Before we put 2010 to bed, we thought we’d catch up with all the year-end lists that have sprung up over the past week or so. A good place to start is DVD Beaver’s annual poll, which ranks the previous twelve months’ best DVD and Blu-ray editions, based on the votes of an eclectic group of contributors, including Jonathan Rosenbaum, Stuart Galbraith IV, Nick Wrigley, Christiane Habich, and many more. All of the individual lists are available in full on DVD Beaver’s website, but at the bottom of the page, you’ll see the results of the poll, which include more than a few Criterion editions. For DVD, 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg comes in first place, with Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy close behind; Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa sits in the fourth spot; Eclipse Series 21: Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties comes in fifth; and Make Way for Tomorrow takes the tenth spot. (The box sets Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu and Eclipse Series 22: Presenting Sacha Guitry almost cracked the top ten, as you’ll see in the list of runners-up.) In the Blu-ray category, Criterion again places first, with Charles Laughton’s macabre tale of thievery and murder The Night of the Hunter. Then there’s more mayhem with Fritz Lang’s M (number 4), and nods to Kurosawa (Seven Samurai, number 6), Powell and Pressburger (The Red Shoes, number 7), Luchino Visconti (The Leopard, number 8), and John Ford (Stagecoach, number 9).
Parallax View takes a different approach but agrees with the DVD Beaver poll that 3 Silent Films by Josef von Sternberg is the DVD title of the year (“Magnificent . . . In a year of superb DVD and Blu-ray editions, this is the most revelatory release.”) The site also names The Night of the Hunter special edition of the year (“Some of the most striking images to escape from Hollywood”), The Leopard Blu-ray release of the year (“This is what Blu-ray was made for: presenting a cinema masterwork with the clarity, richness, and integrity of a perfect 35 mm presentation”), Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life home video debut of the year (“A masterpiece of American social drama”), America Lost and Found: The BBS Story best box set (feature film division), House discovery of the year (runners-up are Presenting Sacha Guitry and Make Way for Tomorrow), and the 159-minute documentary Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter” best supplement of the year.
In Review Online’s list is similarly Criterionized: its pick of the year is Letters from Fontainhas, which it calls “the most important and essential DVD set of 2010 . . . A love letter not only to the lost region it chronicles but also to modern cinephiles.” Right below is America Lost and Found: The BBS Story (“The Blu-ray box set of the year . . . Digging into the special features is like discovering a gold mine”). Also listed: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (featuring the “masterful” The Only Son and the “devastating” There Was a Father), Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties (“Bold and daring”), Red Desert (“Abstract, beautiful, and foreboding . . . A modern masterpiece”), House (“Audacious and mesmerizing”), The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus (“These Technicolor marvels are the reason Blu-ray exists”), Eclipse Series 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa (“Invaluable”), and Close-up (“Landmark . . . One of the great cinematic accomplishments of the nineties”).
DVD Savant (a.k.a. Glenn Erickson) picks his “Ten Most Impressive Discs of 2010.” At the top: The Night of the Hunter (“A revelation bar none”). Farther down the list are Max Ophuls’s opulent Lola Montès, Bigger Than Life, Ang Lee’s Ride with the Devil, and, once again, the von Sternberg set (“Fans laboring under the illusion that Josef von Sternberg’s great work began withThe Blue Angel will be floored by the intensity and lush visuals of these three silent masterpieces”).
From DVD File, best in show goes to The Thin Red Line (there are also slots for Stagecoach and America Lost and Found); DVD Verdict hands out some “Golden Gavel Awards,” including one for America Lost and Found; and Rope of Silicon even has a special Criterion section, in which it metes out praise for eighteen of our releases, from Che to Cronos.
Finally, Moving Image Source’s editor, Dennis Lim, continues his annual tradition of asking contributors and colleagues to “select their moving image event of 2010” (a subject left wide open to each writer’s interpretation). This year, our own Michael Koresky writes about his experiences working on the Eclipse set The Actuality Dramas of Allan King, and Museum of the Moving Image’s Christopher Wisniewski rhapsodizes about Make Way for Tomorrow (“The most indelible cinematic experience I had all year”).
UPDATE 14JAN11: Time has selected its top ten DVD box sets of 2010. Number 3 is Presenting Sacha Guitry (“A fine introduction to the grand Guitry . . . The very model of the charming, prolific showman”), and number 5 is America Lost and Found: The BBS Story.