It's that wrap-up time of year, and as usual for my Top Ten list I focus not necessarily on the most feature-laden discs or the greatest movies but on the titles I was most happy to be able to rent . Almost all of them had never been available in any previous digital edition.
'The Samuel Fuller Film Collection' (Sony): Just when studios appeared to be showing less interest in reissuing their old catalog titles, Sony wowed Fuller fans with a box of seven films that were practically unknown compared to his "Shock Corridor" and "The Big Red One."
'The Dead' (Lionsgate): John Huston could hardly have picked a better last film as director than this elegiac James Joyce adaptation starring daughter Anjelica.
'It's Garry Shandling's Show' (Shout! Factory): Fans thought it might never happen, but the cult favorite TV series finally arrived in a complete-series box set. If only the same were true for Shandling's "Larry Sanders Show." See also another comedian famous for his talkshow-host alter ego, "The Steve Coogan Collection" (BBC).
'Husbands' (Sony): Frustratingly absent when John Cassavetes' other major work was reissued a couple of years ago, this three-man picture starred Cassavetes alongside his regulars Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara as middle-aged men struggling with marriage.
'The Mighty Boosh' (BBC): Proof that there's still great British comedy waiting for Stateside exposure (hey BBC, how about giving us more Mitchell & Webb on disc?), the stars of this bizarre, sometimes musical sitcom flirted with "Flight of the Conchords"-type cult success.
'The Whole Shootin' Match' (Watchmaker Films): Eagle Pennell's celebrated indie film, which offers a glimpse of what Austin looked and felt like in the late '70s, got the care it deserved in an edition boasting tons of archival/documentary supplements.
'Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painleve' (Criterion): These charming and strange vintage short movies turn educational-film science clips into quasi-Surrealist comedy; for this release, Yo La Tengo composed a new soundtrack.
'The State' (Paramount): The much-loved sketch comedy show from MTV is finally available to those of us who missed it the first time, and then wondered where on Earth the folks behind "Wet Hot American Summer" and "The Ten" came from.
'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' (New Video): I'll have to hide from Buffy fans after saying this, but I think this musical superhero spoof, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Whedon fave Nathan Fillion, might be the most enjoyable thing Joss Whedon has done. And it's not even feature-length — the three-part short film was produced for the Web during Hollywood's writers' strike.
'The Hit' (Criterion): If I'm not mistaken, this is the only film here that had been on disc before. But the earlier, out-of-print edition was — gasp! — presented in pan & scan, which is especially bad for a gangster film that's all about watching tension rise and fall among multiple characters in the frame. See also Criterion's "The Friends of Eddie Coyle."
And because this year was a great one for Blu-ray, here are 10 standouts, each with something to marvel at in high definition.
'The Wizard of Oz' (Warner): The Emerald City, Yellow Brick Road, and ruby slippers.
'North by Northwest' (Warner): Amber waves of grain — with Cary Grant dashing through them for his life.
'Heat' (Warner Bros.): Los Angeles at night.
'Zodiac: Director's Cut' (Paramount): David Fincher's digitally photographed period detail of post-Sixties San Francisco.
'Do the Right Thing' (Universal): Spike Lee's vivid color palette, sizzling on the hottest day of summer.
'Fight Club' (Fox): Sweat, grime and the occasional subliminal shock.
'Wings of Desire' (Criterion): The black-and-white poetry of Wim Wenders' Berliners and the angels watching over them.
'M*A*S*H' (Fox): Wisps of fog and mist enshrouding the 4077.
'Play Time' (Criterion): Reflection and transparency in the glass buildings of Jacques Tati's most ambitious film.
'Star Trek: The Original Series' (Paramount): The comparison between the sometimes charmingly flawed original special effects and the slick new remastered ones, with all the episodes finally available in both forms.