Super-Sized Top Ten: Aaron’s Awe-Inspiring Blu-ray Picks For 2020

“But if I just focus on a top ten, and then add some honorable mentions, that will save me some time.” Famous last words… This year’s top ten Blu-ray list didn’t get any more streamlined, but there’s a lot out there to enjoy, so get ready to go on a tour of physical media from my point of view. The good news is, I have joined my fellow Why So Blu writers in the world of 4K (in addition to a region-free player), allowing me the optimal viewing experience to go along with these terrific releases. As usual (see: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), this list has some rules. I have to have gone through the disc to assess the audio and video quality, along with the special features. It’s also important for me to separate films that may appear on my upcoming “Top 10 Films of the Year” list, though given the unexpected twist regarding this year’s theatrical films, that’s not so much an issue. Regardless, this ideally keeps the list interesting and comes with plenty of bonus sections. So, here we go!

 The Criterion Collection

Each month features several generally terrific releases from The Criterion Collection. While I have a few saved for the final list, here are my favorite Criterion Blu-ray releases from the year, presented in alphabetical order. [Note: each title features paid links.]

Amores PerrosThe debut film from now two-time Oscar-winner for Best Director, Alejandro G. Inarritu, is a gritty triptych not meant for those with serious attachment to dogs, but still an effective piece of filmmaking, with a terrific new transfer. (Review coming soon)

ClaudineJohn Berry’s romantic comedy-drama made with a black cast, during the height of blaxploitation, made its Blu-ray debut this year. It’s certainly a worthwhile release, emphasizing appeal for a different kind of audience, let alone being just a lovely film.

Essential FelliniIf I had a chance to really dig into this wonderfully designed box set, featuring many of Federico Fellini’s greatest films, I’m sure it would have landed in the top ten.

Fail SafeI’ve often regarded Sidney Lumet’s incredibly tense Cold War classic as one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen, and it still holds true. (Review)

The Grand Budapest HotelYet another terrific Criterion upgrade for one of Wes Anderson’s most highly acclaimed films. The fact that it didn’t make the top ten is a sign of the strong contenders.

The IrishmanPut Scorsese into Criterion, and I’m there (The Scorsese Shorts set is also great). With an in-depth look at the making of this mob epic, there’s plenty to like in addition to this 3+ hour opus.

Marriage StoryYou may be able to see some of these films on Netflix, but the physical releases are truly grand. In addition to a great presentation, the fly-on-the-wall extras in crafting this terrific Noah Baumbach feature are wonderful to watch.

MoonstruckSnap out of it! It was great to revisit one of the great romantic comedies and see just how well it holds up. Thanks to a new transfer, it also looks better than ever. (Review)

The Naked City / Brute ForceWe got a double dose of Jules Dassin Blu-ray upgrades for two of his notable features, the New York noir and his prison film starring a young Burt Lancaster. Both are quite worthwhile. (Review and Review)

Parasite You know how much the world loves Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite? In addition to sweeping the Oscars, it’s received three separate home releases, including a 4K edition, along with this Criterion set, which features the black and white version of the film as well. Yeah, it’s a pretty good movie.

Pierrot Le FouTechnically a re-release, this edition features a new 2K transfer of Jean-Luc Godard’s absurdist crime-comedy. (Review)

The War of the WorldsThe magic of an HD transfer reveals itself again, with this remarkable new release of 1953’s retro take on the classic H.G. Wells novel.

Spike Lee

Last year I had a whole section devoted to the work of Jim Jarmusch, so it only made sense to highlight the several Spike Lee joints that managed to make their way to Blu-ray this year. Always great to see quality releases for films from one of your favorite directors. With a 4K release of Do the Right Thing set for 2021, bring on Get on the Bus next!

Bamboozled – The Criterion Collection release of one of Lee’s most divisive films was incredibly fitting for this year, allowing for a reassessment to come with this packed disc that does an interesting job with its video transfer for a film shot on DV tapes and Super 16. (Review)

Clockers – The rest of these are Kino Lorber releases, but it’s great to see Lee’s undervalued gritty crime film in HD (though the transfer could be better), giving audiences a chance to see how great Delroy Lindo has always been, as he gears up for his Da 5 Bloods Oscar nomination.

Crooklyn Lee’s coming-of-age drama fairs quite well on Blu, including the “squeezed” segment of the film, sure to provoke many visually.

Jungle FeverArguably the best of this set of Kino releases, Lee’s exploration of interracial relationships fairs quite well on Blu.

Mo’ Better BluesI tend to see the first Denzel/Spike collaboration as a nostalgic fav for many, though there’s lots of joy to take from this jazz drama.

Summer of SamI still say Lee’s exploration of the time set around “Son of Sam” is quite underrated. Regardless, this is a re-release of the film on Blu-ray, following its initial release as part of a two-pack, which means it has the great Lee/Leguizamo commentary to enjoy. (Review)

Classics / Cult Favorites

With a year’s worth of releases from various studios, including Shout Factory, Kino, and Arrow, I wanted to be sure to highlight some very cool specialty releases.

Airplane! (Paramount Presents)I’m fascinated by the Paramount Presents selection process, but choosing one of the greatest comedies ever made was a no-brainer. (Review).

Blade 4K – The Daywalker strutted his way onto 4K with a pristine new transfer that looks fantastic. The opening minutes set in the blood rave, alone, show any viewer what’s up with this disc. (Review)

BrickI guess all it took was making one of the highest-grossing films ever (in addition to being terrific), along with the launch of a new detective franchise for Kino to bring out Rian Johnson’s first film, a wonderful noir homage, onto Blu-ray.

Cinema Paradiso 4K (Limited Edition) – Arrow Academy brought the deluxe treatment to this wonderful Italian drama and ode to cinema from Giuseppe Tornatore, complete with both cuts of the film.

Columbia Classics Collection 4K – Volume 1 – Sony went all out with this deluxe box set, featuring several classics (and Gandhi). I can’t wait to see what’s in Volume 2.

Danger: DiabolikI was delighted to see Shout Factory get their hands on Mario Bava’s wonderfully stylish 60s comic book movie.

The Deer Hunter 4K (Collector’s Edition)Shout Select decided to launch into 4K with a new edition of one of the most important war films ever made.

Escape From L.A. (Collector’s Edition)Mileage may vary on the much-derided follow-up to Escape From New York, but Scream Factory always does well by Carpenter, even if they couldn’t get him and Russell to sit down together again. (Review)

Glengarry Glen Ross (Collector’s Edition) – This sterling adaptation of David Mamet’s play gets a nice new Shout Select release, with some new, very worthwhile interviews.

Idle Hands (Collector’s Edition) – There’s something about this cult favorite horror-comedy I’ve always found appealing. Maybe it’s the name “Anton Tobias” or all the Evil Dead 2 references.

Mallrats (Remastered / Limited Edition)Arrow put their sights on one of Kevin Smith’s more admired early efforts (I actually find the commentary funnier than the movie), but one can’t deny the quality of this new transfer, let alone have fun with the always verbose Smith in the new extras.

Pitch BlackThe beginning of the great Slip Cover Wars started here, but no matter, Arrow put out a very fancy new release of the cult favorite Vin Diesel film, complete with plenty of new interviews.

Roman Holiday (Paramount Presents)Paramount has gone out of their way to solve the “Why did this take some long” questions plaguing film and home media lovers, with Roman Holiday finally hitting Blu-ray and boasting a terrific new transfer. (Review)

Versus (Special Edition)Arrow set their sights on this cult favorite zombie action film from director Ryuhei Kitamura, who would go on to make Godzilla: Final Wars.

Zombie 4KAlso known as Zombi 2 or Zombie Flesh Eaters, Lucio Fulci’s gore-heavy zombie flick is a wild way for them to get into the UHD world, but this is a packed set that would likely rank were I to be a bigger fan of the film. Don’t worry, I’ll make up for it with another pick later.

Others Honorable Mentions

One final set of new releases I couldn’t pass up mentioning, as they deliver the goods in all respects when it comes to home media.

1917 4KOne of 2019’s most acclaimed films arrives with an explosive 4K presentation that absolutely delivers on the spectacle at home. (Review)

Doctor Sleep 4K (with Director’s Cut)Director Mike Flanagan delivered a very confident follow-up to The Shining, which was enhanced with the much more fulfilling director’s cut for home viewing. (Review)

El Camino: A Breaking Bad MovieEven with Better Call Saul currently crushing much of the competition, this revisit to the Breaking Bad world was made even more worthwhile with this packed steelbook Blu-ray package. (Review)

Haunt (Ronin Flix Exclusive)The good folks at Ronin Flix spared no expense with their deluxe edition release of the slick horror flick Haunt from the writers of A Quiet Place. (Review)

The King of Staten IslandAs with any Judd Apatow film, he’s enough of a film fan to respect the home media format and delivers another great presentation of his (pretty solid) comedy, with tons of extras. (Review)

Midsommar – Director’s Cut 4K (Collector’s Edition)Ari Aster has proven to fit just right with A24, who have humored him with this striking digibook package for the director’s cut of his wonderfully involving cult-themed horror film.

One Cut of the DeadThis terrific and ambitious zombie film is for anyone who is a fan of not only the genre but filmmaking. Without saying too much, RLJ Entertainment did right by this film with its extra features. (Review)

Tenet 4KChristopher Nolan’s action-packed, time-bending blockbuster delivers on the huge-scale spectacle he shoots for. (Review)

Tigers are Not AfraidA powerful Mexican horror film from director Issa Lopez, working as a nice companion to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. (Review)

Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga 4K – Generally, I’d be pretty excited for a new Star Wars release. Even in 4K, I’m more or less cool with it, without being blown away. Maybe if it all ended better. Still, you have the terrific saga available in 4K UHD, and that’s not nothing. (I don’t have The Lord of the Rings on here, as I’m not as big a fan, but I’ll probably get it, eventually.)

Watchmen: An HBO Limited SeriesSurprisingly, WB didn’t go all out for their Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series that delivered a terrific follow-up to the original Watchmen story with a 4K release. Regardless, it’s still a great Blu-ray presentation. (Review)

The Top Ten

Here it is…

10. Knives Out 4K (Review)

Rian Johnson’s follow-up to The Last Jedi continued the acclaimed director on the path he has held onto since Brick. With Knives Out, Johnson delivers a wonderfully eccentric whodunnit, featuring an all-star cast and a clever plot that is deconstructionist, relevant to the times, and highly entertaining. The 4K presentation handles Johnson’s first foray with a digitally shot film incredibly well. The package also holds a bevy of special features, including a feature-length making-of and two commentary tracks. With Daniel Craig ready to pull up his suspenders again as Benoit Blanc, there’s not much reason to miss out on this incredibly fun film.

It’s a weird case from the start. A case with a hole in the cent. A doughnut. (Order HERE)


9. The Tenant

While he remains an incredibly controversial figure, the early acclaim director Roman Polanski received did not come unearned. Along with Chinatown, his “Apartment Trilogy” presented a striking set of features, beginning with Repulsion, followed by Rosemary’s Baby, and this film, The Tenant. A Kafkaesque exercise, featuring Polanski as the star, this is the sort of trippy psychodrama that’s coming out of the right era. Scream Factory apparently wanted to spare no expense with their Criterion-level delivery of this Blu-ray, featuring an excellent new transfer, and a large collection of extras, including a new interview with Polanski.

I found a tooth in my apartment. It was in a hole. (Order HERE)

8. Total Recall 4K

Look at Arnold sneaking in at the last minute and with a spiffy Best Buy exclusive steelbook version, no less! This Paul Verhoeven sci-fi/action classic received a terrific 4K upgrade that actually packed in new extras to go along with all the other previously released goodies. In addition to seeing Arnold fight his way to mars in glorious 4K, a whole doc devoted to the rise and fall of Carolco is great stuff, along with a focus on Jerry goldsmith’s wonderful score for the film. Total Recall is always a fun watch, but this was a very impressive new release.

I just had a terrible thought… what if this is a dream? (Order HERE)

7. Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman (Criterion Collection)

It should be pointed out right away that Criterion’s pop-up book style packaging for this amazing set is one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen for a home release. That in mind, it’s totally in the spirit of the imagination of Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman, whose three films presented here are full of wonder. Journey to the Beginning of Time, Invention for Destruction, and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen are terrific tributes to the very early days of cinema (think George Melies). They are unique works of art, full of old school special effects. This presentation is an amazing one as well, featuring great video/audio presentations on each film, going along with the many extras accompanying them.

I cast my hat out into the universe, let it greet those who are on their way from earth. (Order HERE)

6. Gamera: The Complete Collection

Arrow’s monster box set, featuring all 13 Gamera movies, is quite the sight to behold (and quite heavy). Sure, I wish Godzilla was given the same treatment (here’s hoping the Heisei and Millennium Era can be in touch with Arrow), but that doesn’t take away from the joy I get from that killer set either. Gamera may be diet Godzilla, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with these films. The newly restored presentations for each of these films, complete with alternate cuts, well-researched extras, and multiple physical extras (comics, maps, essays), do a lot to provide fans with the ultimate experience to the “friend of all children.”

Every creature, however unappealing, fights to the last to survive. (Order HERE)

5. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai (Criterion Collection)

Oh, how I have waited for this day! Ghost Dog is one of my favorite films ever. The quirky Jim Jarmusch hip-hop samurai flick starring Forest Whitaker is such a joy. Inspired by the work of Seijun Suzuki, among other filmmakers and artists, I never tire of this film, let alone the fantastic soundtrack/score from Wu-Tang frontman RZA. Criterion gets along great with Jarmusch, and they did not disappoint with this packed release, featuring a long Q&A with Jarmusch, a new interview with Whitaker and co-star Isaach De Bankole, and more. I was plenty happy to finally have this film on Blu-ray, let alone on Criterion.

I’m your retainer. I don’t mean you no disrespect. (Order HERE)

4. The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection 4K (Review)

What more is there to say about the films of Alfred Hitchcock? Specifically some of his most popular features. It is nice to now have the original cut of Psycho, let alone 4K versions of that film, along with two of his other masterpieces (The Birds is not a favorite, but it’s still pretty great). While containing the same extras as found in the previous releases, and there are many of them, this package is all about showing off the wonderful 4K transfers. If you want to see what cinematic glory looks like in 4K, popping in Vertigo will do the trick. This whole collection is essential for cinephiles with the means to own these films, and for a good reason. Another great set of films.

She might have fooled me, but she didn’t fool my mother. (Order HERE)

3. Friday the 13th Collection (Deluxe Edition)

Admittedly, Halloween is my preferred slasher franchise (with Child’s Play pretty close behind). That said, I found a new appreciation for Jason, Mrs. Vorhees, and the counselors of Camp Crystal Lake, thanks to this spectacular box set that’s been handled similar to the previously released Halloween set, also from Scream Factory (your move, Freddy!). With new remasters on many of the films and care put into obtaining multiple cuts of some, along with a ton of new extras to accompany all of the old ones, this is the definitive set for slasher fans happy with what this machete-wielding maniac has to offer.

Hey Ted, where the hell is that corkscrew? (Order HERE)

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

There have been previous releases of Bruce Lee’s films, but Criterion really went the extra mile in delivering a set worthy of the famous martial arts star. I was surprised by Enter the Dragon’s presence in this set, but it’s here (two cuts of the film), along with the other features and even a very clever edit of Lee’s footage from Game of Death. There’s so much great stuff here, with each film having lots of special features to deliver additional insight on, let alone a ton of other supplements. Even the box art is some of the best of the year, fully capturing Lee’s presence as a movie star sadly taken way too young. I pushed through these films rather quickly, and it was a lot of fun doing so. It only helps to see such great care put into this deluxe release.

Man, you come right out of a comic book. (Order HERE)

1. Dawn of the Dead 4K (Limited Edition)

Second Sight is pretty much responsible for me leveling up to 4K, based on their announcement of this release. While the Blu-rays containing plenty of new special features are all region-B locked (good thing I picked up that region-free Blu-ray player), getting a chance to see my favorite zombie film, let alone one of my favorite films of all time, in glorious 4K, made for an amazing viewing experience. George A. Romero’s masterpiece looks better than ever, from the opening shot of the blood red-carpeted wall, through all the scenes at the mall, featuring the blue-tinged zombie faces, up to the final moments aboard a helicopter with our remaining heroes – this is all just fantastic stuff. Plus, this package is loaded. There are plenty of new extras, all three cuts of the film, soundtrack albums, comics, books filled with essays, and more. It’s the ultimate edition for Dawn of the Dead, and I’m thrilled to have it. It’s also my pick for the best home release of the year.

It gets up and kills! The people it kills get up and kill! (Order HERE)



Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

6 Responses to “Super-Sized Top Ten: Aaron’s Awe-Inspiring Blu-ray Picks For 2020”

  1. Brandon Peters

    There’s a list, then a list and then another list! My favorite part is Spike Lee getting his own section. I’m glad you’re finally onto 4K, seeing the world with a whole new lens. You’ve got a couple on here that weren’t able to make my list but surely would have been in consideration had I owned them (Gamera & Midsommar 4K, the later on my Xmas list this year). I’d say the surprise here for me was The Tenant in the top 10. Did not have that on the brain when opening it up.

    Great stuff – I’m excited for your top films of the year now!

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Thanks, Brandon. No one’s going to accuse me of a lack of variety! And I’d like to think that everyone will see at least one pick that feels like a surprise here.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Yeah, The Apartment, what a surprise and was not expecting that one! Hell, I have not seen it either. I guess we’ll be crossing streams, at least for the top-5.

  4. Gerard Iribe

    * The Tenant, I meant!

  5. Brian White

    The list we don’t deserve! Nice complete list and look at the year back in physical media! God bless it!

    Midsommar 4K!!! Hell yeah!

    I forgot how amazing that Doctor Sleep 4K release was too. Thanks for jarring my memory there!

    But two days in a row now and that same Top 10 title 🙂 I wonder what Gerard will pick there.

  6. Gregg Senko

    I still have yet to dive into my Friday the 13th collection. Soon, I keep telling myself. Also, you sold me on Total Recall but more so on Blade.