Most Wanted Ultra HD Blu-ray

by clevecheng | created - 15 Nov 2015 | updated - 23 Jul 2018 | Public

No use continuing to update my Most Wanted Blu-ray list, now that the first Ultra HD Blu-ray releases are here.

So - whether because of the heretofore untapped visual quality of the originals or because they have yet to be released on Blu-ray or even in some cases DVD - here are my most anticipated Ultra HD Blu-rays.

As with most of my lists, restricted to those movies I've already seen.

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1. Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Not Rated | 83 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance

A gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Romantic entanglements and jealousies confuse the scheme.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall, Charles Ruggles

Votes: 12,086

The Criterion DVD release is in poor condition, but even so this is one of my favorite movies. This really needs a full restoration, but if you're going to do that anyway might as well release it on the current format.

2. The Merry Widow (1934)

Passed | 99 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

When a small kingdom's main tax payer leaves for Paris, its king dispatches a dashing count to win back her allegiance.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Edward Everett Horton, Marcel Vallée

Votes: 2,410

Never even got a real DVD release (Warner Archives Collection will burn an apparently poor-quality DVD-R on demand), I remember renting this (for $4!) on VHS back in the day and being thoroughly enchanted.

3. Swing Time (1936)

Not Rated | 103 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A performer and gambler travels to New York City to raise the $25,000 he needs to marry his fiancée, only to become entangled with a beautiful aspiring dancer.

Director: George Stevens | Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore, Helen Broderick

Votes: 11,493

At this point just skip Blu-ray, do a full restoration, and release Astaire and Rogers on Ultra HD.

4. Shall We Dance (1937)

Approved | 109 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A budding romance between a ballet master and a tap dancer becomes complicated when rumors surface that they're already married.

Director: Mark Sandrich | Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore

Votes: 6,149

Sadly, more likely than skipping Blu-ray, these will probably be released on Blu-ray long after Ultra HD is available, meaning they will likely not get all the restoration work they deserve.

5. Dark Victory (1939)

Approved | 104 min | Drama, Romance

A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and must decide whether or not she'll meet her final days with dignity.

Director: Edmund Goulding | Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald

Votes: 9,307

Poor Blu-ray master; try again next generation.

6. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Not Rated | 99 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other's anonymous pen pal.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut

Votes: 25,596 | Gross: $0.20M

As new formats tailor themselves to increasingly niche markets, I'm beginning to worry that non-man-cave movies such as this one may never see a post-HD optical disc release.

7. I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)

Not Rated | 91 min | Drama, Romance

A young Englishwoman goes to the Hebrides to marry her older, wealthier fiancé. When the weather keeps them separated on different islands, she begins to have second thoughts.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | Stars: Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesey, George Carney, Walter Hudd

Votes: 7,341

Criterion released this on DVD, which only serves to whet my appetitie for a full restoration.

8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

PG | 129 min | Drama, Romance

Encouraged by her idealistic if luckless father, a bright and imaginative young woman comes of age in a Brooklyn tenement during the early 1900s.

Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Dorothy McGuire, Joan Blondell, James Dunn, Lloyd Nolan

Votes: 6,697

How can this film not even have a DVD release in North America? Easily the most appealing of a well-known director's (Elia Kazan's) movies.

9. Roman Holiday (1953)

Not Rated | 118 min | Comedy, Romance

78 Metascore

A bored and sheltered princess escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American newsman in Rome.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert, Hartley Power

Votes: 120,527

What? How can one of the most beloved Hollywood movies of all time not have been released on Blu-ray yet?

10. Gidget (1959)

Not Rated | 95 min | Comedy

A young girl discovers surfing and love (in that order) during one transitive summer.

Director: Paul Wendkos | Stars: Sandra Dee, James Darren, Cliff Robertson, Arthur O'Connell

Votes: 2,894

I may be a minority of one here, but for going on a decade I've been eagerly anticipating Gidget to get a proper home video release. Both my VHS copy and the recent DVD releases are pan & scan, and thus chop out almost half of the image. It appears they are all just cheap runs of a made-for-NTSC master.

11. Imitation of Life (1959)

Not Rated | 125 min | Drama

An aspiring actress befriends a black widow, but trouble arises when the latter is rejected by her daughter, who tries to pass for white.

Director: Douglas Sirk | Stars: Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner

Votes: 13,891 | Gross: $13.99M

More Sandra Dee! This got a recent Blu-ray release, but disappointingly crammed onto a single disc with the 1934 version and with wonky aspect ratio. Give both room to breathe with Ultra HD Blu-ray's superior bitrate, both based on a proper 4k restoration (which apparently already exists for the 1959).

12. Psycho (1960)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

97 Metascore

A Phoenix secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

Votes: 561,422 | Gross: $32.00M

Judging from screenshots of the Blu-ray releases, I'd like to see a remaster (and ideally a restoration based on original negatives) before an Ultra HD release.

13. Through a Glass Darkly (1961)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama

Recently released from a mental hospital; Karin rejoins her emotionally disconnected family and their island home, only to slip from reality as she begins to believe she is being visited by God.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow, Lars Passgård

Votes: 20,817

My favorite Bergman and one of the greatest examples of black-and-white cinematography, Darkly has yet to get even a Blu-ray release in North America.

14. Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Mystery

In a strange and isolated chateau, a man becomes acquainted with a woman and insists that they have met before.

Director: Alain Resnais | Stars: Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff, Françoise Bertin

Votes: 18,803 | Gross: $0.06M

The Criterion Blu-ray appears to be long out of print. And maybe I'm hoping for the impossible, but the master positive used for that disc appears to lack that last bit of sharpness that a well-preserved original negative would provide.

15. West Side Story (1961)

Not Rated | 153 min | Crime, Drama, Musical

86 Metascore

Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.

Directors: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise | Stars: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn

Votes: 90,893 | Gross: $43.66M

Probably the most famous film shot in Super Panavision 70, the many Blu-ray versions all have problems with moire and the title sequence. Also, this may be sacrilegious, but can we tone down the flesh tones a bit? I know they've always been orange, but it's downright distracting.

16. Winter Light (1963)

Not Rated | 81 min | Drama

A small-town priest struggles with his faith.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, Gunnel Lindblom, Max von Sydow

Votes: 19,680

Probably my second-favorite Bergman, this was packaged with Through a Glass Darkly and The Silence when Criterion released them on DVD. None have been released on Blu-ray, and I'd gladly buy all three on either HD or Ultra HD Blu-ray.

17. The Sound of Music (1965)

G | 172 min | Biography, Drama, Family

63 Metascore

A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn

Votes: 191,622 | Gross: $163.21M

This greatest of all Todd A-O films is crying out for 4k resolution. The Blu-rays were already mastered in 4k.

18. Grand Prix (1966)

Approved | 176 min | Drama, Sport

72 Metascore

American Grand Prix driver Pete Aron is fired by his Jordan-BRM racing team after a crash at Monaco that injures his British teammate, Scott Stoddard.

Director: John Frankenheimer | Stars: James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, Toshirô Mifune

Votes: 7,432 | Gross: $20.85M

As a car buff this probably holds more appeal to me than most people - it has the most amazing racing scenes ever filmed - but I think of it as a Black Swan event, on par with People On Sunday and Two-Lane Blacktop. It is one of the very few 70mm films and demands the largest screen possible.

19. Pippi Longstocking (1969)

27 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

The adventures of Pippi Longstocking, an eccentric, super-strong, redheaded moppet and her best friends Tommy and Annika.

Stars: Inger Nilsson, Maria Persson, Pär Sundberg, Hans Clarin

Votes: 3,261

AFAIK, the full series has never been released in the United States, and no version has had a Swedish soundtrack. Let's have a proper release of the TV series with the original Swedish dialogue and songs and English subtitles (for Swedish speakers and adults), as well as the feature movies with a proper American English dub (for American kids).

20. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

PG | 117 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

86 Metascore

Warrior and pacifist Princess Nausicaä desperately struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and their dying planet.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Sumi Shimamoto, Mahito Tsujimura, Hisako Kyôda, Gorô Naya

Votes: 133,509 | Gross: $0.50M

Since cel-based animation can take advantage of more resolution than almost any film or digital capture, I'd like to see a 4k remaster scanned from the original cels.

21. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

PG-13 | 107 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

71 Metascore

After being exiled from the most advanced town in post apocalyptic Australia, a drifter travels with a group of abandoned children to rebel against the town's queen.

Directors: George Miller, George Ogilvie | Stars: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence, Adam Cockburn

Votes: 121,208 | Gross: $36.20M

I'm the only person I've ever met that thinks Thunderdome is the best Mad Max, and even after watching Fury Road I stand by my opinion. The existing Blu-ray appears to be based on an old print, and a remaster is past due.

22. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

G | 103 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama

83 Metascore

A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Kappei Yamaguchi

Votes: 104,148

Everything I said for Nausicaa, plus apparently Kiki's Blu-ray has dubtitles, which is enough of a negative for me to wait for a better release.

23. The Match Factory Girl (1990)

Not Rated | 69 min | Drama, Comedy

A woman's terribly dull life is upended by a one-night stand pregnancy, causing her to seek retribution.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki | Stars: Kati Outinen, Elina Salo, Esko Nikkari, Vesa Vierikko

Votes: 8,255

The deadpanniest comedy ever made, there is nothing about this film that cries out for a high-def release (which is probably why it hasn't been released on Blu-ray yet), but it is one of my favorite movies and we all want to see our favorites in the best conditions possible, right?

24. Dragon Inn (1992)

88 min | Action, Thriller

This big hit at the Sundance Film Festival had audiences cheering. Set during the Ming Dynasty, this acclaimed production tells the story of a power hungry eunuch who employs an evil sect ... See full summary »

Directors: Raymond Lee, Siu-Tung Ching, Hark Tsui | Stars: Tony Ka Fai Leung, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen

Votes: 3,534

The 1967 original got a 4k remaster, so why not the star-studded 1992 remake? The latter doesn't even have a Blu-ray.

25. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

G | 111 min | Animation, Drama, Family

75 Metascore

A love story between a girl who loves reading books, and a boy who has previously checked out all of the library books she chooses.

Director: Yoshifumi Kondô | Stars: Yoko Honna, Issey Takahashi, Takashi Tachibana, Shigeru Muroi

Votes: 42,735

My favorite animated movie got only 18 mbps on its Blu-ray release. Like with Nausicaa, I'd like to see a 4k remaster from the original cels.

26. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

PG-13 | 178 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

92 Metascore

A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean

Votes: 1,565,115 | Gross: $315.54M

I'd like to see an Ultra HD package of the Theatrical and Extended Editions - both with their original color timing as I have no interest in watching the Hobbit Trilogy again.

27. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

PG-13 | 179 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

87 Metascore

While Frodo and Sam edge closer to Mordor with the help of the shifty Gollum, the divided fellowship makes a stand against Sauron's new ally, Saruman, and his hordes of Isengard.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom

Votes: 1,402,043 | Gross: $342.55M

Though their FX need to be re-rendered for 4k to make it worthwhile for me - the current Theatrical Trilogy Blu-ray looks like 720p in parts.

28. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PG-13 | 201 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

94 Metascore

Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom

Votes: 1,553,201 | Gross: $377.85M

HDR and Atmos would help too.

29. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

PG-13 | 132 min | Drama, Sport

86 Metascore

A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.

Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel

Votes: 603,259 | Gross: $100.49M

An early Blu-ray release that failed to take full advantage of that format, Million Dollar Baby looks like a recycled HD-DVD master. One of the greatest films ever made deserves more than the standard teal push too.

30. Speed Racer (2008)

PG | 135 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

37 Metascore

A young driver, Speed Racer, aspires to be champion of the racing world with the help of his family and his high-tech Mach 5 automobile.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Emile Hirsch, Matthew Fox, Christina Ricci, Nicholas Elia

Votes: 66,438 | Gross: $43.95M

With the most extreme palette I've ever seen, this is the obvious choice for showing off the capabilities of Rec. 2020 gamut on, say, Mitsubishi's laser-backlit LCD.

31. Gravity (2013)

PG-13 | 91 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

96 Metascore

Two astronauts work together to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen

Votes: 732,993 | Gross: $274.09M

Space scenes cry out for maximal resolution and HDR. I'd gladly trade 3-D for a maxed-out, Dolby Vision Ultra HD presentation.

32. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

PG-13 | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

76 Metascore

A group of intergalactic criminals must pull together to stop a fanatical warrior with plans to purge the universe.

Director: James Gunn | Stars: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana

Votes: 992,120 | Gross: $333.18M

In my book, the only really good Marvel film. It deserves maxed-out resolution, gamut and dynamic range. Vol. 2 got a UHD HDR release, so it's only natural Vol. 1 should get one too.

33. Inherent Vice (2014)

R | 148 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

81 Metascore

In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston

Votes: 87,961 | Gross: $8.11M

My favorite P.T. Anderson; a worthy companion to Boogie Nights. Would like to see this revisited with less teal-orange push, and perhaps better dynamic range.

34. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

PG-13 | 138 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

81 Metascore

Three decades after the Empire's defeat, a new threat arises in the militant First Order. Defected stormtrooper Finn and the scavenger Rey are caught up in the Resistance's search for the missing Luke Skywalker.

Director: J.J. Abrams | Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson

Votes: 823,835 | Gross: $936.66M

I don't think it's a great film like Star Trek, but entertaining enough to buy on home video. I'd love to see a Phantom Edit with just the Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac scenes.

35. The Hateful Eight (2015)

R | 168 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

68 Metascore

In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins

Votes: 472,728 | Gross: $54.12M

Tarantino film hipsterism notwithstanding, this deserves Ultra HD Blu-ray for the same reasons as its arch-nemesis, the all-digital Revenant.

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