1. A Brighter Summer Day
2. The Emigrants/The New Land
3. The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew and Associates
4. The New World
5. BoyhoodBEST BOXED SET
Wim Wenders: The Road TrilogyBEST MODERN FILM (within the last five years)
Phoenix - great to see Criterion moving into more contemporary world cinema again, as well as the classics and modern American filmsBEST COMMENTARY
A Brighter Summer Day - quite a feat. The only thing that would have improved Tony Rayns' commentary would have been if Edward Yang were still around to do it with him, as on Yi Yi.BEST "BONUS" FILM
Cloud Phenomena of Maloja (on Clouds of Sils Maria), if just for introducing an Arnold Fanck mountain film into the collection!BEST BOOKLET
Dr StrangeloveBEST ON-DISC NON-COMMENTARY EXTRA
Christopher Faulkner's piece on Renoir's La chienneBEST REISSUE
Carnival of Souls BEST UPGRADE
Night Train To MunichBEST COVER
A Brighter Summer Day (though I thought there were some great covers this year: I Knew Her Well, Phoenix, The Manchurian Candidate, One-Eyed Jacks, Only Angels Have Wings, Muriel, Inside Llewyn Davis, The American Friend, etc, etc)WORST COVER
I'm still not that taken with Gilda's frame-grab feel of a cover, even if it is an iconic imageBEST PACKAGING
The New WorldBEST DISCOVERY
I Knew Her WellMOST UNNECESSARY RELEASE
I can see the brand-building reasons for releasing all of them, and appreciate the Blu upgrade in all cases but Cat People seemed a little unnecessary in terms of adding new material to the existing conversation about the film. Also Fantastic Planet. But I think in the end because I still
cannot really stand the film, I'll have to go with Punch-Drunk Love! (But don't let Paul Thomas Anderson know about that, because I think every single other film he has made is 'Criterion-worthy', for whatever that's worth!)MOST FLAWED RELEASE
I think I'll have to go back to The Kid at the beginning of the year, for only including the 1970s re-release version of the film in full and relegating the 1921 version to a collection of deleted scenes and titles.BEST THREAD
I'll go with the International Blu-ray thread
, which ties in with my next vote:MEMBER OF THE YEAR
I voted for feihong
last year as well, and this member has continued with many interesting contributions that have added so much to the forum over this year, particularly on Hong Kong cinema, international Blu-ray disc reports and comments on the 88 Films Shaw Brothers releases
. RICHARD CRANIUM AWARD
I've seen every single member here many times over, but Alan Clarke has to be the winner of this category!
I think it is important to underline a few times that it has been a fantastic year overall for films getting released that had long been discussed but had always seemed mythical for home video releases! I felt incredibly spoilt this year in all areas. Criterion got in on the action with A Brighter Summer Day, their edition of A Touch of Zen, the Orson Welles Shakespeare films, One-Eyed Jacks and Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, but to have imagined a few years ago that we’d have copies of Napoleon, Jacque Rivette’s films, Alan Clarke’s films, Thundercrack!, The Killing of America and two
complimentary editions of Dekalog would have been overwhelming. Plus the long presumed lost Symptoms! (Or the chance to finally see Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers film in its original widescreen ratio!)
It is wonderful to be able to clear a bit of space from the 'wants' list to add new titles now. Like when will we get the 200 minute version of Agitator, or a decent Blu-ray (or just watchable anamorphic DVD) edition of Shinji Aoyama’s Eureka? Or how about getting more Erich von Stroheim like The Wedding March or Greed done now! Or Force of Evil!
1. Napoleon (BFI)
2. Man With A Movie Camera (Moc) - what a fantastic package of films. It seems unfair to class everything else as 'extras', but the main feature still towers as a masterpiece above them
3. The Human Condition (Arrow)
4. Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Collection Volume 1 & 2 (Arrow) - I'll get to writing about these eventually I promise. But this was one of the most commercially daring releases of the year. Only matched by:
5. The Jacques Rivette Collection (Arrow) - the other
uncommercial release of the year that treated difficult works with full respect
6. Dekalog (Arrow) – the Criterion set is wonderful in itself for the film versions and interviews, but this one is the essential set just for adding new material into the Kieslowski conversation
7. Dissent & Disruption: Alan Clarke at the BBC (BFI) – speaking of adding something new to the conversation, just these films getting a release helps expand our view of Clarke’s career
8. It’s Such A Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeld Kickstarter Productions) - a brilliantly handled Kickstarter of some absolutely adorable (if harrowing) works
9. Thundercrack! (Synapse Films) – how long has this been in production? Five years or more? Wonderful (and eye-popping) to finally see this ‘mythical’ film!
10. The Killing of America (Severin) – this was a film that I’d been tempted to pick up in the late 90s on UK VHS and missed my opportunity. That was released on the old Exploited label run by David Gregory along with the other infamous mondo-doc Hated: G.G. Allin and the Murder Junkies (that was directed by the future director of the Hangover films and shows what a performer going off the rails really looks like!). While I missed it, it was a film lingered in the mind (inevitably as a mondo documentary using real life footage of gun deaths in the United States to suggest a ingrained casualised culture surrounding violent death), and apparently this Blu relase by Severin represents the first time the film has ever been made available in the US. It not only has the 95 minute theatrical feature but also a longer 115 minute version prepared for Japan called “Violent America”. Plus a commentary by the director. This is probably the ultimate version of a film that will probably (like most mondo movies) be impossible to watch through just the once!
By the way The Killing of America was produced by Leonard Schrader and Mata Yamamoto and co-written by Leonard and Chieko Schrader! (All later collaborators on Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters) I had never realised that connection before, but it certainly holds its own as the exterior, ‘real world’ violence set against Paul Schrader’s more interior, brooding meditations on violence.
And while that’s already a top ten, I’m going to annoy domino and keep on listing other great releases from the year:
11. Body Double (Indicator)
12. Mysterious Object At Noon / Horse Money (Second Run) – for the label's first foray into Blu-ray production
13. Three Brothers (Arrow) / The Paolo and Vittorio Taviani Collection (Arrow)
14. Pioneers of African-American Cinema (BFI/Kino)
15. Belladonna of Sadness (Cinelicious Pics)
16. Pieces (Grindhouse) / I Drink Your Blood (Grindhouse)
17. Symptoms (BFI) (and the return of the Flipside series in general: Psychomania, Beat Girl and Expresso Bongo!)
18. Ken Russell: The Great Composers / Ken Russell: The Great Passions / Valentino / Women In Love (BFI)
19. The Professional: Golgo 13 (1979) / Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (1994) (Discotek/Eastern Star) – two classic anime films getting the Blu-ray treatment they deserve
20. Cosmos (Arrow)
21. Shooting Stars (BFI)
22. Outlaw Gangster VIP: The Complete Collection (Arrow)
23. That’s Sexploitation! (Synapse) – probably the best way to pay tribute to recently deceased producer David F. Friedman (as well as Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video)
24. The cheeky dual Kino releases of German silent classic Gold (1924) (with Brigitte Helm from Metropolis!) and The Magnetic Monster (1953), a US monster movie that uses stock footage from Gold!
25. Cemetery of Splendour (Strand Releasing) / Mountains May Depart (Kino Lorber) / Arabian Nights (Kino Lorber) – three US Blu-ray releases of films somewhat neglected in the UK with only DVD releases (so far!)
26. Blood Bath (Arrow) – probably the best piece of archival research and presentation of multiple versions of a neglected film this year. Just beats out Criterion’s treatment of The New World and MoC’s take on Shane’s aspect ratios!
27. Love & Peace / Uzumasa Limelight (Third Window)
28. On The Beach (Signal One)
29. On The Black Hill / Akenfield (BFI)
30. Dead-End Drive In (Arrow) / Turkey Shoot (Severin) – Brian Trenchard-Smith getting lavish attention!
And that’s without adding the dual Signal One Roger Corman releases of Gas-s-s-s and The Trip. Or Cinema Guild’s release of Jajua!
(P.P.P.S. : Oh, and here are some late arrivals: MichaelB's rampage through Eastern European cinema continues unabated with Mondo Macabro's Blu-ray release of Miklós Jancsó's Private Vices, Public Virtues; Vinegar Syndrome continues its Wakefield Poole collection with a DVD of Take One and Moving!; and Blue Underground's Blu-ray edition of Jess Franco's 99 Women that in its limited edition form contains the notorious French version on another Blu-ray and the soundtrack on CD!)
(P.P.P.P.S.: By the way, it was also strange, but wonderful, to find that the most Ballardian film experience of the year wasn't the adaptation of High-Rise, but instead Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups!)
I'll also throw in that the scariest horror experience I had this year was with the video game Anatomy by Kittyhorrorshow. There are a few videos worth watching if anyone is interested. The first place to go is probably The Sw1tcher's playthrough of the game
, then if interested into looking into things further Errant Signal's episode
, or the Gaming Symposium piece
. If the new Amityville Horror film gets half as close to capturing a sense of 'house terror' as Anatomy does, then it'll be great!