Blu Monday: The Best of 2010

The first year of Blu Monday is coming to an end and participating in the weekly release of Blu Rays has been nothing but fun. As the year winds down and we get closer to Christmas we thought we would share with you the top 10 must own Blu Rays of the year.

10. Showgirls: The first film on our list was also one of the first Blu Rays we reviewed on Blu Monday, Showgirls. I know what you’re thinking and it’s true there have been a lot of great Blu Rays come out this year but, Showgirls has held strong in our Blu Ray rotation. It’s not because Showgirls is a good film it’s not even close to being good. The sole reason that Showgirls is number ten on our top ten Blu Rays of the year is the fact that MGM realized this with one of the best Blu Ray special features ever! A comic roast track that gives the film the rewatchability that it once strived for. Don’t second guess your thought to buy Showgirls the next time you pass it walking through the Blu Ray section, pick it up call your friends and enjoy the disaster that is Showgirls. I’m crossing my fingers that the next edition of the film includes an interactive drinking game.

9. Leaves of Grass: Leaves of Grass is a film I saw while at SXSW and it has made me laugh ever since so, to say I was excited about it’s Blu ray release is a bit of an understatement. Every time I hear that Edward Norton is making a new film I tend to pay close attention. Through out his career, he has only made a few missteps and usually produces Indie gold. Leaves of Grass is no different and it gives Norton a chance do something he hasn’t done since Death to Smoochy, be funny. Aside from The Hulk, Norton usually goes with the emotionally straining roll, that at times, can leave you in tears, but in Leaves of Grass he proves that he can do it all and leave the audience crying with laughter with a contact high as they watch this beautiful Blu Ray.

Leaves of Grass is the story of two identical twins that are very successful at what they do but couldn’t be any more different. Bill is a philosophy professor that is well on his way to teaching at Harvard, it seems nothing can stop him as he flies through the sky with wings of wax, that is until he receives a call that his brother Brady had been shot with a crossbow. Crossbows seem to be “ironically popular ” in their home town of Little Dixie, Oklahoma. When Bill returns home for his brother’s funeral, he finds himself knee deep in the issues of his past and the criminal activity of his pot-dealing “Hydroponic” brother.

8. Extended Blu-ray Collector’s Edition Avatar: With all the different editions that have come out in the last year, one can easily be confused at which one is for you. Well, my friend, this edition will have all of that and then some as this new addition has the original film, plus the film with the additional eight minutes and then the film with an extra sixteen minutes added in. These deleted scenes have been completely rendered to fit flawlessly into the film, as if they were always there. If that doesn’t rock your boat, you can spend about forty minutes watching additional deleted scenes that never even made it to the final rendition. They are in many stages, some with green screen behind characters, some just watching Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in motion capture outfits. What really topped the cake for Angela was the documentary about the making of, running an hour and forty minutes in length. The documentary literally starts from the conception inside of James Cameron’s mighty brain all the way through to the final cut and the charity work that they have accomplished after the film. If this doesn’t ring your bell then you must just be a scrooge. With all of this, plus so much more on three discs, you must add this to you Blu Ray collection.

7. William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge: Ok, we maybe cheating here with our seventh choice but, if you don’t buy both of these Blu Rays together you’re really missing out. Just think of it as a double pack from Director Baz Luhrmann: William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge.

Everyone has probably seen this film. You probably either loved it or you hated it. I happened to love it. This is the second film from Baz Luhrmann and second in what he likes to call the “Red Curtain Trilogy” which also includes Moulin Rouge! and his first film, Strictly Ballroom. It’s interesting that he has dubbed his first three films as such as all the films, and even including his latest one, Australia, are about young love in an adult world with real world problems. Baz is truly a romantic with his films and it suits him so perfectly that he would choose to retell the original love story, Romeo and Juliet. Besides the awesome interactive commentary with Picture in Picture mode and commentary from Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce, there are plenty of other features that will fill an entire night for you. One of my favorite features on the Blu-Ray was the documentary Romeo + Juliet the Music. Although this is a little lengthy for being a feature on the Blu-Ray, the musical soundtrack is probably the most important part of the film. Without the modern day love songs guiding us through the Shakespearean world, the film would have been lost on millions of young adults who fell in love with the film when it hit theaters. This is a film that will keep you watching through the ages and tons of special features to keep you occupied in between.

Next up is Moulin Rouge. For those who are not aware of this little gem, allow me to divulge the story to you. McGregor is Christian, a poet and wants to be free of the corporate world and job that his father has set up for him. He travels to Montmartre, outside of Paris, to work on poetry and soon becomes involved with a crazy group of actors, singers and writers which ends up introducing him to Satine (Kidman). Satine is a nightclub dancer and performer and the star of the show, she is the most beautiful woman in the Moulin Rouge. They fall in love, but it is forbidden. The film takes you through their journey of jumping through hoops to be together and ultimately ends tragically.

As if you don’t get a world of information on how the film was made from the commentary, there is so much more on how the film was made. The Making of Moulin Rouge and More is an intense look at the music selections, the costume designs, the reality of the Moulin Rouge compared to the film and more.Both films have been transferred flawlessly and the sound is crisp and clear as well. The only graininess I ever saw was either in a special feature that was filmed ten years ago or in parts of the film, Romeo + Juliet. However, I believe it was left grainy in parts for an emotional effect on purpose.  Without fail, these two Blu-Rays have held up even years after they were originally released and they will proudly be displayed on my shelf. I suggest you do the same.

6. Grindhouse Collector’s Edition: If you don’t own this Blu Ray I’m not sure why you are reading this list. Finally on Blu Ray we get both films the way they were meant to be seen, together, trailers and all. Grindhouse on Blu Ray is definitely one of those discs that your friends shout “You have Grindhouse? We should watch this!” when they scan your movie collection.

Not only is the film good, the Blu Ray has some of the best special features I have seen in a long time. While you get everything you had in the separate editions of the films it’s the special features about the trailers that really shine. Making of the trailers with Eli Roth and Rob Zombie, extended trailers and commentary, it just can’t be beat. If you don’t own this I urge you to do so even if you already own the separate Blu Rays there is really only one way to watch this film and that is as it’s presented here.

5. Lost The Final Season 6: The transfer onto Blu-ray is gorgeous, as usual with Blu-ray. The show was shown in HD on ABC and if you watched it that way, this looks better than that. The sound is better as well. The best part of all: no commercials. Each disc has a live menu of the characters or setting that is relevant to those three or four episodes. For example, the last disc only contains the final two hour episode plus special features and the live menu shows Jacob sitting around the fire with the final four candidates and they are barely moving but you know they are discussing the inevitable. You can not hear their discussion, but there are the sounds of nature surrounding them. It’s great.

The biggest news about the release to Blu-ray and DVD was the announcement of a twelve minute epilogue showcasing Ben and Hurley after they took over the island. It was a fantastic little Easter Egg for those vital questions that just couldn’t be answered in the finale. Things like where do the Dharma food drops come from? Why can’t women have babies on the island, or why is Walt special? Now, I’m not saying that the epilogue is twelve minutes of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse sitting and divulging the secrets of the universe, but you get the gist. It’s enough to satisfy those conspiracy urges that kept us going this whole time.

After watching that, there are lots of other features that are great as well. There was a very emotional feature called THE END: Crafting a final season. This was a great way to see all the “little people” that helped make this show what it was one last time. People like Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis or Elizabeth Sarnoff telling their experience with the crew and what it was like forming the finale and distributing the scripts to the actors on red paper that cannot be photocopied and the overall secrecy that was held with “The End”. There is a really interesting twist here. They have directors from other iconic shows, The X-Files, The Shield, Hawaii Five-O or Will and Grace, talking about their shows coming to an end and the importance of leaving on your own terms as well as giving a deserving end to the show. This resonates well with what Damon and Carlton have said all along. The basic premise of this feature is just about filming THE END and there are plenty of tidbits with the actors talking about what was important to them with the show. My favorite bits are with Jorge Garcia because he is so funny and seems to say all the things that the audience are thinking. He also breaks my heart when they show him reading the final script for the first time in the privacy of his home. He begins to cry and I can’t take it. I loved it so much though, I watched it a second time.

4. Inception: This is what everyone has been waiting for, the best film of the summer and definitely in the top three or four films of the year. Now that it’s finally on Blu-ray, there is no more excuses for confusion. Christopher Nolan lays it all out and shows every aspect of making an amazing film like Inception. The special features are what make this worth owning. With a documentary about dreams and what they mean, narrated by Joseph Gordon Levitt, or just Joe, its an interesting look at what the mind is capable of. There is a cool comic-style prequel to Inception that explains the series of events that lead to the first scenes in the film and why they were inside the mind of Saito in the first place. Then the mother-load of special features can be found in Extraction Mode which replaces the traditional commentary during the film with actual footage of how each insane scene was conceived, built and pulled together. The anti-gravity scene was particularly cool. What is different with this Extraction Mode compared to other Movie Modes that other Blu-rays have done is that you have the choice to watch the film in it’s entirety with the features popping up through out the film, or you can just choose to jump straight to the goods which will skip all the scenes that don’t have behind the scenes footage. There is even more on this Blu-ray if you can believe it, so with out a doubt or a moment of hesitation, buy one for yourself and your buddy and anyone else who is awesome!

3. The Darjeeling Limited Criterion Collection Edition: We have been waiting for this film to see the light of day in high def ever since the HD DVD / Blu-Ray war began. The striking visuals of India are meant for more than just DVD, not to mention that it is a Wes Anderson film. There are a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to The Darjeeling Limited it’s one of those films that you either love or hate and I definitely fall into the “love” category. I love this film so much that love maybe an understatement. If you have never seen this film, I urge you to do so and if you think you don’t like the film I urge you to give it a second chance.

So, for those of you that are like me, this Blu-Ray has everything you could ever want. The special features are intensely in depth and moving, especially Barry Braverman’s documentary. If you ever wanted to know more about Wes’ processes there is no better way to do so. I can’t say anything negative about this Blu-Ray it has it all and as a fan of the film and all things Wes I’m proud to have it in my collection. Now just to sit and wait for Criterion to re-release their Life Aquatic DVD on Blu Ray.

2. Scott Pilgrim VS The World: Another one of our favorite movies from this year is even better on Blu Ray. Unless you saw Scott Pilgrim in a newer digital theater you still haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim. This film’s visuals alone sell the Blu Ray, add hours of special features and you have something that will stay in your Blu Ray player for days.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World isn’t your typical comic book movie. There are no caped crusaders or robot-powered super heroes in this story. In fact it’s more like 500 Days of Summer meets Stan Lee. The basic premise is this Scott Pilgrim must defeat Ramona Flowers’ evil ex’s in order to continue dating her. You would think these battles would be the highlight of the film, but that’s where you’re wrong. It’s the dialog between the characters that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Scott Pilgrim vs the World is one of the funniest movies I have seen all year.

AND THE NUMBER ONE BLU RAY OF THE YEAR IS…..

1. KICK-ASS: This film was one of our favorites of the year and when I saw it on Blu Ray it was like seeing it for the first time. Kick-Ass almost glows in 1080p, it’s what all Blu Rays should strive to be. Besides great visuals and sound, Kick-Ass is packed with the best special features of the year. One thing that special features should do is enhance the viewing experience and that is exactly what they do when it comes to Kick-Ass. With these supplements the film becomes something else, just hearing and seeing the struggle that it was to make this film makes you appreciate it more. This is why Kick-Ass gets our selection for best Blu Ray of the year, if you don’t already own it, go out and pick this Blu Ray up, you won’t be disappointed.

by Angela Davis and Ryan Davis

About Ryan Davis

Ryan is the Founder of Lost in Reviews, a member of The Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, and a key component in the movement to digitally restore the 1986 classic film The Gate. Ryan is also the co-host of Blu Monday a DVD and Blu Ray review show which Lost in Reviews co-founder Angela Davis also appears. While he may be a film and music snob, that doesn't mean you can't be friends. Well it could if you don't like the same bands or films he does, overall it might be best to avoid the subject all together.

Follow Ryan Here: