Well… it’s that time again, folks. Time for The Digital Bits to honor and acknowledge the best of Blu-ray Disc from the past year’s crop of excellent releases.
For this year’s awards we’ve decided to strip things down and keep it simple. We’ve boiled down our awards to just TEN categories, with one BONUS category. And while many titles could obviously qualify in multiple categories, we’ve decided that if a title wins any category that would disqualify it from winning in others – the idea being that this would allow us to recognize as much great work as possible. The primary qualification is that each winner must have arrived in stores in the calendar year 2012. Beyond that, virtually every title was eligible for consideration. Each member of The Bits voting staff was invited to nominate as many titles as they wished per category and then to select their choice for the very best. What follows is the result – one winner per category and a handful of titles we also felt deserved special recognition in each. We hope you enjoy it.
From all of us here at The Digital Bits, our hearty congratulations to everyone in the industry who contributed to the winning titles and to all of the other fine titles we considered. It was an especially good year for Blu-ray!
Let’s get started…
Best New Release/Special Edition – Prometheus: 4-Disc Collector’s Edition
This Fox title was the unanimous pick of every Bits staffer. The simple fact is that, whether you liked Ridley Scott’s sequel to the original Alien or not (and many of us didn’t), this 4-disc set is arguably the single most comprehensive and voluminous special edition ever produced for a new release film. Not only does producer Charles de Lauzirika best his impressive previous efforts by pushing every traditional “film school in a box” button that you’d hope, this set delivers in terms of the latest cutting edge features as well, including Second Screen tablet and smartphone compatibility and even 3D. Snap!
Runners-Up: Leading the list of other titles we considered in this category are Marvel’s The Avengers from Disney, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games (special props to Cliff Stephenson’s outstanding documentary) and The Cabin in the Woods, and Sony’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. All are well worth your time and money.
Best Catalog Release (post-1970) – Jaws: Universal 100th Anniversary Series
Steven Spielberg’s first real big screen blockbuster was another near-unanimous pick among Bits staffers this year. Universal’s Blu-ray release features a magnificent and light-handed restoration of the film itself, along with the all new (and simply fantastic) The Shark is Still Working documentary and virtually all of the already excellent previous DVD special edition features.
Runners-Up: This was a loaded category to be sure. Among the other worthy nominees were Universal’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Anniversary Edition, Criterion’s Heaven’s Gate and The Game, Warner’s Empire of the Sun and Sony’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Best Deep Catalog/Classic Release (pre-1970) – Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection
We went back and forth as to whether to award this Bitsy to a single film or a box set. But the simple fact of the matter is that Universal’s Classic Monster films are hugely influential, much loved and we never seriously expected to see them on Blu-ray Disc, much less in this kind of quality. Universal’s individual restorations – particularly Dracula – are magnificent, the extras are voluminous and there’s real joy in having all of the key titles collected together in a single box. Universal even included The Creature from the Black Lagoon in both 2D and 3D! This is just about as good as it gets for classic film fans.
Runners-Up: Also worthy of your time and money in this category are Criterion’s The Gold Rush, The 39 Steps, Harold and Maude and Rosemary’s Baby, Universal’s Pillow Talk and To Kill a Mockingbird, and Warner’s A Streetcar Named Desire.