100 Best Blu-Ray Discs Best At Large
Because It’s Cool:
Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2
While Quentin Tarantino’s holy grail, Pulp Fiction, has yet to hit Blu-ray, parts 1 and 2 of his bad-ass kung fu epic are alive and well. The picture and sound quality are sensational even if they didn’t quite make the grades for our top ten. Tarantino’s extras are never as extensive as we want them to be, which is surprising since he’s never at a loss for words. But make no mistake—if you love Q&U, these two have to be on your shelf.
From startling restorations of bona fide classics like The Last Emperor, The Third Man, and The Seventh Seal to important contemporary films like Che, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Hunger, Criterion sets a standard on Blu-ray. Criterion’s work is essential to film fans in all areas. The transfers are impeccably true to the filmmakers’ intent, the extras are potent, and the films are worthy of deluxe treatment. Criterion, from cinema lovers everywhere, thanks!
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition
Sony went out of its way to create one of the best special editions the format has to offer. Using seamless branching, you get three separate versions of the film. Couple that with three documentaries on the film, tons of behind-the-scenes footage, and a book packed with facts on the cast, crew, and production. How this didn’t hit our top ten, we’ll never know!
Best Picture Animated:
The Nightmare Before Christmas
This is kind of cheating because stop-motion and animation aren’t the same thing. But it’s not live action photography, either. And Coraline got a nod in the animation category, so what the heck. This is a contemporary classic, and Disney’s high-def transfer is pristine, with deep blacks, crisp detail, and a mile of depth. There were just too gosh darned many computer animated movies to squeeze this one into the top ten.
Batman Begins features an In-Movie Experience that’s worthy of consideration. It includes a PiP commentary that highlights many of the production challenges. Unfortunately, there are too many silent stretches, and the pacing suffers for it. Granted, this was a direct port from the HD DVD (remember those?), and these PiP features have gotten better since the waning days of the format war.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the greatest movies ever made. Although no home video format can truly capture the majesty of its 65mm photography, the Bluray’s high-def restoration comes close. Subtle details like the button labels on the ship’s consoles are resolved like never before. The picture’s clarity even exposes limitations in the rear-projection effects during the Dawn of Man sequence.
Star Trek (2009)
Trek’s Dolby TrueHD sound is extremely aggressive in all channels, with incredibly immersive layers of sound effects. More impressive, there are new sounds here that are convincing and unique. Although a perceived lack of dynamic punch kept this terrific soundtrack out of Best Sound, this movie did get some love. We can’t deny that every scene in the movie is a demo highlight.
Best Picture Live Action:
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
We got the Walmart-only Big Screen Edition that opens up the film’s 2.40:1 imagery to 1.78:1 during the sequences shot on IMAX cameras. The image quality during the standard photography is pure demo-ville. But when the IMAX sequences open up the frame, the image transforms. The razor-sharp clarity and depth is beyond jaw dropping. Few images are comparable to these scenes, and none we’ve seen are better.
Tropic Thunder Unrated Director’s Cut
It hurts that this one didn’t make the top ten. The cast commentary with Stiller, Downey, and Black is freaking hysterical, and the Rain of Madness mockumentary is almost a movie (and a damned funny one) in itself. But the price of this BD could be redeemed on Tom Cruise’s makeup test alone. His hip-hop moves were so damned funny, Stiller wrote the bit into the film. Where has TC been hiding this comedic bling all these years?
The French Connection
We aren’t listing the studio involved because this isn’t its fault. Director William Friedkin went nuts and recolored this landmark modern classic to such an extent that the DP who shot it doesn’t recognize it anymore. Neither do we. There were lots of candidates here. While Blu-ray is great, there are also some glaring misses. Still, this is the worst thing we’ve seen done to a film since Ted Turner took his Crayolas to some beloved black-andwhite movies in the ’80s.