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Gerard’s Top Blu-rays of 2015!

Top Blu-rays of 2015Wow, so it’s already that time of year again when some of the Why So Blu? writing crew get together and compile their Top Blu-ray lists of the year. Generally, it’s a “Top-10” list but as you can see I have omitted the “10” part, because there were tons of new releases, that while not necessarily being good films, their Blu-ray counterpart was exceptional. That, and I may go over ten, so being non-specific helps. If you want to know what my Top films of 2015 are in general then you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for that list to drop. This is strictly a top Blu-ray list – whether the film sucked or not – how was the Blu-ray? Keep reading and find out!

 

In addition to not having an actual Top-10 list – just a top list in general – there is no order to my selections except for #1. I felt that this would make it easier on myself when compiling.

Once again, in no particular order I give you my Top Blu-rays of 2015!

 

Day of Anger

Day of Anger

Lee Van Cleef was the ultimate badass having cemented his career in many western and nonwestern films alike. Day of Anger is a film that I had small memory fragments of – I may have watched it on network television as a kid, because I always remembered the scene of the horseback rifle duel. Getting to watch this definitive edition on Blu-ray was a real treat, because both cuts exist in this edition – there’s the Italian and American cuts and are presented in reference quality 1080p. The video and supplements are outstanding, but the restored print is phenomenal! For those that are into westerns Day of Anger is required viewing and this 3-disc American friendly edition on Blu-ray should be a required purchase.

 

The Babadook

The Babadook 

Horror films were big on Blu-ray in 2015 and The Babadook was actually a damn good film in its own right but the creativity behind the Blu-ray is what puts it on the list. “If it’s in a word, or if it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of The Babadook!” With that character tag phrase we were treated to a diabolical tale of evil. The character in a children’s book terrorizes a young child and his mother starts to go insane trying to get rid of it. The film was made on an extremely low budget but out of its cult status and success the marketing department set aside funds to replicate the book featured in the film and turn it into a really freakin’ cool slipcase cover. I’m no slipcase aficionado by any means but stuff like this just adds to the enjoyment of the film. Oh, and the Blu-ray had great video, audio, and special features to boot!
Babadook

Wolfen

Wolfen

The “thinking man’s” werewolf film finally made its debut in high definition via the chaps over at Warner Bros. Archive. Wolfen Albert Finney and Gregory Hines in an esoteric tale of mass New York killings of the elite and social class by what some describe as shapes and ghosts. The wolves move so fast and are essentially in plain sight but human eyes cannot register them. The tale of Wolfen is a fascinating one but they sure don’t make them like this anymore. The film was not a commercial success but it did revolutionize optical effects and the scope of the film is grand to say the least. The Blu-ray is barebones, with the exception of a trailer, but the fact that we finally have a version of the film that looks and sounds the best its ever looked or sounded outside of a theatrical release is why it’s here, so we’ll take what we can get. Kudos to the Warners Archive for coming through on this release!

 

Interstellar

Interstellar 

Christopher Nolan’s latest and most ambitious film to date crash-landed on Blu-ray and it did not disappoint. The film featured scenes that went from 2.40:1 to 1.78:1 just like The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. The film was shot with IMAX and 35mm cameras and the transition to Blu-ray was a seamless one. The Blu-ray was a reference Blu-ray of the highest caliber – had some decent supplements and they even threw in a really cool 70mm IMAX cell with the package. Hey, and the film is pretty cool in its own right. The Earth is dying and some of the smartest people on Earth have to go and find a new world to send the human race to in order to not go extinct. Matthew McConaughey also gives one of the best performances of his career.

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Did I say this was the year of horror or did I say this was the year of horror? Continuing the journey into great packaging and even better supplemental features – we have A Girl Walks Home At Night. It’s an existential neo-noir-vampire-western hybrid that takes place in a quiet and lonely town. The film was shot in black and white and has one of my favorite soundtracks of the year.  To say that you will not be hypnotized by its evocativeness is an understatement. The Blu-ray package is also a gigantic brick of sorts. It comes in a heavy-duty box and contains a prequel comic that explores certain characters featured in the film. The video and audio is great and special features are also quite informative and entertaining. This is film school in a box. Writer-director Ana Lily Amipour has cemented herself as a director to look out for and her new film should be out in 2016 starring Keanu Reeves and other familiars. Her future is assured and we’re all the better for it.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

 

Escape From New York

John Carpenter’s Escape From New York: Collectors Edition

You guys know me too well and to say that a Top Blu-ray list that does not feature a John Carpenter is no list that I want to be a part of. The lads over at Shout Factory have given us the best version of John carpenter’s Escape of New York that we have ever had. It’s fully loaded with material new and old. Snake Plissken is out to save the President of the United States and has to infiltrate the remnants of the once great state of New York. It’s not an easy task but Snake doesn’t have a choice, because there’s that whole dying thing if he doesn’t. The audio commentary featuring John Carpenter and Kurt Russell is the highlight of the show, as usual, but there is so much stuff jam packed into this Blu-ray set that I honestly doubt you could get through in one sitting. I love it.

 

VampiresJohn Carpenter’s Vampires

It’s a double whammy of sorts, because Twilight Time has come through with this beautiful presentation of John Carpenter’s Vampires. I used to own the French Blu-ray but was alerted to the fact that it had the wrong color timing. Even the DVD had the correct one but none of the European territories. Sony did the right thing by licensing the correct color timed print of the film, to TT and the rest is history. James Woods stars as the completely unhinged vampire slayer Jack Crow; dutifully employed by the Vatican to rid the world of vampires. The special features are bail enough but I enjoy the solo audio commentary by John Carpenter himself as he talks about the film and what went into making it. Finally on Blu-ray – John Carpenter’s Vampires is one Blu-ray you can definitely sink your teeth into!

 

City of Lost ChildrenThe City of Lost Children 

One of my favorite French films of all time The City of Lost Children made a big splash on me back in the mid-1990’s when I first saw the preview on a VHS copy of Heavy Metal: The Movie. The laserdisc, DVD, and UK DVD would end up in my library at some point through the years. I was happy to see that the 20th Anniversary would be sold exclusively through Amazon this year. It had a one-month delay due to director Jean-Pierre Jeunet overseeing the HD remaster but was resolved soon thereafter. The film stars Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and is about an evil genius who steals the dreams of children and the folks that team up to stop him. It literally is a steampunk film before there was such a thing. The film is hypnotic, charming, sweet, etc. The Blu-ray features great video and audio and some cool never-before-seen archive featurettes. It deserves to be on this list.

 

Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Supreme Cinema Series 

There was enough drama (that I will not get into, because I did not subscribe to it initially) with the original 2007 Blu-ray release that folks jumped for joy when Sony announced their newly remastered “Supreme Cinema Series” featuring Dracula, The Fifth Element, and Leon. I scooped up Dracula and it was like going back to the original theatrical viewing all those years ago. The lovely grain structure and overall presentation was epic and they upgraded the codec to Dolby ATMOS 7.1. New retrospective interviews with director Francis Ford Coppola and special effects producer Roman Coppola sweeten the deal. The cherry on top is a collectible booklet/case package on the more expensive set.

Dracula

The HobbitThe Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Edition 

The thrilling saga of The Hobbit came to an end in 2015 and those that waited for the extended edition were treated to a longer cut of the film that tied up and expanded on many loose ends in the theatrical cut. We were also treated to several days (I kid) worth of making-of special features and documentaries, audio commentaries, etc. The video and audio specifications is top notch, as well. It’s no surprise that Battle of the Five Armies would rank on my list considering the last two extended editions took the top spots the last two years in a row. If you absolutely have to complete your Middle-Earth adventures then the extended editions are the way to go.

 

Okay, we’re coming to it at last – my final favorite Blu-ray of the year is…

 

Mad MaxMad Max: Fury Road 

When the Blu-ray arrived it was like love at first sight all over again. Nevermind that I saw it in cinemas FIVE TIMES. I knew, based off of technical specs alone, that the Blu-ray would be all kinds of demo-worthy – and it was! The video and audio looked and sounded terrific. The featurettes included on the Blu-ray are more than adequate and are topped off with some deleted scenes. Seriously though, the overall video and audio presentation are a force to be reckoned with. It should be added to every Blu-ray collector’s collection.

 

Well, there you have it – a nice and exhaustive Top Blu-ray list. Please keep in mind that this list does not substitute my favorite overall films of the year – this is Blu-ray only. I also purposely left off a couple of Blu-ray sets otherwise we’ll be here all day. If you are interested in purchasing any of the above mentioned you have but to click on the thumbnails and you will be whisked away to Amazon.com. See ya next year!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

2 Responses to “Gerard’s Top Blu-rays of 2015!”


  1. Brian White

    I have still yet to see A Girl Walks Alone At Night (or whatever it is called) despite it being on Netflix. We tied for #1 disc despite you not putting up numbers. I am curious how that Fifth Element 4K Blu-ray looks and sounds released this year like they did for Dracula

  2. Brandon Peters

    That Girl Walks Home Alone At Night packaging is really awesome (So is the film). I still haven’t popped in my Vampires disc. And, you’ve got me really wanting to blind buy Day Of Anger (1-its Arrow, 2-a western w/ Lee Van Cleef).