Question of the Week: What are your favorite Criterion Collection films?

By Ted Saydalavong

The Criterion Collection is a video-distribution company selling “important classic and contemporary films” to cinema lovers everywhere. It was founded back in 1984 and they only released their films on Laser Disc (remember those?) back when VHS was the king in home video market. Then later they released their films on DVD when that format became popular and now Blu-ray. I still have my Criterion Collection of Robocop on DVD, I spent $35 on it, that’s nothing though compare to the $100 price tag on the Laser Disc version.

The reason why the price is so high on these Criterion titles is because they preserve the original aspect ratio of films, back in the VHS days there weren’t many titles available in wide-screen format, so a lot of directors weren’t thrill when their films comes out on video and the picture got butchered with pan and scan option. Criterion also offer the director’s cut version of films which again back in the VHS days, you won’t be able to find one in video cassette format.

When DVD became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Criterion also included special features on their discs, a lot of behind the scenes stuff and commentary by the filmmakers. Their brand name took a hit sometime in the late 90s, early 2000s when they decided to release two Michael Bay films, Armageddon and The Rock. After that debacle they’ve decided to only release films that are considered classic or well respected by film critics and fans.

They started releasing their films on Blu-ray in late 2008, after the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray has ended. The prices for their discs are still high compare to other Blu-ray titles out in the market, but again they offer the best in quality when it comes to picture and sound. One of the best titles of Criterion Blu-ray—and one of my favorites— is The Thin Red Line (read my review). They went and restored the film to the highest quality with approval from the film’s director, Terrence Malick. Here’s a list of my favorite Criterion Collection, as you can see, another one of Malick’s films made my list:

  • The Thin Red Line (1998)
  • Days of Heaven (1978)
  • The Wages of Fear (1953)
  • Gomorrah (2008)
  • Walkabout (1971)
  • Red Desert (1964)

Wikipedia has the list of Criterion titles available on both DVD and Blu-ray. If you’re into classic films, then you’ll love those Criterion titles and if you have a Blu-ray player, get those films on that format. Here’s the link to list of Criterion films available on Blu-ray.

So what are your favorite Criterion Collection films?