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The Best Home Entertainment Releases of 2013

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Though people keep predicting the death of the DVD and Blu-ray formats, those who love cinema know that there is still so much to be had from lining the shelves with the hundreds of stunning discs released each year. 2013 has seem some amazing works offered to cinephiles, with gorgeous remastered editions of old films together with some top-notch Blu-rays of recent movies.

However, please bear in mind: these are the best overall packages, not just the best movies. From extras to sleeve design, HD transfer to the accompanying booklet. Enjoy.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Extended Edition (Blu-ray, Warner Bros)

The Hobbit was a flawed film, and to be honest it doesn’t need to be any longer, nor does it need 3D, but this release is simply gorgeous. The film looks flawless on Blu-ray. Shot with the Red digital camera, you can expect dazzling images, with Peter Jackson’s eye for stunning New Zealand/Middle Earth vistas done full-justice. And you would need three lifetimes to get through all the glorious bonus content on show here.

Martin Scorsese Presents: World Cinema Project: Volume One (Blu-ray, Eureka Entertainment)

Though he is clearly a busy man, Martin Scorsese has spent a lot of time since 2007 restoring important, wonderful films from around the world so they can be enjoyed by a wider audience and remembered in the way they should. Here, the Masters of Cinema series beautifully packages them up in a boxset that all true lovers of cinema would kill for. This collection contains Dry Summer (1964) from Turkey, Trances (1981) from Morocco and Revenge (1989) from Kazakhstan.

Tess (Blu-ray, BFI Video)

Roman Polanski’s lush realisation of Thomas Hardy’s novel is a rich and colourful affair. This Blu-ray uses a remarkable 4K restoration, previously released by Pathe but until now unavailable here. It isn’t as good an adaptation as the BBC’s 2008 version starring Gemma Arterton, but it’s still a sumptuous retelling of a classic story.

Nosferatu (Blu-ray, Eureka Entertainment)

The Masters of Cinema series continues with this box of horrors/delights. A landmark early film from 1922, this was actually an unauthorised adaptation of Dracula. Restored using a tinted nitrate print from the Cinematheque Francaise, Paris, was used as a basis for the restoration. It looks outstanding and is perfect for a scary treat for Christmas.

Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray, Universal Pictures)

Terrific cover design, smartly adapting the impressive promotional poster for the film, and a stupendous high definition presentation. Katherine Bigelow's controversial film has an effective, un-fussy look, appropriate for its subject matter. The extras are a little thin, but this is a first-rate disc for an excellent film.

Ghost Stories for Christmas (DVD, BFI Video)

This collection didn’t get a Blu-ray release, sadly, since some of the titles were shot on standard-def video (though a number of them we shot on film or HD digital, so maybe the BFI could do a separate set next year?) However, even on DVD, this fabulous set contains a huge range of Christmas films, long and short, originally broadcast on the BBC over Christmas throughout the late twentieth/early twenty-first century. Christmas is traditionally a time for ghost stories and this collection is just what you need for a night-in that is both festival and quietly terrifying.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Blu-ray, Arrow Video)

Words cannot describe how amazing this set is. Though made to showcase Tobe Hooper’s amazing sequel to his incredible first film, this boxset also continues two of his early movies, plus a six-part documentary that looks many production aspects of shooting a Hooper horror film. The transfer of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a joy to behold – far better than the disastrous UK DVD release by MGM and Fox a few years ago. The cherry on top this decidedly scary cake is a 100 page book containing essays on the film and its legacy.

The Great Gatsby (Blu-ray, Warner Bros)

How great can a movie look? This good, apparently. Even those who didn't like Baz Luhrmann couldn't deny it looked remarkable. Warner's Blu-ray offers a wide range of special features along with a reference-quality HD transfer. Shot on Red, the movie crystal clear and simply ravishing. 

Man of Steel (Blu-ray, Warner Bros)

Zack Snyder adopted an unusual filming style for this terrifically entertaining attempt to pump new life into the Superman series. Instead of a glossy, static-camera approach often favoured by big Hollywood pictures, he went for a grainy, gritty, handheld image. The results are intense and beautifully reproduced by a faithfully grainy transfer from Warner Bros.

Spring Breakers (Blu-ray, Universal Pictures)

Harmony Korine's surreal assault on the senses is one of the best-looking movies of 2013. It was shot on 35mm and was deliberately crafted to look, according to its director, as if it was lit with 'candy'. And it does. It really does. And Universal's BD gets its transfer just right. 




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