10. Howl’s Moving Castle (PG; $29.99) and Grease (Rockin’ Rydell Edition) (PG; $19.99)
For kids: While Pixar spent the year selling product tie-ins (see the cars in Cars), Hayao Miyazaki dreamed up another unparalleled fantasy, his darkest yet. Meanwhile, this fun edition of Grease makes the most of sing-along bouncing balls, so you can finally teach your children to hand-jive.
9. Sólo Con Tu Pareja (NR; $29.95) and Little Miss Sunshine (PG-13; $29.99)
Two brilliant comic debuts: a rediscovered AIDS-era sex comedy from Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También) and the breakout hit from Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton.
8. Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season (NR; $69.98) and The Office, Seasons One and Two (NR; $29.98 and $49.98)
The best in television comedy, past and present.
7. Gojira Deluxe Collector’s Edition (NR; $21.98) and Lady Vengeance (R; $22.95)
The Gojira set restores twenty minutes and much post-apocalyptic angst to the original Godzilla. Lady Vengeance is the brutal conclusion to something even scarier: Korean auteur Park Chan-wook’s brilliant revenge trilogy.
6. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (R; $19.99) and The Maltese Falcon (Three-Disc Special Edition) (NR; $29.98)
Playing a thief turned private-eye, Robert Downey Jr. has never been funnier than he is in Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. The Maltese most of us know was actually the third adaptation of the same novel. This set includes the previous two films, and though the first is a dud, the second and third are so sharp, you’ll have to rethink your snobby attitude about remakes.
5. Dave Chappelle Block Party (PG-13; $19.98) and Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector’s Edition (NR; $99.98)
Michel Gondry’s concert-film collaboration with Dave Chappelle didn’t just document a block party in Bed-Stuy, it actually felt like one. Astaire and Rogers would have approved.
4. Seven Samurai (NR; $49.95) and Three Times (NR; $24.95)
Once again, Criterion produced the year’s best restoration: Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai gets a digital transfer that makes it look reborn, with commentary you’ll actually want to hear from Donald Richie and Stephen Price. Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s period-jumping romance Three Times represents the state of the art in contemporary Asian cinema, with a star-making performance by Hsien’s Millennium Mambo muse, Shu Qi.
3. Lost: Season 2 (NR; $59.99) and Planet of the Apes: The Ultimate DVD Collection (PG-13; $179.98)
Welcome to Geek Heaven: The inconsistent on-air schedule of Lost is infuriating, but these boxes allow you to jump swiftly from cliffhanger to cliffhanger. Though certifiably geeky, not even Lost can approach the dorkitude of this giant, fourteen-disc Planet of the Apes set stuffed in an ape-head box, complete with hair.
2. Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films (NR; $850) and Warner Mega Classics Collection (NR; $4,243.92, though both sets can be found for much less online.)
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Janus Films, Criterion corralled this massive set, which should be placed beside that William Shakespeare: The Complete Works gathering dust on your shelf. Our favorites include Pandora’s Box and The Rules of the Game, but there are a whopping 48 more films to see. Warner fired back with the ridiculous, 198-title Warner Mega Classics Collection, with everything from the Complete Thin Man Collection to the three Godfathers.
1. When the Levees Broke (NR; $29.98) and The Spike Lee Joint Collection (Clockers, Jungle Fever, Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, and Crooklyn) (R; $26.98)
After directing the worst films of his career (She Hate Me, Sucker Free City), Spike Lee stormed back this year with the fun heist pic Inside Man and his three-hour Katrina documentary, When the Levees Broke. Seen on HBO, Levees was an astounding act of empathy, but the expanded DVD goes even deeper—with 90 minutes of new material, a heartbreaking photo gallery, and revealing commentary from Lee throughout. The throwback Spike Lee Joint Collection, priced to buy and packed with five early films, reminds you that Lee mattered as much back then as he does now.