The HD format war may have confused consumers, but it was a gift as far as providing a wide assortment of animation eye candy this year. Plus there was a treasure trove of catalog titles on DVD, too, capped by Acme Filmworks' invaluable ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOW collection of shorts. Each of the 18 volumes features three films and sells for $5. The three box sets include six of those volumes and sell for $30. Fans can also purchase all three box sets for $90. The DVDs are available exclusively at www.filmporium.com and the AWN Store (http://store.awn.com/home.php).
Meanwhile, here are some of our favorites to also keep in mind for your last minute holiday gift giving:
1. RATATOUILLE (Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.)Disney & Pixar embraced Blu-ray wholeheartedly this year, which gave the format a big boost for animation. And Brad Bird's lush-looking RATATOUILLE looks spectacular on Blu-ray ($34.99), where the details come alive at home. Also available on DVD ($29.99).
2. POPEYE THE SAILOR VOLUME I (Warner Home Video)This restored POPEYE collection of 60 shorts from 1933-38 ($64.92) was long overdue but worth the wait. Max Fleischer's creation has never looked better. Highlights include POPEYE THE SAILOR, BLOW ME DOWN! and POPEYE THE SAILOR MEETS SINDBAD THE SAILOR.
3. CARS (Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.)John Lasseter's CARS may not be considered top-tier Pixar, but, on Blu-ray ($34.99) it's a dazzling visual treat. And the HD experience is enhanced by Cine-Explore for more dynamic behind-the-scenes info and the CAR FINDER game. Also available on DVD ($29.99)
4. THE PIXAR SHORT FILMS COLLECTION VOL. 1 (Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.)Meanwhile, having all the Pixar shorts together on Blu-ray ($34.99) is "the ultimate collection," as Lasseter told AWN. It's a PIXAR STORY in its own right. Also available on DVD ($29.99).
5. LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION VOL. 5 (Warner Home Video)Another volume of 60 Looney Tune classics ($64.92), paying homage on each disc to Bugs and Daff, wacky fairy tales, Bob Clampett and early favorites.
6. THE ADVENTURES OF OSWALD THE LUCKY RABBIT (Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.)The return of Oswald, the precursor to Mickey Mouse, to the Disney fold, was another reason to rejoice. The highlight of Wave VII of the Disney TREASURES series ($32.99), Oswald was animated by the legendary Ub Iwerks, of course, in this series of silent shorts from 1926-28, featuring brand new scores by Robert Israel.
7. WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS CLASSIC CARTOON COLLECTION (Universal Studios Home Ent.)Another icon made its DVD debut in this three-disc collection of Walter Lantz works ($39.98). There are 75 zany adventures, including eight Oscar-nominated shorts, and some later Oswald too.
8. PAPRIKA (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)The latest anime journey from acclaimed director Satoshi Kon looks gorgeous on Blu-ray ($38.96) - all the better to enjoy his uniquely stylized look at the world of dreams. Also available on DVD ($26.96).
9. SURF'S UP (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)Even though surfing penguins from Sony Pictures Animation didn't go over well at the box office, it's tailor made for Blu-ray ($38.95). The wave technology is quite extraordinary and also on display in "Not a Drop of Real Water." Also available on DVD ($28.95).
10. TOM AND JERRY SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION VOL. 3 (Warner Home Video)More Tom and Jerry shenanigans in the final collection of 35 Hanna-Barbera theatrical shorts ($26.98), including 15 in CinemaScope. However, be forewarned: MOUSE CLEANING and CASANOVA CAT were deemed too offensive to be included in the set. Regardless, it shouldn't diminish the importance of what is included.