As always, these are not the 10 best movies on DVD, but the discs that contain the 10 most interesting DVD extras. All the movies on the list are good - these are the packages that most enhance the movies
1 NORMAN MCLAREN: THE MASTER'S EDITION (NFB)
Norman McLaren was for decades Canada's best-known director, and with good reason. Within the shelter of the NFB, he was one of the world's major experimental filmmakers, and his work finally gets its due in this set: seven discs, all of McLaren's films for the NFB, cleaned and remastered and organized thematically. This is a major release for Canadian cinema, animation and experimental film.
2 KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (20th Century Fox)
The director's cut of the year. Fox went into a panic and slashed 40 minutes out of Ridley Scott 's medieval epic, which killed characters' supporting story arcs and an awful lot of the moments that explained motivations and actions. Scott's long cut is a great film. The two discs of documentary supporting materials are excellent, though Scott's commentary is too polite by half.
3 DUST DEVIL - THE FINAL CUT (Subversive Cinema)
The story of a shape-shifting serial killer wandering the roads of Namibia, Dust Devil, Richard Stanley 's little-seen follow-up to Hardware, is one of those films that ran out of money and got butchered by its American distributor back in the early 90s. Subversive Cinema has come up with a five-disc special edition: the director's cut, a work print, two full discs of Stanley's documentaries for the BBC and a soundtrack disc. Overkill, perhaps, but what a pleasant surprise.
4 PANDORA'S BOX (Criterion)
In a year with several outstanding silent film releases - Warner's Harold Lloyd set, the Kino restoration of Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler - this Criterion restoration of G. W. Pabst 's masterpiece is the prize: four separate scores(!), the longest extant video interview with star Louise Brooks and a beautiful transfer.
5 THE ARISTOCRATS (ThinkFilm)
Last year's funniest movie has a DVD that more than doubles the fun with alternate and extended versions of the joke in question and an unusually sharp commentary from filmmakers Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza .
6 THE SEVEN SAMURAI (Criterion)
The DVD upgrade of the year. Criterion replaced its old single disc of Akira Kurosawa 's masterpiece with a three-disc edition featuring a superior print source, a new commentary supplementing the old one, a documentary, and, on disc three, a two-hour interview with Kurosawa by Japanese director Nagisa Oshima .
7 THE TOUGH GUYS COLLECTION (Warner)
It's not so much the films, mostly a collection of Warner's A-minus crime titles from the 30s - Each Dawn I Die , City For Conquest , G-Men , Bullets Or Ballots - but the packaging. Rather than going cheap, Warner has created a program for each film, with period-appropriate shorts, newsreels and cartoons and period blooper reels. A for effort.
8 MR. ARKADIN (Criterion)
A fascinating three-disc set devoted to one of Orson Welles 's doomed projects, a mystery that looks back to Citizen Kane and forward to Touch Of Evil, with two cuts of the film, commentaries, episodes of Welles's radio series The Adventures Of Harry Lime , which contain the narrative sources of the film, and even a copy of the novelization that Welles may or may not have written.
9 BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (20th Century Fox)
This is Russ Meyer 's berserk non-sequel to Valley Of The Dolls, with a series of making-of featurettes that ape the psychedelic design schemes of the original and a pair of commentaries, one by screenwriter Roger Ebert , who manages to explain why an R-rated movie starring Playboy Playmates doesn't have more nudity.
10 TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (Sony)
Commentary track of the year: director Adam McKay and stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly offer the 25th Anniversary Special Edition commentary from the year 2031, an almost two-hour improvised comedy piece that has no business working but does. The movie's pretty funny, too.