EW editor-at-large Ken Tucker weighs in on the year's indispensible home video releases -- including ''Larry Sanders,'' Popeye, and ''My So-Called Life'' -- as well as the year's most skippable discs
DVD: KEN TUCKER’S TOP 10 OF 2007
10. MAUDE: SEASON 1
TV producer Norman Lear’s most underrated triumph, this was the most welcome vintage television series to arrive on DVD in 2007. Every bit as daring and provocative — not to mention hilarious — as when it first aired in 1972, Maude made feminism bristle on the small screen. Brava to Bea Arthur for her grandly proportioned performance.
9. THE UP SERIES
This seven-film chronology — director Michael Apted’s genius stunt of visiting and interviewing the same group of British men and women every seven years beginning when his subjects were all 7 years old — is one of the most entertaining documentary projects of all time. It’s captivating to watch the development of Apted’s subjects — their personalities, their dreams and disappointments, their eventual acceptance (or not) of their adult lives. Humorous and heartbreaking, it’s the kind of DVD set that makes you want to gobble up one disc after another, pausing only for some coffee and an occasional snack.
8. INLAND EMPIRE
David Lynch’s three-hour dreamscape, shot on digital video so grainy it provoked whines from movie critics, must have been something of a trial to sit through in a theater. But it’s ideal for DVD: You can start and stop when you become bored, then return to it fresh to appreciate the daringly florid yet meticulous performance Lynch elicits from Laura Dern as an actress in a film that may or may not be turning into her life. Plus, the extras are superb, including everything from footage of Lynch’s mesmerizingly quiet but firm on-set direction to his taking you step-by-step through the making of a simple meal of quinoa and broccoli. Rachael Ray will never be this fascinating.
7. NOSFERATU & THE FILMS OF KENNETH ANGER VOL. 2
These two releases are the year’s most enthralling restorations of dark, thrilling, experimental films. The true great horror-film DVD of 2007 is Nosferatu, not a Hostel or Saw sequel. F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent finally lives up to its subtitle — ”A Symphony of Horror” — with its scary foreboding and crabbed, intense performance by Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. More modern, yet no less radical, is The Films of Kenneth Anger Vol. 2. To now be able to see and hear Anger’s ’60s operatic phantasmagorias Scorpio Rising, Invocation of My Demon Brother, and Kustom Kar Kommandos — with glowing new prints and the original pop soundtracks that had kept these films in commercial limbo — is a thrill, as is discovering Anger’s influence on mainstream filmmakers from Martin Scorsese to Gus Van Sant.
6. NOT JUST THE BEST OF THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW
Yeah, sure, we need on DVD every episode of Garry Shandling ‘s superb HBO sitcom, the bold forerunner of The Office and the current comedy-of-awkwardness school. But this best-of selection — supplemented by more than eight hours of extras, including two hours of squirmy yet revealing new interviews and reminiscences from guest stars like David Duchovny, Sharon Stone, and Jerry Seinfeld — makes for a great four-disc set.
NEXT PAGE: The top five DVDs of 2007