The Best DVDs of 2010

by PopMatters Staff

5 January 2011


10 - 6

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The Elia Kazan Collection

Director: Elia Kazan, John Ford, Kent Jones, Martin Scorsese
Cast: Dorothy McGuire, Marlon Brando, Jean Peters, Stathis Giallelis, Frank Wolff


The Elia Kazan Collection
20th Century Fox

Elia Kazan did more than make a series of American classics. His films provided some of the basic vocabulary of American drama. A new boxed set of 15 of his films, selected by Martin Scorsese, is in every way an essential collection for anyone who seeks to understand 20th century American cinema. Kazan became known, of course, as “the actor’s director” both because of his endlessly inventive direction of his players and his eagerness to introduce to the world new talent. Indeed, this boxed set puts this aspect of the director’s character on full display, including the films that gave James Dean, Marlon Brando, Lee Remick, Jack Palance and Andy Griffith their first roles. W. Scott Poole



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The White Ribbon

Director: Michael Haneke
Cast: Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Tukur


The White Ribbon
Sony Pictures Classics

The White Ribbon is a provocative, haunting, challenging film, bursting with ideas and inferences and buoyed hugely by flawless pacing and terrific naturalistic performances. Director Michael Haneke’s unique gift as a filmmaker has never been more apparent. With an opening confession, ripe with intrigue and apology, our storyteller establishes himself immediately as an unreliable narrator, and comments on the ultimately questionable nature of subjective recounting; especially the fallacious notion that one might recall long-passed events and achieve anything resembling the truth. He also simultaneously and ambitiously posits The White Ribbon as an explanation (albeit with the aforementioned caveat) for events that were soon to follow; with allusion to the then imminent outbreak of World War I and, in its portrayal of disturbed children with dangerous potential, it anticipates World War II. Yet the events themselves are entirely fictional. Emma Simmonds



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The Complete Lost (Blu-ray)



The Complete Lost (Blu-ray)
ABC Studios

Sometimes, a title is all you need. Within said moniker, everything and anything is possible. Coming up with the perfect label is never easy, but when you do, it does almost all of your narrative heavy lifting. You can even throw logical and esoteric wrenches into the mix, and as long as your tag takes care of the counterbalance, you’re home free. Such is the case with Jeffrey Lieber, Damon Lindelof, and J.J. Abrams’ absolutely brilliant Lost. Not only did said brand indicate the basic premise of his complex castaway drama but it suggested the level of depth viewers could expect in the sometimes arcane path toward enlightenment. It’s a feeling carried over to the recently released multi-disc Blu-ray package of the complete six seasons. Within its world of known conspiracies and series secrets are a wealth of hidden extras that make the return trip through Series One through Six a breathtaking reexamination of the entire Lost legacy. In fact, it’s safe to say that this seminal TV show was always more interested in the journey than the eventual answers found along the way Bill Gibron



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Night of the Hunter: Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

Director: Charles Laughton
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, Sally Jane Bruce, Billy Chapin


Night of the Hunter: Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

“It’s a hard world for little things”, Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish) famously comments in Charles Laughton’s taut masterpiece of fear and suspense. For years, it seemed like The Night of the Hunter, showcasing Robert Mitchum at his most terrifying as the murderously insane Harry Powell, would be one of those “little things” ignored by the prestigious Criterion Collection, but in 2010 they finally reached out their “strong tree” to Laughton’s “bird”. The result is a film as captivating as ever that has never looked or sounded as good as it does now. If The Night of the Hunter isn’t deserving of the Criterion treatment, than simply put, no film is, and Criterion shouldn’t exist. Luckily, Night finally had its day, and Criterion deserves praise for that. Kevin Brettauer



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Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 (Blu-ray)

Director: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, Don Hahn, Eric Goldberg, Ford Beebe, Francis Glebas, Gastan Brizzi, Hamilton Luske
Cast: James Levine, Steve Martin, Leopold Stokowski, Ralph Grierson, Kathleen Battle


Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 (Blu-ray)
Walt Disney Home Video

Maybe it’s just a matter of time. Perhaps decades have to go by and new audiences found before something like Fantasia 2000 can live up to its parent’s preeminent status. It took Walt Disney himself a while before he saw Fantasia fully embraced, and even then, the love was tenuous at best. While we can forgive the whole “Sunflower” debacle (the new Blu-ray does a good job of hiding her lack of inclusion) and the initial high brow approach, we can’t argue with the power and panache of the overall vision. Walt may have hoped that his newest idea would remove animation from the “kiddie” conceit once and for all. Instead, Fantasia remains a beloved if still baffling entry in Disney’s creative canon. Fantasia 2000, on the other hand, just can’t compare. Bill Gibron


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