Best DVDs of 2000
by Brian Boisvert
|Best DVDs of 2000 - Brian Boisvert
Let me state at the very beginning that boiling down any year's DVD
releases to a "top-10" list is a difficult prospect at best. Of the
thousands of discs, how do you pick just ten? What criteria do you use?
What if a film was fantastic, but the DVD was lackluster? What if a movie
had great picture quality, but little or no supplements? Are there any
great titles that you may have not seen yet?
Having said this, my list is sure to not match yours exactly. Cries of
"Why did he include that?" or "How could he forget this?" are bound to be
heard at terminals across the land. For this, I apologize in advance.
But my hope is that my list may possibly bring a DVD to your attention
that you otherwise would have ignored. I've tried my best to include in
this list what I felt was best about DVDs in the year 2000. (I've even
cheated a bit, grouping similar titles together to expand beyond 10
For better or worse, here is my TOP 10 DVDs OF 2000 (in no
- Fantasia Anthology / Toy Story: Ultimate Toy Box -- Disney
has begun to show signs that they understand how to do a proper DVD.
These two sets have literally everything a fan could want, including
amazing picture and sound quality. The hours and hours of extras show
that Disney is fully capable of creating special editions that rival any
other studio. I hope that Disney begins to shower its other films with
the same loving attention in 2001 and beyond. (Likely initial candidates
would be Tron, Mary Poppins, and Alice in Wonderland -- films with
previous deluxe treatment on LaserDisc, but movie-only DVDs.)
- Gladiator / X-Men-- 2000 was, in general, a terrible year
for major Hollywood theatrical releases. Most of the big-budget
blockbusters were virtually unwatchable. These two titles represent the
best of the bunch, and both showed up in excellent DVD editions.
Gladiator was the clear winner of the two: a gorgeous 2-DVD set with an
amazing number of entertaining and informative extras. X-Men had far
fewer extras than most people had hoped for, but still resulted in an
exciting viewing experience with high-quality video and sound.
- The Indian Tomb / Les Vampires -- Two rare, epic-length silent
masterpieces. Both have been painstakingly restored and look great. Film
buffs would be well served by seeking out these little-seen gems.
- North By Northwest / The Time Machine -- Warner showed us just
how great 40-year-old films can really look on DVD. These discs -- in
terms of video, audio, and extras -- should serve as a guide for future
classic releases from all studios.
- Planet of the Apes: The Evolution -- A case where the positives
overcome the negatives. Negative: the films are not enhanced for 16x9
TVs. Positive: the set includes all 5 movies, reasonably priced, with
great audio/video quality. Plus an amazingly wonderful 2-hour documentary
about the series. Lack of anamorphic-enhancement aside, it's tough to
imagine what else a fan of this series could want.
- Seven / Fight Club -- Two recent, intriguing David Fincher
films, both given a huge number of supplements detailing every aspect of
production. Watching these DVDs is like attending film school in your own
living room. We can only hope that 2001 will find other major filmmakers
(Lucas and Spielberg, are you listening?) treating their works with the
same respect and attention to detail.
- Supergirl / Carnival of Souls -- I realize that these two films
stick out on a top-10 list. Supergirl? Hardly a classic film. And
that's exactly why it makes the list. Both of these films are relatively
obscure, with a very small, cult audience. Yet both were released in
deluxe 2-disc sets, with great restored picture quality, alternate cuts,
and a wealth of supplemental material. Both Anchor Bay and Criterion
deserve kudos for investing so much time and effort into films that other
studios would never release in the first place.
- Treasures from American Film Archives -- This stunning box
represents a collaboration between 18 different preservation institutions
to highlight rare and important films throughout history. The 4-DVD
collection (along with a 135-page book) makes for fascinating viewing, and
net proceeds from the set are donated to support further film
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day / The Abyss -- Two of James
Cameron's best films get the deluxe treatment on DVD.
Preserving/recycling the extra material from previous LaserDiscs (and
adding some new stuff too!), these sets are truly the "ultimate edition"
of the films. Video and audio quality is stellar (although The Abyss
barely made the list, due to its lack of widescreen enhancement). Both
films include multiple versions, and the supplements will take you hours
to pour through. These sets are prime examples of the value of bringing
LD special edition material over when creating DVD content.
- The X-Files (Season 1+2) / The Sopranos (Season 1) -- Two
fantastic television series presented in a wonderful fashion: full season
boxes, reasonably priced, with great audio/video quality and some added
supplements. Paramount (home of 2 Star Trek episodes per DVD) and Warner
(home of the "Best of Friends" collection) could learn a thing or two from
this approach. If people like a TV show enough to buy it on DVD, they
want all of the episodes.
Honorable Mention: American Beauty, The Blob, Braveheart, The
Bridge on the River Kwai, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Charlie
Chaplin DVDs from Image Entertainment, Chasing Amy, The Conversation, Dead
Again, The Dead Zone, Edward Scissorhands, Flash Gordon serials, Jurassic
Park, The Lathe of Heaven, Men in Black, The Omen, Pee-Wee's Big
Adventure, Plan 9 from Outer Space: Special Edition, The Sound of Music,
Universal's "Classic Monsters" Collection.
Missed Opportunity: While studios like Columbia/Tri-Star and Fox
are producing some stunning 2-DVD sets, Universal dropped the ball on two
major releases this year: Jaws and Touch of Evil. While
both of these are very good DVDs, they are clearly not as good as they
could (and should) be.
Jaws saw its audio "upgraded" to a 5.1 soundtrack (with newly-recorded
sound effects). While the results are generally pleasing, to not include
the original mono soundtrack (the way this classic has been enjoyed for
the past 25 years) is a shame. A THX-approved, digital mono track was
created for the previous LaserDisc, so why not include it? Additionally,
the wonderful 2+ hour documentary from the LD has been trimmed to about
half its original length. I thought that the increased capacity of DVD
was supposed to overcome the space considerations of LD? Instead of an
major improvement of the LD box, we get "Jaws Lite" -- improved video, but
altered audio and fewer supplements. Universal should have made this a
2-DVD set and done it right.
Touch of Evil was finally recut to get closer to Orson Welles's original
vision (as detailed in his legendary 58-page memo to the studio). Great
idea. To release the DVD without the promised documentary and without the
original theatrical cut for comparison? Bad idea.
Final Thoughts: Overall, 2000 saw tremendous growth in availability
and variety of titles on DVD, from extremely obscure cult classics to
major blockbusters. People who focus too much on the lack of availability
of some specific titles (The Godfather, Star Wars, Indiana Jones) would be
better off if they used this time to explore what actually is available.
With nearly 10,000 titles on DVD, there are plenty of amazing films out
there just waiting to be discovered. Whether it's a silent classic or a
low budget B-movie, I guarantee that there are films currently released
that you will love and cherish.
If 2000 is any sign of things to come, 2001 should be an exciting year for
DVD. Studios appear to be learning from past mistakes. They are not only
preparing to release some great, often-requested catalog titles (Superman,
Close Encounters, Ben-Hur, Rear Window, Lawrence of Arabia), but they are
also revisiting previously released DVDs, improving the quality and adding
additional supplements (Die Hard trilogy, 2001: A Space Odyssey,
Apocalypse Now). I can't wait.