This year, I've outsourced this feature to the inimitable Peter Suderman, whom you may recall guest-blogging last May. He's offered a quick-and-dirty guide to what you should watch on your new Blu-Ray player, or your old DVD player if you're lacking some of these. Says Peter:
2008 is the year that Blu-ray won the format wars. If you're a movie buff, you've probably upgraded already. If you're a gamer, you might have a PS3. Even if you're a casual movie watcher, the sub-$200 price points on Blu-ray players are starting to look extremely attractive.
The Godfather: Coppola Restoration Gift Set - Even with a limp third installment, it's still the greatest trilogy of all time. The DVD box set, while nicely packaged, was criticized for its middling picture quality, but on Blu-ray, Coppola's masterpiece finally gets the visual treatment it deserves.
Blade Runner: Five Disc Collector's Edition - Ridley Scott's breathtaking dystopian vision is now more than 25 years old, but it's still the most stunning portrait of the future ever put on film. The recent restoration is among the best I've ever seen, and the alternate versions of the film are a must-have for obsessives.
Bottle Rocket: Criterion Collection - Wes Anderson's debut isn't the sort of film the demands Blu-ray's ultra high-quality picture, but it's a gem of a movie that deserves every bit of the care and attention to detail that went into the Criterion Collection's release.
Point Break - May be Keanu Reeves's finest moment, which isn't saying much, but the movie, which follows a surfer cop on the trail of thrill-junkie bank robbers, is a delightful romp anyway, and the Blu-ray transfer is surprisingly sharp.
Wall•E - The only thing better than a great film-to-digital transfer is a great digital-to-digital transfer, and Wall•E, in addition to being one of the year's most endearing movies, has one of the best.
The Adventures of Robin Hood - Errol Flynn's 1938 adventure is one of cinema's grandest, and it's also one of the best ways to show off Blu-ray's capacity for making old films look new.
Transformers - Michael Bay's ludicrous, juvenile giant-robot movie is an exercise in blockbuster purism, thunderously dumb and wondrously entertaining. If nothing else, it's a great way to show off a home-theater system.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Andrew Dominik's transfixing, melancholy depiction of the mythic outlaw was overlooked in 2007, but it's one of the most uniquely beautiful movies in recent memory.
The Dark Knight - Director Christopher Nolan shot several of the action setpieces in the IMAX format, and the difference in detail can only be seen on Blu-ray.
Mad Men: Season One - The greatest show on television? Maybe, maybe not. But it's certainly one of the most immaculately crafted. Stylized societal repression never looked this good.
I'll add some Box Sets I have Loved:
- The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus,
- The Wire (yes, it really is the best show ever)
- The complete Twilight Zone
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie: Hugh Laurie before he was House, and Stephen Fry, who is even funnier than Hugh Laurie.
- Jeeves and Wooster, the complete set: Four years of BBC dramatisation of Jeeves and Wooster, with Laurie playing Bertie Wooster, and Stephen Fry playing the inimitable Jeeves
- The Horatio Hornblower Collector's Edition: The finest television movies ever made. Seriously.
- Alfred Hitchcock's Signature and Masterpiece collection box sets.
But once you buy the player, you'll need to stock up on films. That in mind, here are a couple of Blu-ray releases (not all from this year) worth picking up: