The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Extended Edition (New Line Platinum, 2002), The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, Extended Edition (New Line Platinum, 2003)
Or, how many times do I have to have to plug these? Crystalline transfers of the expanded and improved versions of two of the most popular fantasy films ever, quadruple commentaries on each film, six hours of brand new making-ofs, elegant packages. If you're among the handful of people who haven't bought these, go, buy, enjoy!
The Christopher Guest Collection (Warner, 1996-2003)
The anti-Lord Of The Rings package, coming in about three weeks from Warner and boxing up Guest's three films Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show and A Mighty Wind. Guest is the driest comic talent imaginable, and his deadpan satiric comedies wear extraordinarily well because they never crack a smile. The DVDs include cut scenes that are generally as funny as the ones in the films and commentaries from Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy that are funny on their own.
The Bogart Collection (Warner, 1941-1948)
Five classic Humphrey Bogart films, including the new special editions of Casablanca and Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, his two great Howard Hawks films, To Have And Have Not and The Big Sleep, and The Maltese Falcon. Even the films that are not special editions have unexpected goodies - two separate cuts of The Big Sleep and the classic Tex Avery cartoon Bacall To Arms on To Have And Have Not. When people talk about the golden age of Hollywood, this is what they mean.
The Godfather Collection (Paramount, 1972-79)
The good thing is that the transfers are flawless and the extras mind-warping - a huge gallery of deleted scenes, excellent interviews, Academy Award acceptance speeches and, in Godfather I and II, two of the greatest American films ever. The bad thing is you're stuck with Godfather III and Francis Ford Coppola's commentary explaining why it's a good film. A small price to pay.
The Chaplin Collection (M2K/Warner, 1925-1952)
This eight-disc, four-film collection is volume one of the Chaplin Collection, produced with the Chaplin estate by the French label M2K. The Gold Rush (the original and the 1942 sound version), Modern Times, The Great Dictator and Limelight, with supporting documentaries by major European filmmakers, making-ofs, studio documentation and outtakes (Chaplin never threw away anything), come in an elegantly unified design package. The sort of set that leaves us salivating for volume two.
Shadow Of A Doubt (Universal, 1943), Notorious (Criterion, 1946), Rear Window (Universal 1954), Vertigo (Universal 1958), North By Northwest (Warner, 1959), Psycho (Universal 1960)
The new medium has done well by Alfred Hitchcock, and these five titles are the cream - the Universal titles are better consumed disc by disc than in Universal's two eight-disc box sets, unless one really wants to own Topaz. The films range across genres: Shadow Of A Doubt, with a screenplay by Thornton Wilder, is small town noir; Notorious is a romantic spy melodrama; Rear Window an investigation of the basic fact of cinema hidden in a murder mystery; North By Northwest a magnificently illogical spy thriller; and Psycho and Vertigo profound studies of obsessive personalities. Superb transfers - though I think Universal did just a bit too much to revamp the Vertigo soundtrack - and excellent supporting materials. The Universal DVDs all come with full-scale making-ofs, Notorious has the radio version of the story and North By Northwest a commentary from screenwriter Ernest Lehman. Die Hard: Five Star Collection (20th Century Fox, 1988) The defining action movie of the following decade and the peak of John McTiernan's career as an action director. Stunning transfer and sound, with a disc full of making-ofs and a commentary from McTiernan noting that the real reason Die Hard works isn't that it blows up real good but because all the action in the film derives directly from the characters of Bruce Willis's proletarian hero and Alan Rickman's smug Eurotrash villain. Amazing to think that this was Rickman's first feature film.