Top 10 lists suck. No really, they suck. When you consider that in 2006 DVD Talk reviewed well over 3000 discs
, and 96 of them received DVD Talk's highest rating of DVD Talk Collector Series
, pulling ten titles from that huge pool and calling them 'the best' is an exercise in futility. Add to that the fact that DVD Talk has a review staff of over fifty writers
, and I can promise you that even internally, there's no way we'd all agree on one single list.
In 2005 we not only did a top 20 list but had lists for almost everything under the sun (heck, we even had a top 10 sports DVD list). In many ways, this was a mistake. The truth is there are just so many amazing DVDs that were released last year that we could assemble and reassemble this list every week and it would change. So with all that, I bring you this year's DVD Talk Top 10 DVD list. It's arbitrary, non-inclusive, anglocentric and all wrong. It shuns indie films in favor of big studio ones, it's seriously lacking in TV on DVD, and is 'safe' on many levels. But warts and all, it's our list.
Seven Samurai: Criterion Collection (3-Disc Edition) - When it comes down to it, Criterion sets the bar for DVD. Since the start of DVD (heck even back in the days of Laserdisc) Criterion has shown that they understand the medium like no other. The ideal DVD is the union of an amazing movie, presented flawlessly with a wealth of supplements that enhance your enjoyment, understanding and even appreciation of a film. Criterion's three-disc reissue of Seven Samurai is that ideal DVD, and it exemplifies the term "Best DVD of 2006" like no other. If you don't own this DVD, then do yourself a favor and get it. If you do own it, you know what we're talking about.
James Bond Ultimate Edition - Even with their shakeup, sale to Sony and then flip flop of distributors MGM still managed to completely wow us with the James Bond Ultimate Editions. Four equally excellent collections, The James Bond Ultimate Editions are a shining example of how studios should treat franchises. We're always wary when studios re-release collections, but MGM upped the ante here so much that the upgrade is simply a no-brainer.
The Best of Youth - Once in a while a DVD simply takes our breath away. The Best of Youth is one of those rare magical films that takes you on a journey that you'll remember for the rest of your life. The Best of Youth started its life out as an epic Italian miniseries, then landed in the states as a 2 part film and then finally found its home on DVD. It's hard to imagine wanting to watch a 12 hour film more than once, but The Best of Youth is just that good, and based on content alone easily finds its home towards the top of our top DVD list.
Cinema Paradiso: Limited Collector's Edition - when you have a film that captures the true heart and love of movies and then see a company like the Weinstein Corp treat it like royalty, it's hard not to want to tell the world about it. Studios often go all out for films widely known as classics and so it's so satisfying to see a company work to define a film as a classic on DVD by the way they treat it. Cinema Paradiso is a classic and so is this three-disc collection.
Kingdom of Heaven: The Director's Cut - The term 'Director's Cut' or 'Extended Edition' have become such casual terms that get thrown around when promoting DVDs that the essence of them has been lost. With DVDs that have fifteen extra seconds of running time and boast of their 'extended' status it takes a release like Kingdom of Heaven to show what the term should really mean. A masterful film that ranks among Scott's best, a thorough, utterly compelling selection of extras and top-notch audio/visual presentation makes this one of the best releases in 2006 and the best 'Director's Cut' release in years.
The Wire - The Complete Third Season - It's easy to fall in the trap of awarding DVDs with more bells and whistles than the others, but a great DVD doesn't start or end with its special features. The absolute heart of a great DVD is the content (the film or TV series itself). HBO has established themselves as the premiere outlet for amazing television on DVD and 'amazing' is just one of the words we'd use to describe The Wire. The Wire simply put is the best show on television and one of the best shows on DVD in 2006. With its staggering quality, complexity and depth, The Wire is the premiere example of how success can be achieved when writers have so much faith in the viewer.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - Vision, true vision, is something that is often lacking in movies today. Director Chan-wook Park defines the term with a film so unique, engaging and ahead of its time it's destined to become a cult classic. While contemporary directors like Quentin Tarantino , Robert Rodriguez and Eli Roth look to the past for inspiration (and in some cases imitation) Chan-wook Park shows what innovation looks like in a film that will surely inspire the next generation of directors.
The Proposition A modern classic. Drenched in blood, sweat and hot dust, The Proposition is a vivid experience, one that fairly claws its way off the screen. It's a film that echoes the feeling of classic westerns, an inherently American genre, while filtering the works of Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah through a distinctly Australian perspective – visceral and literary, The Proposition is one of 2006's greatest (and maybe goriest) works. A fantastic film, making its way to audiences who may have missed it in theaters on a DVD that balances technical details with a sense of history.
Grey's Anatomy - Season One One of the phenomenons that TV on DVD have created is the TV/DVD Marathon. Now rather than waiting yet another week to get more of your favorite show, you can binge on it all at once on DVD. Grey's Anatomy had one of the strongest premiere seasons of a network show in recent history, and it IS a show that is best enjoyed on DVD. From the special 2 hour post Superbowl episode until the season finale it is simply impossible to stop watching. Grey's Anatomy finds its way onto our best list this year because it is a program that truly crosses traditional conceptions of the genre, it's a program that will deeply appeal to both sexes and might just be the ultimate 'date DVD'.
Broken Trail - How in the world could a made for TV movie EVER make any form of top 10 list anywhere. Made for TV is a term only slightly less pejorative than 'direct to video', but here Broken Trail is proudly in our final Top DVD spot. And perhaps it's because we'd never in a million years have seen this gem were it not for DVD. Originally made for the AMC movie channel Walter Hill's Broken Trail is all sorts of fantastic. Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church give award worthy performances in a film that could easily have been released in theaters and made many a top ten list. It was mostly ignored but not by us.
So there it is. Our list of the top 10 DVDs of 2006. Was it good for you?
Here are a few films we tragically overlooked in our list: I am A Sex Addict , Junebug, Pulse (Kairo), Hustle and Flow,
12 and Holding,
Un Coeur en Hiver ( A Heart in Winter ), Thank You For Smoking, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Little Miss Sunshine, Cemetery Man, LolliLove and Slings and Arrows.
- Geoffrey Kleinman.