Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Best Blu-rays of 2016

2016 was a fantastic year for Blu-ray releases. There were countless brilliant titles – both new and old – hitting shelves, and while some films are still strangely being ignored for Blu-ray release, 2016 still delivered plenty to choose from. 
Let’s look at 10 of the best releases of the year, and why each one deserves a place on this list. And no, this isn’t a list of the 10 best films of the year. In no particular order…


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Oct 17th 2016
Starting with a rather traditional choice, Sony’s 3D release of Angry Birds boasted gorgeously colourful visuals, breath-taking 3D and truly immersive sound. This is the sort of release Blu-ray is all about, and it’s nice to still be blown away by Blu-ray ten whole years after the format launched. Oh, and it’s a damn fine film, too. No seriously, it is. Although the BBFC evidently thought the “pluck my life” line from the US release was too much for our delicate minds. They cut it. Unbelievable.

Check out the Angry Birds Movie HERE


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Sept 26th 2016
It isn’t just new animation that shines on Blu-ray. No, this year also brought us the long-awaited high-definition release of 1999’s The Iron Giant – with a stunning extended cut of the film, and a beautiful set of special features. This was a rather magical release for the many fans of the film, and also the best way to introduce Hogarth’s adventure to the children of today. It just goes to show, some things are worth the wait.

Check out the Iron Giant HERE


Entertainment in Video, May 9th 2016
Quentin Tarantino’s latest in a long line of masterpieces, The Hateful Eight, received a superb release from Entertainment in Video – a label known, in the past, for subpar releases. Thankfully, they released the film in its correct aspect ratio of 2.75:1/2.76:1, and the film looked utterly gorgeous. And oh, that steelbook edition is a thing of beauty. If Kurt Russell’s facial hair in HD is your thing, check out Bone Tomahawk too – also available in stunning steel. Kurt Russell is love…Kurt Russell is life.

Check out the Hateful Eight HERE


Spirit Entertainment/Dazzler, Apr 4th 2016
“What on Earth is this?”, I hear the majority of you cry. Brian Pern was an utterly marvellous BBC mockumentary series from Rhys Thomas and The Fast Show’s Simon Day about the titular ageing rock star, former-frontman of the fictional prog-group Thotch. To me, this release deserves a place on the list because it shows anything and everything can benefit from the Blu-ray format – and too many gems are being shafted for release. If there’s a Blu-ray audience for this, there’s a Blu-ray audience for anything.

Check out Brian Pern HERE


Criterion Collection, Apr 18th 2016
Any collectors out there know why this is on here. I could’ve also chosen a few other films, but the point remains the same – it is from the first wave of Criterion Collection Blu-ray releases in the UK. A very historic moment. Arguably one of the finest labels in home entertainment history, I don’t think any of us ever expected Criterion to launch here. But their first handful of releases shows just how good they are. And It Happened One Night is a beautiful film. Fun fact, it’s the first film to ever win all 5 major Oscar awards – Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Actress. Only two other films managed this...that should get you thinking!

Check out It Happened One Night HERE


Indicator/Powerhouse Films, Oct 24th 2016
But it isn’t just Criterion looking to shake up the Blu-ray format here in the UK this year. Powerhouse Films are here with their new Indicator label, delivering classic films with unfathomably good releases. Utterly breath-taking restorations and bountiful special features make Indicator one of the “ones to watch” going into 2017, with titles like Christine, Body Double and 10 Rillington Place already behind them. Absolute heaven for film buffs, and beautiful treatment by Indicator. I for one cannot wait to see how these guys grow – they could just become the new Criterion.

Check out Christine HERE


Fabulous Films, Oct 17th 2016
The brilliant Fabulous Films have been behind some incredible releases this year, and their focus on 80s television towards the end of the year was an utter joy. The A-Team, Knight Rider, Magnum PI, The Incredible Hulk and Miami Vice all received utterly stunning Blu-ray boxsets and watching these shows in HD is like seeing them for the first time. Simply phenomenal work from a small, passionate label. I love it when a Blu-ray release comes together…

Check out the A-team HERE


Universal Music, Jun 10th 2016
Here is a truly incredible release. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beach Boys’ seminal 1966 masterpiece, Universal Music released a beautiful 5-disc collector’s edition of the album housed within a hardback book. 4 CDs delivered the album in mono and stereo along with countless session outtakes and recordings, while the 5th disc was a marvel - a pure audio Blu-ray disc with the album in crystal-clear mono, stereo and 5.1. Audio bliss for music fans, and nothing short of orgasmic for Beach Boy enthusiasts. 

Check out the Beach Boys HERE


Second Sight, Nov 28th 2016
Another stunning treatment of a Carpenter classic this year with Second Sight’s 40th Anniversary release of Assault on Precinct 13. Carpenter’s 2nd film looks and sounds brand new, while a plethora of special features offers a stunning insight into the production of the gritty film. If you haven’t got it yet, act fast – the Limited Edition boxset (includes CD soundtrack and art-cards, and housed in a beautiful digipak) won’t be around forever! 

Check out Assault On Precinct 13 HERE


20th Century Fox, Jun 6th 2016
Of course, we must end this list by looking forward. Blu-ray will be around a long time yet, but 2016 has really started pushing 4K releases. At this point, they’re more of a future-proofing sale – for a few quid more than the usual Blu-ray, you can get the 4K release which includes the Blu for watching while you save up your pennies for a 4K player. But anyone who has seen a glimpse of 4K knows why it has power. It looks absolutely gorgeous. The Revenant is one of recent years’ finest-looking films, so what better film to start your 4K collection with.

It goes without saying that this was a hard list to compile. Each week of the year brought more excellent releases, and to narrow a whole year’s worth of output to 10 releases was extremely difficult. These ten releases are important for different reasons, but all go to show the power of the Blu-ray format. See you by the Blu-ray shelf in 2017, folks.

Check out The Revenant HERE

Sam Love

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