The Aughts are Over! Can I hear a chorus of halleluiah! And while few may miss the passing of this somewhat disdained decade, it's hard for fans of home entertainment to quibble that it was the best ten years yet for the medium. So here's a final look at back at the triumphs in the audio/video world from way back in January 2000 to the end of 2009. These are not necessarily the best movies of the decade, in fact, few of them actually are from the recent decade past, but they are the best of the formats from the dying days of laserdisc to the decade of DVD to the short-lived HD-DVD to the dawn of Blu-ray. If your library doesn't include any of these titles, run, don't walk to pick them up today (or, in this wired age, surf your way to Amazon) to add these to your sadly deficient collection. And while the list is top-heavy with genre titles, it's only because these films lend themselves to the video and audio strengths of the format and have tended to receive the most tender loving care from the studios due to their strong commercial appeal.
With all the talk about digital downloading and the implosion of home video sales, it's easy to lose of the sight of the fact that 2009 was another fantastic year for home entertainment. Blu-ray took another quantum leap forward as it penetrated further into the mainstream, although I could do with a little less bells and whistles as the tub thumping of BD-Live turned out to be much ado about nothing and I continue to loathe easter eggs. And DVD proved that while it was down, it definitely wasn't out. And most of the studios began amping up their release of vintage catalog titles on Blu-ray with Warner Bros leading the way with the great (The Wizard of Oz) to the good (Gone With the Wind) to the kitschy (Logan's Run). It was exceptionally hard to narrow down my favorite titles of the year to only ten (and, all of my Top 10 are Blu-ray titles with a few standard def DVD titles singled out among my runner-up's), but after many bleary eyed hours of re-sampling the candidates, here is my list of The Best Discs of 2009. Let the kvetching begin.
For this, the first installment of MOS DEF, here's some thoughts on new and recent Blu-rays I've enjoyed...
Whatever Works (Sony): B+
A pristine transfer, effective, but subdued DTS-HD Master Audio mix for the dialogue driven film and the first rate pairing of the irascible Larry David and the brilliant Woody Allen as writer/director seems like the ingredients for a film classic. But while the Woodman's latest is a delightful, amusing confection, it certainly doesn't rank alongside his classics like Annie Hall, Manhattan and Husbands and Wives to name a few, all notably (and inexcusably) absent from BD thus far. As is par for the course for all of Woody's films, the disc is completely devoid of special features, but is a welcome addition to his oeuvre (and anyone's Blu-ray collection) nonetheless.