Top 15 Criterion Blu-rays to Buy During the Barnes & Noble 50% Off Sale

Top 15 Criterion Blu-rays to buy at Barnes and Noble's sale

It’s that time of year and Barnes and Noble is selling Criterion Collection titles at 50% off (shop here). The problem is, what do you buy? Well, hopefully I can help you with that as I believe there are certain titles from Criterion that are absolute must owns for any cinemaphile and taking into account you are considering buying Criterion Collection titles in the first place, I’m certainly talking to you.

So, with that said, let’s dive in as I’ll give you what I consider to be the top 15 must own Criterion Blu-ray titles as well as a few alternate considerations here and there.

15.) The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red LineWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? What else is there to expect other than an absolutely gorgeous film from Terrence Malick and that’s exactly what you get from The Thin Red Line, but on top of the film you also get a wealth of special features, which I went over in my review right here.

ALTERNATIVES: Days of Heaven (naturally) or The Last Temptation of Christ

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

14.) The Gold Rush

The Gold RushWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? The Gold Rush is the most recent Charlie Chaplin film to be added to the Collection and you need simply peek at my alternates to see the other two. Gold Rush, however, is probably my favorite Chaplin. It’s the one I laugh at the most and features some absolutely gorgeous black-and-white cinematography. The one thing about this release is the features don’t quite match up to what is offered on the two alternates, the presentation of the 1942 sound version is something I don’t even want to watch and the extras on the two films below are outstanding… as are the films themselves.

ALTERNATIVES: Modern Times and The Great Dictator

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

13.) Repulsion

RepulsionWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? This is Roman Polanski at his best as far as I’m concerned. This isn’t to say it’s his best film, but while so many will point to Rosemary’s Baby as his best thriller, this psychological mind-bender starring Catherine Deneuve is absolutely worthy of comparison and better in my mind.

ALTERNATIVES: Alternatives are tough, because many of the ones I would mention are higher up on this list. I’ll offer up The Naked Kiss and Shock Corridor though, since I wanted to mention them both at some point.

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

12.) Last Year at Marienbad

Last Year at MarienbadWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? In my 2009 Blu-ray review of Alain ResnaisLast Year at Marienbad I referenced Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining, but narratively it’s not really an apt comparison. Of all the films on this list this is the most experimental and the one I would recommend casual viewers may want to save for last if you’re buying blind. Otherwise, challenge yourself and you’ll find this film twisting you like a pretzel to the point you only want more. Oh, and it’s got one of the greatest covers in the collection.

ALTERNATIVES: La Jetee/Sans Soleil and Solaris

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

11.) 12 Angry Men

12 Angry MenWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? A great film by the great Sidney Lumet that shows the importance of having great actors working with a great script. This film is an example of everything coming together just right and its one you can play at any time and, without fail, find yourself falling in love with all over again.

ALTERNATIVES: Anatomy of a Murder

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

10.) The Battle of Algiers

The Battle of AlgiersWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? From the first moment I saw this I wanted to own it. In fact, I bought the DVD version before Criterion released the Blu-ray and I still haven’t parted with the DVD edition, just in case I want to reference it and take a screen capture for an article in the future. I love this movie, it is absolute electricity and has a pulse that makes it feel 100% authentic as it tells the story of the Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. The set is loaded with two discs packed with features and an impressive 56-page booklet. I wrote more about the film here.

ALTERNATIVES: Army of Shadows, Gomorrah or Carlos

PRICE: $24.99 (regularly $49.99) [buy it here]

9.) Yojimbo

YojimboWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? Where to place an Akira Kurosawa film on a list of must buys in this kind of situation is tough. I have one more on this list ahead of Yojimbo, even though this may be my favorite of his films, but that is largely due to the fact this is a 50% off sale and that other title is more expensive. That said, you can’t go wrong with Yojimbo or if you decide to go with the box set that also includes Sanjuro, a film that is often looked at as the lesser of the two, but is truly excellent in its own right, if only for its stunner of an ending. After all, if you’ve seen and loved Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars isn’t it about time you owned and appreciated the film that inspired it?


PRICE: Yojimbo single – $19.99 (regularly $39.99) / Yojimbo and Sanjuro box set $34.99 (regularly $69.99) [buy it here]

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