1. RESCUE DAWN (MGM)
A dark-horse contender for Best Actor, Christian Bale brilliantly plays Vietnam POW Dieter Dengler as the strange optimist found in director Werner Herzog’s 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly.
Start A Herzog Library With: The Herzog/Kinski Collection; Burden of Dreams.
2. SEINFELD: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Sony)
All nine seasons, 180 episodes, 33 discs, a 226-page coffee-table book, gobs of extras, and (insert apropos yadda-yadda-yadda joke here).
OTHER complete series sets out this month: The X-Files, Queer As Folk, Gilmore Girls, The O.C., and Chappelle’s Show.
3. I AM CUBA: THE ULTIMATE EDITION (Milestone)
Mikhail Kalatozov’s propaganda classic has been copied by scores of directors (among them, Martin Scorsese, interviewed here). Don’t miss the fascinating behind-the-scenes film The Siberian Mammoth.
Films inspired by this include: Boogie Nights, GoodFellas.
4. KILLER OF SHEEP: THE CHARLES BURNETT COLLECTION (Milestone)
Another rescued classic from Milestone Films, Killer of Sheep was one of the best-reviewed films of this year. This set also tosses in Burnett’s second feature, My Brother’s Wedding.
You Might also like Nothing But a Man, Shadows.
5. THE JOHNNY CASH CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 1977 (Shout Factory) (1976 sold separately)
Tired of red and green? Watch the man in black sing “Frosty the Snowman.”
More Stocking Stuffers: Spend the Holidays With Liberace; Sonny & Cher: The Christmas Collection; The Dame Edna Experience: The Christmas Specials.
… and the rest …
6. Ocean’s Thirteen Better than Twelve!
7. Ratatouille Better than Cars!
8. The Namesake Mira Nair adapts Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, with Kal Penn.
9. The Lady Vanishes Hitchcock’s early crime caper, restored.
10.Sicko Michael Moore’s surprisingly un–Michael Moore–obsessed health-care doc.
11. Hairspray Christopher Walken, ballerina.
12. Waitress Adrienne Shelly’s final film.
13. Drunken Angel Akira Kurosawa’s early noir.
14. Election Johnnie To’s airtight crime flick.
15. Helvetica Font porn.
16. Live Free or Die Hard.
17. Sesame Street: Volume 2—Old School. Pre-K, pre-gentrification.