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Colin Polonowski's Top Titles of 2001

2001 has been quite a year - by far the best since the launch of the DVD format. Of course, it's not really surprising given that the take up of the format over the past three years has been phenomenal and now we are beginning to see some truly stunning DVD releases of both new and old films. Between now and the new year, we plan to bring you a number of lists of people's favourite discs from the last twelve months - and to kick off, it's my turn. Here are my favourite discs for 2001 in no particular order...

It's only fair to start my list with my favourite film of the year - Shrek. It has everything you'd want from a film including laughs, thrills, drama and romance all brought together with the stunning animation work of the people who also brought us Antz. It's a shame that the UK disc didn't live up to expectations, but thankfully Dreamworks did right in the US and release a far more superior all round package with DTS sound, an anamorphic transfer to die for and a few more extras than the Region 2 release too.

Thirteen Days as another one of those films, much like Apollo 13, that even though you know the outcome you still find yourself on the edge of your seat with tension. Excellent performances all round, and in particular a return to form for Kevin Costner (he should definitely stick to acting!). The Region 1 DVD from New Line is fantastic, cramming in more extras and other features on to one disc than many double-disc releases see. The innovative 'Infinifilm' technology puts a lot of these extra features in reach while still watching the film. The only real fly in the ointment has to be the lack of DTS, but as the disc is technically perfect in literally every other respect, I think I can forgive that one.

Region 2 isn't really fairing too well in my round up! But I think I have to mention the Japanese Region 2 release of Kiki's Delivery Service which takes one of Miyazaki's most loved films and transfers it to an excellent two-disc DVD release. Stunning hand-drawn animation coupled with a pristine transfer already makes this disc a winner, but the addition of a number of interesting (albeit largely Japanese) extras including a fairly long trailer for Miyazaki's next film, Spirited Away add just that little bit of extra value.

Anchor Bay's Criterion beating release of Withnail and I comes in next. Granted, it's not a technically impressive disc with a non-anamorphic transfer and redundant 5.1 channel remix, but it is one of my favourite films, full stop, and easily deserves a place here. The UK disc beats the Criterion release quite conclusively on the extras front with a very good commentary by Paul McGann and Ralph Brown adding even more value to the already excellent array of special features. The Withnail and Us documentary (previously broadcast on Channel 4) is another reason to buy this disc.

Finally, the last disc on my list is the French release of Amelie. No English subtitles are a serious fly in the ointment for what is essentially a nigh-on-perfect release. Jeunet's excellent feel good film received the DVD transfer it deserved in its native country - but what can we expect from the UK release coming from Momentum next year? Their disc certainly has a lot to live up to so I've got my fingers crossed that Momentum will see the benefits of doing something a little bit special!

I really could go on and on in my list - there are plenty of excellent releases I haven't covered which do deserve a mention. Hopefully my colleagues will mention some of these when they upload their favourite discs over the next few days...

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