In many ways, 2012 was a banner year for great high definition home entertainment releases. Film fans were treated to some of the very best box sets, long-awaited catalog titles, and new releases to ever hit Blu-ray. The only problem with so many great movies being released every week is that it’s often hard to remember the best and brightest of the Blu-ray bunch when holiday shopping season rolls around. That’s where we come in! We’ve put together a list of twenty of the most amazing Blu-ray releases of 2012. It’s certainly not a complete list of everything 2012 had to offer, but it’s a fantastic start for the cinephile on your shopping list. Happy holidays!
Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection: Limited Edition (Universal)
Fifteen of Hitchcock’s greatest films, with brand new high definition transfers, and a wealth of great bonus material – all in one big box set? Yes, please! Quite possibly the release of the year, this box set is every serious film fan’s dream come true. The films, including “Psycho,” “Rear Window,” “The Birds,” and many more, have never looked better and the care with which Universal has treated this release is apparent from the insightful extras all the way down the box design. We loved it so much, we even dedicated an entire article just to where you can find Hitchcock’s cameos in the films in this box set.
Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection (Fox)
Easily one of the largest, and most comprehensive, Blu-ray box sets of 2012, Fox’s Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection is a must-have for any fan of 007. This massive 23-disc set includes all 22 James Bond films from 1962’s “Dr. No” to 2008’s “Quantum of Solace,” and there’s even a placeholder for your “Skyfall” Blu-ray when you eventually purchase it. Packed with excellent bonus features that will even give you a new appreciation for the lesser Bond films, this is one of the year’s best Blu-ray boxes.
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection (Universal)
If you’re a classic horror film fan, this is the Blu-ray box set that you’ve been waiting for. This eight-disc features all eight Universal classic monster movies from 1931’s “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” to 1954’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (in both 2D and 3D, no less). If you add the Spanish-language version of “Drácula” that’s also included, you actually get nine of the finest fright films of all time in one convenient and beautiful box set. Painstakingly restored in stunning high-definition, you can be sure that you’ve never seen these films look this great. For a horror junkie like me, this is actually my favorite box set release of the year.
Arguably the greatest film of all time, “Jaws” finally gets a worthy Blu-ray upgrade with what is easily one of the greatest high definition restorations of all time. To say the transfer on Universal’s “Jaws” Blu-ray is beautiful is an enormous understatement; this visual presentation is what every single Blu-ray release of a classic film should aspire to. It not only maintains the integrity, tone, and film of the original release, but it does so with stunning clarity, unparalleled detail, and a soothingly warm color palette. It’s a revelation and, although there is also some wonderful bonus material included on the release, the restored high definition transfer is easily worth the price of admission for this disc.
Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures (Paramount)
This Blu-ray box set from Paramount includes three awesome “Indiana Jones” films and one really shiny drink coaster. Okay, we’re kidding. That fourth disc is “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” but no one is buying Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures for that film. What you will get in this set, however is a beloved franchise that’s been handled with loving care. The audio-visual presentations are top notch (“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” is particularly vibrant), the bonus features are engaging, and the film, well, they speak for themselves. Now if it only came with a fedora and bullwhip…
Rosemary’s Baby: Criterion Collection (Criterion)
One of the most important and influential horror films of all time, Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic “Rosemary’s Baby” made genre fans jump for joy when they heard the announcement that The Criterion Collection would be handling the film’s high definition release. We certainly don’t blame them as Criterion has not only lived up to their mighty expectations, but may have even exceeded them with this gorgeous Blu-ray release. Insightful new interviews, beautiful use of the original poster art on the Blu-ray cover, and a spot-on high definition transfer make this a must-have release for any serious cinephile.
The Dark Knight Trilogy: Limited Edition Giftset (Warner Bros.)
Sure, the critical reaction to Christopher Nolan’s third entry in his “Dark Knight” series “The Dark Knight Rises” might not be up to par with his previous two entries, but you can’t deny the fact that the master director has still crafted one of the finest film trilogies in a long time. What better way to pick up all three films than to grab them in this excellent Limited Edition Giftset. It includes all the bonus material from the standalone releases, plus the shortened version of “The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy” book, all for less than you’d pay if you bought the Blu-rays separately. We call that a steal.
21 Jump Street (Sony)
There were a lot of really good comedies released in 2012, but none were as genuinely laugh-out-loud funny as the Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum television-series reboot “21 Jump Street.” The film had all the makings of a complete disaster, but it beat the odds and became a hilarious update of a not-so-great TV show. In addition to the film itself, you also get a lively audio commentary, nearly thirty minutes of deleted scenes, a hilarious gag reel, and much more. If you’re looking for a good laugh, “21 Jump Street” has got you covered.
Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut (Warner Bros.)
Finally fans of Frank Oz’s modern musical classic “Little Shop of Horrors” get a chance to see the director’s original apocalyptic ending for the film with this beautifully restored Blu-ray release of the film’s Director’s Cut. Previously only available in grainy black and white on a DVD that was promptly pulled from release (only to make it an eBay cash cow for years), the original vision of Howard Ashman, Alan Menken, and Frank Oz has been given the full high definition treatment with new effects, a bright and colorful transfer, and a lavish overall presentation. Go out and grab this Blu-ray, but be warned: You’ll be singing “Suddenly, Seymour” on repeat for about two weeks after you watch it.
Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection (Lionsgate)
With Quentin Tarantino’s latest epic film, “Django Unchained,” hitting theaters on Christmas Day here in the US, it’s a real treat to get this eight-film Blu-ray collection that traces the director’s filmmaking career from 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs” to 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds,” and even includes the 1993 film “True Romance,” which Tarantino wrote but the late Tony Scott directed. While most of the films included in Tarantino XX are simply re-packaged versions of their standalone Blu-ray releases, the real treat in this set is both the Mondo box art created by artist Ken Taylor and the two bonus discs that feature some very lengthy extra material. You get nearly five-hour “Critic’s Corner” featurette one disc and a two-hour retrospective feature on Tarantino on the other disc, along with a few other items including an assortment of trailers for “Django Unchained.” Put it all together and it’s better than a five-dollar shake!