Time marches on. DVD software has steadily improved in its half-decade history, so you'll see lots of recent releases on this year's best-of list. The never-ending tide of discs keeps our perspective (while subjective) in a constant state of flux. Time, DVD's evolution, and the chance to plumb the most elaborate discs' untold depths have yielded some modified rankings from last year's list. As for our criteria, the film itself must be good, or at least good enough—or even so bad that it's back to good. Given DVD's storage potential, few movie-only discs made the cut. Picture and sound quality are essential, as are quantity, value, and originality of extras. Our comments cut right to the chase; so, if you want further insight, why not rent or buy the discs we list below to find out for yourself what makes a great DVD?
Five years ago to the month, six SGHT writers gathered in the Guide's then home base of Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the magazine's first evaluation of the hottest new development in video: the DVD. Until then, the favored videophile format was the laserdisc. The LD had not only served us well for many years but, arguably, had made home theater a reality. I don't think any of us truly believed that DVD would seriously outperform that trusted 12-inch silver platter.
Each summer we hop in the car, line up in droves at the local multiplex, slap down our cash, settle into our seats, and hope for one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This year promises to be more interesting than most, but isn't that always the case? In the real world, what we finally see on the screen often turns out to be less than we'd hoped for.