As 2014 comes to a close, we wanted to take a look back at some of our favourite Blu-rays from the last 12 months. It’s not a comprehensive list, and with so many great titles released this year we’re bound to have missed some of your favourites – so sound off in the comments if you want to add any of your own highlights.
The Blu-ray Disc Reporter team will be on a break now until Monday January 5th. While we’re away the Harry Potter special Blu-ray Monday Christmas competition will remain open, so make sure you get your entries in. Merry Christmas to all our readers and our best wishes to you for 2015!
Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity scooped several Oscars at the start of the year and hit Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D soon after. The deceptively simple tale of survival in outer space is a movie experience unlike any other, with spectacular special effects that are the closest you’ll get to a trip into space without getting on board the next space shuttle.
The big-screen comic book franchise that kick-started modern cinema’s superhero obsession took the famous band of mutants to the next level by combining the original trilogy’s stellar cast (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman etc) with the stars of rebooted series X-Men: First Class (Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy). The result is a blockbuster packed to the seams with incredible action, great performances and stunning special effects.
The Marvel movie many thought could be a misstep instead turned into one of its most popular films yet. The band of interstellar misfits known as the Guardians of the Galaxy took the world by storm with a debut crackling with humour, originality and charm. The only movie this year to feature both a wisecracking raccoon and a humanoid tree is well worth a look if you’re a fan of classic big screen adventure.
With the trilogy now wrapping up in cinemas with the release of Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth adventure The Desolation of Smaug sees Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch lend voice and motion capture performance to the role of villainous dragon Smaug. As ever, the Blu-ray is available in theatrical and extended versions, with in-depth looks behind the scenes.
One of the biggest suprises of the year was The Lego Movie, a spectacular looking animation from the brains behind 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Celebrating creativity and the need to find your own path in life, The Lego Movie also makes time for a tonne of plastic cameos from everyone from Star Wars’ C-3PO to the Ninja Turtles. And who can forget Lego Batman, who made such a big impression that he’s due to get his own movie in 2017.
Scarlett Johansson had a great year, with acclaimed performances in films as varied as Her and Captain America 2. But Under The Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer, leaves the longest impression. Johansson plays an alien being who preys on unsuspecting men in Glasgow, in an attempt to learn more about humanity. By turns dark, disturbing, hugely cinematic and optimistic, the film received rave reviews and comparisons to Kubrick – it’s definitely one to catch on Blu-ray if you missed it at the cinema.
Now well on its way to becoming one of the biggest grossing movies of all time, how could we ignore Frozen? Though parents across the world may be tiring of Oscar winning song Let It Go, Disney’s adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen is a delight for kids and parents alike. On Blu-ray, you can enjoy deleted scenes, take a look at how the film was made and sing along with several music videos.
Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for the Best Actor award at the Oscars for his performance as real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort. The movie charts his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the (often outrageous) high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. Director Martin Scorsese proves he hasn’t lost his edge with one of the year’s finest dramas.
Tom Hanks stars in the the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Directed by The Bourne Ultimatum’s Paul Greengrass, the film pulls no punches and shows yet another side to Hanks’ acting range. There weren’t many films this year with the tension and sense of urgency seen in Captain Phillips.
The follow up to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn is another smart piece of science fiction documenting humanity’s extinction and the rise of a new breed of intelligent ape. With powerful performances from the human cast (including Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke) and yet more state-of-the–art performance capture from Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is our favourite ‘bloackbuster with brains’ of the year.