One fan’s picks for top DVD releases of 2005Written by David Germain | | firstname.lastname@example.org
1. ”Sideways” — Paul Giamatti’s road trip of wine, women and whining goes down even better with deleted scenes and his commentary with co-star Thomas Haden Church.
2. ”The Incredibles” — The family that super-heroes together gets incredible DVD backup, led by animation master Pixar’s delightful short cartoon ”Boundin’.”
3. ”A Very Long Engagement” — Audrey Tautou takes her ”Amelie” act to World War I, the love story fleshed out with a polished batch of deleted scenes.
4. ”House of Flying Daggers” — A ballet of martial arts from Zhang Yimou, with a grand documentary on costumes, choreography and the eye-popping color schemes.
5. ”The Motorcycle Diaries” — Young Che Guevara hits the road, his real-life traveling companion Alberto Granado offering touching recollections on the DVD.
6. ”Million Dollar Baby” — The Academy Awards champ comes with a chatty session by Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman a day after their Oscar triumph.
7. ”Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” — George Lucas finishes his space saga with another DVD stuffed to the skies with deleted scenes and making-of goodies.
8. ”The 40-Year-Old Virgin” — ”Now lasts 17 minutes longer,” reads the clever tagline for the unrated DVD cut of first-timer Steve Carell’s sexual pursuits.
9. ”Serenity” — ”Give us more,” pleaded fans of Joss Whedon’s failed sci-fi series ”Firefly.’’ He complied with a big-screen continuation, and now a nice batch of deleted scenes.
10. ”The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” — The two-disc set is the one to own, with excellent extras that help decode Wes Anderson and Bill Murray’s weird ocean voyage.
1. ”Ran” — Akira Kurosawa brushes up his Shakespeare one last time with a ”King Lear” set in feudal Japan, his late masterpiece getting royal DVD treatment after shoddy previous releases.
2. ”The Big Red One: The Reconstruction” — Samuel Fuller’s autobiographical dramatization of his World War II infantry days is magnificently expanded with 40 extra minutes.
3. ”An Angel at My Table” — Jane Campion’s finest film is one of cinema’s great literary portraits, tracing the horrific hardships and eventual triumphs of author Janet Frame.
4. ”Ninotchka” — The wacky side of Greta Garbo shines in Ernst Lubitsch’s comedy about a Russian ice queen’s romance with a Westerner.
5. ”Jules and Jim” — Jeanne Moreau is the minx at the center of one of cinema’s great love triangles. Francois Truffaut’s classic gets a marvelous DVD update.
6. ”King Kong” — Beauty killed the beast. And Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s tragic love story of star-crossed primates remains one of the movie world’s great wonders.
7. ”The Sting” — Finally, we get to see Paul Newman and Robert Redford pick Robert Shaw clean in a widescreen DVD version of George Roy Hill’s con caper.
8. ”Shoot the Piano Player” — Charles Aznavour is a master of droll world-weariness in Francois Truffaut’s gangster classic, which gets a terrific DVD overhaul.
9. ”Bambi” — The circle-of-life tale that was sire to ”The Lion King.” When Disney condemns its best customers (”Man is in the forest”), you know a cartoon is truly special.
10. ”Harry and Tonto” — A man and his cat. Art Carney deservedly won an Academy Award for this gem about an old man’s friendship with a little furball.
1. ”La Dolce Vita” — The sweet life is even sweeter with a beautiful set that pays fitting tribute to Federico Fellini’s masterpiece of cultural commentary.
2. ”The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection” — Next to Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton, he’s the forgotten comic of the silent era. This great set will jog memories.
3. ”Ealing Studios Comedy Collection” — Five classic laugh fests from the esteemed British outfit, including the truly inspired ”Whiskey Galore!” and ”Passport to Pimlico.”
4. ”Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” — Not all 14 films are masterpieces, and there are scant new DVD extras. But it’s ”Psycho,” ”Vertigo,” ”Rear Window.” Enough said.
5. ”The Man Who Fell to Earth” — Nice touch, packaging Walter Tevis’ novel along with this comprehensive update of Nicolas Roeg and David Bowie’s artsy sci-fi tale.
6. ”Treasures From American Film Archives” — This reissue is a piece of film history in a box, presenting 50 choice selections from early U.S. cinema.
7. ”The Martin Scorsese Film Collection” — Dramatic masterpiece (”Raging Bull”), rock doc (”The Last Waltz”), crime romp (”Boxcar Bertha”), musical (”New York, New York”). Can you say versatility?
8. ”The Wizard of Oz” — There’s no place like home video. An over-the-rainbow assortment of keepsakes and documentaries accompany Dorothy and her little dog, too.
9. ”The Lina Wertmuller Collection” — Five key films from the great Italian director, led by her modern classics ”Swept Away” and ”Seven Beauties.”
10. ”The Big Lebowski: Achiever’s Edition” — The comedy about life, love and bowling makes the list if only for the enclosed drink coaster bearing Jeff Bridges’ line, ”Careful, man, there’s a beverage here!”
TV on DVD:
1. ”Deadwood: The Complete First Season” — At last, a Western for our times. How the West was really won, through greed, opportunism and other time-tested American values.
2. ”The Office: Season One” — Steve Carell is poster boy for every nincompoop boss whose picture hangs on a dart board in some lowly worker bee’s apartment.
3. ”Scrubs” — In quick succession, years one and two of the medical sit-com. Don’t watch if you just had surgery. You might bust a stitch laughing.
4. ”Sex and the City: The Complete Series” — A mammoth set packs all six seasons of love, lust and heartache for Carrie and her gal pals.
5. ”Undeclared: The Complete Series” — After failing with his terrific teen tale ”Freaks and Geeks,” Judd Apatow went to college with this short-lived show, another glorious failure.
6. ”SCTV” — Two more volumes of the comedy series arrive to remind us why John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy and company were the funniest ensemble ever on late-night TV.
7. ”Cheers” — Seasons four through seven came to DVD this past year. But years four and five are the gems, the last gasp of the Sam-and-Diane romance before Shelley Long insanely departed.
8. ”Northern Exposure: The Complete Third Season” — The tale of a Manhattan doctor in indentured servitude in Alaska hit its whimsical stride in year three.
9. ”Moonlighting: Seasons One and Two” — Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd gave screwball romance a modern tweak with this detective story about an ex-cover girl and a wisecracker.
10. ”Kolchak: The Night Stalker” — Darren McGavin’s short-lived series about a reporter chasing boogeymen was an inspiration for ”The X-Files.”
David Germain is a film critic for The Associated Press.