Recently the DVD Talk review panel looked back on the past 12 months and after a lot of arguing, pleading, and some gnashing of teeth, selected the best-of-the-best, the 10 discs from 2015 that we'd most want to have on our shelves. The result is a diverse group too: from an animated Disney classic to punk rock documentaries and recent blockbusters to rare shorts showing off niche technology, we have included a little bit of everything on the list. Whether you're a fan of musicals or action flicks, there is something for every taste included.
1. Interstellar - Christopher Nolan's work has never lacked in ambition, and his nearly three-hour space epic reaches new heights in following Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) as he heads into space in an attempt to save humanity from a dystopian fate. For all the sci-fi in the film, it never loses sight of the idea that the people in the movie are human beings, and Nolan and his team crafted a film of genuine vision to make it affecting from all angles. On Blu-ray, the film's sights and sounds carry the right punch, while the relatively-lengthy extras touch on both the film's production and the science behind the film's story, delivering the well-rounded perspective on the film that all great home-video releases provide.
2. Mad Max Fury Road - George Miller's return to the world of Mad Max after years experimenting with more lighter fair such as "Babe" and "Happy Feet" show an action-minded auteur who hasn't lost a beat in nearly three decades away from the post-apocalypse. Planting Tom Hardy's titular road warrior as a firm supporting player, "Fury Road" is the first and foremost the story of Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and her search for belonging in world long gone mad. Although nearly two-full hours of car chase set pieces on the surface, Miller's vision is among the best 2015 has to offer at the cinema and a commanding piece of feminist filmmaking. Warner's Blu-Ray is a stunning presentation that serves up a near perfect home theater recreation of a film that was hopefully viewed on the big screen first, but transfers well to even the smallest of viewing locales.
3. Ex Machina - While most audiences will recognize Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac from their performances in "The Force Awakens", it turns out the latest "Star Wars" entry wasn't the best sci-fi film these two shared the screen in. Quietly released in January, "Ex Machina" weaves a dreamlike tale of what it means to be human against a setting of isolationism and humankind's first tinkering with AI. Featuring a trio of stellar performances, with Alicia Vikander stealing the movie from under Isaac and Gleeson as Ava, Alex Garland offers viewing audiences a new sci-fi classic to revisit on Blu-Ray featuring phenomenal A/V quality.
4. 3-D Rarities - Celebrating 100 years of 3D motion pictures, 3D Rarities brings us early test footage dating to 1915, as well as rarely-seen promotional films, avant-garde graphics, a boxing match, cartoons and trailers for 3D movies released during the "Golden Age" of the 1950s- most with out-of-the-screen effects more stunning than any recent 3D release. An absolute must-have!
5. Battles without Honor and Humanity - Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku’s deliriously chaotic and violent five-film gangster epic Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973-74) was virtually unknown outside of Japan until the late 1990s, but its profound stamp has since permeated everything from Takashi Miike’s oeuvre to virtually the entire filmography of Quentin Tarantino. Less a Japanese Godfather than a ‘70s French gangster film made in some wildly distorted, parallel Far East universe, these movies are a rebuttal to Japan’s postwar economic miracle, a journey through that country’s seediest underworlds where yakuza soldiers are pawns to their Machiavellian bosses. Extras include a nearly 150-page, full-color hardbound book, a “Complete Saga” recut edition, scads of video featurettes, and a commentary track.
6. Inside Out - Watching pre-teen Riley and Joy, the guiding emotion in her head, fight their way through their separate yet shared adventures--all delivered with Pixar's trademark creativity, humor and heartfelt emotion--one can't help but be enamored with the film, its characters, it's voice actors, its story and its artistry. On Blu-ray, it looks and sounds dynamite, and is supplemented by a delightful package of bonus content that both entertains and informs about the animation process, making it a must for animation fans.
7. Decline of Western Civilization Boxset - Punk rock and metal fans never expected to see Penelope Spheeris's three Decline of Western Civilization documentaries available on (non-bootleg) DVD, let alone in a slick Blu-ray box set. Now we get to fully appreciate these three sometimes funny/sometimes harrowing glimpses of the L.A. music scene (American first-wave punks, wannabe hair metal stars, crusty gutter punks), complimented by tons of cut footage, commentaries, and more. What a glorious payoff to have all of this material re-assembled with such care.
8. My Fair Lady: 50th Anniversary Edition - If you're at all a fan of classic musicals, there's virtually no reason why My Fair Lady shouldn't be at or near the top of your list: it's got a classic story, great performances, terrific songs, and stays extremely faithful to the popular play it was based on. It doesn't matter if it's aged a little during the last five decades; My Fair Lady simply captures a specific period in film history that a sizable chunk of audiences will always remember fondly. There's a lot to live up to here and Paramount's brand new 50th Anniversary Blu-ray absolutely steps up to the plate, delivering a landmark A/V presentation (sourced from a new 8K scan with pitch-perfect audio) and plenty of terrific old and new bonus features.
9. Aladdin: Diamond Edition - As expected, Disney's debut of "Aladdin" on Blu-Ray is a flawless technical presentation and I'd argue the film hasn't looked better since the day it debuted in 1992. One of the last great hand-animated Disney films, "Aladdin" remains timeless to the day, due largely from the efforts of Robin Williams' iconic performance as Genie. Williams aside, "Aladdin" is an engaging tale for young and old alike, and this Blu-Ray release provides a nearly exhaustive wealth of behind the scenes information, including a great reel of Williams' improvisations (Williams' improving actually cost the film a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination) and tributes from the team who visually brought Genie to life to the man who ultimately gave him life through his performance. A must own for any Disney fan.
10. Ikiru: Criterion Collection - Ikiru is Akira Kurosawa's timeless film about a dying man who discovers redemption and happiness by leaving his comfort zone of nostalgia and wasted opportunities. Takashi Shimura's magnetic turn as Kanji Watanabe might just be his most enduring performance (even taking Seven Samurai into account), and it's more than enough to carry Ikiru's understated ambitions to the finish line. It's not regularly listed among Kurosawa's most popular efforts, but this is a near-perfect production in every regard and has held up extremely well during the last 63 years. Criterion's Blu-ray package arrives more than a decade after their excellent 2004 DVD, with a recent 4K restoration, lossless audio, and a newly-translated subtitle track.