The time for this post was probably on Thursday, so I’ll have to cater to the more discerning (and semi-procrastinating) holiday shopper. Lucky for you, DVDs and BluRays are far less likely to sell out than a 60″ television at $1,000 or the $195 XBOX 360. Lucky for me, I know a lot more about the movies of the past five years (and their values) than I do about DSLR cameras.
Though purchases through the Amazon link will benefit me, I have to point out that Best Buy has a free shipping deal going on along with some insane prices.
(* Denotes “Must Buy Now, Now, My God, Now”)
Films of 2011/2012
$8.49 – Midnight in Paris (2011) on BluRay through Amazon
$9.99 – Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) (review) on BluRay/Digital through Amazon
**$9.99 – Drive (2011) (review) on BluRay/Digital through Amazon
*$9.99 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) (review) on DVD/BluRay/Digital through Amazon
$10.00 – Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) (review) on BluRay/DVD/Digital through Amazon
$12.00 – Prometheus (2012) (review and second opinion) on DVD/BluRay, or $14.99 for DVD/BluRay/3D BluRay/Digital Copy, through Amazon
$13.49 – Rango (2011) (review) on BluRay through Amazon
$3.99 – Super 8 (2011) on DVD through Amazon
$5.99 – The Cabin in the Woods (2011) (review) on DVD through Amazon
$3.99 – Edge of Darkness (2010) at Best Buy
**$3.99 – No Country For Old Men (2007) on Amazon
$3.99 – Pulp Fiction (1994)
$3.99 – Salt (2010) (review) on Amazon
$5.99 – Shutter Island (2010) on Amazon
$7.88 – V for Vendetta (2005) on Amazon
$7.99 – Aliens (1986) on Amazon
$7.99 – The Prestige (2006) on Amazon
$7.99 – Taken (2008) on Amazon
$8.96 – True Grit (2010) (review) on Amazon
*$9.99 – Black Swan (2010) on Amazon
$3.95 – District 9 (2009) on Amazon
$3.99 – Batman Begins (2005) on Amazon
$3.99 – The Dark Knight (2008) at Best Buy
$3.99 – The Next Three Days (2010) at Best Buy
$3.99 – Platoon (1986) at Best Buy
$3.99 – Silence of the Lambs (1991) at Best Buy
$6.73 – The Great Escape (1963) on Amazon
$1.99 – Crash (2005) at Best Buy
*$1.99 – The Social Network at Best Buy
*$2.96 – Up in the Air (2009) on Amazon
$3.89 – The Bang Bang Club (2010) (review) on Amazon
$3.99 – The Fighter (2010) at Amazon
*$3.99 – Gone with the Wind (1939) at Best Buy
$3.99 – Rocky (1976) at Best Buy
$3.99 – The Tourist (2010) on Amazon
$6.97 – King Rat (1965) (review) on Amazon
$9.00 – The Wizard of Oz (1939) on Amazon
*$8.64 – (British) Restoration/My Life So Far/An Ideal Husband/A Month By the Lake/The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain/Sweet Revenge/Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown/Tom & Viv on Amazon
$11.93 – (Audrey Hepburn) Breakfast at Tiffany’s/Roman Holiday/Sabrina on Amazon
$12.49 – (Mystery) Dial M for Murder/The Postman Always Rings Twice/The Big Sleep/The Maltese Falcon (review of The Maltese Falcon)on DVD through Amazon
$12.98 – (Edward Norton) The Italian Job/Primal Fear/The Score on Amazon
$14.99 – (Romantic Comedies) Definitely, Maybe/Love Actually/Because I Said So/Notting Hill at Best Buy
$15.00 – (Scorcese) The Departed/Goodfellas/The Aviator on DVD through Amazon
$19.99 – The Godfather Collection on BluRay
$29.99 – The Star Wars Original Trilogy on BluRay
$33.49 – The Harry Potter Complete Collection on Amazon (or you can buy them for about $4 a piece individually)
$149.99 – (Hitchcock) Saboteur/Shadow of a Doubt/Rope/Rear Window/The Trouble with Harry/The Man Who Knew Too Much/Vertigo/North by Northwest/Psycho/The Birds/Marnie/Torn Curtain/Topaz/Frenzy/Family Plot on BluRay through Amazon
A word on value. I consider a DVD or BluRay to be one of the best time-value investments a buyer can ever make. But that does not go for all movies at all times. My general rule is that a movie over $15 is only to be purchased if it holds some power over you. For me, that’s Drive (2011) on BluRay. Maybe it’s Paul Blart Mall Cop (2009) ($5) for you, I don’t know. So, the recommendations above are on a sliding scale of quality and price but very rarely over $10. Some of these, like Cool Hand Luke at $4 on BluRay through Best Buy, are the Holy Grail of deals. A lot of very fine movies just haven’t gone down in price far enough to recommend.
In New York, it probably costs you around $13.50 to see a new release. At that price, you can buy one-to-five DVDs/BluRays. Why watch a personal drama on the big screen when you can watch five of them on your new, ludicrously large and clear 60″ Vizio?
A movie for $5 is at least $2.50/hr of value, but more likely to be under $1/hr for any decent movie. Compare that to a Nintendo Wii at $200 which, unless you’re 10 years old, will run you about $10/hr of entertainment per year. And movies don’t typically become obsolete. Unless you’re a serious junky, a BluRay with the new special features will be of interest for only a few situations.
Making a Decision
Some of these films and many others are on Netflix and, if you’re a subscriber, worth checking out before making a purchase.
Also worth considering is knowing your audience. Buying movies for yourself is easy–believe me, I know–but buying for others requires a little finesse. Knowing what your recipient already owns is an obvious first step. Do they have a favorite actor, director, or (implausibly) screenwriter? If so, look at the kinds of movies that these actors are in or films this director directs. An actor is no indication of a good movie–consider the difference between Ryan Reynolds’ Definitely, Maybe and Van Wilder or Edward Norton’s The Painted Veil and Stone.
The “If you liked…” or “Those who bought…” recommendations go only so far. If you aren’t well-versed in the genre, you’re likely to be dropped with some serious junk. Use IMDB.com to get a general sense of its critical acclaim to make sure you don’t buy anything that must be instantly returned.
My decision procedure is generally chronological. The older the better. If it’s old and you’ve heard of it and it generally fits into your recipient’s preference, it’s likely to be the keystone of the genre. The Godfather over Scarface, Sabrina over She’s All That, The Great Escape over Hart’s War. And Hitchcock before everything else.
Avoid documentaries, television shows, foreign films, and anything with Steven Segal even if your recipient thinks that they’re good. Friends don’t let friends watch garbage.