Critics' Picks 2010: DVDs

Blu-ray or DVD, it doesn’t matter to our critics. It’s what’s on the screen that counts

Apocalypse Now (Three-Disc Full Disclosure Edition) (Lionsgate)
It occurs to me that I've owned more versions of Apocalypse Now, on more video formats, than any other movie. As this Blu-ray includes both the original masterpiece, Apocalypse Now Redux, and George Hickenlooper's Hearts of Darkness documentary, it will hopefully be the last. –MP

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (Maple)/The House of the Devil (Paradox)
Ti West is the freshest new voice in horror. By avoiding the usual winky camp, The House of the Devil's restraint makes for the most authentic early '80s throwback yet. His gross-out Cabin Fever sequel takes the alternate route. Though mangled in editing (causing West to try disowning it), this arty high school STD-fest is half a great movie. –MP

Community: The Complete First Season (Columbia TriStar)
The shenanigans of a high-strung band of community college study buddies have let loose the most inspired contemporary pop culture satire. –HT

Fish Tank (Criterion)
Katie Jarvis is a force of nature in the role of a British teen rebelling against her neglectful mother, rival girls, her emerging hormones and, well, pretty much everything. –MS

Greenberg (Universal)
Ben Stiller plays to his strengths as a whiny narcissist, Greta Gerwig is a revelation as his unlikely love interest and Rhys Ifans exudes soul as his best friend in Noah Baumbach's cringe comedy. –MS

Howard's End (Criterion)
In the DVD's accompanying essay, Kenneth Turan asks, "Who speaks of Howard's End these days?" Thank goodness Criterion does, with lavish joy. –HT

Jersey Shore: Season One (Paramount)
If exhibitionism is their focus pull, like dance was for Tony Manero, then the kids of Jersey Shore are acting out a proto-Saturday Night Fever for this era. –HT

The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series (Vivendi)
Long held back, Larry Sanders is finally, completely here and oh so relevant in light of last winter's battle for late night. –HT

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (Warner)
First thing, its animation is as beautiful as Avatar. Second, it's the only Zack Snyder movie that doesn't peak in its first 10 minutes. Though Snyder's war politics are sketchy, Legend of the Guardians is a rare action picture about moral valour and altruism. Too scary for young kids? Maybe, but why trust the marketing that it was intended for them? –MP

Modern Times (Criterion)
Chaplin's last silent feature never feels like homework, finding a place where broad humour is character-based, and social criticism a beacon of sanity. The Criterion version adds supplements to immortal scenes and images. –MP

Moon (Columbia TriStar)
Borrowing liberally but reverently from Kubrick's 2001, Bowie's son Duncan Jones delivers an unsettling sci-fi chiller. Sam Rockwell is brilliant as an astronaut going nuts in extraterrestrial isolation. –MS

Please Give (Columbia TriStar)
Nicole Holofcener's film covers a lot of territory, from guilt to grief to teen angst, without striking a dishonest note. Oliver Platt, Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall are outstanding but never showy. –MS

Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection (Paradox)
One box of seven series of the trials of the finest murder police (Helen Mirren) in British television history. –HT

Rock 'n' Roll High School (Shout Factory!/ Vivendi V)
For a b-movie promotion of The Ramones, the script and look is more seeped in '50s rebellion than '70s punk. But it's the goofy spirit of this real High School Musical that endures. The new Roger Corman Cult Classics Blu-ray and DVD offer four separate audio commentaries, which is so ridiculous, it's kinda appropriate. –MP

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (Alliance)
Even those who loathe Geddy Lee's yowl will find plenty to enjoy in this doc about three Canadian suburban guys who done real good. –CK

Spartacus: Blood and Sand—The Complete First Season (Anchor Bay)
The guiltiest TV pleasure of the year: a cauldron of sex, gore, soapy drama and some of the best gladiatorial combat scenes ever. –CK

The Special Relationship (HBO)
A taut meditation on the difficulties of high-powered collaboration, between both heads-of-state (Clinton and Blair) and married partners (PMs, presidents and first ladies.) –HT

Splice (Paradox)
Director Vincenzo Natali picks up the bio-horror baton where Cronenberg left it with his unnerving clone-monster movie, starring Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody. –CK

Toy Story Trilogy 10 disc box-set (Walt Disney Studios)
The best and, perhaps weirdly, most popular animation series ever gets the full DVD/Blu-ray treatment. Those Pixar people continue to astonish. –CK

Winter's Bone (Maple)
Count on Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes to be recognized come awards season for their stellar work in this grim, hypnotizing Ozark drama. –CK

Zombieland (Columbia TriStar)
Woody Harrelson's natural born zombie killer, Jesse Eisenberg's dorky cool, Emma Stone's sly foxiness and an awesome Bill Murray cameo. The apocalypse has never been this much fun. –MS


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