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Best DVDs of 2001
Aaron Beierle

Best DVDs of 2001 - Aaron Beierle

The List:

Best Studio

1. 20th Century Fox: This is the easiest choice of any that I have to make for this year's "best of" pics. Fox has shown true devotion to the entertainment and information experience that DVD can provide. "Moulin Rouge" and "Planet of the Apes" are two massive sets that boast not only outstanding image and audio quality, but remarkable supplements that aren't just promotional bits. DTS support and willingness to listen to consumers really make Fox the easy choice for top studio.

2. New Line: While the "Infinfilm" series was not met with unanimous approval from DVD fans, New Line still continues to produce DVDs with exceptional audio/video quality and extras that enhance the viewing experience.

3. Columbia/Tristar: The "Superbit" series was a bit mixed (although there were a few titles such as "Gattaca" and "Desperado" that showed considerable improvements), but Tristar still continues to produce titles with fine audio/video quality and supplements for small films that may have been overlooked otherwise.

4. Disney: A name I never thought I would include on this list after some serious concerns with early product, Disney has really begun to win me over with more consistently high-quality presentations, some DTS support and more special editions, as well as more impressive treatment of some of their animated gems (the "Walt Disney Treasures" series, "Snow White"). The studio goes into 2002 with more planned Vista series titles and what seems like an even stronger devotion to the format.

5. Paramount: While it has taken a little while, Paramount has shown improvements in recent months with some of their catalog releases being priced at $24.99 instead of $29.99. They also finally brought out big-name titles like "The Godfather" series and "Forrest Gump". More and more titles from the studio are also including some supplemental features.

Best Studio (Music)

1. Image Entertainment: Image Entertainment again leads the pack in terms of music DVD distributors. Their releases often boast excellent audio/video quality and even some enjoyable supplements. They also have been a very consistent supporter of DTS on their releases. Their presentations are professional, with excellent, easily navigated menus. They have also put out some interesting programming, such as the "Music in High Places" series.

2. Warner Music: While Warner does not seem interested in presenting their theatrical releases with DTS soundtracks, Warner Music has quietly gone about doing DTS on their own, with terrific DTS soundtracks on "Eric Clapton: Live in Hyde Park" and "Madonna: Drowned World Tour". Their support of DVD-Audio also earns them a spot. A little more consistency in 5.1 audio on their music releases would be terrific.

3. BMG: Consistent support of presenting music releases in 5.1 has won me over over the past few years. Some of their titles (Britney Spears, Dave Matthews Band) have also started to include some supplemental features, as well.

Best DVD: Overall

1. Citizen Kane. Yes, the fact that it's probably one of the finest films ever made certainly helps its ranking, but Warner Brothers also did a tremendous job with the DVD edition of the film. The feature looks and sounds particularly fresh and clean, while the commentary from Roger Ebert adds enormous insight into the picture.

2. Rebecca: Criterion. One of Criterion's finest efforts, this 2-DVD set provides the Hitchcock film with not only remarkable audio/video, but a massive amount of rare and fascinating supplemental features.

3. Snow White. Disney's near-miraculous restoration of the film brings a richness and shine to the animation that probably hasn't been seen in many, many years. Combined with impressive supplements, this is really classic treatment of a gem.

4. Planet of the Apes. Say what you will about the film, this 2-DVD set from Fox and producer David Prior seems ready to burst with all the supplements contained within. The supplements seem to be largely filmed during production, which makes for much more interesting viewing, as the film wasn't yet the box office hit it ultimately was.

5. The Godfather Collection. Although there were some who had varying levels of dissapointment with the image quality across all three pictures, Paramount and American Zoetrope seem to have tried their best collecting some enjoyable supplements and putting all three films into a nicely presented set.

6. Moulin Rouge: Fox's 2-DVD edition is the second outstanding release within a 2 month period and one of a fairly big group of two disc sets the studio has produced this year. The DVD's reference quality video does a marvelous job bringing out the film's stunning cinematography and vibrant color palette beautifully, while a ton of supplements do a strong job taking the viewer behind-the-scenes.

7. Simpsons: Season One. Fox continues to dominate my year-end list with this fantastic edition of the early moments of one of television's finest comedies. Most TV releases are rather basic efforts, giving you the show - no more, no less. It's apparent that the creators were heavily involved, as we get hilarious commentary from Matt Groenig and crew.

8. Requiem For a Dream: Director's Cut. With multiple audio commentaries from director Darren Aronofsky (story, production) and cinematographer Matthew Libatique (technical) as well as documentaries and deleted scenes, the viewer is taken further into understanding the production of this dark, haunting film. Repriced in mid-December 2001, the film can now be had for $14.99 or less.

9. Do The Right Thing: Criterion Collection. Spike Lee's controversial and powerful film is given the full Criterion treatment in this two-disc set. Many of the supplements have been taken from the laserdisc edition, but the DVD boasts a fine anamorphic transfer and an extremely lower price tag. A few of the supplements, such as the main documentary, are absolutely fascinating viewing.

10. Shrek: Rounding out the list is one of the biggest pictures of the year and one of the year's biggest sellers. While some of the supplements were not quite up to expectations, there were some remarkable ones (the re-voice DVD-ROM supplement). The picture quality is also perfection and the film itself is simply good fun.

Runners-Up: Cast Away: Special Edition, Notorious: Criterion, The Goonies: Special Edition, Terminator: Special Edition, My Man Godfrey: Criterion, L'Avventura: Criterion, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Director's Cut), Snatch: Special Edition, A Better Place: Special Edition, 13 Days: Infinifilm Series, Star Wars: Episode 1, Bounce: Special Edition, Monty Python and the Holy Grail: SE, Die Hard: 5 Star Edition, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Dark Days: Special Edition, Almost Famous: Untitled

Best Of 2002: So Far

1. Fast and the Furious: Special Edition. Next year begins with a roar as Universal's special edition of this entertaining street race flick is released during the first week of next year. Interesting and informative extras accompany stunning video quality and incredibly powerful and agressive audio.

Best Commentary:
1. Roger Ebert, "Citizen Kane".
2. Mike Nichols and Steven Soderberg, "Catch 22"
3. Robert Zemeckis & Crew, "Cast Away"
4. Francis Ford Coppola, "The Godfather Series"
5. Oliver Stone, "Heaven and Earth" & Oliver Stone Collection Titles
6. Cameron & Alice Crowe, "Almost Famous: Untitled"
7. Matt Groenig & crew: "The Simpsons"
8. Darren Aronofsky, "Requiem For A Dream"
9. Kevin Smith, etc.: "Clerks: The Animated Series"
10. Seann William Scott, Danny Leiner and Aston Kutcher, "Dude, Where's My Car?"
Most Unexpected Special Editions
1. Joe Dirt
2. The Animal
3. Freddy Got Fingered
Runner-Up: Highlander: Endgame

Best Exercise DVD (Well, The Only One I Watched)
1. Anna Kournikova: Basic Elements

Most Unfortunately Overlooked Movies
1. "Dark Days"
2. "The Road Home"
3. "Lost and Delirious"

Best Musical Releases:

No Particular Order:
The Who: Live at Royal Albert Hall, Bruce Springsteen: Live in New York City, The Go Go's: Live in Central Park, Dave Matthews Band: Videos, Madonna: Drowned World Tour, Fleetwood Mac: Rumors (DVD-A), U2: Elevation Tour: Live in Boston, A.I: Soundtrack (DVD-A), VH1 Storytellers: The Doors, Fugazi: Instrument, Down From The Mountain, Moby: Play, Bela Fleck: Accoustic Sessions 2 (DVD-A), Lilith Fair: A Celebration of Women in Music

Theatrical Releases:
Best Films: Theatrical Release
1. Memento
2. Royal Tenenbaums
3. Ocean's Eleven
4. Road Home
5. The Man Who Wasn't There
6. Sidewalks of New York
7. Lost and Delirious
8. Sexy Beast
9. Startup.com
10.The Others

Runners up: Time and Tide, Kiss of the Dragon, Shrek, Zoolander, A.I.
(Theatrical Release List May Be Updated)

Best Large-Format/IMAX: All Access: Live

Worst Films Of The Year:
1. Freddy Got Fingered
2. Evolution
3. Tomcats
4. Summer Catch
5. Ghosts of Mars

- Aaron Beierle

DVD Talk Reviewers and Columnists take on the Top DVDs of 2001 :
DVD Talk Main Best of 2001 Page
Aaron Beierle
Brian R. Boisvert
Jason Bovberg
Phillip Duncan
Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
G. Noel Gross (CineSchlock-O-Rama)
Chris Hughes
Gil Jawetz
Matt Langdon
Holly Ordway
John Wallis

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