The holidays are upon us once again, which means that it’s time to stress out about what you’re going to buy everyone on your shopping list. Fortunately, we have plenty of great ideas for the movie buff or TV fanatic in your life with some of our favorite Blu-ray and 4K releases from the past year. Check out our selections below, complete with easy-to-buy links to Amazon.
Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition
Last year’s 4K release of the “Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” trilogies was certainly a nice treat for fans who had been patiently awaiting those movies on the format, but that was never meant to be the definitive 4K release — a fact that Warner Bros. made very clear when they were first announced. That distinction was reserved for the “Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition,” and though it doesn’t quite live up to that title due to the lack of legacy bonus material from the previous Blu-ray releases, it’s still a solid collection that contains all six films remastered in glorious 4K — a process that was overseen by director Peter Jackson — as well as newly remastered Blu-ray versions of both trilogies and a bonus disc containing the “Lord of the Rings” cast reunion Q&As from the Alamo Drafthouse 20th anniversary screenings. Best of all, the whole thing comes packaged in a really cool “puzzle box” that transforms into three different display configurations. Diehard fans will still want to keep their Extended Edition Blu-ray sets for the extras alone, but if you haven’t yet added the 4K versions to your collection, this is definitely the way to go.
Supernatural: The Complete Series
It’s quite the accomplishment for any show to reach 15 seasons, let alone one that didn’t exactly dominate the airwaves. But while “Supernatural” was never The CW’s biggest show, it was a steady performer with a fiercely loyal fanbase. For those who jumped on the bandwagon a little too late, this new complete series set — which collects all 327 episodes of the fantasy drama — is the perfect place to start. The show plays like a cross between “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The X-Files,” and while both of those series are superior in just about every way, “Supernatural” gets a boost from its leading men, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, who strike up a strong partnership as the demon-hunting Winchester brothers. Though “Supernatural” can seem a bit monotonous at times due to its monster-of-the-week format, it’s still a fun (if flawed) genre show that fans of the aforementioned series will enjoy.
Smallville: The Complete Series
It’s hard to imagine shows like “The Flash,” “Supergirl” and the rest of the so-called Arrowverse ever existing were it not for the success of “Smallville,” and so in that regard, the superhero drama was a bit of a trailblazer. But while it definitely deserves credit for paving the way, “Smallville” is hindered by its cheesy teen soap opera writing and acting, not to mention some pretty lame visual effects. Nevertheless, this new 40-disc box set collecting all 218 episodes will no doubt be a big hit with fans, even if it’s just a slightly more compact version of the individual season sets. The only real enhancements are two bonus DVDs containing a handful of new bonus features, including an in-depth retrospective on the series, a feature-length documentary on the history of DC Comics, the 2006 “Aquaman” pilot starring Justin Hartley and more.
Mad Max Anthology
For many years — decades, really — it seemed like the “Mad Max” series had stalled for good. Though the 1979 original and its 1981 sequel, “The Road Warrior,” have always been held in high regard, the poorly received “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” effectively killed any chance of director George Miller mounting a fourth installment. That is, until 2015, when “Mad Max: Fury Road” raced into theaters against insurmountable odds to deliver what is easily one of the best action films of the last decade, breathing new life into an otherwise dead franchise. The first three movies certainly look more vibrant than ever in this brand-new collection, which contains the entire “Mad Max” series together in 4K for the first time. Though the lack of extras on all but “The Road Warrior” is a bit of a bummer, that won’t stop most fans from picking this up anyway.
Sex and the City: The Complete Series + 2-Movie Collection
It’s hard to believe that “Sex and the City,” one of HBO’s most popular shows of all time, was never given a proper Blu-ray release. Though it was originally shot on film and broadcast in standard definition, the entire series has been remastered in HD using 4K scans of the film negatives, and unsurprisingly, it looks better than ever. The show’s bright colors really pop off the screen, while the new 1.78:1 presentation (reframed from the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio) allows fans to finally experience the show the way it was meant to be seen. Though the box set also contains both theatrical movies, it’s the remastered version of the show itself that makes this a must-buy for diehard fans. And with the new sequel series “And Just Like That…” scheduled to premiere this month, now is the perfect time to revisit the adventures of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha alongside your closest friends.
Irish Folklore Trilogy
Cartoon Saloon is easily one of the most exciting animation studios working today, carving out a unique niche for itself in much the same way that LAIKA did with its stop-motion films. The Irish-based animation house has only made four movies since its 2009 feature debut, “The Secret of Kells,” but each one has gone on to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. Three of those films — “The Secret of Kells,” “Song of the Sea” and “Wolfwalkers” — are collected here in this four-disc box celebrating the studio’s beautiful hand-drawn animation and penchant for Irish folklore. The limited-edition set not only includes the exclusive Blu-ray release of “Wolfwalkers” but a 40-page book with concept art and an essay by film critic Andy Crump, as well as a bonus disc with additional extras. This is about as close to a perfect gift as you’re bound to find for the cinephile in your life.
Underworld: Limited Edition 5-Movie Collection
2003’s “Underworld” may not exactly be known for its quality, but it succeeded in ways that most genre films could only dream of, spawning a series of sequels (and one prequel) that perfectly capitalized on the vampire craze of the early aughts and turned Kate Beckinsale into a household name. Though the “Underworld” series is admittedly pretty niche, it has a large enough fanbase to warrant Sony releasing this limited edition collection of all five films in 4K — the first time that “Underworld: Evolution,” “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans” and “Underworld: Awakening” have been available on the format. The discs themselves don’t offer much in regard to new bonus material, but the movies look and sound fantastic, and that alone should be enough to excite fans of the action/horror series.
Robotech: Collector’s Edition
As one of the first anime series to gain any sort of traction in the United States, “Robotech” helped popularize a genre that Western audiences previously had very little exposure to outside of “Astro Boy,” “Speed Racer” and “Battle of the Planets.” Though the show hasn’t always gotten its due, this new Funimation-exclusive collector’s edition is a great way to celebrate its legacy. In addition to all 85 episodes on Blu-ray, complete with over seven hours of special features, the box set includes four embroidered patches, a transformable 1/100 scale figurine of Roy Fokker’s VF-1S Veritech fighter and an exclusive Roy Fokker action figure. From the outside packaging to the contents inside, it’s an incredibly well-produced set that any diehard fan will be desperate to get their hands on.
Dragon Ball Super: Parts 1-10
“Dragon Ball Z” is one of the most famous manga series and anime of all time, so you can only imagine the excitement when it was announced that a proper sequel series was not only in the works but that original creator Akira Toriyama would be involved. Taking place ten years after the defeat of Majin Buu, “Dragon Ball Super” continues the adventures of Goku and his friends as they defend Earth from enemies both new and old. The series isn’t quite on par with “Dragon Ball Z,” but it’s still a really enjoyable continuation of the story that brings back everyone’s favorite characters and introduces a few new ones as well. Though “Dragon Ball Super” probably isn’t worth your time if you’re not already a “Dragon Ball” enthusiast, it’s an absolute must-have for any fan’s collection.