The most recently announced upcoming Criterion Collection titles continue to prove that the beloved physical media providers haven’t lost their appeal among collectors. For decades now, Criterion has been the first and last word in home video quality, providing re-mastered takes on classic, international, and hard-to-find cinematic works. Packed with gorgeous artwork, supplements, and high-definition improvements, Criterion’s releases are always a treat.
For those who like the look of Criterion’s vast library and are thinking about taking the plunge into collecting physical media but don’t know where to begin, things can get confusing. Redditors have offered up their own opinions regarding which Criterion title is the best to start a collection with. These are just suggestions – in no particular order of preference – but within this list are some very solid foundational titles.
With its serial killer plot that travels deep into the minds of two monsters, The Silence of the Lambs is not for the faint of heart. Redditor Mysterious_Palace made it their first pick, saying, “Mine was The Silence of the Lambs, just bc I love everything about that movie.”
The film looks every bit like the work of art that it is in Criterion’s stunning Blu-ray transfer. Moody, eerie, and outright terrifying at times, Jonathan Demme’s adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs might be a bit of a heavy starting point for a new collector, but it’s an excellent one all the same.
Widely hailed as a masterpiece, the iconic Akira Kurosawa brought William Shakespeare’s Macbeth to feudal Japan with unforgettable results. Throne of Blood remains highly revered to this day and Redditor TeamStark31 kicked off their Criterion collection with it, saying, “I started with Throne of Blood.”
Purists might balk at the film being released in 2K rather than 4K, but the film is certainly not marred by this in any way. In fact, when it comes down to it, Throne of Blood is one Criterion title that collectors expect to see on other collector’s shelves – it’s that essential.
One of the greatest and most influential films of all time, Akira Kurosawa’s samurai epic about a besieged village that seeks the help of seven powerful samurai has been given new life by Criterion. Redditor dinkelidunkelidoja says, “I started with Seven Samurai, still holds up.”
While the aforementioned Kurosawa/Criterion title, Throne of Blood is a must for any well-stocked Criterion collection, Seven Samurai is even more of a must for collectors. Aside from Criterion’s wonderful work in releasing Seven Samurai, the film is also a staple for any collector who considers themselves a cinephile.
Though long since out of print and available from Criterion only as a DVD, Michael Bay’s blockbuster about an unlikely group of heroes sent to space to destroy an asteroid headed for Earth seems an odd Criterion addition. Redditor Warm-Enthusiasm-9534 doesn’t think so, however, saying, “Armageddon (1998), obviously.”
Because it’s only a DVD release as well as being out of print, and to be honest, because it’s arguably not a very good film at all, starting a Criterion library with Armageddon isn’t the best use of the brand’s offerings. Even if this film is a favorite, it can be purchased on non-Criterion Blu-ray – the likes of which will undoubtedly provide a better experience.
Filmmaking legend Stanley Kubrick delivered this fascinating look at the lengths an army will go to in order to ensure that its soldiers do as they’re told. Set in the trenches of World War I, Redditor BSC754 chose this underrated classic, saying, “I started with Paths of Glory.”
Starting off a Criterion collection with a film like Paths of Glory is a solid decision for several reasons. First and foremost, the film is excellent. Second, it being a Criterion title, the high-definition transfer is impeccable. Third, the film has some excellent supplements, including a 1966 audio interview with Kubrick. Lastly, owning a classic is never a bad move.
Loved by some and loathed by others, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is anything but a typical film. Though the film was a box office bomb, it still managed to earn enough acclaim to be included as a Criterion title. Redditor MovieMike007 recommends it as a great entry point for collectors, saying, “Brazil.”
Because Brazil’s plot about a man on the wrong side of a dystopian society can be a bit busy, owning the film is a great way to give it the close attention it requires. The film has an excellent Blu-ray release from Criterion, with a substantial number of worthwhile supplements that any fan would be especially pleased by.
Wim Wenders’ classic dramatic comedy won the Palme d’Or upon its initial release at the 1984 Cannes film festival and has since gone on to be highly regarded among audiences and critics. Redditor zkrat01 selects the film with, “Paris, Texas.”
Dedicated fans of the film may want to hold off on picking up the Criterion release in favor of the widely praised Studio Canal 4K release. That being said, as a first-time Criterion purchase, Paris, Texas has some great supplements, and even though the film’s transfer might not be as pristine as the 4K release, the complete Criterion package can’t be beaten.
The late, great Jean-Luc Goddard offered an indispensable addition to the creation of the French New Wave with this classic. A now-deleted Redditor recognizes the film’s acclaimed legacy by ranking it as an important Criterion first step, saying, “Breathless is a great intro.”
Goddard’s entire film is brimming with youthful angst and rebellion, the likes of which was especially timely the world over upon its release. As a historical document, preserved in the best quality possible, collectors certainly can’t go wrong with Breathless. It is indeed an excellent way to begin a Criterion collection.
With its vibrant imagery and irresistibly festive atmosphere, Black Orpheus takes on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in an entirely different way. Redditor GayBlayde chooses the film, explaining, “I recommend Black Orpheus; it’s one of the big reasons boss’s [sic] nova music made its way to the USA.”
Once again, the Criterion Collection proves its indispensable worth as a source for historically and culturally significant cinema with the release of Black Orpheus. The film is the perfect match for Criterion’s tireless upgrading abilities and though Black Orpheus isn’t as widely known as some titles, it’s still an excellent first step for collectors.
Bizarre and strangely hilarious at times, this food-obsessed film which is often known as a “ramen western” is never dull. Redditor acn9824 agrees, offering up this one-of-a-kind Japanese film as an excellent first Criterion choice with, “Tampopo is incredible.”
There’s plenty of rewatch value when it comes to this film, instantly making it a worthwhile choice to start a collection with. But beyond the film’s rewatchability is a filmmaking achievement unlike any other, complete with its own distinct style and genre. Tampopo won’t delight everyone, however, so it’s best not to make this a blind first pick.
Next: 10 Scariest Horror Movies Based On Japanese Legends