I’m not the first person to tell you 2020 has felt like forever and a day and then forever again. We were fortunate to have still been given a constant flux of new 4K Ultra-HD and standard Blu-ray releases despite the global pandemic. Heck, When charting back for this list, I was stunned at some of my contenders, having them feel like they came out last year because it felt so long ago. In a positive perspective for 2020, in regards to home video collecting, the year has relieved and renewed my faith in studios to keep delivering and finding new ways to build excitement with collecting. Disney aside, every studio has shown new strategies and refreshed dedication in backing physical media. Warner Bros has continued sub licensing, but also seems to be putting a little more effort into the bonus materials for Warner Archive. Paramount has released the Presents line as well as just shooting out some bare bones releases of stuff never on the format before with new regularity. And that’s not even to begin discussing the continued excitement from the likes of Shout! Factory, Blue Underground, Vinegar Syndrome, Severin Films, Arrow Video and more as they all have invested in 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. In other words, it was a pretty damn good outing for physical media in 2020, even if it wasn’t for the health of the global population.

Despite popular belief, 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray continued to grow and expand in 2020. Its never going to hit a peak popularity as DVD did in the 2000s, but it can still be a force. Studios continued to crank out some unbelievable restorations and many consumers found this year as the time to upgrade. Why So Blu now has all writers fully 4K compliant and I’ve had more friends and family than ever asking me about the format and title recommendations. I think it just may float around a lot longer than people anticipate. Especially with the glutton of streaming and the complaining of availability…some people (Not all) are going to flock back and potentially reinvest in owning their favorite or more obscure films they are struggling to find or keep reliable. And as per usual with 4K, my focus on these usual lies in how the transfer or newly done Atmos/DTS:X mix turns out as opposed to the availability of new supplemental material.

Like the past few years, my list is a 10/10 split between 4K titles and standard Blu-ray only. This has a healthy balance and doesn’t push aside many great titles still coming out on the previous format throughout the year. Oh and there are probably some omissions you might be wondering about with my lists. They could be releases I haven’t had time to check out yet or I just flat out don’t have in my possession. My Vinegar Syndrome order hasn’t arrived yet, so there goes The Beastmaster 4K. And I also missed out on the Gamera set from Arrow this past summer, so that’s not here.

10. Full Metal Jacket (Warner Bros)

Here’s the annual Stanley Kubrick film on 4K Ultra-HD from Warner Bros. This year uniquely also saw the release of Spartacus and Dr. Strangelove on 4K Ultra-HD for the first time as well. Warner Bros is the studio where most of his films are house and its clear to see the pattern on them delivering one per year around September/October. Full Metal Jacket looked pretty mesmerizing to follow suit with 2001 and The Shining the previous two years. More than just the striking color and clarity improvement, it was the depth in the image that really stood tall and rather made the environment larger than life and engulfing as a viewer.

9. Gemini Man (Paramount)

Gemini Man as a film is pretty average altogether, but that’s not why its made the list here. The 4K Ultra-HD presentation is one of the ultimate demo discs available on the format. This disc has gotten a high recommend from me once it hit a lower pricing point as everyone with a player really needs to see it for themselves. For me, its more an experiment than a movie. This is a heat check to see where things are at and where they could possibly go, and I admire Ang Lee for his risk taking and exploration. The razor sharp clarity and high frame rate has something he’s done before, but here’s 1) a better movie than Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk and 2) one with energy that isn’t safe and static in its action. While I’m not a fan of the high frame rate playback at this time, some day someone is going to figure out how to make it work. Right now, this disc will show you where we are at. Plus, its been a long time since a visual effects behind the scenes really impressed me at some of the magic in putting this movie’s effects together, and Gemini Man had be surprised where my eyes had been fooled.

8. Knives Out – Best Buy Exclusive Steelbook (Lionsgate)

This is just all you can ask for in a brand new release. A new film from one of the best working directors coming the 4K format with terrific audio/video presentation, a steelbook with awesome artwork fitting of the film’s presence and a nice chunk of worthwhile and educational extras on the film. If only every new film could come in as complete a package as Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. There’s nothing much left to say aside from “Bravo, Lionsgate!”. Now, bring me Halloween 4 & 5 on 4K!

7. The Mask of Zorro (Sony)

The Mask of Zorro just frickin’ rocks. Full stop. I loved the film back in 1998, seeing it 3 times in theaters. However, its not one I had journeyed back to a lot since the turn of the millennium. Then came this 4K disc with a bursting out of the gates, fine ass new transfer with a kicking Atmos track and it was like being transported back to seeing it for the first time again. There are blockbusters like this any more, and that’s a damn shame. The film also received some new extras. Here’s a fine upgrade of a catalog title arguing itself to be demo’d on your system with scene after scene to choose from.

6. Jaws – 45th Anniversary Edition (Universal)

I mean, its Jaws. Every time, every format, every upgrade; Spielberg is taken care of. This one delivers. The image is pristine and the Atmos track is plenty fun. All the extras get carried over and there’s even a nifty book that comes with it. The film is also a must have in any film library at the best available quality. I want to mention here, since it was a last minute scratch from the Blu-ray list, that Severin Films has a pretty rad Blu-ray for Cruel Jaws (Jaws 5 in some territories, but not really) that you should pick up if you’re into cult, schlock, shark exploitation prestige.

5. Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy (Universal)

The previous (multiple) Blu-ray releases for the Back to the Future movie were pretty solid, but their debut on 4K Ultra-HD was pretty special. They had a nice clean look that they’d never had before to go with a new Atmos mix. And this time when they debuted they didn’t come in aggravating and confusing packing in terms of disc removal. There weren’t a lot to add in terms of extras (And lets face it, what more can be said already), but the audition tapes from many, now famous, face was pretty huge and a treat to watch. All that looms in terms of bonus features is just…please…some put together all the damn Eric Stoltz scenes from the original so we can just see them as they were. That’s all that’s really left for the series to deliver that they haven’t yet included.

4. Zombie (Blue Underground)

Of all the independent home video companies in the US, Blue Underground really kicked the door down in terms of stunning us with a 4K restoration and transfer. Two years ago, they delivered a beautiful looking new version of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie. It became their first 4K title and I could absolutely not believe what I was seeing when I popped this in. To see where this film came from on VHS all the way to now is just an incredible journey. This transfer is breathtaking and one of the best I’ve ever seen on any catalog title. This was an unbelievable debut for them, and every title they do on 4K now garnered instant attention for just seeing stunning transfers alone.

3. Columbia Classics Collection, Volume 1 (Sony)

Sony put out one of the best treats to digest while over the summer spent locked down. Primarily seen as “Oh, this is how we get Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Strangelove. Ok” when it was announced, diving in proved so much more than that. Each of the 6 films included (Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Dr. Strangelove, Lawrence of Arabia, Ghandi, A League of Their Own, Jerry Maguire) featured marvelous new transfer, with Lawrence the crowning achievement. I found I wasn’t so hot on Ghandi through this, but fell in love with Jerry Maguire in a new way and came to realize A League of Their Own really is a damn good film after having been distanced for so long. The first 3, yeah, duh, I love and find them of the best. But Jerry and League both felt like re-discoveries and I found a great new appreciation for both of them. Sony is looking to do a Volume 2 (A questionnaire was sent out a few months back) and I’m excited to see what titles have been chosen for inclusion.

2. The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection (Universal)

To these eyes, there was no better transfer this year than the one on Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, included in this set. A stunning thing of beauty, I could not shut the f*** up about it for a weeks, and if prompted I’ll start going again. It is absolutely glorious and perhaps the crowning achievement of 4K Ultra-HD so far. The other films in this set also look terrific, with The Birds making a very nice jump from its Blu-ray counterpart. Its Hitchcock on 4K Ultra-HD, and done with great care in restoration. New bonus features aren’t rampant. Psycho gets an uncut version, but all of the features are archived ones and honestly those include hours and hours of material that really pretty much covers it all. A must have set, and hopefully another will be on the way.

1. Dawn of the Dead – Limited Edition (Second Sight)

This is the most I think I’ve ever spent on a single film on home video before. And I had zero complaints about doing so. Second Sight did not mess around. They took their time. They gave us every cut. They provided the soundtrack, score, a novelization, new bonus features, old bonus features. We were left we zero requests to give and every question answered. As a packaging nut, I dug them digging into the original artwork and making it bulky, but also not hard to find shelf space for. Watching the film felt like I’d never seen it before. It was so new, so well done on the restoration. I hope everyone who wanted to own this was able to pick up the set, as its one of the finest things ever put out on 4K and the best version of Dawn of the Dead ever put to home video. This is an unbelievably worthwhile set and a gift (that you have to pay for) to the longtime fans of this film. The have Romero’s Martin on the docket next and without hesitation, I know it’ll have the highs of this set.

Standard Blu-ray ran the full quadrant gamut of having films never before on the format both known and obscure, beautiful transfers and worthy upgrades from previous releases. Like the 4K section, unfortunately the Black Friday Vinegar Syndrome titles, which were likely contenders didn’t arrive in time to make there cut. Always tough decisions to be made, but some companies are just tried and true and are the model of consistency not in just making great collector’s items, but making my list year in and year out.

10. The Curse of Frankesntein – 2-Disc Special Edition (Warner Archive Collection)

I literally just finished writing about this release. Another great year for the expansion of Hammer Horror in the US on Blu-ray. Shout! Factory continues to release for the first time or upgrade previous films (Grab their new editions from this year of Brides of Dracula and Evil of Frankenstein asap!), but Warner Archive delivered a biggie with one of the most requested titles, The Curse of Frankenstein. As I had mentioned, the transfer, the many aspect ratios and the extras really put forth a terrific little release and hopefully many more to come like this from WAC.

9. The Wizard – Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory)

There’s a lot of nostalgia for someone of my generation when it comes to enjoying The Wizard, but its also a goofy enough movie to see in a different light now. Shout! Factory really put the love of the power glove to this one and cranked out a terrific release. The film looks great and they loaded it with new bonus features, making it a 2 disc’er. The inclusion of audio-only material with Fred Savage lets you know they went all out for this and got whatever they could to make a complete and definitive release for this video game pop culture classic kids adventure.

8. Sixteen Candles (Arrow Video)

There were plenty of John Hughes classics released or upgraded this year, and Sixteen Candles was the very best of the bunch. Featuring a new transfer and 2 cuts of the film, this disc makes it easy to fall for the movie all over again. It looks and sounds fantastic. Arrow has also loaded this thing with tons of new and old bonus features that will keep you busy for a week. The phenomenon of John Hughes teen movies starts here, and it really should land it a spot in your collection. Worth your time as well are Arrow’s Weird Science and the Paramount Presents of Pretty in Pink.

7. Roman Holiday (Paramount Presents)

Roman Holiday took its damn time getting to Blu-ray, so much so that I was surprised when it was announced that it was a debut and not a double dip. Paramount did it right, though, with a beautiful presentation and terrific bonus material to compliment the film. The movie is such a joy and one you watch and kinda feel like putting on again later in the week after you’d already seen it. In my personal preference, this is the best Paramount Presents title and release in their inaugural year with the line.

6. Escape From LA – Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory)

It feels like year in, year out, John Carpenter finds his way onto my lists. And sure, he’s one of my favorite (if not THE favorite) directors of all time. Escape From LA has been seen as big disappointment and one of his lesser efforts for so many years. But aside from a nice new transfer and loads of bonus features Shout! Factory added to another stellar output of his work, there was something more this release provided. It felt that there was a re-appraisal for Escape From LA in 2020. Personally, never being an outright detractor myself, I felt differently about it, too. Collectively, it seemed many put down their dukes and seemed to understand the film and what Carpenter was wanting to do a lot more. And I think it was this release that opened the dialogue and discussion and new appreciation found for the long detracted movie.

5. The Alejandro Jodorowsky Collection (Arrow Video/abkco)

As mentioned in my review, these films are clearly not for everyone. I think they are a bit of a wicked ride, myself. The fourth film in here is whatever, but we are really here for the trifecta of Fando y Lis, El Topo and The Holy Mountain. Films aside, no matter who you are, you have to appreciate a great boxed set with terrific packaging, swag, transfers and extras. And that all comes together fantastically in this set that was split between Arrow Video and abkco. Arrow got to put their logo on it in the UK and abkco’s moniker is implanted on the one in the United States. Those who enjoy Jodorowsky’s work are going to love this set and the effort definitely is of the best of the year.

4. Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits (Criterion Collection)

Criterion had a really fun drop this summer with their Bruce Lee set. No, this is clearly not the first time this group of films has been on Blu-ray. Not the second, not the third, but who knows. This is the first time that all of his films were included as Enter The Dragon made its way to join the other four. And its also the BEST collection of his films ever put to disc. This has some cool packaging, book and poster and the films feature really great interviews, bonus materials, alternate cuts and more. I spent a fun week in July revisiting these in this set and chatting about it with Aaron Neuwirth, Peter Paras and Yancy Berns. We were so thrilled by it that we did a commentary on Enter the Dragon not too long afterward for Out Now with Aaron and Abe.

3. Classic Doctor Who

Doctor Who: The Collection, Season 14 – Doctor Who: The Collection, Season 26

Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones

Doctor Who: Fury From the Deep – Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks, Special Edition

Here’s my reserved spot for Doctor Who on Blu-ray. As I’ve said countless times, nobody does VAM as well as Chris Chapman, Matthew Sweet, Toby Hadoke and their respective teams. The pandemic shortened up the amount of Collection releases we got this year, but we lucked out in getting 2 of the best seasons. Tom Baker’s season 14 is historically one of the show’s finest hours and included one the best documentaries seen so far in “Our Sarah Jane”, a salute to the life of longtime series companion Elisabeth Sladen. Season 26 is the final season of the show and this one highlighted by a great one one one with Sophie Aldred and multiple cuts of many of the serials. It stunk waiting in mystery forever as their VAM productions had to shut down for the pandemic and just wanting something, an announcement or piece of artwork (From the wonderful Lee Binding) to drop. But alas, Season 8 is on the way early next year, and damn did it feel worth the wait when the art and trailer dropped.

An area I’ve not covered on these “Best of” lists is the animated releases. These have been covering Patrick Troughton’s run as the Doctor from the 1960s. Long story short for the uninformed; these episodes were thrown away by the BBC in the 1960s or 70s and copies of them either just don’t exist any more of haven’t been found. However, fan taped audio from them exists for every episode. What they’ve done is animated the missing episodes using the audio, camera scripts, production photos and telesnaps for the episodes as reference. These give a nice sense of completion for a lot of fans rather than just listening to the audio or seeing a story told with stills (WHICH are included on these releases). This year saw 2 brand new additions that came as impressive three disc sets with fantastic new documentaries and interviews as well as an upgrade on a previous release that they actually revisited and improved the animation on. Most of these also come with really cool steelbooks. They now have 2 animation teams working on these to hopefully animated the remaining missing episodes over the years and The Web of Fear has been announced as one for 2021 just a couple weeks back.

2. Friday the 13th Collection: Deluxe Edition (Shout! Factory)

The Scream Factory brand has done it again. We marveled at the Halloween set years back and now they’ve given it a sibling in their amazing Friday the 13th set. It has put right what once went wrong in the previous box set. Multiple cuts, new transfers, new documentaries, new interviews, individual cases, reversible art…and so on and son. This thing is a beast, and a lovely one at that. In a challenging year, this set was one of its brightest spots as it helped escape from life for a little while.. Here is hoping like hell that an Elm Street set in this mold is on the way next year and Scream Factory can complete the Michael-Jason-Freddy trifecta in gloriously beloved Blu-ray boxed sets. Who’d have ever thought things like this would exist one day growing up?

1. Essential Fellini (Criterion Collection)

What a beauty! Having 14 fine Fellini films all in one set? Hot damn! Criterion’s director focused sets have been a thing of dreams for film lovers. Walking through the films of Federico Fellini with brand new 4K transfers has been quite a joy and I’ve been quite taken with what a treasure Giueliette Masina is. Of course, Criterion provides top quality bonus material to go with the film. I particularly love the packaging for this set which comes in an almost collector vinyl style box and has two booklets. The artwork on this is tremendously gorgeous and I’d love someone to make a print to just hang on a wall. I’m chomping at the bit to find out what November 2021 brings in terms of a Criterion box set. Could it be Goddard? Truffaut? Kurosawa? De Sica? Chaplin? The possibilities have seem to have no end. For my money’s worth in 2020, there has been no better combination of films, transfers, extras, talent and packaging than this Essential Fellini set from the Criterion Collection.

Thank you so much for reading! I appreciate all of your attention during the year and appreciation for my written reviews and videos. What were some of your favorite releases this year? Which ones are on your wishlist? What ones are you looking forward to next year so far? Let me know in the comments below. Have a safe Holiday season everyone! Do your part – stay in and watch some great movies on 4K and Blu-ray!



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

5 Responses to “BRANDON’S TOP BEST FAVORITE BLU-RAYs & 4Ks OF 2020!”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    You call that a list?!

    I’m excited for all the 4K stuff, as I simply haven’t had time to get to a lot of it as of yet. That Knives Out steelbook really is a beauty. I had a feeling we’d have a lot of crossover with the Blus. Still, just a ton of good stuff here.

  2. Brian White

    I know I hit you up personally today, but I can’t tell you how much you wowed me with this personal touch to all your photos of the products above. When I saw this morning I was in love with that little touch as no picture is the same and it was very creative to me. I honestly prefer it this way over just the box art!

    Love the LOVE for The Gemini Man 4K release!

    Even though after couple watches I am not a hardcore fan I cannot dispute how nice that Knives Out steelbook is. It’s really a beaut!

  3. Gregg Senko

    This was a great read and I loved the creativity in the pics. Well done, Brandon! Glad to hear the 4K of Jaws and Full Metal Jacket were impressive. Those will be additions for my cart soon. Thanks!

  4. Adam Toroni-Byrne

    Exceptional list as always!! So glad to have some titles in common with you!

  5. Gerard Iribe

    Yep, great list, and let our streams cross!