The Top 10 Criterion Blu-rays of 2016

Posted by Amoebite, December 7, 2016 12:51pm | Post a Comment

Top 10 Criterin Blu-ray of 2016

Film fans rejoice! It's been an exciting year of releases for Criterion, the primo purveyors of classic, foreign, and arthouse films. 2016 saw the release of much sought after cult flicks, bonafide classics dearly in need of restoration, as well as contemporary films that are poised to be classics in future years. This year's list of top ten selling Criterion Blu-rays features two films by American auteur Robert Altman and two by the acclaimed genre-satirists Joel and Ethan Coen. While the list was heavy on American films this year, there were, as you'd expect from Criterion, a few foreign pictures in there too.

10. In a Lonely Place
Directed by Nicolas Ray, 1950
Release Date: May 10, 2016

Nick Ray's romantic noir remains one of the quintessential films about the gin-soaked underbelly of Hollywood. Humphrey Bogart, in one of his greatest performances, stars as a washed up screenwriter suspected of murder. Neighbor Gloria Graham backs his alibi, and in the process a romance develops between the two, only to be threatened by her suspicion that he may not be innocent after all. 2K digital restoration. 

9. Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1964
Release Date: June 28, 2016

Stanley Kubrick's no-holds-barred political satire is not only one of the sharpest, funniest, and most frightening takes on the Cold War, but is also a fantastic showcase for the talent that was Peter Sellers (playing three different roles). 4K digital restoration with both an uncompressed monaural and 5.1 surround soundtrack. 

8. Pan's Labyrinth
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, 2006
Release Date: October 18, 2016

Guillermo del Toro's imaginative tale of political strife, fantasy, and innocence lost is set after the Spanish Civil War and finds an 11-year old step-daughter of a sadistic general retreating into her imagination, creating an eerie wonderland of numerous creatures and adventures. An internationally acclaimed hit, del Torro employed many types of practical and digital effects to achieve his lush fantasy world. 2K digital master.

7. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Directed by Robert Altman, 1971
Release Date: October 11, 2016

Robert Altman's revisionist western remains one of his strongest and most atmospheric works. Warren Beatty plays a drifter (and suspected gunfighter) setting up a makeshift brothel with the aid of a new madame in town, the future of which is threatened by an underhanded mining company. Set in the mountains during the dead of winter, this snowy, quiet western also features a soundtrack of early Leonard Cohen songs. 4K digital restoration.

6. The Player
Directed by Robert Altman, 1992
Release Date: May 24, 2016

Robert Altman's uneasiness with Hollywood is ever apparent in this comedic satire of the industry. Part noir-ish thriller, part cameo-driven comedy, studio exec Tim Robbins finds himself the target of a killer, whose script he apparently rejected. 4K digital restoration. 

5. Blood Simple
Directed by Joel Coen, 1984
Release Date: September 20, 2016

The Coen Brothers' debut film shows that right out of the gate, the duo were on the cutting edge of the American indie-film scene. Mixing cold-blooded noir with their trademark dark sense of humor, Blood Simple tells the story of a Texan bar owner (Dan Hedaya) contracting the murder of his wife (Frances McDormand) after discovering she has been cheating on him with a bartender (John Getz). Things, however, don't go according to plan. 4K digital restoration, includes new interviews with cast and crew, including Joel and Ethan Coen. 

4. The Graduate
Directed by Mike Nichols, 1967
Release Date: February 23, 2016

Now considered one of the watershed film releases that signaled the coming of New Hollywood and the end of the classic studio system, Mike Nichols' The Graduate remains one of the quintessential films of the 1960s, both documenting the changing cultural climate of America and influencing countless films after it. Not only that, it made newcomer Dustin Hoffman a star and featured a classic soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel. 4K digital restoration.

3. The Complete Lady Snowblood
Directed by Toshiya Fujita, 1973-74
Release Date: January 5, 2016

Poetic gore and stylized action pervade these two cult films, the first of which was a huge influence on Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill series. Meiko Kaji's Lady Snowblood has been trained from birth to avenge the death of her father and the rape of her mother, which she attempts with ruthless violence. Underneath all the action and drama is a look at a culturally shifting Japan entering the 20th century. 2K digital restoration.

2. Fantastic Planet
Directed by Rene Laloux, 1973
Release Date: June 21, 2016

The long wait for the sci-fi, animated masterpiece to be put back into print has definitely been worth it, now that Criterion has restored and included with it Rene Laloux's earlier short films, along with other extra goodies. The allegorical story of a planet in which humans are kept as pets and playthings of a blue ruling class of inhabitants has been a psychedelic, cult classic for years. 2K digital restoration.

1. Inside Llewyn Davis
Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen, 2013
Release Date: January 19, 2016

The number one Criterion seller of the year goes to another Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Set in 1960s Greenwich Village, Oscar Isaac plays a notorious fixture in the folk scene, whose songs and prickly personality just don't seem to be getting him anywhere. One of the more subdued of the Coen Brothers' films, Davis is at once an aesthetically and sonically rewarding period piece, and a darkly comedic look at self defeat and failure. Includes Another Day, Another Time, a concert celebrating the music of the film. 4K digital transfer.


Honorable Mentions:

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Directed by Russ Meyer, 1970
Release Date: September 27, 2016

Sexploitation auteur Russ Meyer's (sort of) follow up to the '60s cult film, Valley of the Dolls (also released on Criterion), is a camped-out, sexed-up send-up of Hollywood excess in the era of free love and psychedelia. Screenplay by Roger Ebert. Yes, that Roger Ebert! Two thumbs up! HD digital restoration.

Directed by Charles Vidor, 1946

Release Date: January 19, 2016

One of the most glamorous and iconic of film noirs, Rita Hayworth stars as the eponymous Gilda, wife of crime boss George Macready and former lover of henchman Glenn Ford. Hayworth and Ford's on-screen, and by some accounts off-screen, chemistry was so strong the two would star in four more films together. 2K digital restoration.


Relevant Tags

Best Of 2016 (18), Criterion (13), Criterion Collection (8), In A Lonely Place (1), Dr Strangelove (1), Pan's Labyrinth (2), Guillermo Del Toro (3), Robert Altman (3), Mccabe And Mrs Miller (1), The Player (1), Blood Simple (1), Joel And Ethan Coen (1), Coen Brothers (2), The Graduate (1), The Complete Lady Snowblood (1), Fantastic Planet (3), Inside Llewyn Davis (1), Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1), Gilda (1)