Weekend Roundtable: What Are You Thankful For in 2014?

Next week is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Because our blog will be closed on Thursday and Friday for a long weekend, we’ll use today’s Roundtable to express our gratitude for the things that have made our lives better this year. What are you thankful for in 2014?

Mike Attebery

This year I’m thankful for the fact that my daughter seems to be enjoying all the old movies and TV shows I’ve been collecting over the year. Disney classics, ‘Fraggle Rock’, ‘Mister Rogers’, and old shows and movies I loved as a kid are suddenly holding her attention. Now I just need to start showing her some slapstick black-and-white comedies so she’ll hopefully be unfazed by watching shows that aren’t in color. It’s been a lot of fun revisiting some old favorites with her this year.

Shannon Nutt

Those who know me know that ‘Twin Peaks‘ is my all-time favorite TV show, so I was pretty excited this year when the complete series, plus the theatrical film, saw a Blu-Ray release. I was even more thrilled that the long-unseen deleted scenes from ‘Fire Walk With Me’ were included in the set.

But even all that wasn’t the end. Imagine both the shock and unbridled joy that passed through me when we learned that David Lynch and Mark Frost had cut a deal with Showtime to bring ‘Twin Peaks’ back to TV in 2016. It was like a gift from the gods… or, more aptly, living inside a dream.

So, David Lynch, you’re the person in the entertainment world I’m most thankful for in 2014, and the reason I’ll be having cherry pie, instead of pumpkin, after the turkey this Thanksgiving.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Having just gotten married a month and a half ago, it ought to go without saying what I’m the most grateful for in 2014. I could ramble on about eight billion wonderful, extraordinary things about my wife, but relevant to this blog, she’s shockingly supportive of my home theater and movie addictions.

Maggie doodles dream house plans for fun, and a dedicated home theater for me is always a fixture. One of the first things she encouraged me to do when we moved into our not-dream-house together as newlyweds was to setup all my A/V and gaming gear. (She knew how badly I was jonesing following two months of renovations that left me home-theater-less.) She loves that I have a sprawling, indefensibly large Blu-ray collection. Maggie has a blast sitting next to me on the couch and watching me play something as incomprehensible and insane as ‘Bayonetta’, and she’ll show off her own gaming prowess by destroying me at whatever racing title happens to be within arm’s reach. Hearing her crack up as we watch ‘UHF’ and ‘Rick and Morty’ on Blu-ray is basically the greatest thing ever. Again, I think she’s the greatest for a whole bunch of reasons that have nothing to do with home theater tech, but I’m trying to stay on-topic here.

I’m glad Maggie’s given me so much to write about since it’s otherwise been kind of a low-key year for me on the home theater front. I haven’t picked up any new hardware for myself in 2014 at all. (I do need to replace my on-the-fritz Region-B Blu-ray player, though, if anyone has any suggestions!) I already had all the shiny, new videogame systems as the calendar flipped forward to 2014, so there haven’t been any amazing acquisitions there as far as gear goes.

I’m glad that longtime favorites like ‘Sleepaway Camp‘ and ‘UHF‘ have found their way to Blu-ray, but even that seems like kind of an inevitability. There’s really only been one jaw-dropping surprise for me this year, and that’d be the complete series release of the ‘Batman‘ TV series from the 1960s. I’d be more thankful if I actually owned that massive collection (the sticker shock’s a little too much for me at the moment), but a proper ‘Batman’ home video release is something I never, ever, ever thought I’d see.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

In the home theater realm, I’m grateful that some real advances have been made to bring truly immersive surround sound to the home. I was a fan of Dolby Pro Logic Z and its height channels for creating a more immersive surround soundstage, but no encoded content ever came to market, so that fizzled out and died. With the advent of Dolby Atmos in theaters, and now in the home, surround sound is getting exciting again.

Although the movies released to date in the format on Blu-ray are pretty uniformly bad (see my article on the topic here), around 200 movies have been released in Atmos theatrically, so these should start making their way to the home on Blu-ray disc as well as in streaming media. Also, competing height-enhanced surround formats like AURO-3D and DTS-UHD are making advances toward home availability. Though there is a bit of a risk of yet another format war, we should be getting some awesome-sounding movies (that don’t suck) in the home in 2015 and beyond.

Brian Hoss

I made a decision in the spring that meant I would need to move, and in turn, that decisions about my home theater would no longer solely be my own. By the time all the packing and moving happened in August, I was pretty worried. Whenever I tear down my home theater and pack it into boxes, I always wonder when I’ll have a home theater to enjoy again and how different will it be. Thankfully, along with a new A/V receiver, I now have two full home theaters, plus a set-up for my PC. (It’s the best use of my various home theater pieces in years.) My better half has not only adapted to adding 20+ speakers to the home, but has even set up her own little TV watching area.

M. Enois Duarte

Other than loving that ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse‘ finally made it to Blu-ray, I am grateful that Dolby Atmos is finally available for home theaters. Although only using the 7.2.2 configuration (7-channels, two subs and two front ceilings), I’ve been having fun revisiting a variety of movies and have consistently been amazed by the difference. Panning is far more fluid and realistic, and the directionality of discrete effects in the surrounds are more lifelike. It’s fantastic and I can’t wait to add two more channels by the end of this year for the 7.2.4 configuration. So now, I’m begging studios to please release more Blu-rays in the new codec, because I’m sick and tired of watching clips from ‘Transformers: Age of the Stinkiness’.

Luke Hickman

Any time that I’ve been asked the question, “If you could have any movie transferred to Blu-ray, what would that be?”, I’m certain that if you looked in the Roundtable archives, you’d see my answers repeated a couple times: ‘Garden State‘ and ‘Vanilla Sky‘. What I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving is that my wish finally coming true… kinda. ‘Garden State’ went Blu back in the spring, which make me very happy. ‘Vanilla Sky’, on the other hand, isn’t here yet, but I have faith that it’ll be here next month. Originally slated with an early summer Blu-ray release, just a week before street date Cameron Crowe announced that he’d been given the green light for new exclusive content, including deleted scenes and an alternate ending. I was fine with the bump to early October, but then it was bumped again! The new street date is December 9th, and although the disc is not here yet, I’m hoping that it will really happen this time.

[Ed.: Sadly for Luke, although Amazon still lists a December 9th release for ‘Vanilla Sky’, I’ve heard from a couple different sources that the Blu-ray has been delayed again, this time to February 3rd, 2015. -JZ]

Josh Zyber

My main choice here is obvious. I am very thankful to have two happy, healthy sons, with whom I will eventually be able to share my love of movies. (They’re a little too young at the moment.)

Beyond that, 2014 was also a pretty amazing year in terms of bringing some of my all-time “holy grails” to Blu-ray – especially Fellini’s ‘La dolce vita‘ in a splendid Criterion edition and the astounding ‘Twin Peaks‘ box set, both in quality that far surpasses any of my expectations. This has been a great year to be a Blu-ray fan!

What are you thankful for in 2014? Tell us in the Comments.

23 comments

  1. NJScorpio

    I’m thankful for the number of quality 3D Blu-Ray releases this year, as well as what appears to be a reduction in the MSRP of these types of titles.

  2. I’m thankful for my family, my nephews, who two to three times a year have our movie marathons at my house. My latest addition to the family, a little baby basset girl Biscuit. Picked her up last weekend as an early Christmas gift to my daughter for which I’m thankful to have every day. I’m also thankful for my 12 year old stinky old hound, Rinkles. I’m thankful for independent companies putting out awesome editions of obscure movies that I never thought I’d see on blu. Ms. 45, Pumpkinhead, Prom Night, The Blob, just to name a few. Vintage 3d, Man In the Dark, Dragonfly Squadron ( its on my wishlist) The Bubble. Sites like this which are a fountain of knowledge for movie and home theater gear, and provide an outlet for me to ramble about movies and nerdy crap that not everyone in my everyday life wants to hear all the time.

  3. Chris B

    As a lot of people already know,I’m thankful that Yoji Yamada’s masterpiece The Twilight Samurai has finally seen a North American Blu-Ray release (thanks to Twilight Time) and with any luck, I should be acquiring a copy soon enough. Hopefully this is just the beginning and TT will see fit to release Yamada’s films The Hidden Blade as well as Love and Honor in the near future.

    I’m also thankful that this past month has seen my modest hone theatre room in my basement become operational. Being that I was on a tight budget, I hung some dark fabric on the walls and threw down some area rugs and cheap Ikea furniture. Is it the best set-up in the world? Hell no, but it’s a he of a lot better than my old one bedroom apartment. I finally have my own space for all my movies and an old 60″ plasma that ain’t fancy but gets the job done.

    And quite honestly I’m thankful for this very blog. For all the awesome posts, for the community of people that obviously love movies as much as I do and for being able to discuss them at length with those very same people….as most of the people I converse with on a daily basis probably just want me to stop talking about them already. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

  4. C.C. 95

    I’m thankful for Chistopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg, & Quentin Tarantino for continuing to make Films when everyone else is making Videos.

    • William Henley

      Okay, so I read the topic, answered, and then decided to go back and read everyone else’s comment. It looks llike CSM, Josh and Adam seems to be the only ones who gave an answer for something that wasn’t home theater related, so here in a minute, I will get to that.

      In answer to Adam’s question, I have an Orei BDP-M2 which pretty mcuh has played everything I have thrown at it. I haven’t tried a region C disc, but it plays Region A and B discs just fine (you have to go into a hidden menu to change the country code, but I hear that’s true on any Region Free player), and handles PAL beautifully (both DVDs and Blu-Rays). It doesn’t have any streaming services, but between my Tivo, XBox and SmartTV, I really don’t need another device that will do Netflix. This plays discs and USB Thumbdrives just fine (in fact, I can throw the files from my 3D camcorder on a USB flash drive and it plays those just fine in 3D). In fact, the ONLY complaint I have is that the player LOOKS cheap, but for a region-free 3D Blu-Ray player, this is a great deal.

      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0089KJPM2/panandscathed-20

      So, in the home theater front, what am I thankful for? Well, the above-mentioned OREI player is a great place to start. Many studios have gotten to where they are only releasing 3D releases of movies in Europe (Disney leading the pack on this). Most of those discs are region-free though, but I have been buying many region-locked discs out of Europe as well, either because there is no US release, or because it is significantly cheaper in Europe, or because of special editions (Zavvi Steelbooks, and then movies such as Dreamer, Frozen 3D, Malefecient 3D, Noah 3D, and shows such as the BBC 2012 Olympics, as well as a few others)

      I am thankful for Zavvi for great prices and steelbooks, and thankful for Amazon.co.uk for great prices and removing VAT.

      I am thankful for my Vizio 65″ and surround sound set.

      I am thankful for 100Mbps internet.

      • Thanks for the heads-up about the Orei player! It’ll probably be a short while longer before I bite (all my Region B discs are in storage while we get our house together), but I will definitely keep that one in mind.

        • William Henley

          I definately recommend it, especially if you are on a budget. For a sub-$200 player, it is amazing. Granted, it is nowhere near as pretty as an Oppo, but it is a third of the price. It also only has your standard 1-HDMI, component and TOSLINK output, but if you have a modern receiver (with 3D passthrough) that shouldn’t be an issue.

          If you have a modern reciever and don’t care what the player looks like, get this (mine is tucked away behind a door in the entertainment center). If you want a pretty player, check out the Oppo’s (I THINK they do region-free, Josh should be able to answer that better than me)

  5. timcharger

    Adam Tyner:
    “She loves that I have a sprawling, indefensibly large Blu-ray collection.”

    She’s a keeper. But then again, it’s your 1st year of marriage. I
    remember that time. I try not to. Adam, report back in 10 years.

    Though I admit, Wifey is right. How can I possibly watch half of our
    collections?

      • timcharger

        Only 1 of the 17 years has kids, right? Wait until the kids take up more room.
        Report back in 10 years.

        I’m not saying it can’t be done. Good for you Josh about your wife.

        Though, let’s face it. 99% of us guys reading HDD don’t have our jobs
        tied to cinema. So Wifeys are less forgiving to our collections if the
        blu-rays aren’t paying the bills.

  6. timcharger

    Brian Hoss:
    “My better half has not only adapted to adding 20+ speakers to the home, but has even set up her own little TV watching area.”

    That’s just not fair. Wifey okays 20+ speakers?! She just making all other wives look bad.

  7. EM

    In terms of the usual topics of the Bonus View, I’m especially grateful for the experiences I’ve had this year in reliving the filmgoing zeitgeist of decades past. In September I wrote extensively of my visit to a restored 1920s movie house for a unique presentation of the classic silent Phantom of the Opera (http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/boxoffice-sept-8-2014/). At Halloween I was privileged to attend a showing of another horror silent, The Hands of Orlac, with live organ and piano and theremin(!); in November I attended a showing of Buster Keaton’s great comedy The General with live orchestra performing a new score. And just this past weekend I made my first visit to another renovated movie palace of yore for my first-ever theatrical viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life. Indeed, it is a wonderful life!

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