Super-Sized Top Ten: Aaron’s Spectacular Blu-ray Picks For 2019

“Next year I’ll narrow it down a little more.” Yeah, that’s what happened… Okay, so I thought I was going to make a simpler top ten Blu-ray list this year, but there’s a lot out there to enjoy, and I, apparently, just find it easier to go overboard. As it stands, Why So Blu’s Brian, Brandon, and Adam have their 4K setups, and Gerard has his region-free player for some imported choices to check out as well. As usual (see: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), this list has some rules. I have to have watched the movie for the sake of assessing the video and audio quality. Checking out the special features is essential as well. One last thing, I like to keep films that may appear on my upcoming “Top 10 Films of the Year” list separate from this one. All of this helps keeps this list interesting, and it all comes after 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.]

Blue VelvetDavid Lynch’s neo-noir horror show receives another release with a new transfer fit for any die-hard Lynch fan.

Cold WarA stunningly made romantic drama, and one of my favorite films from last year received the Criterion treatment. (Review coming soon)

DetourHaving seen just how poor this film has looked for decades, the fantastic restoration done for this classic film noir is more than a little impressive. (Review)

In the Heat of the NightThe racially-charged crime drama gets a new release that’s a lot more than just black and white. (Review)

The Kid BrotherThe hilarious Harold Lloyd comedy from the 20s has a new incredibly Blu-ray with an array of extras that put many modern releases to shame. (Review)

Police Story / Police Story 2Here’s a double-pack of awesome, featuring some of Jackie Chan’s most thrilling fights and action sequences. (Review)

Swing TimeReleasing an Astaire & Rogers musical on Criterion seems like a no-brainer, and the disc did not disappoint. (Review)

When We Were KingsOne of my favorite documentaries ever, focused on the “Rumble in the Jungle” with Mohammed Ali, remains one of the greatest.

Classics / Cult Favorites

With a year’s worth of releases from various studios, including Shout Factory, Warner Archive, and Arrow, I wanted to be sure to highlight many very cool specialty releases. These are films that didn’t’ quite make the top ten but also factor in as neat genre entries worth mentioning.

The Blob (Collector’s Edition)Scream Factory has done well by one of the more underappreciated horror remakes out there. This release is packed. (Review)

The Cotton Club EncoreFollowing last year’s release of Tucker, thanks to Lionsgate, Francis Ford Coppola has had a good year in terms of new releases of his old films. The Cotton Club has now returned, with a new cut of the film (restoring the black-themed storylines he was encouraged to cut) that should help the director rest easy.

Crimson Peak (Limited Edition)Arrow decided to get a jump start on the cult classic potential of Guillermo del Toro’s ghost-infused gothic romance, with a deluxe release.

Dracula (Collector’s Edition)There are so many new extras in this Scream Factory release, but the definite highlight is the original theatrical color timing for this excellent 1979 take on Dracula. (Review)

Fright NightSeemingly out of nowhere, Sony Mod released a new edition of this highly enjoyable vampire flick, complete with a new two-and-a-half-hour retrospective documentary.

The Man Who Laughs – Flicker Alley delivered this classic silent film with a fantastic restoration. If you want the best look at one of the key influences for the Joker, this terrific release is one to seek out.

Night of the Creeps (Collector’s Edition)I had oddly never seen Fred Dekker’s killer 50s B-movie tribute before this release, but it delivered big time. (Review)

Robocop (Limited Edition)There have been many RoboCop releases, but another deluxe release from Arrow does classic Verhoeven film proud.

The Set-UpA terrific film noir once again showing how well the genre and boxing tend to go together. Warner Archive did a tremendous job in cleaning up this Robert Wise film. (Review)

The Street Fighter CollectionThis series of violent martial arts films starring Sonny Chiba was a fun collection to get a hold of, and Shout Factory did an excellent job assembling the package and adding some worthwhile extras on top. (Review)

The Thin ManWhile not a release of the whole Thin Man series, this is a great start from Warner Archive, who has done a terrific job bringing this screwball mystery to Blu-ray. (Review)

Jim Jarmusch

While there’s still no sign of one of my favorite films, Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, 2019 ended up being a pretty great Blu-ray year for one of my favorite directors, Jim Jarmusch, who earned his own section on this post. With several releases all receiving either new or debuting Blu-ray releases, there’s a lot for any fan of the indie filmmaker to dig into.

Broken Flowers – Kino Lorber is responsible for delivering one of the best Bill Murray performances for all to see in HD.

The Dead Don’t DieJarmusch’s latest feature, a zombie film with an all-star cast, arrived courtesy of Universal. It may not be stacked with extras, but it looks and sounds great. (Review)

The Limits of ControlFor Jarmusch completists, Arrow Academy put together a new edition of the contemplative hitman feature.

Night On EarthGenerally seen as one of the director’s bests, Night On Earth has finally been upgraded from its Criterion DVD to a Blu-ray release.

Paterson: Premium BoxPaterson was my favorite film of 2016, and I was happy to take the opportunity to import Plain Archive’s deluxe steelbook release of the film.

Stranger Than ParadiseAnother DVD-to-Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion, featuring both this breakout film from Jarmusch, as well as his first feature, Permanent Vacation, as one of the supplements in this set.


TV shows on Blu-ray are not much of a priority for me at this point, but I have a couple of releases here that stood out.

Batman Beyond: The Complete Series – I may not have taken to Batman Beyond in the same way I did for Batman: The Animated Series, but revisiting the series on this well-assembled Blu-ray package had me finding a new appreciation for what it had accomplished. (Review)

From the Earth to the MoonHBO’s fantastic Tom Hanks/Ron Howard-produced docudrama from 1998 arrived in a remastered package, featuring both a widescreen presentation and new visual effects to enhance what was seen in the original broadcast. Regardless, the series is also just very well done.

Big Studio Films

Blockbusters and newer releases from major studios tend to get excellent treatment when it comes to near reference video and audio quality. It makes them fantastic flicks to show off on a nice home theater setup. Here are some I wanted to shine a spotlight on.

Alita: Battle Angel – Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron got together to make an elaborate sci-fi comic book movie. It looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray. (Review)

Aquaman – James Wan’s insane superhero flick delivered on creating underwater worlds, massive sea battles, and lots of other colorful ways to entertain on an enormous scale. And the Blu-ray presentation is stunning. (Review)

Avengers: EndgameOne of the biggest films of all time and the culmination of over ten years’ worth of cinematic storytelling results in a fine blockbuster release. (Review)

First ManDamien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong biopic may not have connected with audiences as strongly as it could have, but this incredible feature received a great home release. (Review)

Godzilla: King of the MonstersYou may not be as big a Godzilla fan as I am, but the King of the Monsters looks and sounds amazing in my room, and I’m plenty happy to see and hear him roar. (Review)

John Wick: Chapter 3 – ParabellumJohn Wick shows no sign of slowing down, and fortunately, the Blu-ray releases are up to the challenge of making him feel very welcome at home, outside the Continental.

WidowsSteve McQueen’s compelling crime drama is another film that could have had a more significant impact, but at least this terrific Blu-ray brings justice. (Review)

Top Ten

Here it is…

10. An American Werewolf in London (Limited Edition)

Either I’m too picky when it comes to werewolf movies, or recent years just haven’t delivered the goods when it comes to this particular movie monster. Regardless, John Landis’ wonderful horror-comedy remains my favorite entry in the sub-genre. Having owned various versions of the film, I was thrilled to get my hands on Arrow’s deluxe release that has the movie looking better than I’ve seen. With all the detail that went into the makeup design, it’s great to have such a quality transfer to best show it off. Having so many terrific new extras is excellent as well, including a lengthy retrospective, and a feature focused on the film’s Jewish subtext. This is one release to get, whether it’s a full moon or not.

Maybe it’s a sheepdog… let’s keep going. (Order HERE)


9. The Lavender Hill Mob / The Man in the White Suit / Kind Hearts and Coronets

You may not see old Ben Kenobi in the new Star Wars movie, but Kino Lorber treated fans of the great Alec Guinness with a few of his most notable films. Each of these movies highlights what a great comedic actor the Oscar-winner was, and they are all worth your time. The transfers and some great extras may have been sourced from previous European releases (and Kind Hearts and Coronets has a new 4K restoration already available overseas), but releasing these three films is a terrific way to put together a fun viewing party of great British movies (and I’m still awaiting a new release of the original Ladykillers).

Of all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these – it might have been. (Order HERE, HERE, and HERE)


8. Big Trouble in Little China (Collector’s Edition) (Review)

Given how willing John Carpenter has been in letting Scream Factory do what they want with his releases, it was only a matter of time before we’d finally see the fantastical and very goofy story of Wang and Jack Burton come out in a stacked collector’s edition. This Blu-ray set did not disappoint. While the transfer is nothing new, there’s a whole new slew of extras, featuring lots of new interviews, multiple commentary tracks, and all the great extras from the previous releases for good measure. Perhaps there will be a 4K scan someday. For now, this is the definitive way to experience a 6.9 on the Richter scale, courtesy of the Porkchop Express.

Jack Burton. Me. (Order HERE)

7. Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is one of my favorite novels, and I’m a big fan of director George Roy Hill (The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). Somehow, though, I’ve never seen the feature adaptation of this story by Hill, which even Vonnegut was quite proud of. That has now changed, and consider me incredibly impressed with how the film not only works on its own accord but still manages to incorporate the tricky rhythm of the narrative’s nature about a man whose mind literally spans all times of his life. The film was ahead of its time in that regard, but Arrow caught up with it well enough to bring it to Blu-ray with a terrific transfer and solid collection of extras. There’s a lot to like about the quality of this release, which includes some great retrospective interviews that will hopefully shed more light on a film not nearly given as much credit as it deserves.

I have become unstuck in time. (Order HERE)


6. The Harder They Come (Collector’s Edition)

Considered to be possibly the most important film to come out of the Caribbean, I first saw this Jamaican film, co-written by and starring reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, on an old Criterion DVD back in college. I’ve been waiting for the day they’d announce a Blu-ray upgrade, only to finally have Shout Factory come in and add it to their Shout Select catalog. They gave it the deluxe treatment too. Not only does the low-budget film boast a new 4K scan from the original 16mm negative, but this is also a packed 3-disc set with a tremendous collection of extras. And that’s not all, as this set comes with director Perry Henzell’s follow-up feature, No Place Like Home, which he had to abandon back in the 70s, only to complete the film and release it to festivals in 2006 before he passed away. At this rate, I’m surprised this set didn’t throw in a CD soundtrack as a cherry on top, but that’s hardly anything to complain about.

Mango season bad this year. (Order HERE)


5. Notorious (Criterion Collection)

Bringing Hitchcock to Blu-ray is always going to have my attention, and Notorious getting a Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion was bound to be one of my favorite releases of the year. This crafty romantic thriller has served as a clear influence on so many features, with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains serving as one heck of an acting triumvirate for Hitchcock to utilize. The film features plenty of classic Hitchcockian moments and is expertly made as a whole. An incredible final five minutes do more to captivate than practically any movie of its kind seen today. Criterion’s presentation is as brilliant as I’d hoped, with a new restoration, and several new features that do plenty to delve into the film and Hitchcock’s legacy.

Alex, will you come in, please? I wish to talk to you. (Order HERE)


4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I may not own a 4K player and TV as of yet, but Spider-Verse is one of the films I can’t wait to view in that format. One of 2018’s best movies, let alone of the best superhero films of the decade, was like watching a dream of a near-perfect Spider-Man film come to life. Thanks to the unorthodox yet highly effective stylization and clever writing, an animated Spider-Man feature emerged to take the crown as one of the most ambitious features in the comic book realm to come along since Sin City. The Blu-ray did not disappoint, as the transfer is reference quality, and the stacked set of extras give the viewer all they’d want as far as understanding the challenge of making such a phenomenal film as this. I’m far from this being one last time when it comes to taking in this movie.

I think it’s a Banksy. (Order HERE)


3. Apocalypse Now: Final Cut (40th Anniversary Edition) (Review)

Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic is not only one of the greatest war (or anti-war) films ever made, but it revolutionized movie-making when it came to sound, among other ways. Back in 2001, Coppola released the “Redux” cut, which restored a lot of deleted material (with mixed reactions). Now we have the “Final Cut,” which is a balance between the two and honestly, my favorite version of the movie. Fortunately, this spectacular Blu-ray release contains all three cuts of the film, along with brilliant companion documentary, Hearts of Darkness, about the insane making of the film, co-directed by Eleanor Coppola. All of the previous extras can be found in this deluxe release, along with a terrific new Q&A between Coppola and director Steven Soderbergh, among other newly released special features. I don’t know if this is the end for Apocalypse Now releases, but there’s no horror to be found in what we can currently see here.

Charlie don’t surf! (Order HERE)


2. Do the Right Thing (Criterion Collection) (Review)

After my favorite film of last year, BlacKkKlansman, gave Spike Lee the biggest spotlight he’s had in some time, I was very sure Criterion would finally provide a Blu-ray upgrade for his seminal film, Do the Right Thing, just in time for its 30th anniversary. They did not disappoint, and Lee’s 1989 masterpiece has found its way to getting a tremendous release that delivers an outstanding new video transfer, easily highlighting just how bright and colorful this racially-charged yet highly entertaining comedy-drama is. There’s also a fantastic 100+ page supplemental book featuring essays and notes from Lee’s film production journal. This goes well with the bevy of extras, both old and new, including a restored documentary, a more recent retrospective documentary, and some terrific new interviews. As Ossie Davis says, it’s important to always do the right thing, and Criterion has done just that with Lee’s film.

Doctor, those that’ll tell don’t know, and those that know won’t tell. (Order HERE)


1. Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975 (Criterion Collection)

Was there ever any doubt this massive Godzilla set would not take the crown as king of the Blu-rays, as far as I’m concerned? As a huge Godzilla fan (who has spent plenty of time writing about the King of the Monsters this year), predicting the arrival of Criterion’s 1000th spine release was nothing compared to actually getting my hands on this literal giant package. This huge book is one of the most visually and physically pleasing Blu-ray sets I own, complete with amazing artwork for each of the 15 films contained within. Given the nature of these old Toho films, I’m not surprised they don’t all arrive looking absolutely stunning, but they certainly look much better than I’ve seen them in various viewings. Plus, there’s a mix of original subtitles and dub tracks, not to mention the original Japanese cut of King Kong vs. Godzilla. That’s a big deal for Godzilla fans. Regardless, as far as a series of fun films, springing from an original, deadly serious picture, this set has come roaring to life, game to satisfy anyone looking for some wild kaiju fun.

Get’em Godzilla! (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.

8 Responses to “Super-Sized Top Ten: Aaron’s Spectacular Blu-ray Picks For 2019”

  1. Brian White

    Hmm. Was there ever any doubt that Godzilla would be #1?! Huge list here! That’s what she said!
    This reminds me…I never picked up Blue Velvet 🙁
    So when I watch Apocalypse Now (hopefully this weekend for my Top 10 on Sunday)…THE FINAL CUT is the one I should watching. I don’t have time for 5 different versions so I want to watch Aaron’s fave.
    I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Doom Patrol Season 1 Blu out (I think like 14.99 now)
    And I need to pick up Dracula too

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    I would start with the theatrical cut of Apocalypse Now.

    I don’t know if I’d ever get to Doom Patrol, but it looks fun.

  3. Brandon Peters

    Happy to see many of these mentions! I didn’t have a hefty Criterion year personally (still not picked up Klute) but it’s nice to add some to the list to check out that i might’ve not otherwise thanks to your Tops!

    And i TOTALLLLLY forgot Notorious came out this year. I’m an idiot. Huge asterisk going on my list now.

    Great list, very different, very much yours and always fun to read and click!

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    Yeah Brandon, I was curious if you just didn’t pick up Notorious yet, as I know you love you some Hitchcock like I do.

  5. Brandon Peters

    Nope, totally have that one. Boneheaded move of 2019 listing for me!

  6. Gregg Senko

    I’m REALLY looking hard at that Godzilla set right now. Plus, I think this article is the second or third one raving about The Blob remake which I don’t ever think I’ve seen all the way through. That could be a blind buy for me, but man, that Godzilla set…

  7. Aaron Neuwirth

    It’s a gorgeous set.

  8. Gerard Iribe

    We always cross-pollinate in terms of lists and the trend continues this year! I have bookmarked quite a few to check out in the coming days/weeks.