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·Top Ten DVDs of 2002
·Top Ten DVDs of 2001
·Top Ten DVDs of 2000
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·Big Trouble in Little China
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·Die Hard 2: SE
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 Holy Grail

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·Basic Instinct: Unrated
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·Spartacus: Criterion
·Sullivan's Travels


Publisher/Senior Reviewer
Colin Jacobson
David Williams

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Top Ten DVDs of 2001

While 2000 offered an exponential growth in DVD quality over prior years, 2001 didn't come as such a leap. In fact, one might argue that 2000 actually featured the superior roster of DVDs, at least in regard to the best of the best. Frankly, I think my Top Ten for 2000 included a stronger list.

However, those distinctions seem quite minor, and 2001 was a deeper year than was 2000. A glimpse at some of the titles that didn't make my Top Ten should indicate the strength of the releases. I left off terrific packages like the new Tim Burton Planet of the Apes, Hannibal, Almost Famous, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Cleopatra, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Disney's Dinosaur and many, many others. And while I still feel disappointed by the presentation of the films, I'm still very happy we finally got The Godfather Collection after such a long wait.

But there can be only ten, so all of those had to go. 2001 again marked the supremacy of the two - or more - DVD set. Nine of my ten selections from 2000 offered more than one platter, but 2001 was a clean sweep; each of the ten choices used two discs. (Yes, I recognize that Superman was really only on one DVD, but since its DVD-18 works identically to two separate DVDs, it stills counts as a multi-disc release in my book.)

While movie-related DVDs continued the path seen in 2000, one other field really started to come to life in 2001. The most pleasing and exciting trend I observed related to the new depth witnessed in music DVDs. While only one of these made my Top Ten, the year was packed with terrific sets. 2001 started off well with the fine Bruce Springsteen: The Complete Video Anthology 1978-2000 and continued with excellent efforts such as Pearl Jam's Touring Band 2000, U2's Elevation, Paul McCartney's Live at the Cavern Club, the Go-go's Live In Central Park, Smashing Pumpkins' Greatest Hits Video Collection and others. Gone are the days when featureless music DVDs are the norm; now we find multiangle affairs with bonus tracks and many other cool supplements, and anamorphically-enhanced discs with 5.1 soundtracks have also become pretty common. It's a great time for fans of both music and DVD.

Anyway, 2001 was another terrific year for DVD; 2002 will have trouble living up to its example, though with hot flicks such as Harry Potter and Fellowship of the Ring slated along with great catalog items like Beauty and the Beast, E.T., and a four-DVD release of Pearl Harbor, who knows? Here's my look back at my favorite DVDs from 2001:

Colin Jacobson, Senior Reviewer


It's a reviewer's prerogative to change his mind, and that's what I did with my top slot. In a close call, I originally gave it to The Phantom Menace, but after further deliberation, I went with the better film and named Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the best DVD of 2001. Disney restored the picture to a level that seems unbelievably strong, and while the audio isn't as terrific, the movie still sounds clear and crisp. In addition, the DVD packs a wealth of fine extras that add a lot to the experience. It doesn't get much better than the DVD release of Snow White, though I hope Disney tries to top itself in 2002.

Despite my relative disappointment about the picture quality of Menace, I still think it's the second-best DVD of 2001. The sound is amazing, and the extras are outstanding. Menace includes a simply brilliant documentary as well as a wealth of deleted scenes that have been fully finished for inclusion on the DVD. Along with a fine audio commentary, those extras will bring me back to the disc again and again, and they made the difference for my list.

As you'll note as you read my comments for the next few Top Ten titles, many of my selections made it here for rather subjective reasons. That's not the case for this one, the absolutely outstanding Cast Away DVD. Of course, some subjectivity enters the equation; on the Top Ten, I usually only include movies that I enjoy, and there's no way something I disliked will ever make number one. Indeed, Cast Away was a surprisingly entertaining and compelling program that fully held my attention. In addition, the DVD offered excellent picture and sound quality plus a rather exhaustive roster of extras. Cast Away was definitely the best DVD for the first half of 2001.

While there are other DVDs from 2001 that outdo the picture, sound and supplements of Lawrence of Arabia, none of those can boast a movie that is arguably the greatest film ever made. Lawrence remains a towering achievement almost 40 years after its initial release; it's an epic that flies by and offers some of the highest-quality filmmaking ever witnessed. Though not without some flaws, the picture and sound seemed very strong, and the complement of extras provided a fair amount of information. No, the DVD itself isn't the best you'll find, but the amazing film found on the discs made it impossible for me to place many other 2001 releases above Lawrence of Arabia.


In a year filled with outstanding music DVDs, one stood above all the others: Bruce Springsteen's excellent Live In New York City. No, it wasn't the ultimate package serious Bruce fans would like, but it still was a terrific affair that left even a bitter old soul like myself happy. Add to the extensive roster of songs the fine picture and sound and you have thebest overall music DVD on the market.

I debated long and hard about where to put this disc in my Top Ten. I like the movie a fair amount, but it's not as high on my list of favorites as is Lawrence or Close Encounters, and while the DVD's picture looked quite good, it still showed some concerns. Nonetheless, I placed Superman in the number six slot because a) it is a fun movie; b) it contains a lot of pretty solid extras; and c) the soundtrack absolutely rocks! Ultimately, this is a fine package that I really enjoyed.

I also had trouble with my placement of Close Encounters, especially because it meant so many of my top selections would be very subjective; they earned their places in large measure due to my fondness for the films themselves, and I'm not sure my Top Ten should be influenced so strongly by that factor. However, it's my Top Ten, so Close Encounters lands in seventh place! Picture and audio quality both seemed quite good - though not stellar - and the complement of extras was also very satisfying. Was this the killer package fans would like to get? No, but it still worked well, and this wonderful movie has never looked or sounded better.

8. THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE: The Ultimate Groove (A/A-/A-)
Aaagh - subjectivity runs amok! Technically, Dinosaur is a better DVD than is Groove; picture and sound quality are slightly superior, and it also adds more compelling extras. However, Groove is a total delight to watch, while Dinosaur is often fairly bland. Groove is one of the best traditionally-animated Disney movies in years, and it's sure to be a fun film to view for quite some time to come. The DVD may not live up to the high standards set by last year's Ultimate Toy Box or Fantasia Anthology sets, but it still is a fine piece of work.

Whether or not one agrees with the AFI's designation of Citizen Kane as the greatest movie ever made, it's hard to argue that it's a terrific and seminal piece of work. It also offers a fine DVD experience. From the wonderfully restored picture to the better than average sound to the mix of solid extras, Kane was worth the wait.

10. DIE HARD: Five Star Collection (B+/B+/A-)
Am I doomed to become Subjective Man? Perhaps, because I just couldn't allow myself to rank Die Hard below some technically superior DVDs that didn't make the Top Ten at all. Not that there's anything wrong with Die Hard, for it provides solid picture and sound with some fine extras. However, it was the quality of the classic film itself that allowed it to sit on my chart. One of the most influential action flicks ever, Die Hard continues to thrill and delight.