Adam’s Top Ten 4K Blu-rays of 2020!!

Ah, 2020. Has anyone had a banner year this year?  Has there been many an opportunity for growth, change or prosperity? Not quite.  But one thing that someone like me has been loving and supporting is the wealth of 4K Blu-rays coming out this year.  This is one trend I truly hope will continue.  I know for myself it has been amazing revisiting some classics, unexpected releases and the odd new, often reference grade material in the format.  The hardest part of this particular article for me is that I’ve forced myself to only choose ten titles.  There has been a wealth of great new 4K Blu-ray goodness bestowed upon us to keep me writing and discussing forever.  But alas, I’ll save you all from my rambling and keep it (hopefully) to a tidy list of ten! Read about each choice below and click the paid links along the way if you haven’t picked up copies of these excellent 4K discs! Enjoy!

I want to clarify about this list. I am going off of picture quality first and foremost. Audio is extremely important to me, but with catalog titles a lot of the time new audio mixes aren’t always priority, so I’ve had to come to terms with that.  I will disclose audio though, so there isn’t any confusion.

And now, to the list!!

  1. Coming to America

Not only is this one of my favorite comedies of all time, based on sheer sweetness, eternally funny scenes and one of Eddie Murphy’s best performances, but Coming to America now has one of the best 4K transfers of the year.  Gorgeous HDR, and a crystal clear new 4K scan leaves the film with a regal new look.  Warm gorgeous colors preside over the Zamunda scenes, while a bleaker look accompanies the first moments in Queens.  Then things get warm again when we are in the McDowell’s home, or accompanying Lisa and Akeem on their date.  Not to mention, everything looks tack sharp for a movie over 30 years old!

Audio wise, this classic has been given a new (and finally) lossless 5.1 mix.  This isn’t a film screaming for height effects, and the new mix gets the job done perfectly.  The sound design isn’t that old school either, so when music is present, bass is evident and the score sounds excellent! I can’t say much more besides if you’re a fan of the film or of comedies in 4K, this should be in your collection.  An unexpected gem!!

  1. Full Metal Jacket

The past few years, us physical media fiends have been given a gift every October:  Stanley Kubrick in 4K! Last year, The Shining was given a sublime 4K disc, and the year before, we were given 2001, which still sets the standard for how catalog titles should look.  This year, we were gifted with Full Metal Jacket still a biting commentary on the horrors of war and in some cases military life.

The film has never looked better with a beautiful new scan, bringing even the barracks of boot camp into a sparkling fresh look.  HDR usage gives the film a new life as well.  Audio is DTS-HD 5.1 but this appears to be a newly mastered track. Bass in battle is stellar and surround usage is modest but nice.  The original mono track is also included on the disc.  This is a Vietnam war film masterpiece and another masterclass in filmmaking from Stanley Kubrick.

  1. Lawrence of Arabia

David Lean’s sand and sun scorched epic finally made it to 4K Blu-ray this year in the Columbia Classics Ultra HD Collection. The box set is full of excellent transfers, and great new audio tracks, but Lawrence of Arabiaof course steals the show.   From the opening credits we get a perfectly balanced, grain-enhanced, pristine transfer.  There are no artifacts and no damage in any piece of the film.  Frame for frame this film has never looked better.  You literally feel transported to Lawrence’s journey as he battles and bonds with soldiers in the desert.  All the while, you’re also listening to a reference grade new Dolby Atmos mix.  Height channels are complimentary, bass when used is deep and aggressive and dialogue sounds particularly good.

I would even say that it’s worth the purchase of the whole set if you feel so inclined to experience Lawrence of Arabia in the best possible way. But then again, depending on your film tastes, the set is worth a look for the other five films as well!

  1. The Invisible Man

While admittedly not my favorite film of the year (way too much hype, not nearly as good as the hype…) the 4K disc for The Invisible Man was still a stunner.  The picture quality is perfection, and the sound design is killer as well.  This thriller belongs on your shelf if you love deep bass and picture-perfect color grading and sharpness.  While I personally believe the storyline leaves quite a lot to be desired, I do believe the film to be a dark visual feast and a great film to show off the power of Dolby Atmos in the home.  Worth a buy on technical merits alone for me.

  1. Top Gun

As a film that was likely on the list of many a physical media collector of films that needed to be released in 4K, Top Gun fired on all cylinders.  The film has never looked or sounded better.  That famous synth and 808 score hasn’t sounded better. Kenny Loggins hasn’t sounded so lively. Those jet engines come ripping through your homes! And that’s just the Atmos audio side…

What a great looking and natural transfer this is. Film grain helps the sharpness while close ups and landscapes are also eye candy for the viewer. The neon look of the nightclub scene or the gauzy look of the romantic moments all come together with big action pieces and stunning flyovers… did I mention how amazing the long shots of the aircraft carrier look?? This one is a no brainer for fans of the film and for people who like their 4K content big, loud and sorta dumb, this is the classic you’re looking for.

  1. Star Wars: A New Hope

While I can point out that the box set for the Skywalker Saga is a brilliant achievement despite some spotty looking transfers (I’m looking at you, prequel trilogy…) The original 3 in the saga are some of the best I’ve seen all year.  Me being me, and needing to keep the list at 10, I’ve chosen the one that tracked best for me.  A New Hope is a film I’ve been watching since I was 6 and my parents snagged the unaltered trilogy during a Costco trip.  We spent the weekend watching the films and I’ll never forget them as they were.  Flashing forward well over 25 years, and I’ve seen the original trilogy countless times. Altered over the years, the films still feel special and hold a special place in my heart.  In particular, the first film, which is why its on the list. Right from the onset (and of course, the films being Disney properties now, a volume boost), the classic theme blasts with heft and authority as the opening crawl does its thing.  Then, the long ship passes by, coming through your home with a huge deep grumble and the ship itself looking brand new and beautiful before your eyes.

Whomever worked to get these films into this glorious looking state should be commended.  Tattooine looks amazing. The interiors of all the spacecrafts are dense with detail. The characters all look incredible too. There is no shortage of visual feast for you to dine on in this first entry into the Star Wars canon. Oh, and since it’s my list and you’ve already invested your time into reading it, I will say the same for Empire and Jedi as well.  I know most of you reading this own the set or the films you want from the series and are agreeing with me, but if you haven’t gotten these films yet, don’t wait any longer and make the purchase… your ears, eyes, and nostalgia will be thanking you.

  1. The Blues Brothers

One of my all-time favorite films is also in my opinion one of the ugliest looking films. Grainy, dirty, and apparently for a time unloved by its studio, I have seen the film on VHS and DVD forever, looking hideous.  A Blu-ray from 2011 remedied things a bit, but not by much.  When Universal announced the 4K Blu-ray, I was excited but also wasn’t expecting much.  I had just felt hopeful about the idea of something even just a little bit better.  What I was given was a top-tier gift.  This disc really is on a mission from God.

The new 4K scan gives the film new life.  Natural, even dare I say, filmic looking goodness abounds from frame to frame. Joliet prison looks grimy and gross, and the church sparkles with dense detail.  Elwood’s place is a tiny little nothing, but also full of details.  When we venture off on the road, every stop is a place your eyes can be treated to.  Nothing looks waxy or DNR’d and what work the studio did to give the film new life.  Audio is an exceptional DTS:X track that elevates the music, the dialogue and those crazy car chases to another level.  If you love the music, the comedy and the chases of The Blues Brothers as much as I do, then this release was a total gift this year.

  1. Bad Boys for Life

Bad Boys for Life was like the random late Christmas gift we didn’t know we needed this year. Packed with great modern action, still sharp comedy and an actual storyline (which part 2 didn’t really have, concentrating more on action) this was a no-brainer for great 4K Blu-ray of 2020.  The image is absolutely perfect in every way, with gorgeous HDR highlights and amazing colors and details throughout.

The DTS:X track also proves that Atmos isn’t the only way to go.  With great bass, height effects and perfect dialogue reproduction, this film was a treat in the theater and also at home.  I know many of my colleagues will agree with me on this one that Bad Boys for Life is a great new standard for modern 4K Blu-ray releases.

  1. Rad

Don’t laugh.  Or have you even heard of Rad? This is something I’d heard about for years.  My husband grew up skateboarding, riding bikes and surfing and reveled in any film having to do with those subjects.  He has literally been asking for years If this film was available. Just as I was about to order a bootleg DVD of the film (I’m even holding back vomiting as I type this…), Vinegar Syndrome announced that Rad would be their 4K Blu-ray release for their annual Halfway to Black Friday sale.  Needless to say, I ordered this without hesitation as soon as I could.  I wasn’t expecting much from a cult film that had been shown no love and I’d only heard about from my husband. What I got was a huge gift.  From the mostly wholesome family-oriented story to the picturesque small town that Cru Jones and his friends live in, this film was a big treat to my 80’s nostalgia loving self.

When it comes down to it too, this is one of those 4K transfers that you’d rave over and have people look at you like you’re crazy for giving so much love to.  But please believe me when I say this release is shockingly good.  The colors are gorgeous, the depth is spectacular and the close-ups look pretty perfect too.  This is the first official release of the film on a disc format, and what a way to start! I love just how lively everything looks. The BMX racing scenes are a treat and there is just so much to love in this transfer.  The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is actually quite good as well. The 80’s pop soundtrack which features solo work from the lead singer of Little River Band (yes, it’s cheesy and yes, I love it…) sounds fantastic and dialogue is perfect throughout as well.

I don’t know if you can get this edition with the ultra-thick V.S. slipcover anymore but I know it’s readily available from Vinegar Syndrome now, and if you can’t be swayed to get this one in 4K (which you most definitely should…) then Mill Creek will be releasing a Blu-ray steelbook which is hopefully be using this amazing scan as basis for their disc.  Hopefully the Vinegar Syndrome edition makes its way into more homes, and even hopefully in blind-buy situations.  This film was a pleasant surprise during my shelter in place and I’m so glad I’ve got it and can watch it over and over.

RAD is available at Vinegarsyndrome.com






What can I even say about Vertigo that nobody knows already? First, yes, It’s a masterpiece. Second, it’s a torturous film about love lost and madness.  Third, even when it was a new film, visually and audio-wise it was amazing all around.  A true immersive feast for eyes and ears.  The thing that’s been great about the film’s evolution, at least for me, has been watching the film get love over the years. In 1958, the film was thought of as odd, and was critically and commercially received in an underwhelming way.  Then in the 80’s some of those classic Hitchcock films were re-released in theaters and Vertigo was one of them.  Critical response changed, and audiences embraced the film with more fervor than ever before.  Then 40 years later, the film was given an incredible restoration and another theatrical release that saw more fans embracing the film and universal critical acclaim.  That gorgeous transfer made its way onto VHS and DVD with a great making-of featurette going over the restoration.

When the film made its way to Blu-ray, the film was restored yet again and I didn’t think it could look any better but again, I was wrong. The Blu-ray was gorgeous to say the least with that haunting score and the original sound effects sounding better than ever, and the picture quality of the film elevated even further.

When the Alfred Hitchcock Collection, a set of 4 classic films from the master of suspense came out, the biggest bid was on Psycho. While I can agree that Psycho looks and sounds better than ever, the biggest deal of the set for me was always Vertigo and oh man… I can’t recommend or herald this particular disc enough.  The film was already gorgeous, but giving the film added sharpness, depth and even more life-life colors via HDR has only given this film even more longevity.  There isn’t a moment of the film that isn’t stunning with candy coated colors and a style that just sucks you in.  The audio side is given a lively and fantastic DTS:X soundtrack that gives the iconic score some more room to breathe and dialogue and sound effects more effective spacing.  For a film that originated in mono, the amount of good work put in to make it one for home theaters has been monumental.

I can’t say enough good about Vertigo on 4K Blu-ray.  This is easily the highlight of the 4-film set for me and the reason to buy the set, with Rear Window being the close second visually.  So worth the purchase!!

So that’s my 2020 in a nutshell. But I can’t end the list without giving some shout-outs for honorable mention.  I have watched a lot of movies at home this year and I have to show more films some love – So this one goes out to those valiant titles I couldn’t give a 1-10 listing. In no particular order:

  • Onward
  • Mulan (2020)
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • District 9
  • The Beastmaster
  • Antebellum
  • The High Note (It’s a Blu-ray, but damn it, it’s stunning!!)
  • Chernobyl
  • Back To The Future Trilogy
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Parasite
  • The Tax Collector
  • Jaws
  • Beetlejuice
  • Home Alone
  • A League of their Own
  • Jerry Maguire
  • Whiplash
  • Flash Gordon
  • The Mask of Zorro
  • The Gentlemen
  • 1917
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017)
  • Seven Worlds, One Planet
  • Charlie’s Angels (2000)
  • Queen and Slim
  • Knives Out
  • Ford v. Ferrari
  • JoJo Rabbit
  • Boyz N’ The Hood
  • Terminator: Dark Fate
  • Gemini Man
  • The Jungle Book (2014)
  • Joker

And there you have it – A comprehensive list with honorable mentions. Just under 3000 words! Thank you for taking the time to journey through my year of 4K viewing and I hope you found some gems in my list as well! Stay tuned for a top 10 list of 2020 films (I sure hope I’ve seen enough to make 10!) I hope all of you Whysoblu readers are keeping healthy, safe and entertained and hope you all have a wonderful holiday and new year as well! Much love to you all!



3 Responses to “Adam’s Top Ten 4K Blu-rays of 2020!!”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    Wow, I think I only own 2 of the 4K’s on your primary list and a ton on your honorable mentions list. I’ll have to go and peep out some of the primary ones then!

  2. Brandon Peters

    Way to have the gull to TRULY individualize these! I still haven’t popped in my BB4LIFE 4K lol. And I’m getting to Rad soon. Nice to see some through lines showing up on these lists! Nothing is better than Vertigo – glad we can agree!

  3. Brian White

    Great thorough list Adam! I am ashamed of how behind I am on all my 4K titles. Did you get a chance to watch the LOTR 4Ks? I can’t remember if you picked them up for B or not.

    You made me remember Blues Brothers 4K disc. Holy hell is that a monstrous DTS:X surround track!

    Can’t dispute Invisible Man on 4K disc either.

    Surprised to see no Back to Future cracking the Top 10 🙂

    I am wrestling this in my head, but I am tempted to say Rogue One was the biggest 4K disc surprise of the year to me. Agree with you on the Star Wars OT…never looked finer! Just hate that stupid box set they all come in and the difficult way it is to get the discs out with no finger print. Grrr.