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2008 Calvin Awards: Best DVD

February 19, 2008

Now part of the Pink Floyd Experience.

I can summarize why we have chosen Planet Earth (The Complete DVD Series) as the Best DVD of the Year anecdotally. For Christmas, I gave this box set along with its BBC companion, The Blue Earth, to my father. About ten days later, I called and asked my mother if he had taken off the shrink wrap and put any of the discs into the player yet. Mom's reply was simple. "He has already watched all of the discs in both sets. Twice." This is the beauty of Planet Earth, easily the best selling next-gen box set to date. Its appeal supersedes age boundaries, appealing to teenagers just as much as AARP members. For those of us who have made the jump to high definition, Planet Earth is the shiniest disc to show off the appeal of 1080p to our envious friends. It is the clear choice as the Best DVD of the Year.

Pixar's popularity at BOP is surpassed only by Brad Bird, whose masterpiece, The Iron Giant, was chosen the Most Underrated Movie of the 1990s by our staff. Each and every time he has a new release, it's a no-brainer that our collective group will watch it in theaters then buy it on DVD. Even if we were not incredibly biased toward Mr. Bird and the kind folks at Pixar, however, the quality of Ratatouille is such that we would be all over this disc anyway. Ratatouille is the rare box office blockbuster whose quality is more corroborative in tone to a sweet, little indie movie. This celebration of food follows the plebian spirit of its central tenet, "Anyone can cook." Even the title is a play on this philosophy. And like most Pixar releases, its DVD feature set is so robust that you could lose yourself for hours in it without watching a single frame of the movie. It only misses winning Best DVD by a few votes, but it will have to settle for second place.

Movie quality seems to be as important as features in our voting this year. This has been readily apparent with the first two selections, but the point is truly driven home with our third place selection, The Departed. The reigning winner for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (for another few days), this title has been hugely popular in all formats of DVD this year. It's one of the ten best selling discs on the next-gen formats as well as being a top 25 title on the regular format. Our staff is a bit more enamored of the two-disc special edition than the regular release, of course, but I also highly recommend the Blu Ray version.

Rounding out the top five are Friday Night Lights and Hot Fuzz. Given that we named the former series the best television show of the year, it's unsurprising that we would also be championing its DVD box set. This is especially true since it's generally on sale for $20 or less at most major retailers, making it the best deal this side of Firefly. As for the latter title, long-time readers of this site probably remember when our staff was obsessed with a British show named Spaced. Almost a decade later, North American viewers are discovering the majesty of the Simon Pegg and his creative partners, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. Their first mainstream release in the states, Shaun of the Dead, might not have been for everyone but Hot Fuzz is. Somehow a send-up as well as a celebration of lousy-good action movies, it's a joy to behold and a worthy entrant in our top five.




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Sixth and seventh place are the extreme ends of our voting spectrum. The lower entry, Knocked Up, is a low-budget, low expectations comedy masterpiece. This is another vote for quality movie-making. Knocked Up makes us laugh as much as any movie since Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The sixth place selection just ahead of it, however, is a more interesting selection. Harry Potter Years 1-5 Limited Edition Gift Set is the most expensive title we have ever had on our list. It compiles all Harry Potter movies released to date in a fun, little mini-suitcase. For fans of the Potter franchise (and that's pretty much everyone with a pulse who doesn't see it as an evil celebration of witchcraft...hi Mom!), this is a luxurious splurge purchase, but it is well worth the money. It also comes with a Harry Potter game, a few hours of special features not previously available in any single disc's release, and a series of bookmarks that proved to be the prize of the package for my bookworm wife when I gave her this for Christmas. After Planet Earth, there is no selection on this list I would recommend more than the Potter mega-box.

The final three slots in our top ten go to a deceased television series and two classic movies from about three decades ago. Deadwood is a previous winner in our Best Television Series category, so the selection of the third series' box set is a no-brainer. Blade Runner winds up in ninth place for what is promised to be the definitive five-disc box. We'd like to believe that this time, but we've been burned many, many times before with this movie. I still have a release from 1998 in my collection. I think it was the second Blade Runner DVD package. But this is absolutely, positively, totally the last one, so it's safe to buy. We think. Our final selection is the Close Encounters of the Third Kind 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition. Say what you will about Spielberg. When his discs come out, they generally do deliver the goods. What is unique about this package is that Spielberg has an interview discussing the project with 30 years of distance. He discusses issues about the various director's cuts and new edits that have been made over the years, explaining why he was less that satisfied with each one. Considering how reticent the director has been to talk shop on disc, this feature alone makes the 30th Anniversary DVD an important release.

Just missing a selection are Doctor Who Series 3 (copies of which will be giving away on the site next week), Pan's Labyrinth, Heroes Season One, The Office Season 3, Superbad, 300, The Queen and the Criterion Edition of Ace in the Hole. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Breakthrough Performance
Best Cast
Best Director
Best DVD
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Video Game
Worst Performance
Worst Picture
Top 10
Position Film Total Points
1 Planet Earth (The Complete DVD Series) 44
2 Ratatouille 26
3 The Departed 23
4 Friday Night Lights 22
5 Hot Fuzz 19
6 Harry Potter Years 1-5 Limited Edition Gift Set 18
7 Knocked Up 17
8 Deadwood Season 3 13
9(tie) Blade Runner - 5 disc collector's edition 12
9(tie) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (30th anniversary ultimate edition) 12




     


 
 

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