High-Def Digest's Holiday Gift Guide 2012: The Ultimate Blu-ray Shopping List

Posted Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 02:55 PM PST by

With the holiday shopping season looming, and Black Friday bearing down on us, we here at High-Def Digest wanted to give you a head start on your holiday shopping.

2012 has been a stellar year for Blu-ray releases. We've seen numerous highly sought after catalog titles finally make it to the format. In an effort to ease your holiday shopping stress, High-Def Digest presents "The Ultimate Blu-ray Shopping List" for 2012. We've got everyone in your family covered here, don't worry.


Want to get the whole family together for an activity? There isn't a more effective way to capture everyone's attention than sticking in a movie that everyone can enjoy. This year has been full of family-friendly releases that will not only dazzle the little ones, but will also entertain the grownups as well.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Pixar's latest film. 'Brave' may not be their best movie, but it certainly is entertaining. Pixar's lush animation is on full display here as the Blu-ray is sure to provide demo quality visuals.

One of the most anticipated Pixar titles finally gets its Blu-ray due. 'Finding Nemo' has long been a highly sought after title and it's finally getting released on December 4th. This film is certainly worth a pre-order as it remains one of Pixar's very best movies. It's almost assuredly going to be as close to perfection as any demo-quality Blu-ray has ever been.

Pixar may be the king of computer animation, but when it comes to hand drawn animation few do it better than Hayao Miyazaki. This year we saw the release of two of his great catalog titles, 'Castle in the Sky' and 'Whisper of the Heart.' Along with those wonderful releases we also got 'The Secret World of Arrietty.' It may not be directed by Miyazaki, but the screenplay is written by him and the movie has his fingerprints all over it. If you're a fan of emotion-filled storylines mixed with absolutely stunning animation then do yourself a favor and seek out a few of these Studio Ghibli titles.

On the Disney side of things, the long-awaited fourth Tinker Bell movie has finally come out. After being delayed and undergoing a name change, 'Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings' is sure fun for the entire family. It may appear to be something that only pre-teen girls will love, however, it will end up surprising you with its wonderful animation and its light, bubbly spirit.

Animation not your thing? Well, there's also some really great live-action family-friendly material out there. The 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' movies are always a light and breezy way to spend time with the family. This year the third installment in the franchise gets a release on December 18th. If you haven't seen any of these movies then make sure to pick up 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' and 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.'

Action Junkie

You've most likely got a few action junkies in the house. You may even be one yourself. It's a good thing that 2012 didn't have any shortage of action movies. This was a great year for action and it's time to jump on a few of these releases if you haven't already.

Perhaps the biggest Blu-ray release this holiday season is the final chapter in Christopher Nolan's 'Batman' franchise. This is certainly one of those must-pre-order-now titles. Coming out on December 4th, 'The Dark Knight Rises,' promises to look every bit as awesome on Blu-ray as it did in the theaters. Not to mention this is going to have one rocking audio mix.

Speaking of thumping audio, how could we not mention the impending release of 'The Expendables 2'? This will be the first Blu-ray to ship with DTS Neo: X, meaning if you have the equipment you'll be able to produce sound that will fill a whopping 11 channels, plus a sub-woofer. This is going to be one loud audio mix. Audiophiles should be all over this.

One of the greatest action movies in years hit Blu-ray in 2012. If you haven't seen 'The Raid: Redemption' then you have missed one of the most exciting Blu-ray releases of the entire year. 'The Raid' is non-stop martial arts action from beginning to end. It's a choreographed dance of blood and carnage. Seriously, this is the pinnacle of the action genre in 2012.

Whether you love action, adventure, or cinema in general there's no way you can pass up the recently released 'Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures' collection. This is probably one of the best releases of 2012. After 'Star Wars' it was probably the most anticipated set of titles to get a Blu-ray release. Finally, they're here! If you haven't picked this set up yet, the holiday season is a perfect excuse to get it.

Film Lover

Not all great movies are big budget blockbusters. This year has seen its fair share of cinematic gems that didn't rake in the box office dough, but will certainly find places in the hearts of film lovers everywhere.

After it premiered at Sundance earlier this year, 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' became one of the most talked about and beloved independent films of 2012. There's a reason for that. It's one of the most powerful films you'll see all year. This is a story that will challenge your emotions. Plus, the little actress Quvenzhané Wallis provides one of the year's best performances.

This has truly been the year of Hitchcock. We have seen a boom in Blu-ray releases when it comes to Hitchcock's illustrious filmography. The crown jewel of these releases has to be 'Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection' which houses 15 of his most famous films. Released by Universal 'The Masterpiece Collection' includes first-time Blu-ray releases of 'Saboteur,' 'Shadow of a Doubt,' 'Rope,' 'Rear Window,' 'The Trouble with Harry,' 'The Man Who Knew Too Much,' 'Vertigo,' ' The Birds,' 'Marnie,' 'Torn Curtain,' 'Topaz,' 'Frenzy,' and 'Family Plot.' Also included are 'Psycho' and 'North by Northwest,' which are repurposed discs from recent standalone releases.

MGM has also released a bunch of great Hitchcock movies this year. 'Notorious,' 'Rebecca ,' and 'Spellbound' can all be acquired easily. Warner Bros. has gotten in on the act releasing 'Strangers on a Train' and 'Dial M for Murder.'

Speaking of fantastic Blu-ray sets, what about the 'Bond 50' set that includes all 22 Bond films? This is an enormous set that the Bond fanatic in your family is sure to enjoy. Many of the movies included are finding their way to Blu-ray for the very first time. This is a set you'll be proud to display. Even its packaging is beautiful.

Looking for a more adult-oriented animated effort? 'Chico and Rita' is a beautifully animated movie with a stunningly rich soundtrack. It's sexy, sultry, and has a great love story attached to it. You may not have heard of it, but it's undoubtedly worth your time.

There are many more options for the hardcore film lovers in your life. Also check out 'Moonrise Kingdom,' 'Le Havre,' 'A Separation,' and 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.'

3D Enthusiast

There has been no shortage of 3D releases this year. If you're looking to fire up your newly purchased 3D HDTV over the holidays then these are some of the discs you should invest in. These discs will show off your freshly acquired 3D technology. You'll be the envy of the neighborhood.

We got the 2D version a while ago, but 3D owners everywhere have been anticipating the release of 'Avatar' in glorious 3D. Well, it's here and it earned top marks from our reviewer: "The 3D effects are amazing, proving that the work put into the creation of Cameron's camera system was worth its weight in gold."

Another demo-quality 3D Blu-ray is 'Hugo.' Released back in February, this is a must-own for anyone with a 3D setup. Hugo's visual style is perfect for the technology and looks spectacular in three dimensions. If you don't have this disc, get it now!

Computer animation usually lends itself perfectly to 3D technology. 'Arthur Christmas' is further proof of this. The beautifully simple animation takes on three dimensions like it was destined to do. The entire movie looks amazing with those glasses on. Plus, you'll be getting into the holiday spirit while watching it. It's a win-win situation for everyone.

No matter what you think of Ridley Scott's latest foray into the beloved 'Alien' universe one thing is for sure, 'Prometheus' is a gorgeously filmed movie. Adding to the wonder is a spectacular 3D presentation that is sure to blow your friends away. You must own this title if you're truly looking for demo-quality 3D material.

Other titles that are bound to look great on your 3D TV are 'Finding Nemo – 3D,' 'Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings - 3D,' and 'Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - 3D.'

Have a Laugh

Looking for something that will have you and your family rolling on the floor? Well, these titles are guaranteed to keep you laughing all the way through.

At Nate Boss says in his review, "All 236 episodes of the much-loved sitcom have been fully remastered for Blu-ray. At $149.99 on Amazon, that comes out to a measly sixty three cents per episode. That, and the 1080p video, is priceless. 'Friends' has aged quite well since it ceased producing new episodes in 2004, and whether you're a fan of Ross, Joey, Chandler, Rachel, Phoebe, or Monica, this show doesn't work on nostalgia alone. This was, and is, a genuinely funny, touching series. As for the set, it's highly recommended." This is sure to please many of the folks on your holiday shopping list!

If you are a fan of horror movies, but always like to see a well done spoof, then 'Cabin in the Woods' is for you. Written by Joss Whedon, 'Cabin in the Woods' features his trademark humor as he pokes fun at the entire genre.

Because it's so serious about itself, 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' is almost impossible to watch without a smile plastered on your face. This is a hilarious take on the presidency of one of our most beloved American historical figures. Lincoln beats the crap out of dozens of vampires with his silver-tipped axe. Honestly, how can you not laugh?

Are you a big football fan? Do you play fantasy football? It doesn't really matter. Sure, FX's 'The League' is about a group of guys who play fantasy football together, but knowing anything about football isn't necessary. The fact is you'll laugh regardless at this irreverent show and its slew of clever potty humor. Just know that this show isn't suitable for younger audiences.

Looking for some more laughs? Check out the following titles: 'Key and Peele: Season 1,' 'Magic Mike,' 'Looney Tunes: Vol. 2,' and 'School of Rock.'

The holidays are a time for enjoying each other's company, and what better way to do that than with a good movie? There are plenty of 2012 Blu-ray releases that you'll be able to enjoy this holiday season. Pick up a few for the people on your list, we know they'll love them!

We here at High-Def Digest would like to wish you all a very merry holiday season. Be safe and watch great movies!

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