1. Murnau, Borzage and Fox (Fox)
In an unbelievable act of pop curatorial genius, the folks at Fox have redefined the art of DVD boxed sets with this pairing – combining the expressionist, epic cinema of F.W. Murnau with the sensitive, intimate cinema of Frank Borzage. With twelve films, two books, and a host of documentaries and reconstructions, this may just go down as the greatest classic film boxed set of all time.
2. The Films of Budd Boetticher (Sony/Columbia)
Restored widescreen editions of five of the most beautiful Westerns ever made, by a director (Boetticher) and a star (Randolph Scott) who were in danger of being lost to the ages.
Includes: The Tall T, Decision at Sundown, Buchanan Rides Alone, Ride Lonesome, Comanche Station
3. Walker, White Dog, and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Criterion)
By putting their name and prestige behind these separate editions of three of the 1980s’ most overlooked (and in White Dog’s case, pretty much unreleased) films, Criterion helped lead the way in redefining what a great home video company can do.
4. Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition (Universal)
As in his film career, Orson Welles never got the respect he deserved in the age of DVD – which is why this edition, featuring three distinct versions of his 1958 noir film maudit, along with a host of materials explaining what exactly happened to it, feels so indispensable.
5. The Wire Complete Series (HBO Video)
Fans of the show probably already had the individual season sets, but the Dickensian sweep of David Simon and Ed Burns’s landmark achievement practically mandates a giant box with the full HBO series.
6. Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women (Eclipse)
The title kind of says it all: Four heartbreaking films about the plight of women in Japanese society, from one of that country’s greatest artists.
Includes: Osaka Elegy, Sisters of the Gion, Street of Shame, Women of the Night
7. The Big Trail (Fox)
You’re probably not going to get many chances theatrically to see Raoul Walsh’s legendary 1930 Western, one of the first 70mm films ever made, so this DVD edition loaded with extras is the next best thing.
8. Bottle Rocket (Criterion)
As Wes Anderson’s cinema has become more and more elaborately arch, his almost naturalistic directorial debut now feels like an essential corrective.
9. The Derek Jarman Collection (Kino)
A pioneer of queer cinema whose films hovered between classical narrative and poetic experimentalism, Jarman finally got his due this year with Kino’s four-disc set.
Includes: Sebastiane, The Tempest, War Requiem, Derek
10. The Godfather Trilogy: The Coppola Restoration (Paramount)
Hey, it’s an itch we can’t stop scratching!