Inexpensive, chock full of entertainment value and just so darned cute in their little snapcases, DVDs are here to stay! That is, until somebody invents something cooler, thus antiquating the thousands of DVDs currently piling up around my house.
Here's a list of some DVDs that qualify as 2005's best, with yours truly thinking they'd make bitchin' gifts. Don't buy any of these for me, though, 'cause I got them already.
Epics and blockbustersOne of the greatest epics of all time came to a DVD conclusion with the release of Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith. Of course, a true Star Wars nut already has an open copy and a spare still in the wrap, nestled in the collector's closet. Lucas will have a serious task on his hands if he ever wants to top the work done on the two trilogy DVD sets. They're some of the best discs the medium has to offer.
King Kong has been one of the more noticeable absences from DVD ... until now. Turner Home Entertainment, just in time for Peter Jackson's mammoth remake, has released Kong to DVD in a triumphant way that makes it the DVD of the year. The history of a great movie is appropriately honored here, and Jackson's re-creation of the lost "Spider Pit" scene is a hoot. Getting the gift set that also contains Mighty Joe Young and Son of Kong would make a stop-motion animation enthusiast very happy.
I've noticed some backtracking by critics when it comes to Titanic, a few years after it conquered the world. I stand beside my original opinion that this is one of the greatest movies ever made, and will endure as a classic (except for that scene where CGI people stroll on the big boat's deck. They look dreadfully fake). Titanic: Special Collector's Edition finally provides a comprehensive look at the movie, with director James Cameron providing a fun commentary on the horrors of making the movie. The three-disc set will keep any enthusiastic gift recipient busy.
MusicThere are plenty of wonderful ways to go with music this year. Martin Scorsese's enormously entertaining Dylan documentary, Bob Dylan: No Direction Home, is good for any music lover, regardless of whether they like Dylan or not. It's a nearly four-hour experience, and that's just the first few years of the man's career.
For those with an alternative streak, the already-classic band-war film DiG! is a nice option. In this incredible documentary, two friend bands (The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre) become rivals as their careers take different paths. The two-disc set provides an excellent movie, hilarious commentary and "Where are they now?"-type interviews.
The Flaming Lips tell their story in The Fearless Freaks, a chronicle of the band from their childhood friendships through a stunning performance at the 2004 Coachella music festival. Capturing Death Cab for Cutie before this year's big label debut Plans, Drive Well, Sleep Carefully is an accurate portrayal of an incredible live band.
For classic rock heads, The Who: Tommy and Quadrophenia Live is an excellent capture of the band's second coming, starting with their '89 tour.
Other nice offerings are available from Radiohead (The Astoria London Live), Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) and Peter Gabriel (Still Growing Up: Live and Unwrapped).
Cult and foreignAlex Winter, the Bill half of Bill and Ted, directed Freaked, then virtually disappeared. Too bad, because his film about an evil circus in the middle of nowhere is a cult classic. Randy Quaid, Keanu Reeves, Mr. T and Brooke Shields make this a curio worth visiting many times, and Winter shows himself to be a great director of weirdo comedy. This two-disc set is one of the year's best offerings.
Props need to be showered upon Tartan Asian Extreme and their continuing excellence in DVD. Packages for Oldboy (a truly sick revenge tale) and A Tale of Two Sisters (one very scary movie) are truly entertaining and worth the dough.
TVThis was the year of the TV DVD. I hadn't seen a single episode of Lost on TV, but since getting season one on DVD, I can't get enough of the damn show. I still don't know what's happening, but I like it.
Fox is trying to cancel it again, so Arrested Development: Season 2 could be one of the last blasts to DVD for this great comedy, now in its third season. HBO has always done a great job with their programs, with DVDs for Deadwood, The Sopranos: Season Five and Da Ali G Show: Season 2 being no exception. They've also packaged all the seasons of Mr. Show together into one unit, and that qualifies as one of the best damn gifts you could ever give somebody with a sophisticated sense of humor.
The Muppet Show: Season One is a priceless addition to the library of anybody who is more than 30 and wears Kermit the Frog pajamas (reissues of the Muppet movies are also now available). Beavis and Butt-head also get the long-awaited DVD treatment, with The Mike Judge Collection: Volume One.
For that truly demented someone, there's Jackass: The Box Set, a fantastically nauseating assemblage of that crazy crew's greatest hits and shits. All the stunts worth seeing, and plenty of bonus features and commentaries, make this a collector's dream--if that particular collector has a penchant for onscreen vomiting.
ClassicsFor great films with DVD treatments that are their equal, you can't go wrong with Raging Bull: Special Edition. This two-disc set features a commentary from fighter Jake LaMotta, portrayed by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's film. This qualifies as the year's coolest commentary.
Spike Lee's best movie, Malcolm X, also gets the special-edition treatment after years of being a "movie-only" disc. And while it only came out last year, Team America: Uncensored and Unrated stands as the greatest puppet movie ever made.