Whether they are hitting shelves This Week in DVD or This Week in Blu-ray, chances are slim that a great home video release gets by either Rob Hunter or Neil Miller. Together, they provide some of the blogosphere’s most consistent (ok, mostly Rob, but you get the idea) coverage of the best take-homes from week to week. Whether you’re using them to help you fill your shopping cart or your Netflix queue, surveys have shown that you are using them. And with 2010 coming to a close, we thought it only fitting to give these two shut-ins a shot at listing their favorite home video releases of the year. From the fun to the feature-filled, there were plenty of great releases from which to choose. So prepare yourself, as you always do, to sacrifice the weight of your pocketbook in exchange for in-home cinematic bliss.
Note: All titles are linked to Amazon, where you can find out more about each release and perhaps even buy it, thus supporting all that is good and righteous in the world (i.e. Rob Hunter’s Asian importing fetish — Asian DVD importing fetish, that is.)
Like its DTS-encoded predecessor on DVD, Steven Spielberg’s modern epic is one of those fine reference discs that demands space in any home theater aficionado’s collection. What better way to stretch your fancy system’s limits and test its boundaries than with Spielberg’s intense take on the D-Day invasion of Normandy. The only thing that could feel more real would be if your own intestines were blasted out of your mid-section, spilling blood and Cheetos onto your carpet. We don’t even care about its pedestrian special features, the picture and sound quality alone make it a must-already-own disc. - Neil Miller
So why include a title on this list that isn’t jam-packed with special features or presented in ultimate high definition goodness or packaged in a cool as hell DVD case? Because when it comes down to it the contents of the DVD are the most important factor, and this movie from director Armando Iannucci is probably the funniest movie released onto DVD this year. The dialogue is rapid-fire fast and sharp as a scalpel, and both of those factors contribute to the film’s high replay value. That and you’ll find yourself missing funny bits because you’re still laughing hysterically at something spoken minutes earlier. Peter Capaldi’s performance in particular is a torrent of verbal venom creatively laced with absolutely brilliant obscenities. This DVD should be in every person’s home for when the world outside gets you down and you’re feeling depressed. And in case a neighbor inquires if you know what ever happened to that Chlumsky kid from My Girl. - Rob Hunter
Who needs a theatrical release? Not Joss Whedon. With the writer’s strike in full effect, the famed producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly set out to make a simple musical number with his brother and a few famous friends. It was charming. We saw that coming a mile away. What we didn’t see coming was the fact that it was infectious, thanks in great part to a wonderful performance from Neil Patrick Harris as the title character. It dominated the charts of iTunes then lept onto Blu-ray and DVD, complete with one of the single greatest commentary tracks in the history of cinema. Right up there with Roger Ebert on the Citizen Kane DVD must go Joss Whedon and cast’s Commentary: The Musical. It is truly magical. - Neil Miller
Yeah, I’m surprised to be including something from The History Channel too, but I was really impressed with the series when I featured it in the DVD column some months ago. A bevy of scholars and celebrities take a look at the founding and building of the United States of America with live-action reenactments and some very cool CGI recreations. The show keeps things moving at a brisk pace while hitting all the salient points you should have been taught in school but probably weren’t. A series like this demands to be seen, so buy it and watch it with your kids. Or by yourself. Or borrow your neighbor’s kids like I did. (Just don’t forget to give them back.) You’ll be entertained and informed, but odds are good that you’ll also be enlightened. A lot of things went right to keep this country of ours on track, and it’s mostly due to a lot of brave, smart, and strong people who cared. It would be nice to see that kind of spirit return. -Rob Hunter
These fine folks have been churning out quality DVDs for a few years now with a focus on beloved TV shows, music, and the occasional film, but 2010 saw them begin something truly special. Roger Corman’s Cult Classics started hitting shelves back in May with the release of Suburbia and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, and fourteen more titles have followed including crazy classics like Starcrash, Piranha, Humanoids From the Deep, and The Slumber Party Massacre. In addition to paying a long overdue tribute to the collected works of uber-producer Roger Corman the series is also collecting some incredibly fun flicks. The discs feature new transfers as well as new extras, and some of the titles are actually making their DVD debut with this collection. The series looks to continue being a monthly gift to Corman fans and genre fans alike well into next year. The only thing that could have improved these releases would be numbered spines… but my wallet is thankful Shout! Factory didn’t think of that first. -Rob Hunter
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