by Marty Demarest
1. The Animatrix
The new Matrix films were incredible disappointments. But The Animatrix is a fitting sequel to the first film. Some of the best contemporary Japanese animators created these short films, each examining a different aspect of Matrix mythology. A few are among the year's best miniature films.
2. The Two Towers Special Edition
I'm going to risk calling The Two Towers the best of the Rings. So consider the special edition the ultimate of the series. Some warm moments between hobbits Sam and Frodo, more chitchat with the trees, and plenty of extra Gollum make this richer than the theatrical release.
3. The Works of Spike Jonze
Who would have thought that some of the most fun I'd have all year would be watching old music videos. But Hollywood genius Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) got his start with these, and they all display his quirky, infectiously good-natured style.
This old, low-budget BBC miniseries created an entire mysterious world below London. For grown-ups who revel in subcultures, this is a treat.
5. Looney Tunes Golden Collection
Dozens of the classic cartoons are collected, and seeing them unmolested by advertisements and reactionary morality is as exhilarating as I suspect their creators intended.
Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, managed to take two of television's worst clich & eacute;s -- westerns and space dramas -- and squeeze some freshness from them.
7. Casablanca Special Edition
Not only does this disc set include one of the greatest movies ever made, it's a veritable treasure trove of Casablancology for the romantic or film buff alike.
8. Cremaster: The Order
The Cremaster Cycle was a remarkable artistic achievement. This 30-minute excerpt takes the form of a game in which a man (artist Matthew Barney) climbs the Guggenheim museum from the inside. Compelling and beautiful.
Forget The Last Samurai; this old miniseries about a western man encountering feudal Japan is better. Unfortunately, the set doesn't divide the show into the original episodes, and no scene listing is included. But the story and historic details are remarkably rich, and the acting, particularly from Toshiro Mifune, is excellent.
10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The Criterion Collection
The movie itself is mediocre. The commentary track from Hunter S. Thompson rules the universe.
Publication date: 1/08/04