I have gone and done it again with this Blu-ray list. Much like last year, I have decided to tackle every aspect of what I enjoyed about this year in Blu-ray. This best-of list consists of what I consider to be the best 2015 had to offer for the Blu-ray format, with a few rules to go with it. Much like the previous years, I have to have actually watched the movie on Blu-Ray, recognize the quality of the video and audio transfers, delved into the special features, and attempt to keep off any film that may also be on my “Top 10 Films of the Year” list in the final top ten for Blu-rays. I followed these rules for the sake of keeping my list interesting, along with creating some extra sections to provide even more highlights of the year, so here we go:
TV On Blu-ray
Every year always has some great television shows receive great Blu-ray sets to compliment them and that is once again the case this year. Here are my picks for great television shows that received great treatment on Blu-ray this year:
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Series (Review) – This HBO period gangster drama had a great cast and a great sense of place. It may have never gotten up to the level of The Sopranos, but it was good for its time.
Hannibal: Season Three – Good things had to come to an end, unfortunately, but Hannibal was great all the way to the end and it at least gets stellar treatment on Blu-ray.
Justified: The Complete Series – Justified may go down as one of the more underrated shows of recent years, given the lack of great acclaim this consistently great show received during awards season. At least you can now own it all.
The Legend Of Korra – Book Four: Balance – One of the best animated series of recent years came to a very fitting close that was both complex and a visual treat. Great Blu-rays accompany this series, so anyone can enjoy checking it out at home.
Mad Men: The Final Season, Part 2 – It can be argued that Mad Men is one of the greatest shows ever and this final season certainly has evidence as to why. Enjoy the Blu-rays that go with it.
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season (Review) – The Walking Dead is the rare series that has actually gotten a lot better over time, but the Blu-rays have always been a great way to revisit the popular zombie show.
The Wire: The Complete Series (Review) – The Wire faced controversy over its HD widescreen presentation, but regardless of the aesthetic change, we are talking about one of the other greatest shows ever produced and you can now get it all on a terrific Blu-ray set.
The Criterion Collection
Every month The Criterion Collection releases several great releases and I just can’t find a way to incorporate these films into a top ten, without having anything but Criterions in there, so here are my favorite Criterion Blu-ray releases from this year presented separately:
Don’t Look Now – One great thriller.
The Friends Of Eddie Coyle – Robert Mitchum jumps onto a gritty crime drama.
Hiroshima Mon Amour – The French New wave in full effect.
Hoop Dreams – One of the best documentaries ever.
The Killers – A double pack featuring two great examples of noir.
Mulholland Drive – David Lynch’s trippy drama finally has a proper home on Blu-ray.
My Dinner With Andre – One of the more thrilling films about people having a conversation.
Night and the City – A terrific film noir, with wrestling!
Sullivan’s Travels – One of the great screwball comedies.
Two Days, One Night – The most recent entry and a fine example of Marion Cotillard’s talents.
How about 20 terrific films with great Blu-ray releases that didn’t quite make my top ten? I’m glad you asked!
A Most Violent Year – Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain are among the great things to see in this crime drama.
Apollo 13 (20th Anniversary Edition) – Only one new extra, but a 4K remaster makes Ron Howard’s best look amazing!
Bad Boys 1 & II – 20th Anniversary Collection (Mastered in 4K) (Review) – Two of Michael Bay’s most enjoyable films are together, with Bad Boys II finally seen in HD.
The City of Lost Children (20th Anniversary Edition) – Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s wonderful fantasy is now on Blu-ray and it is still a great joy.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – As a fan of these films, I have been impressed every year with the quality of their Blu-ray releases, which feature large making-ofs and solid commentary tracks.
Jurassic World – I was highly entertained by Jurassic World and really responded to the behind-the-scenes material presented, along with how stunning the whole thing looked.
The Man Who Wasn’t There – One of the most underrated efforts from the Coen Brothers has been given a Blu-ray that really shows how great their films can look. A wonderful Black & White presentation.
The Top Ten:
Here it is…
One of the film’s I consider to be among Spielberg’s best has finally made its way to Blu-ray and it has brought some rarely seen features with it. Only so many were able to get the limited edition DVD that had these extras back in 2006, but the Blu-ray has all of them, along with a terrific technical presentation. This story of vengeance, following the terrible tragedy that occurred at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics features tremendous work from Eric Bana in a film that has Spielberg working his hardest to vent out some frustrations on film. There’s great stuff here.
There is no peace at the end of this. (Order HERE)
A terrific psychological horror film received an excellent release on Blu-ray. A great amount of consideration had to go into the sound design for a film like this and that plays very well with how Scream Factory likes to present their releases. A hefty amount of extras serve this film well, but it is better to just admire how strong of a film this is. While it may have the feel of a monster film to some extent, this is a wonderful story about grief, with excellent performances to really solidify the staying power of a film like this.
You can’t get rid of the Babadook. (Order HERE)
Last year found Whiplash among the year’s best, as we got a terrific thriller about jazz musicians. J.K. Simmons won a much-deserved Oscar and the film was a huge success in the realm of little indies that could. I loved the movie and was delighted to see it packed with so many extra goodies, including the original short film that was made in order to get this whole film made. Add to that a terrific commentary track and a stunning presentation that captures the great detail that went into this film’s direction and you have a great Blu-ray release.
There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’. (Order HERE)
7. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Review)
I had to choose among a number of really solid blockbusters for this list (leaving out a key one featuring a guy named Max, of course), but Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation truly stood above many of the huge films from this past summer. It also has a terrific Blu-ray (head to Target to get the most bang for your buck). This is a thrilling action film that looks and sounds impossibly good, with a hefty amount of extras, including a great commentary between friends director Chris McQuarrie and star Tom Cruise.
Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny and he has made you his mission. (Order HERE)
Keeping Tom Cruise in mind, the thing to realize about this pick is that I probably like Vanilla Sky more than you do. Cameron Crowe’s trippy remix of Abre los Ojos provided Tom Cruise the chance to play around with his image within a film that has almost too much going on for its own good. After several delays, the film finally arrived on Blu-ray and was given a whole bunch of new extras to really add to the experience. This film has one of my favorite soundtracks, so I was very happy to have a great lossless soundtrack to experience it with, along with some solid video as well.
Open your eyes (Order HERE)
5. Escape From New York (Collector’s Edition) (Review)
Scream Factory always does great by John Carpenter and this was huge for any fan of the director’s work. There have been many releases of Escape From New York on Blu-ray, but this is really the ultimate release of the film. A new transfer and remastered lossless soundtrack accompany a bevy of extras that really deliver all you ever wanted to know about this cult classic starring Kurt Russell in one of his signature roles. And fortunately for you, myself, fellow Why So Blu? writer Brandon Peters and superfan Jim Dietz have previously recorded an audio commentary to go with it.
Call me Snake. (Order HERE)
It may take a few years, but it is always great to get the eventual Criterion Collection releases of Wes Anderson’s films. Moonrise Kingdom was terrific back in 2012 and it is still terrific now. The great thing is that we now get all the wonderful extras that usually pack these releases of Anderson’s films. New artwork, essays, behind-the-scenes material and a great commentary track all add to the experience of Moonrise Kingdom in all the right ways.
I think you’ve still got lightning in you. (Order HERE)
3. Interstellar (Review)
Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic was a sight to behold in its IMAX presentation in theaters, but viewers received a pretty fantastic Blu-ray experience as well. Thankfully, the video transfer featured a blend of the widescreen and full-frame transitions, as found in theaters. A great amount of work was also put into the lossless soundtrack. There is also a great number of extra features that deliver a surprising amount of depth as far as how the making of this film was possible. Add to that a feature that I personally found to deliver in some incredible ways.
Everybody ready to say goodbye to our solar system? (Order HERE)
I have been asking for something like this since Disney started releasing Miyazaki’s films on Blu-ray and it has finally happened. It would be simple enough to just put the spotlight on Spirited Away, as it is my favorite among Miyazaki’s work, but I now have one amazing package containing some of his most notable releases, along with a bonus disc that dives even deeper into the man’s mind. The lack of extras for any of the films hurts this set a bit, but most of the films only had a few extras to begin with. What matters is being able to have a fantastic box set for a series of great films.
Inspiration unlocks the future. (Order HERE)
1. Army of Darkness (Collector’s Edition) (Review)
The Evil Dead trilogy is known for many things and that includes having a ton of home releases. After many releases of Army of Darkness in particular, Scream Factory has delivered one tremendous 3-disc package that has it all. A feature-length documentary does wonders for allowing viewers to get a great sense of history about the film. Finally getting to see a proper HD version of the director’s cut is a big win and there are lots of other great extras that really round out this package. I love The Evil Dead trilogy and getting proper releases for each film is fantastic. It is enough to make it my favorite Blu-ray release of the year and feel free to enjoy another commentary track we recorded for it.
Good, bad, I’m the guy with the gun. (Order HERE)