Well, another year, another batch of awesome new releases. 2009 was the first full year where it had no rival in the form of HD-DVD, saw the emergence of BD live portals from almost every major distributor, saw some controversies (Warner Bros lack of lossless audio on some releases, Universals botched Gladiator video transfer), and most importantly, the solidification of the format. Now, Mums and Dads know what Blu-ray is and what it can do for them.
So, at the start of 2010, I thought it was high time to award the releases of 2009 and the distributors that produced them.
Best Image Quality
Criteria: Most impressive image quality based on quality of materials, devoid of sloppy DNR or other digital nasties and with most efficient image encoding.
Winner: Star Trek (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Why: During the film I saw nary a hint of digital annoyances. The transfer of this Blu-ray is infinitely better than the experience I had at the cinema only a few months before. It really is picture perfection.
Runner Up: Hot Fuzz (Universal Home Entertainment)
Best Audio Quality
Criteria: Most immersive use of sound, with lossless audio being a must.
Winner: Quantum of Solace (MGM Home Entertainment)
Why: Quantum of Solace features a very, very aggressive DTS HD Master Audio track at 24 bits. You are dragged kicking and screaming into the action, but rarely does it call attention to itself; rather taking you along for the ride.
Runner Up: Watchmen (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Best Special Features Collection
Criteria: Based on quality and quantity of extra features, including audio commentaries, picture in picture video tracks and providing more than basic behind the scenes information.
Winner: Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Why: Disc producer Charlie de Lauzarika is renowned for his behind the scenes documentaries, and those featured on Transformers 2 don't disappoint. Every facet of the production is thoroughly investigated and it's a romp to watch Michael Bay at work... almost more entertaining than the film itself.
Runner Up: Wall-E (Disney Home Entertainment)
Best New Release Movie
Criteria: Best overall movie for a new release title released over the course of the year.
Winner: Wall-E (Warner Home Entertainment)
Why: Pixar is Hollywood's golden child. Rarely do they make a misstep (I hate Finding Nemo, and was disappointed by Up, but almost every other film is perfect), and it almost seems to have reached a pinnacle with Wall E. Working on multiple levels, and for a good section of the film is devoid of human speech, yet Wall E himself is one of the most humanistic and emotional of animated characters yet created. It works, and it works perfectly.
Runner Up: Star Trek (Paramount Home Entertainment)