Best DVD Releases for 2003 (Drumroll Please)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Chris, Dec 10, 2003.

  1. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

    Jul 4, 1997
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    Ok, I'm going to say it, the DVD Release I was most impressed with this year was:

    Jonah, a VeggieTales Movie.

    Two discs crammed with extras, behind the scenes, commentaries, studio walk throughs, tests, and a real walk of the filmmaking process. While other movies from Disney offered two disc sets with the film on both discs, and just more extras on disc #2, "Jonah" offered a crammed packed second disc full of almost every feature imaginable, and provided incredible insight into what went on in producing the movie, difficulties, and results. It was eye opening to see them discuss everything from fundraising to implementation. Kudos to "Big Idea" for a $14 DVD that had it all.

    Others that would round out my Top 5 (in no particular order)

    Finding Nemo - not as many extras as I wanted, but incredible none the less.

    Alien Quadrilogy - excellent workmanship, fine box, and a great look at the flicks

    Casablanca, collectors Ed. Incredible look, well restored, and still a great flick

    Indiana Jones Box Set - how long had I waited for this box set!

    It was a good year!

    So, anyone else have top fives, or releases that surprised you that you enjoyed them as much as you did.. or were impressed not just with the film but with the overall DVD content?
  2. Paul Drake

    Paul Drake Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 5, 2003
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    My personal end of year recap:

    Top 5 best of 2003:

    1. Volumes 1 and 2 of the restored Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series (these films, among my favorites of all time, have never looked better)

    2. "Dick Van Dyke - Seasons 1 and 2" (discussed at length on this forum)

    3. "A Mighty Wind" - great film on a great DVD with lots of meaningful and fun to watch extras

    4. "Looney Tunes Golden Collection" (also discussed at length on this forum)

    5. "Casablanca" (superb A/V quality with good supplemental material)

    2003 title at top of "still need to get list": Warner Legends Collection

    2004 title most wanted, already annouced: remaining 3 seasons of "Dick Van Dyke"

    2004 titles most wanted, not announced: Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto films

    It'll be interesting to see how many different titles show up in this thread.
  3. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

    Dec 15, 2001
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    Many of the DVDs I got this year were released in previous years, so the list for the current year is only 9 titles long. Out of those nine, I would have to say that my best investment was towards:

    Homicide: Life on the Street - The Complete Seasons 1 & 2
  4. Arnie G

    Arnie G Supporting Actor

    May 29, 2002
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    Definitely, Alien Quadrilogy [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  5. Chazz_S

    Chazz_S Supporting Actor

    Oct 8, 2002
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    -Once Upon a Time in the West
  6. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
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    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    This year has been such a great one... I'm going to go with a run-down of the titles I've checked out:

    Looney Tunes: Golden Collection

    By far, the BEST animation set released so far. The transfers are flawless, the extras are scholarly, and the selections are a lot of fun. After seeing so many of the cartoons in time-compressed, faded, worn, and edited forms on televison, it's a breath of fresh air to see the cartoons look so spiffy. I can't wait until the next volume! Oh yeah, Disney ought to take notes.

    Lon Chaney Collection

    Warner's first release through the new "TCM Archives" label. While the films obviously are not perfect in image quality, the transfers are superb. The musical scores are appropriate, too. The extras (the London Aftger Midnight stills reconstruction, A Thousand Faces documentary, photo galleries, featurettes on the scores, and the Robert Osborne intro) are worthwhile. It's also nice that Warner and TCM chose the lesser-known The Ace of Hearts and the masterpieces Laugh Clown Laugh and The Unknown for the set. I'm hoping that this is only volume one! While Fox is making Sunrise a mail-order/box set-only item, Warner is releasing a 2-disc set for public purchasing. Bravo, Warner!

    The Adventures of Robin Hood

    Best first-release catalog title, hands down! Robin Hood is one of the great classic "fun" movies... combine that with a glowing restoration and remastering, the Night At The Movies pre-show, and the BEST supplements I've seen on a classic...

    Casablanca: Special Edition

    While I thought the original DVD looked wonderful, this transfer looks visually perfect. Another great film with a great transfer and great supplements. Great choice to include both Roger Ebert and Rudy Behlmer commentary tracks! Easily the best catalog re-release!

    Yankee Doodle Dandy

    Another great "fun" film. My thoughts on the film pretty much echo those of Casablanca: SE... although, the Night of the Movies pre-show is a lot of fun.

    The Thing from Another World

    One of the great 1950's horror films. The DVD has an OK transfer, but it's nice to have it on DVD.

    House of Wax/Mystery of the Wax Museum

    Now, THIS is how double-features are done. (Take notes, Universal) Both films have great transfers... great to have both films on the same disc.

    The Haunting

    GREAT horror film. Great transfer and supplements.

    Phantom of the Opera: Ultimate Edition

    THIS is how silent epics should be done. Milestone Films includes both the 1929 version (restored by Photoplay Productions) and the 1925 version (from a very good 16mm source). Photoplay does great work with their restorations...but with the help of Scott MacQueen, the Photoplay restoration has been further cleaned. The result is probably the freshest version of the film. MacQueen's commentary for the 1929 version is superb. A majestic (and appropriately over-the-top) score by Carl Davis goes well with the film. The 1925 version has a great score by Jon Mirsalis. The extras (a 2nd music score edited from the Vitaphone soundtrack of the 1929 version, audio outtakes, trailers for both versions, photo galleries, and an excerpt from a "Faust" film) are fully packed. Tied with Casablanca for best special edition reissue!

    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

    Another great classic special edition. Same views for this release as The Adventures of Robin Hood. Tie with Robin Hood for best new-to-DVD catalog title.

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Vista Series

    Best animated title of the year, easily. Great a/v, great supplements, etc.

    The Complete Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean

    Great package... Mr. Bean is one of the funniest TV shows, period. The inclusion of the misc. Bean skits is great. The documentary is great, too.

    The Beatles Anthology

    Best music release of the year! The documentary is superb, but the inclusion of the excellent PCM, DD 5.1, and DTS 5.1 tracks make it a wonderful experience. The extras are great, too.

    The Adventures of Indiana Jones

    Flawless transfers, great documentary, great misc. extras.

    Metropolis: Restored/Authorized Edition

    Most improved film on DVD, easily. Kino and Transit Film put Madacy to shame. The restoration is nearly flawless, the 5.1 score is majestic, and the documentary is great.

    Lawrence of Arabia: Superbit

    The old DVD isn't awful, it's just innacurate. While I love the documentary and extras on the 2-disc LE, the presentation on the Superbit edition is jaw-dropping.

    "Weird Al" Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection

    With the old Image DVD being out of print, what is the poor Weird Al fan to do? This release gets rid of the edge enhancement on the Image DVD and adds three videos. Plus, the title sequence for Spy Hard has the titles added for two gags that were ruined on the previous DVD because of their absence. Not only that, but extremely powerful 5.1 mixes are added. You haven't lived until you've heard "Dare to be Stupid" in 5.1! While I was hoping for commentaries (Like those Al has graced us with on the UHF DVD and the hidden ones on his concert DVD), the Tomorrow Show bit, the Weird Al Show excerpts, and the hidden My Bologna video are a lot of fun.

    Treasure Island (1950)

    Great transfer and a nice 5.1 mix. That's all. Disney could have at least thrown in a trailer or some TV footage... It's great to have the movie on DVD, at least.

    The Two Towers: Widescreen
    The Two Towers: Extended Edition

    Best new film DVD of the year. Enough people have praised it and for the right reasons, so I'm not going to repeat anything.

    Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends: Season 1

    Best TV release. Great TV show, great remasters, and great supplements.
  7. Jake Johnson

    Jake Johnson Second Unit

    Apr 25, 2003
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    I was very impressed with The Director's Label Series Especially Michel Gondry's disc. Great stuff. The Indiana Jones Trilogy as well.
  8. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

    Jun 21, 2000
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    Here are my top five, as well as some honorable mentions.

    1. The Alien Quadrilogy - What can I say that hasn't already been said. This is perhaps the most extensive DVD set every released.

    2. Black Hawk Down: 3-Disc SE - Up there with the Quadrilogy as one of the finest DVD sets ever released. Between the commentaries and the documentaries, this one has some of the best extra material ever released.

    3. The Two Towers: Extended Edition - The same goes for TTT. Fantastic audio/video quality coupled with wonderful extras.

    4. X-Men 1.5 and X2: X-Men United - Two really good releases. Great DTS tracks on both, great commentaries, and fantastic behind the scenes documentaries. Not as jam-packed as the above two releases, but both very strong.

    5. Daredevil - I know many people don't like this film too much (hell, I'm included on that list), but nothing was spared on the great DVD release. Like the two X-Men DVDs, this has tremendous audio and video quality, as well as some great extras.

    Honorable Mentions
    The Indiana Jones Trilogy - I could have been happier with the extras, but it's hard to not include something that I waited so long for.

    Eraserhead - Not the most loaded (and certainly not the cheapest) release ever, but a cult classic that I'm proud to own.
  9. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

    Jan 31, 2003
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    [SIZE=2.5]For my money (and it certainly was my money--a lot of it), these were the year's twenty best Region 1 releases that I bought (alphabetical):

    All About Eve (Mankiewicz/Fox)
    Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau/Criterion)
    by Brakhage--an anthology (Criterion)
    Casablanca SE (Curtiz/Warner)
    The Devil and Daniel Webster (Dieterle/Criterion)
    Eraserhead (Lynch/Absurda)
    Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy (Criterion)
    I Fidanzati (Olmi/Criterion)
    A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman (Criterion)
    Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais/Criterion)
    Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone/Paramount)
    La Strada (Fellini/Criterion)
    Straw Dogs (Peckinpah/Criterion)
    Sunrise (Murnau/Fox)
    Talk to Her (Almodóvar/Columbia TriStar)
    Three Colors: Blue/White/Red (Kieslowski/Miramax)
    Tokyo Story (Ozu/Criterion)
    Trembling Before G-d (Dubowski/New Yorker)
    Trouble in Paradise (Lubitsch/Criterion)
    Warner Legends Collection (Curtiz/Huston)

    My Region 1 DVD of the year would be Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy box set from Criterion.
    It will come as no surprise that my R1 Studio/Distributor of the Year is Criterion (with Warner second and Fox third).

    2003 was also a great year for non-US releases. The best of those that I picked up (all Region 2 PAL) were:

    The Apu Trilogy (S. Ray/Artificial Eye/UK)
    Un Chant d'amour (Genet/bfi/UK)
    The Chaplin Collection: Complete Box Set (Warner/mk2/UK)
    Dogville SE (von Trier/Nordisk/Denmark)
    Kaurismäki Box Set (Sandrew Metronome/Sweden)
    Partie de campagne (Renoir/bfi/UK)
    Riget I & II (von Trier/Zentropa/Nordisk/Denmark)
    Roman Polanski Collection (Anchor Bay UK)[/SIZE]
  10. Bill Huelbig

    Bill Huelbig Second Unit

    Apr 9, 2000
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    Weehawken, NJ
    Real Name:
    Bill Huelbig
    2003 sure was the best DVD year yet. So many fine releases, but my sentimental favorite was Fox's beautiful CinemaScope print of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1959).

  11. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

    Feb 4, 1999
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    FWIW, here's my Top Five of the Year:

    1. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 4 Disc Extended Edition. With this release The Two Towers now seems much closer in quality to Fellowship. I thought the video quality on the EE box seemed much better than the theatrical release as well. As for the supplements: I'm still working my way through them!

    2. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (All Seven Seasons) As much as I enjoyed this series in its initial run and in syndication, I have enjoyed it that much more on DVD. This very linear series really needed a format like DVD to spread out in. I remain in absolute awe that a series of this type could ever have aired initially on TV in any form. We'll probably never see its like again.

    3. The Lion King: Platinum Collection - Tremendous transfer and the new "Home Theater Mix" rocks. Quality extras were a little on the lean side, but still adequate.

    4. Indiana Jones Trilogy Box - I had quite literally waited to purchase these movies on DVD since I acquired my first DVD player in November 1998. The transfers included with this set did not disappoint. I still lament the fact that we were not given the opportunity to purchase these films in this format until this year.

    5. Finding Nemo - One of the best movies of the year and this two disc collector's edition really allowed the staggering and eye-popping 3D animation to shine at home.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Casablanca - Two disc Collector's Edition

    Alien Quadrilogy - Can there be overkill to present a series in this fashion when there were only two really great entries into the series?

    Looney Tunes Golden Collection - Great transfers and great supplements!

    The Love Bug - Two disc Collector's Edition Did you know that Dean Jones still owns one of the cars utilized in the first movie?

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit - Vista Series - This ground breaking movie finally gets the treatment it's always deserved on the format.
  12. Joey Gunz

    Joey Gunz Second Unit

    Feb 26, 2003
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    These are all of the DVDs I got this year:

    1) Pirates of the Caribbean
    2) Terminator 3
    3) Matrix Reloaded
    4) Day of the Dead
    5) 28 Days Later
    6) Futurama Volume 1 & 2
    7) Star Trek DS9 volume 1-3
    8) Harry Potter & Chamber of Secrets

    Out of that list I choose the following as my pick for this year's best DVD release:

    1) Day of the Dead - Anchor Bay did an amazing job on this special 2-Disc release. It looks sharp and sounds great. And has some nice extras too. A lot of care went into it. I'm looking forward in seeing what they have in store for the Special Edition of Dawn of the Dead next year.

    2) Star Trek DS9 Volume 1-3 - I was a big fan of this show when it first aired. It's a pretty ambitious series and I'm very ecstatic to finally own them. [​IMG]

    3) Futurama Volume 1 & 2 - Funny! And it looks stunning on DVD. The colors literally jump out at ya.

    Note: I still haven't watched "Matrix Reloaded", "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Terminator 3". Its possible they may have made my "best" list. But until I watch 'em, They don't get a mention.
  13. Xenia Stathakopoulou

    Xenia Stathakopoulou Cinematographer

    Apr 25, 2003
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    My top 5 of the year in no particular order.Alien quadrilogy,looney tunes golden,honeymooners classic 39,lion king,duran duran greatest.Two towers extended didnt make the list for me, because the extras seem very similar in structure to fellowships extended.
  14. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

    Jun 19, 1999
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    Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Blanc and Rouge

    Masterpieces with nice transfer/sound and a wealth of useful extras (no fluff). Annette Insdorf's audio commentary's are the best on DVD.

    Francois Truffaut's Adventures of Antoine Doinel: CC

    Nicely put together. [​IMG] to Criterion.

    The Dekalog (re-release)

    Decently put together. Nice to finally have these Kieslowski masterpieces.

    Miller's Crossing and Barton Fink

    Long awaited release for a Coen Brother's fan.

    Punch-Drunk Love

    What's not to love? Nice release of a fantastic film. Beautiful in every way.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Le Circle Rouge:CC
    La Strada:CC
    Talk to Her
    Tokyo Story:CC

    Jan/Feb of 2004 already looks incredible:

    Ingmar Bergman Collection (really looking forward to this one)
    Mon Oncle:CC and M. Hulot's Holiday:CC (back in print)
    City of God (Best film of 2003, ridiculously long theatre to DVD gap)
    Ed Wood (finally)
  15. Estevan Lapena

    Estevan Lapena Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 21, 2003
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    Once Upon A Time in The West
    Once Upon A Time in America
    Indy Trilogy
    Straw Dogs: Criterion
    Scarface: AE
    Carlito's Way: Collectors Edition
    Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas: Criterion

    agreed with Miller's Crossing and Barton Fink!
    Quite a good year!
  16. Shane_Anthony

    Shane_Anthony Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 30, 2003
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    Alien Quad
    Led Zeppelin
    Looney Tunes
    Beatles Anthology
    Charlie Chaplin Volume 1
    Straw Dogs(amazing commentary)
    Once Upon A Time In The West

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    These were all better than I could have expected thus I didn't include LOTR,INDY or BHD SE
  17. Mark Perkins

    Mark Perkins Agent

    Oct 16, 2002
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    My favorite ten releases from 2003, not necessarily in any particular order are:

    Adventures of Indiana Jones
    Alias Seasons 1 and 2
    Alien Quadrilogy
    Casablanca- Special Edition
    Family Guy Volume 1 and 2
    Finding Nemo
    Matrix Reloaded
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  18. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Jul 19, 2002
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    #1) Alien Quadrilogy
    best presentation for a catalog series-ever-bar none.
    not only does the first film look exceptional and is an improvment over what was already more than acceptable (for almost any other studio, the original release would look like the 'new improved remaster'), but the additional material is not only exhaustive, but extremely well organized.
    i've only dipped my toes in this set, and its clear that this is the most lush, lavish treatment a catalog title is ever likely to get.
    hell- discs 5-9 are all bonus material as far as i'm concerned.
    i'm not complaining.

    #2) Dick Van Dyke Show S1 & 2
    simply the finest presentation of a tv series.
    this is the benchmark, and should be the template for every other studio.
    from the "form follows functionality" of the packaging, to the Original Air Date/Filming Date blurbs on the menu pages.
    simple, comphrehensive, classy.
    and the A/V qulaity is top-notch.
    i was impressed with the presentation of the MTM show last year from Fox, but this release, with its better packaging, not to mention commitment to further seasons, trumps that.
  19. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

    Oct 6, 2001
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    I would say that 2003 was probably the best year for DVD since its creation.

    AS great as 03 was I hope that 04 will be twice as good!!!
  20. Jonny P

    Jonny P Supporting Actor

    Sep 5, 2002
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    Indiana Jones Trilogy
    Commentaries would have been nice, but the fact that I got to own the movie that I loved and saw 36 times in the theater as a kid (Raiders) was a real treat. "Raiders" looked like a brand-new movie.

    Alias: Season 1 and 2
    I have been having a fantastic time working my way through these sets. "Alias" may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I absolutely adore this show. It is a spy show with solid acting and decent character development. Jennifer Garner is wonderful as Sydney Bristow. I find it to be better on DVD than on TV...and I have actually enjoyed the show much more in this format.

    24: Season 2
    As you can tell, I like TV shows. This is another show that is perfect for the DVD format. I have spent countless hours watching this and season 1, and I am happy to say that they made improvements in this release (chapter stops [​IMG] ).

    X2: X-Men United
    While not the greatest two-disc set, there is a lot to recommend. In my opinion the X-Men movies are the most enjoyable comic-book adaptations to date. Picture and sound are quite nice as well.

    Finding Nemo
    Another great Pixar/Disney release. The enhanced commentary on this is fantastic, and almost another documentary unto itself.

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