; A

7. Sleeping Beauty BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Geronimi, 1959) Walt Disney; A

8. Le Grand bleu /Atlantis BUY from Amazon! (Luc Besson 1988/93) Gaumont; Region-free

9. Body Heat BUY from Amazon! (Lawrence Kasdan, 1982) Warner; Region-free

10. Days of Being Wild BUY from YesAsia! (Wong Kar-wai, 1990) Mega Star; Region-free

The Blu-ray list is from a very limited range. That's why there are two recent films there. The following could also get a mention: How the West Was Won (Warner), The Stendhal Syndrome (Blue Underground), La Haine (Studio Canal), and Baraka (MPI)


Randall Strachan

Lancaster, CA

USA

1. Val Lewton Horror Collection with Martin Scorsese Presents… Documentary BUY from Amazon! (6 Discs) Warner; R1

2. Blast of Silence BUY from Amazon! (Allen Baron, 1961) Criterion; R1

3. Portrait in Black/Madame X BUY from Amazon! (Michael Gordon, David Lowell Rich) Universal; R1

4. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

Comments: It was a fairly dismal year for SD releases and I’ve been concentrating on Blu-ray because of its dazzling visuals, sound and stability but, releases are coming too slowly. Let’s get Barry Lyndon, Vertigo, Days of Heaven, Citizen Kane etc. out there!!

Best Blu-ray

1. The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Discs) Paramount; A

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas BUY from Amazon! (Henry Selick, 1993) Walt Disney; A

3. Casino BUY from Amazon! (Martin Scorsese, 1995) Universal; Region-free

4. Dark City BUY from Amazon! (Alex Proyas, 1998) New Line; A

5. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen BUY from Amazon! (Terry Gilliam, 1989) Sony; Region-free

6. Gattaca BUY from Amazon! (Andrew Niccol, 1997) Sony; Region-free

7. Bonnie and Clyde BUY from Amazon! (Arthur Penn, 1967) Warner; Region-free

8. Michael Clayton BUY from Amazon! (Tony Gilroy, 2007) Warner; Region-free

9. Bram Stoker’s Dracula BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 1992) Sony; Region-free

10. Interview with the Vampire BUY from Amazon! (Neil Jordan, 1994) Warner; Region-free


Daniel Stuyck

Austin, TX

USA

1. Intégrale Jacques Demy BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) Arte Video; R2 PAL

2. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema BUY from Amazon! (1896-1913) (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1

3. Coffret Jacques Rozier BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Arcades; R2 PAL

4. The Furies BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion; R1

5. Demi-tarif (Isild Le Besco, 2003) Tamasa Diffusion; R2 PAL

6. Bruce Baillie Volume I (5 films) Self-Published; R0

7. Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women - Eclipse Series 13 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

8. L'Enfance-nue BUY from Amazon! (Maurice Pialat, 1968) Masters of Cinema Series; R0 PAL

9. Come Drink with Me BUY from Amazon! (King Hu, 1966) Weinstein; R1

10. The Case of the Grinning Cat BUY from Amazon! (Chris Marker, 2004) Icarus; R1


Mikkel Leffers Svendstrup

Odense, Denmark

www.dvdsnak.dk

1. Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11 BUY from Amazon! (2 Discs) Criterion; R1

2. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

3. La Notte BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL

4. The Jørgen Leth Collection #19-21: The Fiction Films (Leth, 1979 - 1992) DFI; R0 PAL

5. The Jørgen Leth Collection #12-18: Travel Films (Leth, 1981 - 2002) DFI; R0 PAL

(Only made a top 5 this year, since I’ve mostly bought Blu-ray!!)

Best Blu-ray

1. A Fistful of Dollars [Italian release] (Sergio Leone, 1964) RHV; Region-free

2. The Third Man BUY from Amazon! (Carol Reed, 1949) Criterion; A

3. Red Desert  BUY from Amazon!(Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) Bfi; B

4. Black Narcissus BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) ITV; Region-free

5. The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Discs) Paramount; A

Comments: In 2008 High Definition really broke the barrier, Blu-ray won the HD war, and more and more interesting titles were made available. Nothing beats RHV and Digital Film Labs restoration of Leone’s seminal spaghetti masterpiece A Fistful of Dollars. Both Criterion and MoC entered the HD market in style with great releases, and 2009 will be an exciting year to follow both companies. On the SD front the Danish Film Institute released two more Jørgen Leth boxes containing 9 films in wonderful quality. MoC delivered the best releases ever of Dreyer’s Vampyr and Antonioni’s La Notte. 2008 has once again been a great year for film aficionados, and 2009 looks no less promising.


Gary Tooze

Toronto, Canada

1. Vampyr BUY from Amazon! (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion; R1

2. The Films of Budd Boetticher BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Sony; R1

3. Murnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) 20th Century Fox; R1

4. The Long Day Closes BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 1992) Bfi; R2 PAL

5. Douglas Sirk Collection 2 BUY from Amazon! (8 Discs) Carlotta; R2 PAL

6. L’Argent BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

7. The Devil Probably BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1977) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL

8. Atonement BUY from Amazon! (Joe Wright, 2007) Universal; R1

9. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (Orson Welles, 1958) Universal; R1

10. This Island Earth BUY from Amazon! (Joseph Newman and Jack Arnold, 1955) Universal; R2, 4,5

Best Blu-ray

1. Black Narcissus BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) ITV; Region-free

2. Casablanca – Ultimate Collector’s Edition BUY from Amazon! (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Warner; Region-free

3. Into the Wild  BUY from Amazon! (Sean Penn, 2007) Paramount, Region-free

4. The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Discs) Paramount; A

5. From Russia With Love BUY from Amazon! (Terence Young, 1963) MGM; A

6. An American in Paris BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner; Region-free

7. The Third Man BUY from Amazon! (Carol Reed, 1949) Criterion; A

8. Red Desert  BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) Bfi; B

9. Transformers BUY from Amazon! (Michael Bay, 2007) Paramount; A

10. Planet Terror  BUY from Amazon! (Robert Rodriguez, 2007) Genius; Region-free

Comments: Narrowing this to 10 selections in both categories was next to impossible - I could have easily added 20 more to each section. It borders on irresponsible that I haven't included any MoC Mizoguchi packages, or Eclipse boxsets. I don't think I need much defense for my eventual choices - Atonement's inclusion is essentially because the film impressed me so greatly (as did that HD-DVD) - I really hope it surfaces on Blu-ray soon. This Island Earth is a personal favorite and seeing it in widescreen was one of the many unique pleasures of the year. I was admittedly VERY keen on the Blu-ray format, this year, and get a huge thrill seeing timeless classics reach 1080P. There is no way that the first Blu-ray of an Antonioni film is not making my list. I certainly don't want to give the impression of a total snob and honestly found enjoyment in such films as Transformers and Planet Terror  on Blu-ray. Just shy of selection was Endfield's Zulu which looks just unreal - easily forgetting it is almost 45 years old. I'm hoping for more Noir in 2009 along with a healthy crop of important masterpieces put to high-definition disc. 


Ross Wilbanks

Charlotte, North Carolina

USA

1. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema BUY from Amazon! (1896-1913) (5 Discs) Flicker Alley; R1

2. Intégrale Jacques Demy BUY from Amazon! (12 Discs) Arte Video; R2 PAL

3. Bruce Baillie Volume I (5 films) Self-Published; R0

4. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 1: Landscape BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1933-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC

5. La Signora di Tutti (Max Ophüls, 1934) RHV; R0 PAL

6. Griffith’s Masterworks Vol. 2 BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) Kino; R1

7. 4 by Agnès Varda BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1

8. American Slapstick Vol.2 BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Facets; R1

9. Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies - Eclipse Series 10 BUY from Amazon! (1931-33, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1

10a. L’Argent BUY from Amazon! (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Masters of Cinema; R2 PAL

10b. The Long Day Closes BUY from Amazon! (Terence Davies, 1992) Bfi; R2 PAL

10c. Dariusz Kowalski:  Optical Vacuum (4 films) Index; R0 PAL

10d. Nerven (Robert Reinert , 1919) Editions Filmmuseum; R0 PAL

10e. Douglas Sirk Collection BUY from Amazon! (3 Discs) Koch Media; R2 PAL

10f.  Douglas Sirk Collection BUY from Amazon! (8 Discs) Carlotta; R2 PAL

10g. Caught BUY from Amazon! (Max Ophüls, 1949) Second Sight; R2 PAL

Comments: Avoiding the clustering of last years list, each label of note -with exceptions to the exceptional releases- is represented.  Most labels here have 2 to 3 more releases to check out for 2008. Exciting boxset releases from Manoel De Oliveira and Jose Luis Guerin still to arrive.


Nick Zegarac

Windsor, Ontario

Canada

1. An American in Paris BUY from Amazon!: Two-Disc SE (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner; R1

Warner’s Ultra-Restoration process resurrects one of the true American musical classics to its rightful place among the supreme cinematic achievements of the 20th century. Spectacular image. S’wonderful movie.

2. Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection BUY from Amazon! (1940-1955, 15 Discs) Universal; R1

Universal provides some expert historical commentaries, revised transfers on select titles and virtually all of the A&C movies made at their studio. Vintage comedy at a collectable price.

3. Quo Vadis: Two-Disc SE BUY from Amazon! (Mervyn LeRoy, 1951) Warner; R1

Another fine ultra-restoration effort from WB with Nero and Rome, both burning bright in vintage Technicolor!

4. Gigi: Two-Disc SE BUY from Amazon! (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) Warner; R1

A photo-chemical remastering effort of one of the best musicals ever made. Thank heaven for films like Gigi!

5. The Godfather: The Coppola Restorations BUY from Amazon! (Francis Ford Coppola, 5 Discs) Paramount; R1

Superbly revisited in stunning new transfers that reveal so much more image detail and clarity than ever before available.

6. The Fall of the Roman Empire: 3-Disc Collectors Edition BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1964) Miriam Col.; R1

Long overdue release of a truly epic and sobering movie about Rome’s fateful debauchery that presumably led to its demise.

7. Warner Bros. Home Front Collection BUY from Amazon! (Various, 3 Discs) Warner; R1

Long overdue rescue of Irving Berlin’s patriotic This Is The Army from Public Domain hell, plus stunning transfers on Hollywood Canteen and Thank Your Lucky Stars. Superb audio commentary on This Is The Army, plus a very informative documentary on Warner Bros. at war.

8. High Noon: 2-Disc Ultimate Col. Edition BUY from Amazon! (Fred Zinnemann, 1952) Lionsgate; R1

Long overdue restoration of a classic western.

9. El Cid: Two-Disc SE BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1961) Miriam Col.; R1

One of the most impressive epics ever made in a beautifully restored and re-mastered transfer. Superb extra features on Samuel Bronston and composer Miklos Roza.

10. Bette Davis Collection: Volume 3 BUY from Amazon! (John Huston, et al. 6 Discs) Warner; R1

Probably the best of the Davis box sets, featuring some of her most memorable performances in very clean looking transfers.

Best Blu-ray

1. How the West Was Won  BUY from Amazon! (Hathaway, Marshall, Ford, 1962) Warner; A

Worth a look over its’ SE counterpart, if only for its ‘smile-box’ supplement that faithfully recreates something of the true Cinerama effect.

2. Nixon BUY from Amazon! (Oliver Stone. 1995) Buena Vista; A

Hopkins gives a watershed performance in a transfer that is at last worthy of this great Oliver Stone tragic epic.

3. L.A. Confidential  BUY from Amazon!(Curtis Hanson, 1997) Warner; A

4. Casablanca – Ultimate Collector’s Edition  BUY from Amazon! (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Warner; Region-free

5. Black Narcissus BUY from Amazon! (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) ITV; Region-free

Head and shoulders above the lousy Criterion effort, exhibiting stunning visual clarity and

 

 

Summation: We can find so much to celebrate this year - with 2008 packages focusing on the works of digitally under-represented directors like Borzage, Boetticher, Oliveira, Wiseman, Demy and more - or we can revel in the continuing evolution of high-definition as it spreads its 1080 wings to classic and world cinema. Boxsets and stacked supplements spoke loudly this year in both formats. Criterion continue to raise the bar and set a standard for other production companies to attain.

 

It remains the best time in our history to be a serious film fan and to own, and indulge in, a home theater. With the strife of global economies touching each and every one of us - it seems an appropriate time to 'nest' with a library of digital home-entertainment options and seek temporarily escape from the troubles that are reported to us daily. Personally, I find this medium and required equipment a mere pittance in comparison to what it is able to return in terms of education, emotional exploration and defining the human condition. I've already ordered editions that I was unaware of before preparing this poll for publication. Thanks again to all participants!

Gary W. Tooze

 

 

 

Digital Production 'Impact Recognition'

 

1. Criterion - 33 titles - 477pts

2. Masters of Cinema - 10 titles - 205pts

3. 20th Century Fox - 7 titles - 166pts

4. Sony - 4 titles - 124 pts

5. Flicker Alley - 4 titles - 111pts - BREAKOUT DVD COMPANY OF THE YEAR?

6. Universal - 8 titles - 93pts

7. Shochiku - 3 titles - 80pts

8. Bfi - 8 titles - 84pts

9. Warner - 9 titles - 70pts - THIS IS A MAJOR DROP FROM LAST YEAR

10. Artificial Eye - 6 titles - 59pts

Other notables:

Kino - 5 titles - 36pts

Facets - 4 titles - 22pts - THE BEST THEY HAVE EVER POLLED

Filmmusuem - 3 titles - 13pts

Lionsgate - 4 titles - 23pts

MGM - 2 titles - 13 pts

Paramount - 3 titles - 24pts

SecondRun - 2 titles - 18pts

Taewon - 4 titles - 17pts

Tartan - 3 titles - 16 pts

 

THE WINNERS

 

First Place with 126 pts – is Fox's Region 1, 12-disc package of feature films by the two iconic directors who worked at Fox studios. Despite our reservations about the packaging, it still eclipsed all other entries for the year 2008.

'7th Heaven' and 'Sunrise' captured the coveted golden statue known as 'Oscar' for 'Drama Direction' (Frank Borzage for 7th Heaven) and a special Oscar, 'Unique and Artistic Picture' (F.W. Murnau for Sunrise). - Fox's star actress Janet Gaynor also won a statuette for her performances in both 'Sunrise' and '7th Heaven.' It was the ultimate validation of Fox's vision for movies as an art form in their own right.

A twelve feature-film DVD collection, with a new feature-length documentary - plus two coffee table books of photographs from the films in the collection and essays by Janet Bergstrom.

 

 

        

 

 

 

Second Place with 113pts – is Sony's Region 1, 5-disc, The Films of Budd Boetticher. Few films have been more eagerly-awaited on DVD than the spare, adult westerns Budd made at Columbia in the late 1950s, all starring Randolph Scott, most written by future director Burt Kennedy, and co-starring such outstanding actors as James Coburn (in his film debut), Richard Boone, Maureen O'Sullivan, Pernell Roberts, Lee Van Cleef, and Craig Stevens. Now, at last, you hold them in your hand: The Tall T, Decision at Sundown, Buchanan Rides Alone, Ride Lonesome and Comanche Station.

.

                                 

 

 

Third Place with 60pts – is Flicker Alley's Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema. Georges Méliès built the world's first movie studio in 1896 near Paris; from it cascaded fantastic magic films, dream films, historical reconstructions, imaginary journeys, melodramas, slapstick comedies -- even erotic films. Examples of all are here, with many still retaining power to astonish and charm. This monumental thirteen hour collection on five DVDs gathers for the first time nearly all the surviving films of Georges Méliès from his first, Card Party (1896) to his last, The Voyage of the Bouririchon Family (1913), bracketing more than 170 others.

.

         

 

 

Fourth Place is a virtual tie with 52pts – for Criterion's package of Dreyer's Vampyr and 48pts for Masters of Cinema's "sfumato" Eureka edition.  With Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer's brilliance at achieving mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, profoundly unsettling imagery was for once applied to the horror genre. Yet the result—concerning an occult student assailed by various supernatural haunts and local evildoers in a village outside Paris—is nearly unclassifiable, a host of stunning camera and editing tricks and densely layered sounds creating a mood of dreamlike terror. With its roiling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding echoes, Vampyr is one of cinema's great nightmares.

                  

 

 

Fifth Place is another tie - both with 47pts – Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 1: Landscape - Shimizu's works have been virtually impossible to find outside of the festival circuit, but Shochiku have finally released some of Shimizu's surviving films on DVD with English subtitles.

 

         

 

Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women - Eclipse Series 13 - Over the course of a three-decade, more than eighty film career, master cineaste Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu, Sansho the Bailiff) would return again and again to one abiding theme: the plight of women in Japanese society.

 

               

 

 

Sixth Place with 46pts – is Arte Video's Region 2 PAL collection - Intégrale Jacques Demy . As Jonathan Rosenbaum says in CinemaScope HERE; "...this really is the complete Demy, including not just all 13 of his features and all six of his shorts on a dozen discs (plus a supplemental CD featuring some of Demy’s work sessions with Michel Legrand) but what seems to be all his juvenilia as well, including even the animated shorts he did as a kid in the ‘40s and stuff he did at school in the ‘50s. For another thing, all this work in French has optional English subtitles—and that also includes Agnes Varda’s two feature-length documentaries..."

 

 

Seventh Place with 38pts – is Touch of Evil, the project with which—some 16 years after Citizen Kane—the 42-year-old Orson Welles tried (and failed) to stage a Hollywood comeback, is a movie of transcendent movie-ness and still-astonishing virtuosity. Revived for two weeks in a restored print, it is an even greater reproach to contemporary filmmaking than it was when it was dumped in neighborhood theaters on a double bill with Diana Dors in The Unholy Wife.

                  

 

 

Eighth Place with  35pts – is The Eclipse boxset of Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11 - two works from an icon of sixties and seventies Soviet cinema, who's life was tragically cut short when she was killed in a car crash at age forty, just as she was emerging on the international scene. The body of work she left behind, though small, is masterful, and her genius for visually evoking characters' interior worlds is never more striking than in her two greatest works: Wings, an intimate yet exhilarating portrait of a female fighter pilot turned provincial headmistress, and The Ascent, a gripping, tragic wartime parable of betrayal and martyrdom.

.

                   

 

 

Ninth Place is a tie, both with 34pts are two gems from the Masters of Cinema! - With its use of portable cameras that literally descend into the Bourse and revolve around its lavish contours, L'Argent represents a type of cinematic Impressionism distinctive to the silent art a poetry that would change forever with the coming of sound.

L’Enfance-nue represents the ideal introduction to the films of Maurice Pialat — an artist whose work resides alongside that of Jean Eustache and Philippe Garrel at the summit of the post-New Wave French cinema.

.

                       

 

 

Tenth Place with 32pts – is the BFI's wonderful DVD of Terence Davies' masterpiece The Long Day Closes. Released on DVD for the first time, Terence Davies' follow-up to Distant Voices, Still Lives extends his autobiographical memoirs into the '50s.

Time and memory blend and blur through Davies' fluid camerawork; slow tracking shots, pans and dreamlike dissolves combine to create the world of Bud's imagination and the lost paradise of his childhood.

            

 

   

11th - 20th

 

11. Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies - Eclipse Series 10 BUY from Amazon! (1931-33, 3 Discs) Criterion; R1 - 31pts

12. Lubitsch Musicals - Eclipse Series 8 BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1 - 28pts

13. Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collection Vol. 2: Children BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (1937-1941, 4 Discs) Shochiku Home Video; R2 NTSC - 27pts

14a. The Furies BUY from Amazon! (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion; R1 - 25pts

14b. White Dog BUY from Amazon! (Samuel Fuller, 1982) Criterion; R1 - 25pts

15. La Notte BUY from Amazon! (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL - 24pts

16. The Devil, Probably BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1977) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL - 23pts

17a. J'Accuse BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance 1919) Flicker Alley; R1 - 21pts

17b.La Roue BUY from Amazon! (Abel Gance, 1923) Flicker Alley; R1 - 21pts

18a. Chikamatsu Monogatari / Uwasa No Onna BUY from Amazon! (Kenji Mizoguchi, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL - 19pts

18b. The Wire: Complete Series BUY from Amazon! (2002-08, 23 Discs) HBO; R1 - 19pts

19. A Man Escaped BUY from Amazon! (Robert Bresson, 1956) Artificial Eye; R2 PAL - 17pts

20a. Blast of Silence BUY from Amazon! (Allen Baron, 1961) Criterion; R1 - 16pts

20b. Brand Upon the Brain! BUY from Amazon! (Guy Maddin, 2006) Criterion; R1 - 16pts

20c. Judex / Nuits Rouges BUY from Amazon! (Georges Franju, 2 Discs) Masters of Cinema; R0 PAL - 16pts

20d. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters BUY from Amazon! (Paul Schrader, 1985) Criterion; R1 - 16pts

20e. Satantango BUY from Amazon! (Béla Tarr, 1994) Facets Video; R1 - 16pts

Stat:

195 titles polled

62% NTSC

38% PAL

 

BLU-RAYs OF THE YEAR

   

First Place with 60pts – is Paramount's 4-disc The Godfather – Coppola Restoration Giftset. It all begins with the line: "I believe in America", spoken not by one of the main characters, but by an undertaker – and the rest is cinema history. For some nine hours over three movies, we find ourselves concerned with the rise and fall of a first generation Sicilian-American family and their children, and their children's children. Robert Harris supervised a multi-stage restoration process that eventually made its way into 4K.... and the rest is digital home-theater history.

                  

 

 

Second Place with 51pts – is Walt Disney Pictures, 2008 smash hit, WALL•E. We are presented a literal garbage heap of textures through which our hero, WALL•E (that's Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth) sifts his way, relentlessly performing his assigned tasks on a planet that 700 years ago was evacuated, our having used up its resources while simultaneously polluting them.

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Third Place with 50pts – is ITV DVDs Black Narcissus. The story: five Protestant missionary nuns embark on the task of establishing a school/health center and residence for their future convent in the desolate Himalayan mountains. The dwelling is a deserted sultans palace surrounded by the grandeur of the snowcapped peaks of Kanchenjunga. Obstacles confront them at every turn with a community of superstitious natives and a jaded and rugged British intermediary named Mr. Dean (David Farrar). Adding to these hurdles are their own emotional frailties, culture shock and previously unearthed worldly passions with the inherent creeping jealousies and desires. Debatably, legendary filmmakers Powell, Pressburger and Cardiff's finest work and it's on region-free, 1080P, Blu-ray.

             

 

 

Fourth Place with  40pts – is Criterion's Region A The Third Man. Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime--and thus begins this legendary tale of love, deception, and murder. Thanks to brilliant performances by Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles; Anton Karas's evocative zither score; Graham Greene’s razor-sharp dialogue; and Robert Krasker’s dramatic use of light and shadow, The Third Man, directed by the inimitable Carol Reed, only grows in stature as the years pass.

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Fifth Place with 36pts – is Warner's Casablanca – Ultimate Collector’s Edition. Enigmatic propagandist subtexts defined by a brooding faux anti-hero and his past Parisian flame. It all takes place in his jazz-soaked Moroccan gin-joint giving birth to an iconic film where nearly half the world recognizes the key dialogue.

                  

 

 

Sixth Place with  34pts – is the Warner's How the West Was Won. With courage, sinew and conflict: that’s how the West was won. With three directors, five interlocked stories, some of movie history’s most legendary action scenes and a constellation of acting talent: that’s how How the West Was Won was filmed. Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart and John Wayne are among the big names in this big saga following a family’s move West through generations – marked by the spectacles of a heart-pounding raging river ride, a thunderous buffalo stampede and a bracing runaway train shootout.

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Seventh Place with 34pts – the British Film Institute's, Region B, Blu-ray of Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert. 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  28pts – Criterion's Bottle Rocket. Expanded from a 13 minute short subject film, "Bottle Rocket" is not factually based, but it does reflect many experiences that occurred to director/writer Wes Anderson and actor/writer Owen C. Wilson when they were roommates at The University of Texas. The story, shot in Dallas, Fort Worth and Hillsboro, involves three young, socially gullible friends, who, with loyal bonds and unequivocal acceptance, display an innocent, influential nature towards each other. Unstructured, they are each attempting to ascertain their appropriate place in society and are comically drawn to the romanticism and clandestine world of crime through their irrepressible leader's fantasy vision.

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Ninth Place with 22pts – is Criterion's Region A Chungking Express. The whiplash, double-pronged Chungking Express is one of the defining works of nineties cinema and the film that made Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai an instant icon. Two heartsick Hong Kong cops (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung), both jilted by ex-lovers, cross paths at the Midnight Express take-out restaurant stand, where the ethereal pixie waitress Faye (Faye Wong) works. Anything goes in Wong’s gloriously shot and utterly unexpected charmer, which cemented the sex appeal of its gorgeous stars and forever turned canned pineapple and the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” into tokens of romantic longing.

                  

 

 

Tenth Place with  20pts – is the Masters of Cinema's region free Mad Detective. Nominated for the Golden Lion at Venice, multiple prizewinner at the Asian Film Awards 2008, and winner of Best Screenplay at the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards 2008, Mad Detective has been simultaneously thrilling multiplexes and cerebrally challenging arthouses in the UK and across the world – The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the Blu-ray...

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11th - 20th

 

11. Sleeping Beauty BUY from Amazon! (Clyde Geronimi, 1959) Walt Disney; A - 18pts

12. There Will Be Blood BUY from Amazon! (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) Paramount; A - 17pts

13. Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector's Edition BUY from Amazon! (Various, 5 Discs) Warner; Region-free - 16pts

14. The Nightmare Before Christmas BUY from Amazon! (Henry Selick, 1993) Walt Disney; A - 19

15. Sunshine BUY from Amazon! (Danny Boyle, 2007)  20th Century Fox; A - 15pts

16a. Iron Man BUY from Amazon! (Jon Favreau, 2008) Paramount; A - 14pts

16b. Juno BUY from Amazon! (Jason Reitman, 2007) 20th Century Fox; A - 14pts

17a. Baraka BUY from Amazon! (Ron Fricke, 1992) MPI; A - 13pts

17b. From Russia With Love  BUY from Amazon! (Terence Young, 1963) MGM; A - 13pts

18. The Dark Knight  BUY from Amazon!(Christopher Nolan, 2008) Warner; A - 12pts

19. The Proposition BUY from Amazon! (John Hillcoat, 2005) First Look; A - 11pts

20. An American in Paris BUY from Amazon! BUY from CDJapan! BUY from YesAsia! (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner; Region-free - 10pts

Stat:

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

 

 

 

Double Dipping

 

1. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition BUY from Amazon! (Orson Welles, 1958) Universal; R1 - 12% of the vote

2. 4 by Agnès Varda BUY from Amazon! (4 Discs) Criterion; R1 - 9% of the vote

3a. Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas, 1996) Zeitgeist Films, Region 1 - 7% of the vote

3b. The General: Ultimate 2-Disc Edition BUY from Amazon! (Buster Keaton, 1927) Kino; R1 - 7% of the vote

Blu-ray replacing SD -- Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai, 1994) Criterion; A - 20% of the vote


 

Best Production Design:

 

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters BUY from Amazon! (Paul Schrader, 1985) Criterion; R1

 

 

 

 


Best Audio Commentary

 

              

Best Audio Commentary:

Jonathan Rosenbaum and James Naremore - Touch of Evil Preview version - 14% of the vote

Runner-up: Guillermo del Toro on Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932) The Masters of Cinema Series - 12% of vote

 

Every year we receive an overwhelming number of ballots that proclaim that they don’t listen to audio commentaries. This year we thought it would be interesting to see how many commentaries were actually getting a listen and the results are pretty interesting… 50% of the ballots were from commentary listeners and those ballots claim to listen to about 6 out of every 10-commentary track that they come across. This means if a Criterion DVD moves 25,000 units, about 7,500 of those units are actually having the commentary track utilized.


  

Best Extras

 

Best Extras

Jean-Pierre Gorin's A "Pierrot" Primer on Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion; R1 -- Landslide winner with almost 30% of the vote!


 


Best Cult/Horror release

 

1. Icons of Horror Collection – Hammer Films (various, 1960-64) Sony, Region 1

2. Fox Horror Classics Vol. 2 (Various directors, 1932-1946) Fox, R1

3. Inside BUY from Amazon! (Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo, 2007) Genius; R1

4. The Thief of Bagdad (Powell et al., 1940) Criterion, R1

5. Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2007) Weinstein; R1

 

 


Best TV on DVD

 

1. The Wire: Complete Series BUY from Amazon! (Various, 2002-08) HBO; R1 - 20% of vote

2. The Wire: Season 5 BUY from Amazon! (5 Discs) HBO; R1

3. Mad Men - Season 1 BUY from Amazon! (Various) Lionsgate, R1/Blu-ray

4. Generation Kill BUY from Amazon!(Various, 2008) HBO; R1 

5. Spaced: The Complete Series BUY from Amazon! (Region 1, BBC Warner)

 

 

Discovery

 

Larisa Shepitko - Eclipse Series 11 (2 Discs) Criterion; R1  - Landslide winner

Runner-up: Hiroshi Shimizu Film Collections

 

 

 

BAD BAD BAD (general but valid rants - in no order)

Our voters are, if anything, an opinionated group. The above poll should testify to their adoration of the medium and their ability to recommend some terrific releases that might have otherwise flown under the radar. With each year we conduct this poll, I am increasingly overwhelmed by our listserv members knowledge and unending passion for the home-viewing experience. Passion is the key word here, and each year at the DVDBeaver poll we give our voters the option to direct this passion toward the negative end of the spectrum, and invite them to voice their opinions on whatever releases got their blood boiling. Some voters show restraint and simply list titles, some use the space to list additional titles that they loved but many submit paragraphs of angry tirades. These are a blast to read, and below is a summary of some of best of the worst of 2008. Be warned… these votes are angry and most are written with great exclamation! Thank you to all who voted this year and here’s hoping for some great things in 2009! Without further ado, I present the BAD-BAD-BAD! of 2008...
 

-Adam Lemke

Biggest waste of viewer time!
Forced commercials and piracy warnings that proceed the main menu. Biggest offender? Buena Vista/Disney.

Most overlooked problem in DVD authoring!
The common practice to alter the matting of 1.66:1 and 1.85:1 films to 1.78:1 in order to "perfectly" accommodate the proportions of a high-definition television screen. BAD!

Most controversial Blu-ray practice of the year!
DNR or Digital Noise Reduction processing robbing great films of grain and detail in favor of an artificial digital look. Biggest offender? New Line.

Biggest reason to hate Blu-ray!
Compatibility issues and the slow response time of firmware updates.
Doomsday (Universal; R1) -- contained onscreen special features that do not turn off on many players!
Sunshine (Fox; RA) -- Caused many players to crash before the proper firmware was released 6 months later!

Worst packaging of the year!
MGM’s Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection plagued dozens upon dozens of customers. The over-elaborate packaging warps the discs rendering many of them unplayable. As of this writing MGM has made official recall, however we recommend you look over your set closely to make sure things are in working order…

The bulky packaging of 20th Century Fox’s Murnau, Borzage and Fox seemed to split our voters severely. At least a half dozen people complained that the set was one of the worst packages of the year, resulting in scratched discs, and impractical storage. On the other side of the coin, this same boxset nearly took our Best Production Design and Best Extras categories polling several votes praising the elaborate box design and handful of votes for its coffee-table books.

Releases this year that people hated…
The Blood Splattered Bride (Blue Underground; R1)
Curse of the Devil (BCI/Eclipse; R1) After the beautiful, mostly HD-mastered, restored versions of Naschy’s other films (and a couple other Spanish horror rarities) with English dubs and Spanish tracks with subs and alternate footage, this one seems like almost an obligatory afterthought!
The Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly Collection (Warner; R1) Shameless re-release of Anchors Aweigh, Take Me Out To The Ball Game and On The Town with NO new extras and NO NEW transfers, all repackaged with uninspired art work. Bad!
Zabriskie Point (Complete Media) Cropped to 4:3! BAD!
Funny Games (Warner; R1) For some reason, Warner Home Video's DVD looks a lot like something that might have been released in 1999. It has a pan-and-scan version on one side and a letterboxed version on the other, with no extras. I couldn't help thinking that this is some kind of sick joke, adhering with the movie's themes, but I'm afraid I didn't get it.
JFK: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner; R1) A shameless repackaging of the same DVD transfer and extras, puffed out by some lobby card reproductions of photos and speeches President Kennedy gave and with the added bonus of a truly awful and rambling bio on the Kennedy family in one of the worst looking digital transfers witnessed in recent years!
The Last Emperor (Criterion; R1) Too many complaints of 2.35:1 Vs. 2:1 to even begin to summarize here. Needless to say, this issue irked a great many of our pollers.
Mala Noche (Criterion; R1) Originally released without the color scenes intact, Criterion never recalled the bad batch of DVD’s and retailers are still selling copies that contain this mastering error
Priceless (First Look; R1) Subtitles that follow the characters around on-screen…ARE YOU KIDDING!?
The Nude Vampire (Redemption USA; R0) Absolutely no excuse for this release. Sure it was expected that it would be a PAL-NTSC transfer but to only include the English dub. Their UK release had French with English subtitles and the English dub as a hidden option only accessible by remote was a nice addition but it’s not the way for this film to be seen.
La Ronde (Criterion; R1) The the most horrible, boring, yawn-inducing commentary I have ever listened to.
Salo (Criterion; R1) - Does not include the French dub, which Pasolini himself envisioned as the authoritative one!
Satantango (Facets; R1) - Despite polling well (due to the film), Facets should be ashamed of releasing this film from an un-converted PAL source, but worst of all in a NON-ANAMORPHIC transfer.
Woman Times Seven (Lionsgate; R1) - atrocious transfer!

 

See you next year! (hopefully)

 





 

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