As has long been established here, I very much prefer physical media when it comes to how I like to watch movies. So, to that end, we’re here to look at what I personally consider to be the best releases of 2022! As I remind everyone yearly, I do NOT receive screeners of any kind (nor, quite frankly, would I want to, as I prefer to support the movies I like in the hopes of more of them being made available), so I can only work with what I have seen. I am making this list from all the 2022 releases I have seen as of 11/24/2022. I am, at this point, strictly working from movies that have been released through October 2022 (plus one released VERY early in the month of November) due to constraints of time and budget (plus the fact that, as I said, I don’t receive screeners and therefore can’t comment on anything released in the latter part of November or anything from December). So, this list is what it is (but, I will give a shout-out to some of the others afterwards). And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to use my affiliate links to go to Amazon and buy them!
- The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
- Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #1
- The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) tells the tale of Jacob Grimm (Karl Boehm) and his brother Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey), as Wilhelm seeks out various fairy tales while his brother works on the family history of a local duke. This may not be the best film on the list, and it may not be the absolute best restoration (due to some VERY minor damage that is visible here and there), but it was the biggest surprise of the year! It’s a very enjoyable film, long thought to be too difficult/expensive to restore due to water damage and being a Cinerama film (meaning it had three times the amount of film to restore that a regular movie of a similar length would have). Now, it looks MUCH better than it has in a long time, and a bunch of new special features were produced for this release. I thought this would be the release of the year when I first saw it, and now, more than half a year later, I still believe it!
- Singin’ In The Rain (1952) (Warner Home Video, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: 4K UHD Roundup, Original Review
- In this classic musical, Gene Kelly stars as silent film star Don Lockwood, who is facing the rise of the talking picture, as he also begins a romance with one of his fans, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). It’s hard to go wrong with this film, in between all the fun music by producer Arthur Freed and his partner Nacio Herb Brown, Gene Kelly’s iconic dance to the title tune and Donald O’Connor doing “Make ‘Em Laugh,” along with many other memorable moments. The new 4K UHD really shines, giving us the best transfer we’ve gotten yet for this film, with less of the yellowish image present from the Blu-ray, and more natural colors! Easily one of the year’s best releases!
- Blue Skies (1946) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers Roundup, Bing Crosby Roundup, Original Review
- In this film, dancer Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) has fallen for Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), but she’s taken a shine to nightclub owner Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby). In this second film pairing Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, they once again have the music of Irving Berlin to help tell the story. Memorable moments include Fred Astaire dancing with himself via special effects to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and the two men dancing to “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men.” With a new 2K master that easily improves on previous releases on home video, this Blu-ray comes highly recommended!
- Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers Roundup, Original Review
- In this Busby Berkeley musical, a trio of chorus girls take part in a hit new musical when one member’s boyfriend helps pay for it. Trouble arises when his meddlesome older brother tries to break up their relationship, but he and his lawyer instead fall for the other two girls from the trio. This is a fun pre-Code musical, with Ginger Rogers singing the classic “We’re In The Money” (part of it in pig Latin, no less!), as well as songs like the neon-lit “Shadow Waltz” and the Depression-era “Remember My Forgotten Man.” The new Blu-ray works from a scan of the best preservation elements, and as a result, the film looks fantastic! A wonderful movie with a great transfer to boot (and therefore highly recommended)!
- (tie) For Me And My Gal (1942) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #2, Original Review
- In For Me And My Gal (1942), a pair of vaudevillians team up, hoping to become big enough stars that they can perform at the famous Palace Theater in New York City. However, the war (World War I) throws a monkey wrench in their plans when one of them is drafted. There’s a lot of fun to be had here in the first film that teamed up Judy Garland and Gene Kelly (in his film debut!), from the wonderful period music to the fun dance routines. Now, Warner Archive has done a 4K scan of their best preservation elements for the film, and it looks better than ever! This Blu-ray is certainly the best way to see this film, and comes highly recommended!
- (tie) The Clock (1945) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #2
- In The Clock (1945), Robert Walker stars as Corporal Joe Allen, who meets Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) while on a two-day leave in New York City. This is a fun little drama, which focuses on the growing romance between two characters who meet during wartime. Judy and Robert both carry the film quite well, and give us characters that are easy to invest in as we see their various adventures together. For the Blu-ray, Warner Archive gave us a 4K scan of the best preservation elements, which means that this film looks fantastic, with great detail and nothing to mar the image. Easily a great way to enjoy this wonderful movie!
- West Side Story (2021) (20th Century Studios/Disney, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: 4K UHD Roundup
- In this remake of the classic musical, the Jets and the Sharks duke it out for control of the streets of New York. Former Jets leader Tony (Ansel Elgort) falls for Maria (Rachel Zegler), the sister of the Sharks’ leader, which further complicates things. I will readily admit that I did not care for the original 1961 film (and had no plans to see this one), but the new film won me over! The music and dancing are entertaining (and make me want to get up and dance!), and I can’t help but want to see the film again and again! With a beautiful transfer on the 4K UHD, I certainly can think of no better way to see this wonderful film (outside of on the big screen, that is)!
- The Three Musketeers (1948) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #1
- In this version of the classic Alexandre Dumas tale, Gene Kelly stars as the young swordsman D’Artagnan, as he and three other musketeers face off against the French prime minister Richelieu (Vincent Price). Obviously, this film hits a number of the same beats as many other filmed versions of the tale, but Gene Kelly alone makes this swashbuckler film fun! His swordfights (including one whose footage was later borrowed for Singin’ In The Rain) are quite entertaining and humorous! Warner Archive has done their usual stellar work with this three-strip Technicolor film, making the Blu-ray a great way to enjoy this movie!
- Edge Of Darkness (1943) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #1
- It’s World War II, and the Norwegian village of Trollness has suffered indignity after indignity under the conquering Nazis. Under the leadership of Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn), they wait for the opportune moment to strike back against their German occupiers. It’s definitely a film that was meant to help drum up patriotic fervor in the fight against the Nazis, but it’s still a well-made film that builds up the tension to the fight between the Norwegian people and the Nazis (a battle which was done well in and of itself)! Yet another great release from Warner Archive, with the transfer (taken from the best preservation elements) looking crisp and clear and devoid of all dirt and debris! A great release of a very good war film!
- You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Previously reviewed in: W. C. Fields Roundup
- Circus owner Larson E. Whipsnade (W. C. Fields) is trying to stay ahead of his creditors, but winds up in enough trouble that his daughter considers a loveless marriage to her wealthy boyfriend to help get her father out of debt. This is a rather fun movie overall, with some of its best bits coming from the running feud between W. C. Fields and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s dummy Charlie McCarthy (with the exception of Charlie wearing blackface to cover up a black eye)! The new 2K master looks pretty good, as far as I’m concerned (with VERY minor instances of dirt and debris that don’t really take away from the enjoyment of this movie), making this release well worth it!
Special Honorable Mention:
- The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6 and The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection Centennial Edition
- For the most part, my list tends towards movie releases, as those are the vast majority of what I buy. However, as you may have seen, I also enjoy looking into various theatrical short collections. In 2020, ClassicFlix announced (via crowdfunding campaign) their desire to restore the Hal Roach-owned Little Rascals shorts. While their campaign fell short, they went through with their plans anyway. They now have all six volumes of the Little Rascals talkie shorts available on Blu-ray, uncut and fully restored. In doing so, they’ve released the entire run of the Hal Roach-produced talkie shorts, with all six volumes recently re-released in the Complete Collection Centennial Edition. This set contains all the previously released shorts (now condensed onto five discs instead of six), plus a bonus disc (also available separately for those who bought the individual volumes) that includes several alternate language versions of a few shorts plus three silent shorts that they’ve restored (which will also be available when ClassicFlix starts releasing the silents on Blu-ray and/or DVD at some point next year). I’ve so far had the opportunity to see the shorts from the first five volumes (all of which have looked fantastic!), and I’m currently looking forward to seeing the sixth volume (plus the silents when they get that far)! Easily recommended as some of this year’s best releases, whether you go with the remaining individual volumes or the complete set!
Honorable Mentions: You’re Telling Me! (1934) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray), Adventures Of Don Juan (1948) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), Jack And The Beanstalk (1952) (ClassicFlix, Blu-ray)
I have to admit, compared to the last few years, 2022 has felt like a bit of a slow and slightly disappointing year where physical media has been concerned. Most of that disappointment is arguably centered around the decreased output from Warner Archive. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to WHAT they have released, I’d still say that they won the year in my opinion. They’ve released some Blu-ray upgrades for a few old favorites, while releasing a few new-to-me titles that I’ve enjoyed (especially, as you can tell from my list, The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm), all of which has certainly made me happy. But I also understand WHY their output has slowed, with almost their entire staff getting laid off in early 2021, including their head George Feltenstein (who was, thankfully, rehired back at Warner Brothers later in the year, thus enabling the Warner Archive program to survive beyond 2021). With a smaller staff to work with, that resulted in there being only 2-3 titles a month from them (compared to about 4-7 a month the last year or two), with there being nothing from them at all for two months. From what George Feltenstein has been saying on some of his various podcast appearances, though, it sounds like things *should* pick up from them in 2023 (with word that the classic 1950 musical Three Little Words is currently being worked on!), especially as the whole studio celebrates the 100th anniversary of Warner Brothers!
In general, I would say that ClassicFlix is right up there with Warner Archive (even if they themselves have only had a handful of releases). Their releases of the Little Rascals shorts have continued to be amongst the highlights of the year as I get to see them for the first time (and looking pretty darn good at that!), and I look forward to their releases of the silents from that series as well! As for feature films, they’ve really only had Black Magic (1949) (which was one of their rare lesser transfers, although to be fair that’s not really their fault, as they could only do so much with the available film elements), Jack And The Beanstalk (1952) (a restoration that was actually performed by the 3-D Film Archive, and, although the film itself is not one of my favorite Abbott and Costello films, it still looks so much better than what I’ve seen previously) and I, The Jury (1953) (I haven’t seen this one yet, but, as their first 3D Blu-ray/ 4K UHD release, which has been reviewed well by others whose opinions I respect, I look forward to seeing it).
With regard to the rest of the boutique labels, the year has left me with a lot of mixed feelings. Kino Lorber Studio Classics has had some good releases this year, with the long-awaited release of Blue Skies (1946), plus some stuff featuring the likes of W. C. Fields, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour from their licensing deals with Universal Studios. They’ve also had some big licensing deals with some of the other major Hollywood studios (including their first with Sony, and Paramount licensing out to them again for the first time in a number of years), although so far they haven’t lived up to the hype (at least, not when it comes to the stuff that I actually want). Universal themselves didn’t impress me as much with their Blu-ray output, as the only real wave of catalog films included three new-to-blu Bing Crosby films (yay!), along with some reissues of titles previously licensed out to Kino Lorber that had only been included in three-film box sets. Criterion has really disappointed me, as they have seemingly decided I’m not their target audience, as their release of Arsenic And Old Lace was really the only title that solidly appealed to me all year (to be fair to them, their price point isn’t as budget-friendly, so I’m not too bothered by that, but it’s still disappointing after being able to count on a good handful of appealing releases every year for a while).
As some may have seen, I finally dipped into 4K tech so as to be able to enjoy some of the various UHDs that actually interest me. So far, I can’t say as I’ve seen much of this year’s releases, mostly because there was one catalog title (of interest to me) for most of the year, plus one modern film (which really, REALLY appealed to me, thus why I brought it up in the first place). Much to my annoyance, the various studios/boutique labels FINALLY got around to releasing some stuff over the last few months of the year (when my budget starts going towards Christmas gifts for others instead of more movies for myself). As I mentioned, ClassicFlix’s I, The Jury (1953) 4K UHD/ 3-D Blu-ray has been receiving rave reviews so far, so I definitely want to plug that one (especially since it is a limited edition). Sony has released their third Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection, which includes titles such as It Happened One Night (1934), From Here To Eternity (1953) and four other films (plus extras), with this release also receiving good reviews. Universal Studios have also released their second Universal Classic Monsters Icons Of Horror Collection (with Phantom Of The Opera‘s transfer getting well reviewed), plus Holiday Inn (1942) (which you’ve seen by now I don’t think came out as well). Paramount Pictures have had a few releases as well, some well-reviewed (the Elvis Presley classic Blue Hawaii, although some have complained about the re-done opening credits with a different font than before), and others not so much. Warner Brothers has recently brought their classic Casablanca (1942) to the format, with that being reviewed pretty well.
That’s all I have to say on 2022’s new releases on disc. There’ve been some great releases this year, and a few not-so great. But, things are looking up from what I’m hearing already about 2023, so hopefully it will be a good year for physical media enthusiasts and film fans!