December 30, 2023

KITTEN KATNIP: The Best Stuff We Reviewed in 2023

We reviewed a slew of Blu-Rays, DVDs and movies in 2023. Time to take a look back at the best of them. While we have seen more movies than the Surgeon General recommends, our list consists strictly of titles which were sent to us for review purposes.

PURR-R-R...THE BEST: We reviewed some good stuff this year, but the following titles were better than taunting a mouse to death:

10. COCAINE BEAR (Universal) - The three things you need for a great weekend: Bears, cocaine and Ray Liotta (RIP). We’re pretty sure this’ll get snubbed at Oscar time, but hey, the movie is a shitload of fun.

9. THE COVENANT (Warner Bros) - In addition to well-conceived main characters and an engaging story, The Covenant features outstanding, believable action sequences. Even during the quieter moments, not a single minute of screen time is wasted on trivialities. It’s director Guy Ritchie’s best film in years…an exciting thriller that deserves to find a bigger audience.

8. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - DEAD RECKONING PART ONE (Paramount) - Three hours of total Tomsanity. As for the dreaded “Part One” in the title, this one is still a complete movie experience, ending with a sense of closure while making us feel like May 2025 can’t get here soon enough.

7. JOHN WICK STASH BOOK COLLECTION (Lionsgate) - While you can’t always judge a book by its cover, sometimes you gotta grab it because of its cover, even if you have already read it before. This is a beautifully packaged (and sturdy) boxed set. There’s nothing new in terms of content, but the design and artwork certainly reflect the mythic world of its titular character, making it a must own for collectors.

6. THE MALTESE FALCON 4K (Warner Bros) - The Maltese Falcon has it all…the cynical, unflappable protagonist, snappy dialogue, conniving bad guys, surprising plot twists, an unexpected femme fatale and the greatest MacGuffin in movie history. Now in 4K, the old bird has never looked or sounded better.

5. THE DESPERATE HOURS (Arrow) - The quintessential home invasion film, The Desperate Hours is tension-filled almost from the get-go, masterfully drawing us in with striking direction by William Wyler and a menacing turn by Humphrey Bogart. An irresistible mix of film noir, crime thriller and family drama, wrapped up in a fast-paced package that’s worth revisiting again and again.

4. OPPENHEIMER (Universal) - Whether or not it’s Christopher Nolen’s best is obviously subjective, but along with Dunkirk, it reflects a gifted storyteller’s refusal to be pigeonholed into any particular genre while still pushing the technical boundaries of the filmmaking process. The ongoing hype surrounding this one - as well as all the (premature?) Oscar predictions - is completely justified. 

3. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Capelight/MPI) - This is arguably the best war film since Dunkirk and the most harrowing one since Saving Private Ryan. Vivid and violent, it’s a compelling story punctuated by excellent direction, beautifully bleak production design and uniformly great performances. Not bad for a film with a budget that’s a fraction of a typical Hollywood production.

2. TITANIC 4K COLLECTOR’S EDITION (Paramount) - Though it’s very likely that a copy of Titanic already sits in many of your movie collections, this one is worth upgrading to 4K. Additionally, the set comes with a huge selection of new and vintage bonus features. The movie itself remains epic, old-fashioned entertainment, the kind of which they don’t make anymore (they weren’t really making ‘em in the ‘90s, either).

1. PARAMOUNT SCARES 4K, VOLUME 1 (Paramount) - This 4K boxed set collects five horror films released by Paramount over the years…Rosemary's Baby, Crawl, Pet Sematary, Smile and Sweeney Todd. All were hugely successful and (mostly) critical hits. In addition to great video & audio upgrades (one offered in 4K for the first time), Paramount Scares Volume 1 throws in some of the coolest physical goodies of any release this year.

Honorable Mention: ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL (MVD); ON THE EDGE (Kino); CLAYDREAM (Oscilloscope); EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (Film Movement); INVADERS FROM MARS 4K (Impact); IN THE LINE OF DUTY I-IV (88 Films); TAXI HUNTER (88 Films); JUNK HEAD (Synergetic); PHENOMENA 4K (Synapse Films); BLACK SUNDAY (Arrow Video); THE LAST ISLAND (Cult Epics); BABYLON (Paramount); THE LAST BLOOD (88 Films); THE EXORCIST 4K (Warner Bros); THE WANDERING EARTH II (Well Go USA); THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 4K STEELBOOK (Dark Sky Films).

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