Best of 2015

The best DVD releases of 2015 feature 'Mad Men,' '30 for 30' films, Miyazaki animation, more

"Mad Men: The Complete Collection" (Lionsgate): Now that the final episode has aired, the complete run of Matthew Weiner's period drama stands as one the great achievements in the history of TV: a set of poignant short stories, revolving around the 1960s advertising business, adding up to a grand statement about social and personal change.

"Gates of Heaven" / "Vernon, Florida" (Criterion): Two of Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris' earliest films — one about pet cemeteries, one about a quirky small town — share a single Blu-ray disc and together present a wise, funny and heartbreaking vision of American dreamers.

MORE: For DVDs, a few bright spots among the many mundane offerings

"Dziga Vertov: The Man With the Movie Camera" (Flicker Alley): The Soviet filmmaker Vertov is best-known for his exultant 1929 day-in-the-life cine-essay "Man With the Movie Camera," which this essential Blu-ray set presents in a stunning new transfer alongside some of the early documentary experiments that preceded it.

"30 for 30: Season 2" (ESPN): The 30 films in the most recent batch of ESPN's excellent docu-series include such must-sees as "Survive and Advance" (about North Carolina State basketball's unlikely 1983 championship), "Elway to Marino" (about one loaded NFL draft), and "Of Miracles and Men" (about the U.S. men's hockey team's inspiring 1980 gold medal win).

"Rocky Horror Picture Show: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition" (20th Century Fox): Whether fans watch "Rocky Horror" to shout scripted insults at the screen or whether they genuinely enjoy the movie's tuneful, transgressive take on the fluid sexuality of old Hollywood B-movies, this features-packed new Blu-ray edition has all the bases covered.

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"The Bombs, Babes & Blockbusters of Cannon Films" (Warner Bros.): The excess of 1980s action cinema and the chutzpah of Israeli B-movie producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus are on full display in this budget-priced box set, which pairs cheesy Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris vehicles with Mark Hartley's excellent, in-depth Cannon documentary, "Electric Boogaloo."

"The Larry Fessenden Collection" (Scream! Factory/IFC/Glass Eye Pix): One of the best arguments for the continued existence of physical media is this box set spotlighting the work of one of America's most original horror auteurs. Fessenden has quietly put together a body of features, shorts and experiments that make more sense when they're gathered all in one place than when they're scattered.

"The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki" (Walt Disney): Disney does right by one of the giants of animation, whose filmography runs from whimsical, yearning children's movies such as "My Neighbor Totoro" to elliptical fantasies such as "Spirited Away" and the mature biopic "The Wind Rises."

"The Quay Brothers: Collected Short Films" (Zeitgeist/Syncopy): Some of the most beguiling, meticulously crafted avant-garde animated films ever made are collected onto a single disc, complete with commentary tracks and a Christopher Nolan-directed documentary to help explain the work behind the weirdness.

"Faust" (Kino Classics): The last German film the great F.W. Murnau made before moving to Hollywood, this expensive epic turns a cautionary old legend into grandiose, visionary fantasy; and Kino's Blu-ray offers one of the most complete restored versions available, supported by insightful extras.

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A version of this article appeared in print on December 13, 2015, in the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "BEST OF 2015 - NOEL MURRAY" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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