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The 2007 Golden Gavel Awards

2007 DVD Verdict Golden Gavel AwardsSANTA MONICA, CA (December 31, 2007): If The Busters were the appetizer, here comes the main course. DVD Verdict proudly presents the staff's annual Golden Gavel Awards. In the winter months, it is a particular treat snuggling up with friends and family, reading books, spending time at party bets, and of course watching DVDs. Each December, we come together to select the 10 best DVD releases of the year. This award-winning list should provide you with hours of entertainment and plenty to talk about with fellow movie lovers. Keep in mind, these aren't just the biggest films or television series loaded with hours of bonus content. We take into account titles from all genres whose release signaled a significant impact for the industry and entertainment lovers alike, whether we've reviewed them or not. And for the first time, we've incorporated a "High Definition" award to honor excellence in HD and BD production. Perhaps 2008 will see the next generation adoption rate skyrocket, such that we'll have one cohesive list awarding all three formats. In the meantime, maestro, drum roll if you please...

Killer of Sheep 10. Killer of Sheep
Read our review (Appellate Judge Tom Becker)
Coming in at Number 10 is a UCLA thesis film from student director Charles Burnett. Shot during the late '70s in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles and heretofore rarely seen by the general film going public, this deeply personal exploration has since been preserved by the Library of Congress and National Film Registry as a unique piece of American history. Judge Tom Becker extolls, "The most honored film you never saw, this no-budget gem gets a top-flight release 30 years after it was first shown. Not shown commercially until 2007, this film is essential viewing." Thanks to Milestone Films and New Yorker Video for bringing us this masterpiece.

If... 09. If...: Criterion Collection
Read our review (Judge Brett Cullum)
Number Nine is the first of two Criterion releases to receive awards. This 1968 look at an English boarding school revolt features the big screen debut of actor Malcolm McDowell and begs the question "Which side will you be on?" Criterion went to great lengths preserving the film by bringing in cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek to oversee the painstaking restoration. Judge Chris Kulik says, "The fact that Criterion stood up for Lindsay Anderson's controversial triumph when copyright holder Paramount refused shows more than ever that Criterion is absolutely committed to film preservation. The extras are plentiful and insightful, with a commentary, a reunion doc, and even the director's Oscar-winning documentary Thursday's Children, which finally sees the light of day after more than 50 years."

Monster Squad 08. The Monster Squad: Two-Disc Anniversary Edition
Read our review (Appellate Judge Mac McEntire)
Number Eight proves that the Verdict team appreciates much more than high art films. Lionsgate brings us this fondly recalled, cheeseball take on the classic Universal monsters and it holds up surprisingly well. If you haven't seen the film or only have a vague recollection of it, stop right now add it to your Netflix or Blockbuster queue. It's The Goonies do Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein with a decidedly '80s feel. Judge Paul Pritchard exclaims, "Finally! A childhood favourite returns after what seemed like forever and proves to be as good as the memories."

Sergio Leone 07. The Sergio Leone Anthology
Read our review (Judge Bill Gibron)
Number Seven is one of several studio collections up for Gavel consideration this year and it's well worth the investment. This genre defining anthology explores the brilliance of a once unappreciated director who mastered the art of achieving more with less. With the inclusion of the rarely seen and full restored A Fistful of Dynamite (Duck You Sucker), Leone's spaghetti western goes from obscure menu item to specialty of the house. Judge Bill Gibron says, "it's the perfect place to begin your journey into the bleak bombastic world of Leone, and all the cinematic splendor that comes with it." We couldn't agree more.

Hot Fuzz 06. Hot Fuzz: Three-Disc Collector's Edition
Read our review of the single disc release (Judge David Johnson)
Number Six is a film that defies piegonholing. Yet another masterpiece from the Shaun of the Dead team, it's equal parts mystery, thriller, drama, and comedy homage from a brilliant ensemble cast and all done with British tongue firmly implanted in cheek. Judge Jim Thomas proclaims, "Messrs. Wright, Pegg, and Frost turn the buddy-cop movie up to 11. A movie that will reference Bad Boys II, Point Break, and Chinatown is a movie that has no fear--every time you tell yourself They're not gonna go there are they?, they go there. The final 30 minutes are nothing short of brilliant." You'll have to view this one several times to catch all the references.

Pan's Labyrinth 05. Pan's Labyrinth: Two-Disc Platinum Series
Read our Supreme Court review (Judges Joel Pearce, Bill Gibron, Ryan Keefer, Jennifer Malkowski)
Number Five proves that director Guillermo del Toro has a storytelling touch all his own. This dark fairy tale set against the backdrop of an even darker period in Spanish history proves both mesmerizing and disturbing. More importantly, it shows the human creature can be much more frightening than any monster our minds could ever dream up. Judge Erich Asperschlager refers to this release as "Immersive. Beautiful. Terrifying. It made me wish I spoke Spanish."

04. Breathless: Criterion Collection
Read our review (Judge Ben Saylor)
The second of two Criterion winners, Number Four spotlights a cornerstone in cinema's French New Wave movement in true Criterion style. It's film school in a box and Judge Ryan Keefer cheers, "The Criterion treatment of this Jean Luc Godard classic is a celebration of the film, its director, and stars, remaining among the most visually groundbreaking milestones in cinema. The documentary included is one of the more unique approaches to what the film's legacy means to people, and the archived footage of the cast makes this a staple in any film buff's library."

Stanley Kubrick 03. Stanley Kubrick: Warner Home Video Directors Series
Read our reviews of the individual films in this collection:
2001: A Space Odyssey: Two-Disc Special Edition (Judge Bill Gibron)
A Clockwork Orange: Two-Disc Special Edition (Judge Bryan Pope)
Eyes Wide Shut: Two-Disc Special Edition (Judge Erich Asperschlager)
Full Metal Jacket: Deluxe Edition (Judge Roy Hrab)
The Shining: Two-Disc Special Edition (Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky) - Not Yet Available
Stanley Kubrick: My Life in Pictures (Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky) - Not Yet Available
Kubrick was a large man with an even larger persona robed in a mystique only Hollywood could weave. This heir apparent to Orson Welles has taken us to worlds both inspiring and disturbing, and Number Three is Warner Home Video's attempt to definitively honor his genius. Judge Brett Cullum states, "With five masterworks presented uncut and in the correct aspect ratios, it's the final word on a brilliant career, and makes us wonder what would have happened if he had not been taken from us." You won't always enjoy Kubrick's films, but they will leave you seeing the world in a much different way.

Twin Peaks 02. Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition
Read our review (Judge Brett Cullum)
Inching ever closer to that top stop, Number Two finds Paramount giving fans of David Lynch and Twin Peaks the collection they've been clamoring for... and then some. Long before the days of Lost and The Sopranos, Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost gave us water cooler television. And while many unanswered questions remain, this trip back to the Pacific Northwest reminds us just how good television can be. Judge Brett Cullum eschews, "Previously available only in disjointed incomplete chunks, the best television series ever aired finally receives the set it deserves. Lynch even shows up to share some cherry pie with his cast, and for the first time in North America we get the official release of his dizzyingly brilliant pilot episode. Reason enough to drink coffee and stay up all night dreaming of dancing midgets."

Blade Runner 01. Blade Runner: Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition
Read our review (Judge Brett Cullum)
Standing head and shoulders above its fellow nominees, Verdict's highest honor of the year goes to one of the sci fi genre's most underappreciated masterpieces. The tale of the film's creation is as compelling as the film itself, and this five-disc set gives fans full immersion into its storied history. With five different versions of the film, a brand new feature-length documentary including new interviews with cast and crew (including Harrison Ford), you won't find a more compelling collection than Warner Home Video's crown jewel. Judge Roy Hrab proclaims, "This will be the standard by which all past and future Collector's Edition releases will be judged." Congrats to producer Charlie De Lauzirika on a phenomenal job securing the top two slots in this year's award lineup!

Transformers High Definition Award: Transformers: Two-Disc Special Edition [HD DVD]
Read our review (Judge David Johnson)
Since no HD or BD nominees earned a spot in our top ten, we've created a special award to honor the year's most significant high definition release. Big, bold, and evergreen, Paramount is offering up new downloadable content to Transformers fans who purchase this release between now and the theatrical release of Transformers II. Judge Paul Pritchard states, "The best argument yet to upgrade to HD. A flawless transfer accompanied by a kick ass soundtrack that this amazing film deserves. The HD DVD also offers downloadable extra content showing the benefits of the format. The best blockbuster of the year on the best home video release of the year."

STANDARD DVD RUNNERS-UP:
They may not have earned a Golden Gavel, but the Verdict team felt these 2007 releases were well worth honoring as best in show. Click on the underlined titles to read our Judge's reviews.
20 Million Miles To Earth: 50th Anniversary Edition
28 Weeks Later
30 Rock: Season One
300: Two-Disc Special Edition
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
Ace in the Hole: Criterion Collection
All That Jazz: Special Music Edition
Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who
An Officer and a Gentleman: Special Collector's Edition
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters for DVD
Battlestar Galactica: Razor
Berlin Alexanderplatz: Criterion Collection
Bicycle Thieves: Criterion Collection
Bram Stoker's Dracula: Collector's Edition
Caligula: Three-Disc Imperial Edition
Casino Royale: Two-Disc Special Edition
Children of Men
Chinatown: Special Collector's Edition
The Cinema of Peter Watkins
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition
Cruising: Deluxe Edition
Days of Heaven: Criterion Collection
The Departed: Two-Disc Special Edition
Dexter: The First Season
Dreamgirls: Two-Disc Showstopper Edition
Eureka: Season One
Family Guy: Freakin' Party Pack
Fantastic Four: Extended Edition
The Films of Kenneth Anger: Volume I
The Films of Kenneth Anger: Volume II
The First Films of Samuel Fuller: Criterion Collection
The Fly Collection
Frankenstein Conquers the World
The Graduate: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition
The Green Archer
Grindhouse Presents... Death Proof
Grindhouse Presents... Planet Terror
Gymkata
Hairspray: Two-Disc Shake & Shimmy Edition
Hamlet: Two-Disc Special Edition
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Two-Disc Special Edition
Help!
Heroes: Season One
The Host: Two-Disc Collector's Edition
House of Games: Criterion Collection
Inland Empire: Limited Edition Two-Disc Set
Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Collector's Edition
It's a Wonderful Life: Two-Disc Collector's Set
James Bond Ultimate Collector's Set
The Jazz Singer: Three-Disc Deluxe Edition
Knocked Up: Two-Disc Collector's Edition
La Jetee / Sans Soleil: Criterion Collection
The Lady Vanishes: Criterion Collection
Le Petit Lieutenant
Letters From Iwo Jima / Flags Of Our Fathers: Five-Disc Commemorative Edition
L'Iceberg
Live Free Or Die Hard: Two-Disc Special Edition
Lost: The Complete Third Season
Martha Graham: Dance On Film: Criterion Collection
The Mickey Rooney And Judy Garland Collection
My So-Called Life: The Complete Series
The Natural: Director's Cut
Night On Earth: Criterion Collection
Not Just The Best Of The Larry Sanders Show
O Lucky Man!: Two-Disc Special Edition
The Office: Season Three
Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Planet Earth: The Complete Series
Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938
The Prestige
Ratatouille
Red Dawn: Collector's Edition
Regular Lovers
Robocop: 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition
Samurai Jack: Season Four
Sansho the Bailiff: Criterion Collection
Saturday Night Live: The Complete Second Season
Scarface: Cinema Classics
Seinfeld: The Complete Series
Shortbus
The Sopranos: Season Six, Part II
The Stranger
Stranger than Paradise: Criterion Collection
The 3 Penny Opera: Criterion Collection
The Third Man: Criterion Collection
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
Three Films By Hiroshi Teshigahara: Criterion Collection
The Three Stooges Collection, Volume One: 1934-1936
The Tower
Transformers: Two-Disc Special Edition
The Unit: Season Two
The Verdict: Two-Disc Collector's Edition
The X-Files: The Ultimate Collection
Un chant d'amour
Under the Volcano: Criterion Collection
W.R.: The Mysteries of the Organism
Witchfinder General
Zodiac


HIGH DEFINITION RUNNERS-UP:
These HD and BD releases are also classified best in show for the year. Click on the underlined titles to read our Judge's reviews.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray]
Die Hard Collection [Blu-ray]
Heroes: Season One [HD DVD]
Hot Fuzz [HD DVD]
Lost: Season Three [Blu-ray]
Old Boy [Blu-ray]
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl [Blu-ray]
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest [Blu-ray]
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End [Blu-ray]
Ratatouille [Blu-ray]
300 [HD DVD]
Spider-Man: The High Definition Trilogy [Blu-Ray]
The Ultimate Matrix Collection [HD DVD]


Your Comments:
You've read our thoughts, now it's time to share your own. What did overlook? Where did we miss the boat? Let us know by emailing goldengavels@dvderdict.com or posting your comments in our Jury Room.

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