Adam’s Top Ten 4K UHD Blu-ray List!

We’re all ready for the end of another crazy year.  It’s mind-blowing to me as I get older just how quickly time passes.  Things fleet right past me and I just wonder how things went so fast.  Even now, I’m kind of blown away that I purchased and watched nearly 100 4K titles this year.  This is saying a lot and made for a very interesting choosing style for this year’s 4K top ten.  I made a list – funnily enough, I made a long list then broke it down into one comprehensive list. Yes, it took days… but I’m loving the variety and am so excited to share this with you all!

Just to be clear – My choices are based first on the picture quality of the disc, with audio taking a very close second place.  Special features help, but aren’t a deal breaker, as a quality film with a quality transfer means more than the extras in my humble opinion.  If anything should strike your fancy as you journey through my top ten, I have paid associates links for each title available as you go through.  I hope my love for these titles influences you to check them out if you haven’t already.

10. A Perfect Planet


I didn’t expect to begin my list with a nature documentary, but BBC Earth’s 4K Blu-ray releases are exemplary standouts for showing off your display or getting immersed in the world of our planet.  Sporting note-perfect video quality along with a great episode flow, A Perfect Planet was another pleasant surprise for me.  I went into the doc thinking there couldn’t possibly be another one worth seeing.  With Dynasties being good, but not great, I had some skepticism brewing.  I ate my words mid-episode 1, finding myself lost in the visual splendor and admiring a very active Dolby Atmos mix as well.  Whether you know the quality of BBC’s work or not, this one is a must for the documentary collector or the lover of all things 4K UHD Blu-ray.

9. Dirty Dancing

This one was completely unexpected for me.  Dirty Dancing has never been a great-looking film.  The film stock must’ve been bad, or it wasn’t cared for by Vestron Pictures before the film made its way to endless releases on DVD and Blu-ray with Lionsgate (or Live Entertainment depending on the era…). Release after release has been a consistent disappointment in the video and audio department, while legacy and new bonus features piled up.  The film is one of those that you either love or hate, depending on who’s asking. For me, this was a family favorite, watched first from a taped from network TV video, then on a purchased VHS, and then a DVD down the line. When the 4K UHD Blu-ray was announced, I figured this could go either great or terrible. What happened with this release is quite spectacular.  The disc starts out in such a way that you’d have some concerns.  Some print damage and some rough film stock make you worry for the rest of the film. After the initial few moments though, the film becomes a gorgeously presented 4K showcase.  Colors are ramped up, sharpness is clear and fantastically represented, and it is very little in the way of overt softness. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is another thing to gush over.  I had no expectations for there to be any improvement over the minorly engaging 7.1 mix. My low expectation was given a sensory overload.  While a mostly static mix, the songs are full-bodied and rich. The outdoor scenes emphasize the setting of the Catskills and bring you right into the fold with Baby, Johnny, and the gang.  Legacy features stand strong, and the disc arrived in a stunning Steelbook/Slipcover combo.  This one was an unfortunate blink, and you miss it Best Buy exclusive, but hopefully, a standard release will be down the road sometime soon.  This one was a big, amazing surprise!

8. The Thing

Although it was already granted a lovely 4K remaster via a 1080p Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory, Universal took efforts to bring The Thing to true 4K glory… and did they ever deliver! From start to finish, The Thing looks gorgeous on 4K disc.  The color palette may be grim, but the overall look of the film is lovingly brought into the modern age, with gloriously sharp images, and those iconic and still effective practical effects on full display with the added resolution.  Add to that an immersive, creepy DTS:X soundtrack and you’ve got a good little package.  The reason this one is so high up in the top ten? Nothing carried over from that Scream Factory release.  Collectors like me likely have a franken-blu release with the Shout discs and new artwork sharing real estate with the new Universal elements.  This one has been on sale quite a bit so it’s also an affordable edition to this list!

7. Almost Famous

One of the finest movies of the last 25 years, Almost Famous is a stellar film in all ways.  The story, the actors, the soundtrack… there are no stones unturned with this film. When Cameron Crowe released the film on Blu-ray via Paramount some years ago, the director’s cut Untitled only added to the amazing film with enriched additions, only making the film an even more sumptuous experience.  When a Paramount Presents… edition was announced, I gave a collective groan, only because I’d been hungering for a 4K UHD Blu-ray almost immediately once the format began to pick up speed.  Then, right after that announcement, a 4K Steelbook popped up, and before reading a thing, I had preordered the disc and was anxiously awaiting a shipment confirmation.  Worth the wait is an understatement, as Almost Famous is gorgeously represented on the format.  The colors evoke the 70’s, and there’s a textured richness to interiors and costumes throughout.  There is no sharpening or enhancement in any frames, and the film has never looked so wonderful. The one gripe I’d give is that scenes from this movie command the idea of Atmos or DTS:X, so not having the option does feel like a glaring oversight, even if the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that carries over from the old Blu-ray was a reference mix.  The old features are ported over with a couple of new tidbits and the Steelbook is really nice too, with a striking photo of Kate Hudson as Penny Lane gracing the cover.  Well worth a purchase for fans of music-based films, and for those of us traveling with those bands and Band-Aides all these years later, as tiny dancers.

6. Do The Right Thing

Talk about a showcase for HDR! Quietly released at the beginning of the year, Do the Right Thing was granted a stunning 4K UHD Blu-ray release.  Standing tall next to the Criterion Collection release (which edges this edition out by its collectability…), Universal put a ton of love into the 4K transfer.  The colors are stunning, bright, and hot, just like the day that takes place in the film.  Beads of sweat pop from the actors’ faces, and clothing and interior textures are all full of depth and detail.  The DTS:X mix is strong, aggressive, and surprisingly immersive.  The score and music ques come in loud and clear, and the sounds of the city fill your room in quieter moments.  The Bill Lee score is also a highlight, as it fills the lower channels and sounds as beautiful as ever.  The extras are ported over from previous editions (Criterion extras excluded obviously…) with a new introduction by Spike Lee to add to the rest.  This is an easy purchase for fans, and for folks who like classics in 4K, this one is one of the best I’ve seen this year and maybe ever.

5. The Road Warrior

One of the rougher-looking classics made a splash on 4K UHD Blu-ray recently. The main grumblings about this new release have been about an audio mix error. Things missing are that the film is a stunner in 4K.  Things were lovingly remastered and transferred to 4K.  Colors are incredible, with different textures showing in times during the day or dusk.  Costuming is full-bodied and sharp as a tack.  There are moments of softness, but only in passing.  There is even a fair bit of fine grain throughout.  I absolutely was blown away by the overall care that went into this release.  Extras are carryovers, but not a total bust.  The Atmos mix everyone was complaining about? I can’t help but respectfully disagree with the complaints. The redone sound effects are complimentary, and the new robust sound design is nothing but a benefit. I would even go so far as to say it’s something close to reference grade.  If there is this “mistake” being fixed, I hope that the replacement disc doesn’t necessarily do anything to take away from all the positives of the new mix.

4. The Green Knight

What an unexpected gem The Green Knight turned out to be.  This unexpectedly rich, almost psychedelic medieval odyssey is one to watch and re-watch.  An on-sale blind buy for me, I didn’t go into the film with much expectation. I was blown away by the slow burn aesthetic, the stunningly filmed scenes getting richer as the film progresses.  When it comes to the home presentation, A24 and Lionsgate really knocked it out of the park.  A crisp, wonderfully clean transfer, The Green Knight truly shines on 4K UHD Blu-ray. Filmed in almost the same way as The Revenant, the film goes to the edges of darkness and the heights of bright light with ease.  The Dolby Atmos mix accompanying the gorgeous imagery is also wonderful, filling all channels with immersive audio and even in quiet moments, height channels are active a lot.  This was an excellent surprise for me this year and I look forward to revisiting the film for years to come.

3. My Fair Lady

Admittedly, this hits my list with a few “notes” on my part.  I was open mouth stunned watching My Fair Lady on 4K UHD Blu-ray.  The image is literal UHD perfection.  There is no error, no softness, and looks like a film made back then, but filtered through to 2021 standards.  A masterwork in how you present a classic film for a new age of viewing, this is a must-own disc on that merit alone.  The 7.1 soundtrack, carried over from a previous Blu-ray release is another wonder, filling the home theater space with lovely music and some redone surround work too.  Presentation aside, I found the film itself to be a little taxing.  Compared to other movie musicals from the same period, the songs don’t resonate the same. Audrey Hepburn, while a gorgeous movie queen of her time, is gratingly annoying here, whining and shouting her way through the run time.  With her character meant to be this way, I guess, it shouldn’t be a complaint, but with the film running nearly 3 hours, it’s a hard task to get through the film with that shrill voice screaming through the whole thing.  Fans of the film will no doubt want to have this one on hand, and fans of musicals may be more forgiving than me, but make no mistake, even with my annoyance to some of the film’s elements, I am so glad to have this one in my collection.  It really is a marvel in the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation.

2. Indiana Jones 4-Film Collection

I couldn’t pick just one, so I made myself a little loophole for my #2.  Indiana Jones was a character many of us had on our wishlist for the 4K treatment.  When the set was announced, I, along with many of you, I’m sure, were quick to hit that pre-order button.  I had high hopes for the set, as the previous Blu-ray set had some amazing-looking transfers.  Raiders of the Lost Ark came out swinging from the onset.  With a lovely grain structure, accompanied by a fantastic-looking HDR pass, the first film set an incredible standard for the rest of the films to follow suit.  The Temple of Doom only gave an even higher benchmark to hit with a stunning, bright, gorgeous transfer.  The best of the bunch ended up being The Last Crusade with an incredible new 4K master that only improves upon previous releases.  The only downside (and not enough for me to kick the set down my list…) is the mediocre (in my humble opinion) presentation of the far lesser Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Even the Atmos track for that one is the least active.  Besides Indy 4, the first three films are all incredible in the sound department as well. A film series that seems to get little sound upgrades with each home video iteration, the nuances for these new 4K discs are all there in amazing Atmos quality. The rock ball rumbles hard, the mine chase is in every channel, and the boat chase puts you right in the driver’s seat too! The features come from the previous set, but thankfully so, as all the legacy features are fantastic, especially the long documentaries that came with the ancient DVD set! This is a no-brainer for film collectors and a set I’ll cherish in my collection.

1. The Suicide Squad

Did you expect me to pick anything else for #1? I had ZERO interest in even seeing this film.  I am forever thankful to my boxing trainer and friend Izzy for making a digital purchase of this one for us to watch on a movie day.  The film itself is irreverent, light, funny, simple as can be, and even a little bit silly.  I had a blast watching this one.  Sure, it isn’t for everyone, and purists may see a lot of negative here, but for me, this ended up being an unexpected great in my 2021 viewing. I will say this and put my neck on the line in saying I was not a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy or its sequel. Admittedly, “It’s from James Gunn” is a hard sell for me.  No offense intended to Mr. Gunn himself of course. I was unable to resist grabbing a copy of the 4K UHD Blu-ray in a sale, and what a reference-grade marvel (haha) it really is.  Picture quality perfection, and a home theater showcase for immersive audio, The Suicide Squad is really one to see.  A true treat in a year that was hit or miss for a lot of films. Did I mention, this disc is for collectors! The film is already fun on its own, but the features only further the interests of film nerds like me. Don’t take my word for it, get this one for yourself.  A true must-own in my humble opinion!

There you have it, physical media fans.  A list that’s varied, and hopefully valuable for you all.  I look forward to the 2022 physical media slate and look forward to even more catalog surprises! I as always am grateful to my colleagues at Whysoblu for their written excellence, and for inspiring me to write better each review, and to all the readers out there, for wanting to read what I write about the physical media I love so very much. Happy holidays and healthy 2022 wishes to you all!


5 Responses to “Adam’s Top Ten 4K UHD Blu-ray List!”

  1. Brian White

    Great list Adam! Miss being a collector like you are! And quite honestly I didn’t even know about the Dirty Dancing 4K release. You taught me something today! No comment on your #1 pick 🙂

  2. Mark King

    What a refreshing list. So glad you included Almost Famous and Dirty Dancing. I agree about the slightly rough quality in the start of Dancing, but like you say…wow. Green Knight is on my Amazon wish list, and up til now was kind of a blind buy. And Lady has been dropping in price, so may pick it up just for a demo. I missed the boat on Lawrence of Arabia because I did not want to buy the other movies in the package…still kicking myself.

  3. Brandon Peters

    Adam – I LOVE the thumbnail on this!

    Definitely dig this list a lot. Probably tough to weed down to 10, too, considering all the great stuff that not just came to 4K this year, but had high quality transfers to boot!

    Very nice kickoff piece for the top 10s, sir! And another fine year of you at Why So Blu!

  4. Brian White

    I’m still losing sleep over your first choice, Adam. Can we re-work this list a bit? 🙂

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    Well, I like every film and doc on this list, plus all of the releases I’ve checked out from here are terrific. Great job on the list Adam. Plus – always fun to be surprised by how much you enjoy a film you had no real anticipation for. Doesn’t hurt to see that happen to the best DC/superhero movie of the year.