Friday, December 11, 2020

Film Intuition's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Shelter in Place with Shiny Physical Media

Easily packaged, overly commercial, and as synthetic as an economy-sized bottle of laundry detergent, the entertainment options on most streaming services leave a lot to be desired. And while this fact was easy to ignore in the past, now with so many of us still sheltering in place during the pandemic, it's become increasingly obvious to discerning film fans that in addition to a subscription to The Criterion Channel, the best way to protest against the insanity of Bad Content overload is by stocking up on your favorite physical media titles. 

Fortunately, from the brightest classic film and TV fare to the latest and greatest releases, this year has been a veritable bonanza of box sets and special editions, including these highly recommended offerings, which should delight the entertainment lovers in your life who are (rightfully) still holding onto their DVD and Blu-ray players like they're worth their weight in gold. It's safe to say that once you check out the wide array of titles available to add to your collection (where you can control when and if they're played, and need no longer worry about them disappearing from a service tomorrow) if you're not a physical media convert yet, you soon will be.

Saturday Night Live: The Early Years

Featuring 30 of the most hilarious episodes of the first 5 seasons of SNL, this 2-volume, 12-disc DVD collection arrives just in the nick of time to make you forget about the stresses of 2020 for a little while. With a gorgeous 28 page booklet that goes into the history of the series and focuses on the key skits, characters, and legendary cast members like Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner that made the series must-watch appointment television from its earliest days, the DVD set includes memorable episodes with hosts like George Carlin, Steve Martin, and Richard Pryor and serves up musical performances with iconic guests such as George Harrison, The Kinks, Blondie, and Paul Simon. Also available from TimeLife, who delivered outstanding releases of The Wonder Years and China Beach a few years back, is a 106 episode deluxe version of the series, complete with every single episode that SNL aired for its first 5 years.

The Trip: Four Course Meal

There is no discernible reason why the release of my favorite film franchise of the 2010s is only available on DVD and not Blu-ray. But really, with all four of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's witty, weird, and wonderful trips to the U.K., Italy, Spain, and Greece now available in one collection, how can you go wrong? Originally produced and broadcast overseas as a multi-episode series but released internationally as four individual feature films, I've reviewed a few of director Michael Winterbottom's Trips individually so if you're looking for a refresher, here's my latest piece on the final film in the series, The Trip to Greece.

Two from Universal: The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection (Buy It
& Focus Features: Spotlight Collection (Buy It)

Reviewed in extensive detail earlier this fall, Universal Studios quietly unveiled two of this year's best box sets with a jaw-dropping 4K Alfred Hitchcock collection (review) and 10 of Focus Features' most acclaimed films all packaged together in one offering (review).

A New Look at Old Favorites

One of the best things about physical media is that it celebrates the favorites you love instead of mindlessly churning out new lackluster content. With current restorations, upgraded technical specs, and/or in the case of The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, a whole new cut of the film that improves the pacing of the much-maligned trilogy ender, a quartet of releases I was particularly excited to bring home came not from The Criterion Collection this year but Warner Archive, Paramount, and Kino. In addition to the Coppola film, be sure to check out The Best Years of Our Lives and Grace of My Heart in Blu-ray and Collateral in 4K. Additionally, Kino has dished up new box sets celebrating the overlooked films of Cary Grant and Carole Lombard and Mill Creek Entertainment has given Rita Hayworth the same treatment.

The Criterion Collection

Still the ultimate destination for film snobs, physical media devotees, and art-house lovers du jour, three of the year's biggest multi-disc collections were unveiled by Criterion this year as Federico Fellini, Agnes Varda, and Bruce Lee earned the box set treatment. And while the sky's the limit when it comes to individual movies getting the Criterion treatment that you should add to your list, a few of this fall's titles that I've had my eye on include Moonstruck, The Irishman, Parasite, Pierrot Le Fou, Crash, and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Additionally, fellow novelty bag collectors will definitely want to visit the official Criterion shop to check out the new Agnes Varda tote that just hit the site.

Note: Amazon affiliate links are ads that generate a small amount of revenue for the site.

Text ©2020, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  Also, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made off my site through ad links. FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.
Best Buy Co, Inc.