Adam’s Top 10 4K Blu-rays of 2019

OK, so here’s the thing… I’m kind of, sort of, terrible at this sort of thing. Who can confine themselves to ten of anything? Ten artists. Ten singers. Ten favorite foods… Ten of anything seems like a lot but if you’re an over-thinker like myself, chances are ten is never enough. There’s always that one more something that becomes the “might have been” on the list! With this, my first top-ten list for this absolutely amazing website, I have been going over my choices day by day and have decided to try my very best to contain myself and even as you read this list published now, I’m thinking of whether or not I need to go back and revise… I kid you not, ten is just not enough! I am so excited that 2019 was yet another step in the right direction for film fans who love physical media and this year’s huge amount of 4K Blu-rays have been wonderfully varied and so many amazingly done releases have come out for us to cherish, critique and revisit. I’ve done my best to compile my favorites and hope I have some of you saying “Absolutely!” And others saying “I’ll have to check that one out!” Enjoy!


NOTE: This list is not in any particular order, and (Paid) links are available by clicking cover images for each film on the list.

Alita: Battle Angel

No list for top 4K Blu-rays would be complete without include Alita in the mix. This movie seems to have created to be savored in the best possible way in the home. It’s a shame that this particular film wasn’t warmly received theatrically as there are so many aspects to the film itself that are wonderful. The technical merits of the film are astounding. The effects at times feel seamless and the sound design is innovative.

The transfer itself is gorgeous in HDR10+ or Dolby Vision and I dare you to find a sound mix that is this dynamic and sonically pleasing. This film is definite eye/ear candy and one that I think fans of action and sci-fi should certainly take a look at. I was blown away personally and can only hope with the ending (which, no spoilers, is open ended…) that we get a continuation some time. Those of us that have seen the film can hopefully feel me on that one. For me, this one is a major technical achievement and for the way it was released (with a 4K Disc, 3D Blu-ray and standard Blu-ray) a new standard for how people bring a movie home. If only we had this many options in a fairly priced package all the time. Collectors would have a field day!

Mortal Engines

I know you want to skip to the next disc on the list. I know it. But don’t! Trust me on this one. Another huge theatrical failure (and I’m being nice in my wording there) Mortal Engines could’ve gone by the wayside if not for a spectacularly presented 4K Blu-ray. Filmed at 8K, with a 4K Digital intermediate, this is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous UHD presentation. Every fabric, every hair, every pore, every texture is there in an amazing abundance of detail. The sound design, thanks to Dolby Atmos, brings those mobile cities to life in your living room and puts you front and center in the battle and chase sequences.

I was expecting to be taken with the visual concept of the film right off the bat and I truly was, but I also ended up actually liking the film. The plot is admittedly thin, and the source material is a young adult novel series, so don’t expect a ton of depth either. The performances work though, and a sub-plot featuring a father figure for our main character is surprisingly affecting as well. I don’t want to send you into this one blind though. If you like dystopian fantasies, this may be your ideal film in the 4K Blu-ray format. If you have expectations for a masterpiece, check that idea at the door. This is a film best viewed with your expectations to the side, going into it looking for amazing textured visuals and some very cool, nearly flawless effects work. Overall, this is an outstandingly release technically, and for me anyway, a surprise treat in the entertainment value department.

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick left behind such an amazing body of work. His films could really reach you at almost cerebral levels. Images could mess with your head, mesmerize your and challenge you to think. If he were still with us today, I think he would be a champion for the 4K format. Last year, 2001 was a benchmark with how catalog releases should look and The Shining came out October 1st adding to the next level of reference grade catalog titles.

The film was already gorgeously filmed and encompasses the stranded and stark nature of The Overlook Hotel. The 4K disc itself brought new dimension from every frame of film. Well worn scenes for fans of the film looked new and every new dimension you could imagine came from the HDR color gamut. That bloody elevator scene never looked more red and Shelley Duvall never looked more tired, stressed and terrified. Add to that a nicely repurposed DTS-HD 5.1 mix and you have 4K Blu-ray gold. I was personally blown away by the presentation and loved that the image filled the screen with dazzling detail and deep Blacks. This one is a no-brainer for fans of the film and for those looking to experience it for the first time, this is absolutely the essential way to see it.


One of my all-time favorite films made its debut on 4K Blu-ray with a bang! The 70’s Vegas color palette is gorgeous throughout the transfer. The lights have never been brighter and the decadence of 70’s décor and fashion are on fully detailed display throughout. Reds and blues are superstar colors here. I was also particularly taken with the DTS:X immersive mix. To call it an innovative mix is fitting. The sounds of the casino floor completely envelope you. The starkness of the desert and the flash of Sam Rothstein’s show in the film are both incredible moments for the differences in sound widely used in the film.

For me personally, having watched this movie since VHS, this is a movie no one would expect to rock in the format, but it does. This is an incredible disc and one that fans of the film should instantly own. This is a classic and an amazing example of what wonder and merit 4K Blu-rays can be capable of. This release is truly marvelous.


Another amazing catalog title for this year, Batman came as yet another huge surprise to me. Batman has a very dark color palette that utilizes shadows in all the best ways. The 4K format is pushed to the limits in the best of ways with this release. To think of all the things home viewers have missed in the many formats we’ve seen this classic superhero film. Details are never lost in the darkness and the color spectrum is fully realized from the purple of Joker’s suit to the grey white of the Bat Signal. This is a stunning 4K upgrade and one of the most naturally filmic transfers I’ve seen recently.

The repurposed Dolby Atmos frack also adds to my appreciation of the disc as it places deep bass into the fold for what feels like the first time in any home video format. Prince’s soundtrack sounds better than ever and the height channels are used to great effect in grand yet subtle ways. The new sound effects put themselves seamlessly into the mix and the overall experience is one that brings new life to a classic that shines in the format.

Toy Story 4

Toy Story is a great series of films. They transcend the idea that animated movies are solely for children and that they’re not meant to strike an emotional chord. As with most Pixar films, the animation is always first rate and you can definitely tell that the artists that work to make these films do put a lot of love into the finished product. This (supposedly) final chapter in the Toy Story is no exception to any of those rules. It is also the first digitally animated film to be released on 4K Blu-ray to have a 4K DI. This makes for one of the sharpest 4K presentations I’ve seen to date. The almost lifelike appearance of the titular toys and their indoor and outdoor environments are awe inspiring. Textures are in abundance and the little details in and out of the antique shop and the small town Bonnie’s family visits are on full display. No softness in this presentation at all. The color reproduction with HDR is also beautiful bringing a very rich color palette into the mix!

The Dolby Atmos track needs a bump up in volume, but it too is also very sonically sound. Bass hits hard in LFE moments and height channels get some work too in many outdoor scenes as toys move around in settings much larger than they are.  Bonus features that accompany the film are also the ones that collectors love and the standard by which most Pixar releases follow. If you’re a fan of the series or want to check out a truly stunning animated feature, this is a great pick!

Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut

When I first heard that Apocalypse Now was being shown theatrically with a new 4K scan, I was so excited to see the new print and hoped they’d release it on 4K Blu-ray. When they announced a date with the new cover art, I frantically waited for the pre-orders to open up. When I finally received my copy in the mail months later, I tore into it fully excited to see and hear this favorite of mine in a whole new way. What I saw truly took me into a nightmarish 60’s Vietnam. Francis Ford Coppola quite literally went insane making this movie. His manic efforts to make a good film for moviegoers and himself shows a filmmakers sacrifice. He lost money, trust and his mind all for the love of film. As it stands, he also gave us a stunning new entry into catalog transfers.

This one belongs in the top billing for everything from the 4K discs themselves, but also the packaging and the supplements. This is a first rate set overall. The picture quality, with its lovingly rescanned 4K DI and it’s newly designed Dolby Atmos soundtrack really do immerse you in the world of warfare and psychedelia. The story hasn’t changed much in the new cut, but the nostalgia of viewings past go out the window upon the viewing of the first frame. This isn’t a movie meant for crisp 4K rendering, and yet it is sharp, crisp, and very very detailed. The colors are gorgeously reproduced for the Dolby Vision HDR presentation and reds, purples, oranges and olive greens are on parade in a feast for the eye. The Dolby Atmos track is also gorgeous with everything from the synth score (by Coppola and his father Carmine) to the explosions and helicopter ballades are everywhere in your living room. This is a big bold mix. If you don’t have this already, do yourself a favor and grab a copy now. This is a technical Marvel in my book.


Taron Egerton literally became Elton John for this film. He learned to articulate, walk, and sing like the legend. The movie itself is a whirlwind of spectacle, dreamlike musical sequences and a very heartfelt musical telling of John’s life story. I was dazzled from the moment Elton shows up on screen. The transfer of the film is an HDR showcase and a real showcase of the beautiful brights of the 4K format. Musicals are actually a true treat in 4K with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. Just ask my colleague, Brian White, all about his favorite film The Greatest Showman.

I can say that the sound mix for this film is one that I continue to return to with lots of excitement. The music sounds great of course, but the mix is amazing because of the enveloping nature of it. There aren’t any moments at all that feel like you’re not right where the moment on screen is. Immersive is an understatement. Gorgeous images and first-rate sound make this one a go-to for me when people tell me they “don’t see what the big deal is” about 4K! Marvelous and an excellent musical that is different from the pack in almost every way.

Scarface: Gold Edition

Scarface is one of those films that is stuck in the cultural lexicon. That being said, it hasn’t had the prettiest life on home video. The two-tape VHS editions were shoddy. The first DVD release was hideous and the ones that followed weren’t any better. The Blu-ray was soft and had relentlessly thick grain. (Side note: you can read a hysterically critical review of the film on Blu-ray on this very site!)

The 4K Blu-ray Gold edition of Scarface breathes even more new life into the classic tale of taking the world as your very own. The new 4K scan cleans up the image considerably and leaves a nice layer of loving film grain in every shot. The sweat, gaudy 80’s fashion and beauty of Miami are all lovingly reproduced in an HDR feast for the eyes. The DTS:X soundtrack is also a treat for fans. Giorgio Moroder’s score and soundtrack pulse with the cocaine fueled synth and the gunfire of the final fire fight are all brought into the modern age with new dimension. That chainsaw scene has never looked as good or sounded as menacing. And Tony? We will love him on this disc in the morning, with or without the ‘Ludes. This is yet another catalog classic on the list!

Spider-Man: Far From Home

I was a little hesitant to add this one to the list. For me, the sound mix of this particular release leaves a lot to be desired. The Dolby Atmos format is meant to fully immerse the viewer into the environments within the movie. This one is more like a lossy audio track from an old DVD.  With that in mind, I think it would also be unfortunate to lose collectors knowing what a phenomenal transfer the film has on the 4K Blu-ray.

This is by far the best looking 4K superhero flick on disc this year to me.  Textures on the Spidey-suits are all varied and different. Skin-tones and hair color are spot on and the outdoor scenes in daytime and nighttime look gorgeous and bright or deep and dark. The basic color palette is brought to a popping bright light via HDR and there is never a dull moment to be had visually. If you can look past the mediocre audio track (a first for Sony…) than you have a real winner on your hands with Spider-Man: Far From Home


So there you have it folks… I made it! I only listed ten. I am still thinking of adding more, but who can keep going “… and then…?” all the time.  It’s a good way to practice self-control making a list like this. I hope those of you out there reading this have collectively said “yes!” a time or two to my choices and some of you may be getting ready to click on some of those (paid) links on those covers too. I wish you all the very best in the new year, and happy viewing EVERYONE!

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5 Responses to “Adam’s Top 10 4K Blu-rays of 2019”

  1. Brandon Peters

    Nice first list, Adam! See, it wasn’t that hard (Yes it was! Haha!)

    We have 4 crossover titles, very cool. I totally spaced Alita. You’re absolutely right on that. But I’m not gonna go back and alter, too late!

    You’ve reminded me i still haven’t picked up Scarface yet and haven’t popped in Spidey Far From Home. Enjoyed this read and here’s to more good 4K stuff in 2020!

  2. Brian White

    I echo Brandon’s sentiments. Great first list!
    I never seen Mortal Engines. @Aaron…would I like it?
    I was so disappointed in Spidey Far From Home in the audio department. What a let down for Sony!
    And you completely reminded me of Alita! I forgot how stunning that was both in 4K and 3D!
    I think next year you’re destined to have the Cats 4K release on your list 🙂

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Fun list here! Speaks to what you like, which I can always appreciate. Good variety too!

    @brian – It’s like making Star Wars without it being set in Star Wars. It’s fine, and I appreciated the scale.

  4. Brian White

    @Aaron ack
    @Adam you coming over on Saturday. I’ll put on Wizard of Oz 4K! And Rambo Last Blood too!!!

  5. Gerard Iribe

    I’m not 4K yet but the BD’s of Alita and Apocalypse now are great! Alita should have gone on my list but I forgot.