The Lord of the Rings
The Transfer: Middle Earth aka New Zealand has never looked so divine. The only reason it’s so low on this list is that they’ve held back on the fanboys’ favourite Extended Editions in favour of the paltry nine or so hours of the theatrical cuts.
Killer Extra: With the Making Of stuff presumably being held back for the Extended Editions, it’s best to head for more esoteric stuff, like the National Geographic documentary about Tolkien’s influences.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
The Transfer: The Studio Ghibli Collection is parcelling out Hayao Miyazaki’s immaculate hand-painted fantasies a film at a time. His breakthrough movie sets a high standard in terms of capturing the director’s lovingly drawn backdrops.
Killer Extra: A history of Ghibli that’s a useful primer to the studio’s output. Which is handy, considering you’ll probably end up buying all of them after this.
The Transfer: The films may be patchy, but Blu-ray is the only way you’re going to be able to enjoy Rodriguez and Tarantino’s retro homages back-to-back – even if hi-def is the exact opposite of what the directors set out to achieve with their missing reels and scratched prints.
Killer Extra: It doesn’t really count as an extra, given that it’s technically part of the overall film, but the spoof trailers by Eli Roth, Edgar Wright and Rodriguez are still ace exercises in OTT fanboy glee.
The Transfer: So rich that the seams between the film’s unflinchingly realistic vision of civil war and its fantasy creatures don’t show. The greater the definition, the more it appears that the faun has emerged from the forest, not from a prosthetics lab.
Killer Extra: Mark Kermode’s entertaining, insightful on-stage interview with Guillermo Del Toro.
Profound Desires of the Gods
The Transfer: Eureka’s Masters of Cinema range is targeting the UK connosieur’s market in the same way Criterion does in the States. Profound Desires is a case in point – Shohei Imamura’s oddball epic about a tropical paradise governed by an incestuous family.
Killer Extra: Not much on the disc, but the accompanying booklet is a treasure trove of information to help contextualise this odd movie.
The Transfer: You’d expect silent movies to look worse than any other, but Sunrise is different. Already a work of perfectionism by F.W. Murnau with its slippery, dream-like visuals, the current release offers two different cuts: a remastered one, and a newly discovered Czech print that highlights how well film can stand the test of time.
Killer Extra: Nothing radical, but the commentary is a useful primer in a film that was something of an oddity even back then.
The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
The Transfer: One of the handsomest films of recent years gets a suitably luxurious treatment, proving that all the FX in the world can’t compete with faces and landscapes captured by a master cinematographer, in this case Roger Deakins.
Killer Extra: By default, it has to be documentary 'Death of an Outlaw,' because there's nowt else on the disc. Good job it looks so good.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
The Transfer: From Britcom to blockbuster, Edgar Wright’s visual imagination, sonic experimentation and sugar-rush stylings pop out in vibrant glee on Blu-ray. It’s as if Ramona Flowers’ hair colour keeps changing just to test the medium’s possibilities.
Killer Extra: Wright shares commentary duties with Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley for a rare chance to hear how one medium becomes another.
The Transfer: Mann’s modernist L.A. benefits from Blu-ray’s ability to bring out his sleek, steely cinematography. But really, this one’s about the cacophony of gunfire during the battle sequences. Bring the noise.
Killer Extra: The commentary with Michael Mann, who turns out to be every bit as obsessive as you’d expect.
The Transfer: Of all Pixar’s films, this is the one that feels made for Blu-ray, with its rainbow of balloons (each one rendered with unique movement) and a menagerie of creatures, from hairy dogs to wrinkly pensioner Carl Frederickson.
Killer Extra: The Cine-Explore Commentary by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson is a model for how to do Picture-in-Picture, with a steady flow of pre-production art, trivia and solid filmmaking tips.
The Red Shoes
The Transfer: Overseen by Michael Powell’s biggest fans Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker (aka Powell’s widow), this is a startling restoration of one of the most sumptuous, visionary British films ever made. You’ll envy your grandparents for living through the Technicolor era.
Killer Extra: A documentary about the restoration that shows how much hard graft goes into your viewing pleasure.
The Transfer: So clear it warranted a complaint from one commentator that it was too good, because the actors’ make-up was visible. But what it highlights is that, even shooting quickly with a TV crew and a reduced budget, Hitchcock’s attention to detail of performance and art direction rewards repeat viewing.
Killer Extra: It’s an old documentary, but 'The Making of Psycho ' digs deep into the method behind the film’s madness.
The Transfer: Tarsem Singh travelled around the globe seeking real-life locations that look out of this world. It takes Blu-ray to really appreciate his success in forging an extravagant fantasy without the tell-tale fakery of CGI.
Killer Extra: The behind-the-scenes doc Nostalgia reveals how actor Lee Pace fooled the crew into thinking he was a genuine paraplegic.
The Transfer: Goodfellas was always about selling a lifestyle, and here – displayed in pin-sharp detail – it’s all but impossible to resist the allure.
Killer Extra: The ‘Cop and Crook’ commentary with Henry Hill and retired Feb, which shows you how grubby the reality was – and how electric Scorsese made it.
The Transfer: Jacques Tati spent nearly a decade building an elaborate, fully-functioning city set and shot it in lustrous 70mm. The results pay off in this gorgeous Blu-ray, so detailed you’ll need to rewatch to catch all of the sight gags.
Killer Extra: A scholarly commentary by Total Film contributor Philip Kemp goes some way towards unpacking Tati’s overflowing suitcase of ideas.
Back To The Future
The Transfer: Overseen by Robert Zemeckis, the Trilogy box-set captures his ace time-travel rom-com and sequels in the best quality they’ve ever been seen. Considering that the original DVD releases suffered idiotic framing issues, this is a good thing.
Killer Extra: Amongst exhaustive making ofs, the big draw here is seeing early footage of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly. It’s disconcerting stuff watching another actor bust moves that are indelibly linked with Michael J. Fox.
There Will Be Blood
The Transfer: Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece shouldn’t suit Blu-ray – its images are oily and dark; its soundtrack like a swarm of angry flies. However, it takes high definition to showcase just how special Anderson’s anti-epic is.
Killer Extra: The Story of Petroleum , a silent film from the 1920s that offers an unusual counterpoint to Anderson’s vicious, visionary movie.
North By Northwest
The Transfer: When rival studios were competing to find the best Widescreen format, Paramount’s VistaVision didn’t win hearts and minds. But judging by the flawless appearance of Hitchcock’s classic chase movie, it probably should have done.
Killer Extra: Documentary ‘The Master’s Touch’ is essential for Hitchcock experts and novices alike.
The Transfer: Walt Disney spared no expense to create imagery vivid enough to compete with the majesty of classical music. With the latter positively euphoric on Blu-ray, Walt would be happy to know that the picture quality is astonishing.
Killer Extra: Not an extra per se, but when millennial afterthought Fantasia 2000 is packaged together with the original, it sure feels like it.
The Transfer: Sonically and visually boisterous, Baz Luhrmann’s attention-deficit musical can-can-cans into your living room with eye- (and ear-)popping immersion.
Killer Extra: Ewan McGregor singing 'Father and Son,' the tune Baz planned to open the movie with until Cat Stevens vetoed its use.
The Transfer: For a routine release of (what was originally seen as) a routine Western, this is anything but routine – a restoration so immaculate you could put John Ford’s Monument Valley next to the real thing and not know which was which.
Killer Extra: A toss-up between the documentary narrated by John Milius, or the commentary by Peter Bogdanovich. Either way, you quickly realise why The Searchers was so inspirational for the movie brat generation.
The Transfer: The Studio Canal Collection is quickly amassing a reputation for the most loving transfers of classic. Jean-Luc Godard’s movie-making satire, shot in sun-kissed primary colours and capturing Brigitte Bardot at her most kittenish, highlights how gorgeous their work is.
Killer Extra: Alongside several scholarly documentaries, the highlight is Godard’s in-depth conversation with Le Mepris star and fellow director Fritz Lang, a meeting of two cinema icons.
The Transfer: The first rule of the Fight Club Blu-ray is… ooh, never noticed that before. With the resolution able to pick out fresh detail amidst the film’s Stygian gloom, this is definitely something worth talking about.
Killer Extra: Fincher, Pitt and Norton give their candid opinion on the critics who didn’t rate Fight Club . Clue: they don’t rate those critics, either.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
The Transfer: The majority of Spielberg’s early masterpieces are still awaiting their BD upgrades – but few of them are likely to match this for visual majesty, with the Mothership’s lightshow turning your telly into a Christmas tree.
Killer Extra: The chance to dip in and out of the three different cuts. The 1980 version is the leanest and most gob-smacking, but suffers from the superfluous ‘inside the spaceship’ scene that even Spielberg hates.
The Transfer: Sharp. Fast. Deadly. Just like 007, really.
Killer Extra: Documentary 'Becoming Bond' allows you to relive that crazy period when Daniel Craig’s hair colour caused a scandal. One day, your grandkids will be ashamed that you lived through it.
Gone With The Wind
The Transfer: An epic in scope and scale, Blu-ray is the perfect format to let its sumptuous set and costume design (in scorching Technicolour) wash over you. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.
Killer Extra: Documentary ‘Hollywood’s Greatest Year’ points out that 1939 also saw Stagecoach , The Hunchback of Notre Dame , Only Angels Have Wings and Mr Smith Goes To Washington released...and Gone With The Wind actor Thomas Mitchell appeared in all of them.
The Transfer: Like a dream. Well, several dreams. Oh, you get the idea.
Killer Extra: Extraction Mode offers a tailored take on Picture-in-Picture commentary. A scene plays out, then the film pauses while Nolan & co. explore how it was made. With its cheeky mirroring of the story’s multiple realities, it’s an extra that enhances your understanding of the film.
The Transfer: J. J. Abrams’ retro-cool reboot of Kirk and co’s adventures aboard the Enterprise is the sprightliest, sunniest blockbuster of recent years. For connoisseurs of lens flare, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Killer Extra: ‘The Sounds of Star Trek ’ featurette in which Ben Burtt reveals his ongoing mission to seek out the original series’ recording techniques so he could replicate them.
Saving Private Ryan
The Transfer: Dwarfed in scope and scale by its TV spin-offs Band of Brothers and The Pacific , maybe, but Blu-ray underlines that Spielberg got the technical stuff bang-on first time. The maelstrom of mud, blood and deafening gunfire that opens the film makes you glad we no longer have National Service.
Killer Extra: Featurette ‘Looking into the Past,’ just in case you don’t believe the U.S. Army would risk a whole team to rescue one man.
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Transfer: Stanley Kubrick’s perfectionism pays off over 40 years later, with a release whose controlled sound and image are in perfect balance on disc. Prepare to be blown away all over again.
Killer Extra: The audio-only interview with Stanley Kubrick, the next best thing to having him do a commentary.
The Godfather trilogy
The Transfer: aka the Coppola Restoration, this shows the benefit of letting the original director get his mitts on the material to fine-tune things to his satisfaction. As bloody and beautiful as it’s ever been.
Killer Extra: 'Godfather World,' in which celebrity fans discuss the impact The Godfather has had on them. The Sopranos creator David Chase, unsurprisingly, is one of them.
The Social Network
The Transfer: Fincher’s masterpiece about the creation of Facebook is a study of synthetic screens and richly burnished wood – a marriage of the classical and modern that thrives on Blu-ray. Trent Reznor’s pulsing electronica sounds awesome, too.
Killer Extra: a documentary that is nearly as long as the feature, all the better to unravel Aaron Sorkin’s dense screenplay and the digitally-created Winklevii.
The Wizard of Oz
The Transfer: Unbelievably good for a film of its vintage; it feels as if the Technicolor has been painted back on frame by frame. Emerald cities and ruby slippers gleam like never before.
Killer Extra: A collection of early shorts that show a) how popular Oz was with filmmakers and b) what a quantum leap forward the 1939 movie actually was.
The Transfer: It was between this and ace TV series Planet Earth , but that's probably already in your collection.
And Ron Fricke’s 65mm eye-melting trip around the world is as impressive a showcase of Blu-ray’s documentary potential. It took three weeks to scan the negative. It shows.
Killer Extra: ‘A Closer Look’ is a documentary about a documentary, but reveals how difficult it is to shoot something this glorious.
The Transfer: Flawless as you’d expect from Pixar’s digital source. Even so, the near-photo-real depiction of a lone robot trundling across a ravaged planet – aided by one of the most nuanced soundscapes ever created – is jaw-dropping.
Killer Extra: Presto , a five-minute blast of sustained hilarity that is the finest and funniest of Pixar’s short movies.
The Dark Knight
The Transfer: A test case for black levels, plus a bold attempt to approximate the full oopm of Imax on a telly screen by using a different aspect ratio for the big set-pieces.
Killer Extra: 'Batman Tech,' a documentary that allows you to find out where he gets all those wonderful toys.
The Transfer: Simply remastering the ’82 cut would probably be enough to give Ridley Scott’s futureshock classic a place here. The fact that he bothered to tinker with the narrative, and fix the original’s glaring technical flaws, means that a near-thirty year old film looks more amazing than any of this year’s wannabes.
Killer Extra: Five – five! – cuts to choose from, plus a documentary so exhaustive it turns everybody into a Blade Runner expert.
The Transfer: Not actually out in the UK yet, but the U.S. edition captures the Wagnerian shock and awe of Coppola’s jungle excursion but once, not twice but three times, with the 1979 cut, the 2001 Redux , and definitive doc Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse .
Killer Extra: You’re getting a feature-length ‘making of’ that’s as mind-boggling as the on-screen fiction. Who cares what else is on the discs?
The Transfer: Shorn of its 3D gimmickry, Avatar still offers such a dazzingly immersive experience that you’ll want to touch the foliage. Crucially, Cameron’s CG-augmented reality was captured at 10 million mega pixels (give or take) so Blu-ray is perfect.
Killer Extra: There was much grumbling when the film was first released with bare-bones, but the latest 3-disc edition is as detailed a voyage into Cameron’s radical shoot as you could wish for, with plenty of footage of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana prancing around a cavernous warehouse wearing mo-cap suits.
The Transfer: A labour of love, with all four films benefitting from the same meticulous attention to detail their directors gave them. For texture, Ridley Scott’s original is hard to beat, but restored sound on Alien 3 ’s workprint reveals the film it might have been, and a stunning transfer of Aliens adds sleekness it probably never had. Unbeatable.
Killer Extra: The MU-TH-UR interactive menu, which lets you browse and store which of the hours of documentaries to watch at leisure. And when that includes archival gold like Sigourney Weaver’s screen test, that’s a feature worth having.