This year was an excellent one for DVD releases. The three-disc craze went out of control, making it increasingly harder to get single-disc editions of movies. On top of extra features and better cases, the quality of the films available on home media this year has been phenomenal. Though I tried to whittle down my personal ‘Best Of’ list, it does appears a little populist at first. However, as a lover of the total package (including special features, packaging and the film itself) I expanded what is below to include some surprising praise (Wanted) while giving the shaft to last year’s Oscar bait (No Country for Old Men, shame shame). Enjoy and drop a comment below if you feel your favorite DVD from the year was left off this list!
Top Ten DVD Releases of 2008
10. Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Two-Disc Special Collector’s Edition): This stylized dark musical was classic Tim Burton and like most of his ‘Collector’s Edition’ DVD’s, it is chock full of great features, especially if you enjoy the original Sondheim musical.
9. L.A. Confidential (Two-Disc Special Edition): This was a DVD screaming for a re-release (ugh snapcase) and the bonus TV pilot starring Keifer Sutherland is the cherry on top of the film-noir goodness.
8. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Three-Disc Unrated Collector’s Edition): I finally caught this bromantic comedy and I am currently appealing to my friends for this three-disc set, if only for more features on the magnificent Muppet Dracula Rock Opera.
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas (2-Disc Collector’s Edition + Digital Copy): The Disney classic finally gets a worthy edition with an excellent case design. I held out buying the previous editions and can now bask in this Jack Skellington glowing-faced edition for years to come.
6. Rambo (Special Edition + Digital Copy): I was tentative about Stallone being able to rejuvenate the franchise and I had to eat my words. This two-disc set is a must for die-hard action fans, especially so you can rewatch the insanity of the final 20 minutes over and over.
5. Wanted (Limited Edition Collector’s Gift Set): I really liked the case design and the movie was worth the added price to get the jam packed set.
4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 3: This is the season where it all came together and almost every episode is infinitely rewatchable. Even though you can see most of the episodes free on Hulu.com you should still pony up for the set. The features are pretty good and they don’t exist for free on the internet.
3. The Big Lebowski – 10th Anniversary Limited Edition: This is an excellent shelf piece with a delightfully low price. I would think the cult status of the movie would have earned a higher selling price, so mark this as one of the best bargains of the year.
2. The Dark Knight (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy): This selection can make a play for best movie of the year, however the special features didn’t thrill me and it will have to live with second place.
1. Iron Man (Two-Disc Special Collectors’ Edition): Maybe not the best movie of the year, but the extensive features included on this set make it a lock #1 choice. Everyone should own this movie.
Additionally, here are five of my other favorite DVD releases from 2008 that you may have missed:
1. Spaced: The Complete Series: The minds behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz finally release their early TV collaboration stateside for all of us to enjoy. This should tide us over until their third movie from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright comes out.
2. In Bruges: This was possibly the best indie film I saw this year with excellent acting from Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes. The dialogue and story is pure genius, so be sure to give this at least a rental.
3. The Orphanage (La Orfanato): This was the best horror film of the year with unmatched tension and a unique and engrossing storyline. This was also one of the first foreign films I have seen where the subtitles actually enhance the viewing experience.
4. Burn Notice – Season One: If you missed this action/comedy’s inaugural season, you can catch up and get front row seats to weekly doses of Bruce Campbell. I found the show’s balance of comedy and intrigue to be masterful. Few television shows today can match it on pure entertainment.
5. Touch Of Evil (50th Anniversary Edition): Orson Welles’ most debated film gets released with three different cuts and the original note Welles sent to the producers after they took the film from him.