I always like getting movies as gifts. The way I see it, getting something like Iron Man 2 on Blu-ray is huge, because that movie cost hundreds of millions to make—and it's all packed onto that little disc.
If you get me a pair of shoes that cost $150 ... well, they only cost something like $5 to make.
Yes, I am very strange.
Blu-ray took another big step this year, with more studios releasing "combo packs," in which you get a Blu-ray version, a standard DVD and a digital copy. You can even get some combo packs that include a 3-D Blu-ray (if you intend to buy into that particular home-entertainment technology anytime soon).
Here's a rundown of Blu-rays and DVDs that I think will make film- and TV-lovers happy. We have included the Amazon.com prices here as of our press deadline, but please keep in mind that prices can change, and store prices may vary. Also, remember to shop local whenever possible!
Alien Anthology (Blu-ray)
20th Century Fox
Unquestionably, this is the best Blu-ray release so far when it comes to special features. Each film in the series gets documentaries and commentaries, and those documentaries have excellent production qualities. This is not simply a repackaging of the DVDs that came out about seven years ago. When you consider what you are getting, you can't beat the price.
Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy
If your gift target already owns the previously released DVD trilogy, and doesn't have a Blu-ray player, there's no major need to get this one (although the new documentaries for each of the films are quite good). If said target has a Blu-ray, load them up with some major hi-def Marty McFly action!
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)
This one is a bit high-priced, considering that the extras aren't spectacular, and the superior extended versions of the films are nowhere to be found. However, it's the only way to get the films on Blu-ray right now, and the films look spectacular. Still, you can get somebody the far-superior Alien package for a lot less.
The Man With No Name Trilogy (Blu-ray)
Clint Eastwood's first big character gets a nice package at an extremely reasonable price, with a decent assortment of extras. This one was already out on DVD, but people receiving the films for the first time will love this Blu-ray—that is, they will if they like Clint. If not, there's a chance they will throw this at you after unwrapping it, so for God's sake, please be careful.
Toy Story Trilogy (10-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Another one of the gift-giving season's great bargains! You get all of the Toy Story films on both Blu-ray and DVD, so all of the bases are covered. And nothing looks cooler than Pixar films in high definition.
Avatar (Three Disc Extended Collector's Edition)
20th Century Fox
All hope is lost for me ever liking Avatar. I watched it again, but the experience gets worse for me with each viewing. It is a moronic film.
But I stand alone in the corner drinking a beer on this one. Lots of people love it, and there is no denying that this is a terrific home-entertainment package. It has bucket loads of extras, three versions of the film and a pretty case that makes me think this will be the season's biggest stocking-stuffer.
The World at War (Blu-ray)
The Thin Red Line
Paths of Glory
Apocalypse Now: Three-Disc Full Disclosure Edition (Blu-ray)
The HBO miniseries The Pacific is a real winner, and a nice companion piece to Band of Brothers, while The World at War remains one of the better documentaries on World War II ever made. That package includes more than 36 hours of film and features.
The Criterion Collection release of The Thin Red Line is a visual stunner packed with typically good features, and their release for Stanley Kubrick's World War II drama Paths of Glory is also solid.
However, none of these films compares to the awesomeness of Apocalypse Now: Three-Disc Full Disclosure Edition (Blu-ray). The movie was seemingly made for Blu-ray, and the package includes the hypnotic documentary Hearts of Darkness.
The Human Centipede
Blu-ray: $8.99! (A bargain!)
Give the gift of ass-to-mouth this holiday season. Use this one as a litmus test, and give it to somebody you despise. If they come back and say, "Hey, man, I loved that movie! Thank you! You're the best!" you have probably made the right call in hating them.
If they come back and call you a rude and disgusting pigface for inflicting this monstrosity upon them, perhaps they are a good person after all, and you should seriously consider taking back those nasty feelings.
Kick-Ass (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
One of the year's better Blu-rays, priced less than $20 for both the Blu-ray and the DVD version in one package! Chloe Moretz, aka Hit Girl, is the breakout star of the year.
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage
This qualifies as one of the year's best documentaries. If you are a Rush fan, and you have a special someone who isn't a Rush fan, give him or her this one. They might not like Rush music in the end, but they'll think the band members are a bunch of swell guys.
Another Criterion gem! This one is one of the most groundbreaking films of all time. Chaplin's Little Tramp talks (well, sort of) for the first time in this classic look at technology and its effects on the workingman.
The Twilight Zone: Season 1 (Blu-ray)
The Twilight Zone: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
Rod Serling's classic series has never looked better, and those who love their Zone will delight in the bountiful extras.
Give this nightmarish horror film to the snowboarder or skier in your family. Then, get them drunk, and take them on an all-expenses-paid night-skiing trip. Pay the guy who runs the lift to stop the thing and turn out the lights for 15 minutes or so. Your gift recipient will shit their pants and freak out, begging for the wolves to stay away—only to find great relief when the lift operator turns things back on. You'll ruin some pants, but you'll have a good laugh!