2010 was a fantastic year in home video releases. Some of the most revered classics finally made their way to the Blu-ray format, while other titles were given a more in-depth re-release. Without question, 2010 was proof that Blu-ray is here to stay.

If you have a Blu-ray player or get one over the holidays, we’ve got a list of the titles that are must-haves for your home video collection. These Blu-rays make our list for a variety of reasons; Some are incomprehensibly comprehensive collections like Lost: The Complete Collection and The Alien Anthology. Others are beautifully remastered classics like Psycho and The Exorcist. There are even a few that needed no enhancement, but were given star treatment by the always impressive Criterion Collection, like The Thin Red Line and Seven Samurai.

We’ve ditched the ranking system for this list. It isn’t about which Blu-ray is better, although you may be able to tell by the descriptions. This year-end list is designed so you didn’t miss any of the year’s best.

Check out which Blu-rays we think are essential to your collection:

Alien Anthology (Oct. 26) – Four vastly different films share a few things in common besides a name – the four Alien films changed the way we see genre films. These weren’t just movies that cared about the sci-fi audience or the horror crowd – they captured everybody’s attention, no matter their genre preference.

If you are reading this section, you already know why you love all or some of the Alien movies. The difference between the first two films has always fascinated me. Ridley Scott’s horrific space venture has an entirely different dynamic than James Cameron’s epic sequel, but both films are now considered classics.

Sigourney Weaver’s star power as the Alien franchise’s lead rivals that of the iconic aliens the movies are titled after. Weaver has made plenty of top lists for her role as Ripley – she even topped our Female Expendables list earlier this year.

As the buzz surrounds this awesome anthology release of the Alien franchise, news of the future of the saga rages on. Ridley Scott continues to develop his Alien prequel and fans anxiously await more details. But for now, you’ll have to settle for the fantastic and heralded Blu-ray transfer of one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises of all time.

If reading makes you queasy, I suggest you do not continue below. The unbelievable list of Alien Anthology special features follows.

DISC ONE: ALIEN

  • 1979 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Director’s Cut with Ridley Scott Introduction
  • Audio Commentary by Director Ridley Scott, Writer Dan O’Bannon, Executive Producer Ronald Shusett, Editor Terry Rawlings, Actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt
  • Audio Commentary (for Theatrical Cut only) by Ridley Scott
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

DISC TWO: ALIENS

  • 1986 Theatrical Version
  • 1991 Special Edition with James Cameron Introduction
  • Audio Commentary by Director James Cameron, Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Alien Effects Creator Stan Winston, Visual Effects Supervisors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, Miniature Effects Supervisor Pat McClung, Actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and Christopher Henn
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by James Horner
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score by James Horner
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

DISC THREE: ALIEN3

  • 1992 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Special Edition (Restored Workprint Version)
  • Audio Commentary by Cinematographer Alex Thomson, B.S.C., Editor Terry Rawlings, Alien Effects Designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Producer Richard Edlund, A.S.C., Actors Paul McGann and Lance Henriksen
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Elliot Goldenthal
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

DISC FOUR: ALIEN RESURRECTION

  • 1997 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Special Edition with Jean-Pierre Jeunet Introduction
  • Audio Commentary by Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Editor Hervé Schneid, A.C.E., Alien Effects Creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Supervisor Pitof, Conceptual Artist Sylvain Despretz, Actors Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon and Leland Orser
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by John Frizzell
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

The fifth and sixth discs contain even more in-depth coverage of the Alien saga. With an eye on every level of production, this is possibly the most comprehensive look at any production ever compiled. Pick up your copy today and try to beat the $140 retail price.

The Thin Red Line (Sept. 28) – Terrence Malick’s moody yet thoughtful film, The Thin Red Line, is one of the most beautiful movies ever shot. What better platform to display the raw beauty of his film than Blu-ray? Finally, the “other war movie” of 1998 (besides Saving Private Ryan) makes its way to BD in a stunning transfer by Criterion Collection.

With a cast as top-notch as The Thin Red Line boasts, it isn’t even surprising when you hear the laundry list of A-listers who didn’t make it past the cutting room floor. Ironically, the actors take a backseat to the gorgeous cinematography of John Toll. The performances are superb, but nothing beats the nature shots from Toll accompanied by the mesmerizing score from Hans Zimmer. The Thin Red Line is a masterpiece to many fans across the world who will benefit from the best home video format available – Blu-ray.

It wouldn’t be a Criterion release without an epic array of supplements. The Criterion crew has scrounged up over 2 hours of bonus features to enjoy after your jaw drops to the floor from the film that garnered seven Oscar nominations.

  • A half-hour documentary in which actors Kirk Acevedo, Jim Caviezel, Tom Jane, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, and Sean Penn discuss the production history of The Thin Red Line as well as their work with director Malick.
  • Casting director Dianne Critended discusses her work on the pre-production of The Thin Red Line. Also included in the featuerret is original footage from several casting sessions with actors Ben Chaplin, Tom Jane, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, John Savage, and Nick Stahl.
  • Editors Leslie Jones, Saar Klein, and Billy Weber discuss how the final version of The Thin Red Line was put together.
  • Oscar nominated composer Hans Zimmer discusses his work on The Thin Red Line and relationship with director Malick.
  • Eight outtakes presented in rough form.
  • Kaylie Jones, daughter of novelist James Jones (The Thin Red Line), discusses her father’s book and how its message was carried over to the film.
  • A collection of archival newsreels, highlighting the successes of the troops but omitting the horrors an suffering the soldiers had to endure, which were shown in America during World War II.
  • A selection of songs recorded in November 1997 on the South Pacific island of Guadalcanal, illustrated with photographs from the production of The Thin Red Line.
  • An audio commentary with production designer Jack Fisk, producer Grant Hill, and cinematographer John Toll. The three recall their work with director Malick, and discuss the production history of The Thin Red Line, the unprecedented cast, the film’s powerful message, etc.
  • A 36-page illustrated booklet containing David Sterritt’s essay “This Side of Paradise” (the author is chairman of the National Society of Film Critics, chief book critic at Film Quarterly, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University and the Maryland Institute College of Arts); and writer James Jones’ article “Phony War Films”, first published in the March 30, 1963 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Back to the Future Trilogy (Oct. 26) – It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 25 years since Marty McFly took the Delorean out for a spin through time. But now Marty (Michael J. Fox), Doc Brown (Chistopher Lloyd), George McFly (Crispin Glover), Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) and Marty’s mom, Lorraine (Lea Thompson), are all back in their various time-displaced forms. Pretty heavy.

From the 1980s back to the 1950s, then back again to the ’80s, then forward to 2015 and back yet again to 1885, Back to the Future remains one of the most funny, epic and downright fun cinematic adventures to ever spawn a franchise (thank god no one has tried to remake it… yet!). There are so many classic moments in these films (yes, even the third one) that not one single installment can be skipped over or ignored – and how many franchises can claim that?

Needless to say, this is a MUST OWN for any Blu-ray collector and film fan, so don’t commit the sin of rental – go out and buy this as soon as you can! There are a TON of special features included in this anniversary box set – special thanks to Blu-ray.com for taking the time to comb through them all:

  • U Control. Mostly text based bonuses this time around with Universal’s “exclusive signature feature.” You can access “Setups and Payoffs,” which shows you how plot points are prepared and then referenced later down the line; “Storyboard Comparison,” which shows the original conception of several sequences; and “Trivia Track,” a host of factoids about various aspects of all three films.
  • Tales From The Future is a phenomenal six part HD documentary that looks at all aspects of the film, from development through filming and release. These are:
    “In the Beginning” (27:24), which looks at pre-production and the original casting snafus;
    “Time to Go” (29:54), covering the production of the original film.
    “Keeping Time” (5:43), devoted to Alan Silvestri’s score.
    “Time Flies” (28:37), dealing with the second film and especially the convoluted effects sequences, as well as the decision to shoot the second and third films more or less in tandem.
    “Third Time’s the Charm” (17:07), which focuses on the production design of the third film, as well as Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown as a romantic character.
    “The Test of Time” (17:00) looks back at the cultural impact the trilogy has had.
  • The Physics of ‘Back to the Future’ (HD; 8:25), an interesting, if too short, discussion with physicist Michio Kaku about how the films mostly get the science part right.
  • Nuclear Test Site Ending Storyboard Sequence (HD;4:12), a nice look at the original ending of the film, with an optional commentary by Gale.
  • Back to the Future Night (SD; 27:10), an archival featurette hosted by Leslie Nielsen which aired on NBC prior to the first televised broadcast of the initial film.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD; 17:57 over three discs), 16 excised moments, some with some pretty bad print damage, all with optional Gale commentary.
  • Michael J. Fox Q & A (SD; 10:20), where the star reminisces about the films.
  • Q & A Commentaries with Zemeckis and Gale, a kind of weird but interesting set of sessions at USC after the films had been screened for an audience, hosted by the ubiquitous (and sometimes hard to understand) Laurent Bouzerau.
  • Feature Commentaries with Gale and co-producer Neil Canton, a more nuts and bolts style set of commentaries which are interesting and very informative.
  • Archival Featurettes, a compendium of older documentaries on the films, which includes:
    Making of the Trilogy: Chapters One (SD; 15:30), Two (SD; 15:30) and Three (SD; 16:30), a 2002 documentary released with the DVD version of the films.
    The Making of ‘Back to the Future’ Parts I (SD; 14:28), II (SD; 6:40) and III (SD; 7:32), another vintage set of documentaries.
    The Secrets of the ‘Back to the Future’ Trilogy (SD; 20:41) a Kirk Cameron hosted tv special which answers fan questions about the series.
  • Behind The Scenes, a series of archival material which includes:
    Original Make-up Tests (SD; 2:17), where you can see Lloyd before his “Einstein-Stokowski” transformation;
    Outtakes (SD; 5:23 over three discs), with gags and on set mishaps.
    Production Design (SD; 2:55)
    Storyboarding (SD; 1:29)
    Designing the DeLorean (SD; 3:31)
    Designing Time Travel (SD; 2:41)
    Hoverboard Test (SD; :58)
    Evolution of the Visual Effects Sequences (SD; 5:42)
    Designing Hill Valley (SD; 1:08), more production design info.
    Designing the Campaign (SD; 1:18), marketing info.
    FAQs, text only questions about the series, with answers by Zemeckis and Gale.
    Back to the Future: The Ride (SD; 31:06), with both the video components and actual ride footage from the theme park attraction.
  • Music Videos of Huey Lewis and the News performing “Power of Love” (SD; 6:27) and ZZ Top performing “DoubleBack” (SD; 4:09).
  • Photo Galleries, which include production art, storyboards, photos, marketing materials and character portraits.
  • Theatrical Trailers and Teasers for all of the films.
  • The BDs are also BD Live, D-Box and pocketBLU enabled.

Saving Private Ryan (May 4) – One of cinema’s most respected films gave us the action and horror of battle with the heart of men in the fight. Director Steven Spielberg had a tremendous vision to tell a compelling story of the people affected by the war who are still in the thick of it. You should know enough about the film and what makes it great, so what about the Blu-ray transfer?

The audio and video transfer are praised for their beauty and scope. Paramount continues to impress with their dedication to providing the most efficient video integration on Blu-ray and Saving Private Ryan deserves at least that much.

In the supplements is a 90-minute documentary, narrated by Tom Hanks, that explores World War II as seen through cameras and film from the field of battle. The beach charge, one of the most memorable scenes in movie history, is shown from a new perspective with the near-20-minute behind-the-scenes short of the filming process. This is a must-buy for anybody with even a faint love for movies. A 22-minute “making-of” documenting the creation of Saving Private Ryan sits alongside a handful of other worthy featurettes.

  • An Introduction
  • Re-Creating Omaha Beach
  • Looking Into the Past
  • Miller and His Platoon
  • Boot Camp
  • Making ‘Saving Private Ryan’
  • Music and Sound
  • Into the Breach: ‘Saving Private Ryan’
  • Parting Thoughts

Lost: The Complete Collection (Aug. 24) – This should keep fans of the acclaimed TV series satisfied for quite some time. Even if you’ve got the first five seasons, there are plenty of new features in the collection to enjoy. And it comes in a very cool package!

While the folks behind Lost didn’t make any of our special features wishes come true, there is certainly enough here to keep viewers busy for several days. There are a few secrets and Easter Eggs to discover, some in the menus and some in the packaging (if you want the full experience). If you would like to stay in the dark regarding the secrets of the actual box set’s packaging, skip the next paragraph.

SPOILER ALERT

The shell box that looks like an ancient artifact houses quite a lot. But the naked eye alone will not uncover all of the box’s secrets. A Dharma brand black light (included) will give you the ability to spot a series of hidden symbols – that lead to a hidden compartment. That compartment is underneath the box top. Turn the map 90 degrees and then remove the covering. Underneath is a special bonus disc. Though, you won’t find the disc’s features listed on the outside – so you’ll just have to play it!

SPOILER END

The bonus disc features a healthy number of supplements to really enhance the overall collection. While the Season 6 bonus features give you an inside look at the final season, this disc adds comprehensive features for the entire show.

LETTING GO (40 minutes): A walkthrough of the on-island filming locations with the actors providing an emotional montage of beautiful footage and memories. It is a unique behind-the-scenes look at the sets as well as Hawaii’s Diamond Head Studio. Emphasizing the importance of the locales, Lost showrunner Carlton Cuse asserts, “The show wouldn’t have been half of what it is if we didn’t shoot it here.”

The nostalgic tour travels from the various Hawaii locations in a helicopter with Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), in the valley with Jorge Garcia (Hurley) and Michael Emerson (Ben), by a fire on the beach with Matthew Fox (Jack), on the beach with Evangeline Lilly (Kate), in the forest with a bouncy Maggie Grace (Shannon) and Naveen Andrews (Sayid), as well as on a sailboat with Emilie de Ravin (Claire), Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert), and Jeff Fahey (Frank Lapidus).

Letting Go is a fitting tribute to the importance of the island locales as well as the show. The actors obviously have tremendous respect for their experience and their memories are coupled with footage from all six seasons, footage that despite being shot documentary style, will still move you. Of course, Michael Giacchino’s score is also present and will push you to tears.

ARTIFACTS OF THE ISLAND (14 minutes): Spend some time with the Prop Master, Robert Scott Kyker. In this interview, the actors reminisce over numerous memorable props. It’s a loose and fun recollection of the memories certain props gave the actors throughout production.

PLANET LOST (12 minutes): A look at the worldwide phenomenon of Lost, including a humorous segment on how the actors and showrunners feel about seeing the show dubbed in other languages. The feature also showcases Lost‘s honorable run at San Diego Comic-Con.

SWAN SONG (13 minutes): An inside look at the the scoring of the final moments of Lost. Michael Giacchino designs the music that shapes the tear-jerking emotions of the final scene. Giacchino and the orchestra are the true magicians of Lost.

INSIDE LOST LIVE – THE FINAL CONCERT (9 minutes): If you want to find this secret feature on the menu, press left or right on your controller and a floating button will light up. The search is much better than the result, though. It is simply the introduction of the show’s entire cast by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof on stage. The feature is somewhat pointless but enjoyable enough.

LOST ON LOCATION: Specific Hawaiian locations from Seasons 3-5 get a behind-the-scenes look – showing how the crew incorporated each locale into the series.

THE LOST SLAPDOWNS (45 minutes): An ABC promotional videos for the final season. Paul Scheer (superfan/comedian) and others explain their ridiculous thoughts and theories to Cuse and Lindelof. In one of the biggest wastes of space ever made, this extensive collection of short sketches rarely brings a laugh. If they wanted to promote a home video release, it may have been better to actually air these somewhere other than the home video.

DELETED SCENES: Unaired scenes from seasons 3 and 5.

MORE FROM THE SERIES: Essentially, these are video diaries from seasons 4 and 5 – not previously seen in the original box sets.

BEST OF THE LOST PODCASTS: The Lost Podcast archive is extensive, but this feature provides the best moments from seasons 2-6.

The sixth season has its own special features as well. There are some worthy supplements, but the one everybody wants to know about is the exclusive unaired series finale epilogue, The New Man In Charge. The 12-minute bonus acts as a shout out to the fans but was commonly seen as a wasted opportunity by the creators that didn’t answer all of the questions.

In the end, if you love Lost or if you’ve been dying to play catch-up with the series, you’ll love the Complete Collection. There are plenty of extra minutes of material and the behind-the-scenes featurettes are fantastic, truly extending the Lost experience. You can get the Blu-ray set for under $200, which is a darn good price for all six seasons. In addition to the features you already know about, like the games and special booklets, the Complete Collection is a trophy of sorts.

Make sure to check out our other Lost coverage: Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions editorial, our series finale review and discussion, as well as our list of Five Lost DVD Special Features We’d Love to See.

Continue to Page 2 for the remaining must-own Blu-rays of 2010!

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