The Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2010 — Part One!
First, the DVDs that might have made this list had I had the time to watch them. My to-watch DVD shelf has been getting a bit backed-up lately. As a result, there are several DVDs and DVD sets that I am really excited about, but that I haven’t had a chance to watch. These include: The Red Riding Trilogy, the new edition of The Bridge on the River Kwai, the Criterion Collection edition of Guillermo del Toro’s film Cronos, the Criterion Collection edition of The Thin Red Line, and Parks and Recreation Season 2 (which I watched when it aired but I’m eager to revisit!). OK, now on to my list:
10. Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Blu-Ray) — This was my favorite film of 2010, and the Blu-Ray release rocked pretty hard as well. First of all, it’s an absolutely GORGEOUS presentation of the film. Second, the DVD is totally awash in incredible special features. I’m a nut for DVD special features, but this disc tested even my endurance (in the best possible way). There’s a phenomenal, in-depth making-of documentary, but there are also a ton of deleted and extended scenes, bloopers, featurettes spotlighting the film’s music, visual effects, casting, fight-training, pre-production, and so-much more. It’s a magnificent presentation of a magnificent film. (Click here for my original review of the film.)
9. Clerks (Blu-Ray) — This is a great film and it looks great on Blu-Ray, but the reason it’s on this list is because this disc includes the 2004 documentary film Oh, What a Lovely Tea Party. I’ve been reading about this documentary for years, but it’s never been released on any home-video format, until now. It’s a funny and fascinating fly-on-the-wall look at the making of Kevin Smith’s film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Now, you might be asking yourself, what is a documentary about Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back doing on the Blu-Ray of Clerks? Well, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, which is why this disc is in the bottom half of my top ten list, rather than the top half.
8. The Pacific (Blu-Ray) — This was a gift from my brother and his wife, and what a gift! I consider Band of Brothers to be one of the finest television series ever created, so obviously I was eagerly anticipating Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s take on the war in the Pacific. In many ways, this is a much more intimate story than that of Band of Brothers. Although the ensemble is large, the series’ spotlight is really focused on just a few characters. Although not as emotionally devastating as Band of Brothers, I still found The Pacific to be a terrifically gripping piece of work. Extraordinary writing, acting, directing, and visual effects combine to produce a powerful document of a terrible conflict. The series looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous on blu-ray, and the special features are interesting (if not quite as plentiful as I’d hoped).
7. The Alien Anthology (Blu-Ray) — This is without question the most comprehensive examination of a series of films ever released on disc, and it’s pretty much impossible for me to imagine this ever being topped. DVD Producer Charles de Lauzirika is a mad genius. This set not only contains all four Alien films (in stunningly great picture quality), it also includes alternate versions of all four films: Ridley Scott’s tweaked version of Alien that was released in theatres back in 2000; James Cameron’s incredible director’s cut of Aliens that is absolutely the must-watch version of an already great film; a painstakingly re-edited “work print” of Alien 3, designed to try to give viewers a sense of the film that David Fincher was creating before he lost control of the film to the studio; and a slightly-longer version of Alien: Resurrection (which is just as terrible as the original version — eminently skippable). The set also includes HOURS and HOURS of documentary footage for each of the four films. Not only is every conceivable aspect of the production of each film spotlighted, but it’s all edited together extremely well in a series of wonderful documentaries. (I’ve seen DVD sets that contain a lot of bonus material, but it’s all presented in a raw form, meaning that most of it is pretty boring. Not so here.) But what really makes me jump for joy is the inclusion of Mr. Lauzirika’s original, unedited documentary on the tumultuous making of Alien 3. This documentary was significantly edited at the last minute for the collection’s DVD release (titled the Alien: Quadrilogy) back in 2003 by studio execs nervous that the studio looked bad in footage that showed their conflicts with director David Fincher (who went on to become the acclaimed director of Seven, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Social Network). It’s a pleasure to see the complete documentary finally see the light of day.
6. Louis C.K. Hilarious — This was the first stand-up comedy film to ever be accepted into the Sundance film festival. I missed it during it’s brief theatrical run, but I snapped up the DVD when it was released. The film is phenomenal. Louis C.K. is a brilliant, unique voice, and his material is incredibly sharp. Although his routine focuses on his attempts to rebuild his life after his recent divorce, he also tackles a variety of other topics, including how ridiculous it is that we’re not all more thankful for the incredible technological miracles that we take for granted in our every-day life. That sounds horribly treacly, but trust me, Louis C.K. is profane, biting, and absolutely drop-dead hilarious.