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The 2004 Golden Gavel Awards

On January 11th, 2005, DVD Verdict announced their Golden Gavel awards for the best DVDs of 2004. The reviewing staff of DVD Verdict each drafted a list of their ten picks for the best of the year, and those lists were compiled into a master list based on the rankings given to each film. 130 DVDs appeared on the lists from the 30 voting staff members, and from those nominees emerged the ten winners:

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Special Extended Edition
Read our review (Judge Bryan Byun)
For the third year in a row, an Extended Edition of one of the Lord of the Rings installments takes the top place in our balloting. And why would Return of the King break with tradition? After all, it won the Academy Award for Best Picture (not to mention ten other awards) and continues to set the standard for excellent audio/visual presentation and sheer quantity (and quality!) of supplemental content. What will we do next year without one of these films to pick?
1st: 10
2nd: 4
3rd: 3
4th: 2
6th: 1
7th: 1
10th: 1

2. The Star Wars Trilogy
Read our review (a panel)
A long time ago (1977) in a galaxy far, far away (Hollywood), George Lucas begat the Holy Trilogy, a series of films beloved by geeks and non-geeks alike. It took seven years from the advent of DVD to receive these films on DVD, and it's perhaps out of the joy of receiving them that our staff has selected The Star Wars Trilogy as our second Golden Gavel pick. The video presentation is the best these films have ever looked, the audio (despite alleged mixing problems) is superb, and the bonus content (commentaries on all three films, an excellent two-hour documentary, and more), while not exhaustive is still satisfying. The Force is strong with this one!
1st: 2
2nd: 9
3rd: 2
5th: 1
7th: 1
8th: 1

3. Freaks And Geeks: The Complete Series
Read our review (Judge Bryan Byun)
You expect blockbuster films with huge budgets to get the full treatment on DVD, but it is this unexpected gem from Shout Factory that sets the bar for the next year and beyond. Lovingly crafted by guys who really know what high school was like, Freaks and Geeks failed on network television—and then got talked about for years by people who only dimly remembered its charms. But this boxed set rectifies all that: 29 (!) commentary tracks (check out the inspired improvisation as the "teachers" from the show do a turn), outtakes and deleted scenes, and a show that can turn from funny to heartwrenching on a dime. This one epitomizes the cliché "too good for television." And unlike most of those TV show sets you bought this year, you can watch this one more than once.
1st: 4
3rd: 4
7th: 1

4. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: Special Edition
Read our review (Judge Sandra Dozier)
One of the most influential Westerns of the 1960s, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has been released on DVD before, but not like this. This time, it gets 14 minutes restored that were initially cut when it came from Italy to the U.S. The scenes in question never had English dubbing recorded by the actors...until now, when the surviving actors came in to record ADR for the scenes. When actors go back into the studio to do justice to a classic film after the director has died, you know the DVD is a labor of love and respect. The video restoration is stunning, and carefully selected extras (including historian commentary and four documentaries) and classy, distinctive packaging complete the experience.
1st: 1
2nd: 1
3rd: 1
4th: 1
5th: 3
8th: 2
9th: 2

5. Dawn Of The Dead: Ultimate Edition
Read our review (Judge Patrick Bromley)
After better than a dozen home video editions of George A. Romero's incredible homespun zombie sequel, finally we have one that gets it all right. A film with incredible fan-based shelf life and a number of "naturally occuring" alternate versions was brought into its (maybe) final form on DVD with true affection by Anchor Bay. With plenty of new material in addition to reiteration of previous editions, this Dawn is the brightest ever.
1st: 3
2nd: 1
4th: 1
9th: 1

6. Videodrome: Criterion Collection
Read our review (Appellate Judge David Ryan)
Smartly packaged and more prescient than ever, this paean to the virtual body is just one of a slew of Cronenberg classics finally getting their due on DVD. From last year's Naked Lunch to the rediscovered Fast Company to the meticulous Spider, audiences are finally learning that Cronenberg may be the smartest filmmaker alive.
1st: 1
2nd: 2
3rd: 1
4th: 1
9th: 2

7. Gone With The Wind: Special Edition
Read our review (a panel)
Like it or hate it (as reactions to the film can be decidedly mixed), Gone With The Wind is firmly entrenched in the collective consciousness—even those who haven't seen the movie can quote its most memorable lines. Befitting a film of its scope and significance, Warner Bros. has produced an impeccably restored and handsomely extraed four-disc release.
1st: 2
2nd: 2
4th: 1
9th: 1

8. Spider-Man 2
Read our review (Judge Dennis Prince)
Arguably the best comic book-based film ever, Spider-Man 2 dropped on DVD in both Superbit and two-disc standard releases. While the Superbit's DTS track would've been nice, this release's two commentaries, trivia subtitles, and other cool special features make it the logical choice for the true believer.
1st: 1
4th: 1
5th: 1
6th: 2
7th: 1

9. John Cassavetes: Five Films: Criterion Collection
Read our review (Judge Dan Mancini)
John Cassavetes. Five films. The Criterion Collection. Need we say more? This eight-disc box is arguably the most important and impressive collection of independent films to hit DVD in 2004. The films themselves are a treasure, and the ample supplements—including a three-hour documentary on the filmmaker's life and career—give any film fan plenty to chew on.
1st: 1
3rd: 2
5th: 1

10. The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection
This impressive collection from the Master of Suspense includes the debut releases of Dial M for Murder, Foreign Correspondent, I Confess, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Stage Fright, Suspicion, and The Wrong Man, a re-release of North by Northwest, and a new two-disc edition of Strangers on a Train.
1st: 1
4th: 1
5th: 2
9th: 1

Other Nominees:

American Splendor
Angel Heart: Special Edition
Angel: The Complete Fourth Season
Arrested Development: The Complete First Season
Batman: The Animated Series: Volume One
The Battle Of Algiers: Criterion Collection
Big Fish
The Bourne Supremacy
Bubba Ho-Tep
Carnivale: The Complete First Season
Charade: Criterion Collection
Clerks: 10th Anniversary Edition
Columbo: The Complete First Season
The Commitments: Collector's Edition
Control Room
Cop Land: Director's Cut
Creature From The Black Lagoon: The Legacy Collection
Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
The Day After Tomorrow
The Deadly Spawn
The Devil's Backbone: Special Edition
Disinformation: The Complete Series
Dracula: The Legacy Collection
Ed Wood
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Eyes Without A Face: Criterion Collection
Faerie Tale Theatre: Cinderella
Fahrenheit 9/11
Fanny and Alexander: Criterion Collection
The Fog Of War
Forbidden Zone
Frankenstein: The Legacy Collection
Futurama: Volume Four
Garden State
The Grapes Of Wrath
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Hellboy: Director's Cut
Highlander: The Series, Season Four
Home Movies: The Complete First Season
Ikiru: Criterion Collection
Invader ZIM: Doom Doom Doom (Vol. 1)
The Iron Giant: Special Edition
Just Shoot Me: Seasons One And Two
Kill Bill: Volume 2
The L Word: The Complete First Season
La Dolce Vita: Collector's Edition
Legally Blonde: Platinum Collection
The Legend Of Leigh Bowery
The Leopard: Criterion Collection
Live Aid
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume Two
Lost In Space: The Complete First Season
Lost In Translation
The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra
Love Actually
The Lower Depths: Criterion Collection
M: Criterion Collection
Maria Full of Grace
The Martin Scorsese Collection
The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection
Mary Poppins: 40th Anniversary Edition
Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World
Meet Me In St. Louis
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6
Mystic River: Special Three-Disc Edition
Napoleon Dynamite
A Night At The Opera
NFL Films - Super Bowl XXXVIII - New England Patriots Championship Video
The Office: The Complete Collection
Panic Room: Special Edition
Pee-wee's Playhouse, Volume 1
Peter Pan
Peyton Place
The Point
Quantum Leap: The Complete First Season
Resident Evil: Deluxe Edition
The Robocop Trilogy
The Rules Of The Game: Criterion Collection
Samurai X: OVA Collection
Schindler's List
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: The Complete First And Second Seasons
SCTV Network/90: Volume 1
SCTV: Volume 2
Seinfeld: Season 3
Sex And The City: Season Six, Part Two
Shaun of the Dead
The Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition
Short Cuts: Criterion Collection
Showgirls: V.I.P. Edition
The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season
The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season
Sin In The Suburbs / The Swap And How They Make It
Slacker: Criterion Collection
Sledge Hammer!
The Station Agent
Strangers On A Train: Special Edition
Super Size Me
That's Entertainment Trilogy
3 Women: Criterion Collection
THX 1138: The George Lucas Director's Cut
The Triplets Of Belleville
24: Season Three
2004 World Series - Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Ultimate Matrix Collection
Walt Disney Treasures: On The Front Lines
Walt Disney Treasures: Tomorrowland
White Thunder
Wiseguy: Mel Profitt
The World at War (30th Anniversary Edition)
The Yakuza Papers: Battles Without Honor & Humanity
Zatoichi / Sonatine Double Bill

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Previous Golden Gavel Winners:

• 2011
• 2010
• 2009
• 2007
• 2006
• 2005
• 2003
• 2002
• 2001

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