This is my third stint at listing ten movies that I’d love to see upgraded to 4k Blu-ray. Quite of few of the titles I wrote about in previous years have already been upgraded to 4k such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and Star Wars films, but several remain in limbo (for whatever reason) like Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and Once Upon a Time in America, all of which would be great to experience in 4k with HDR and possibly with an upgraded soundtrack.
Here are ten more movies that are at the top of my list (see last year’s wish list). Some titles are rumored to already be in the queue for Ultra HD Blu-ray release, while others may be years away from consideration. And for your reference, here is a complete list of 4k Blu-ray Discs already available or coming soon. Enjoy.
One of my favorite films growing up, William Wyler’s Ben Hur (1959) is a three-and-a-half-hour epic starring Charlton Heston that won a total of 11 Academy Awards. Ben-Hur was filmed in 65mm, so you can imagine there is some great source material for a new 4k or 8k scan of the original film negatives from which a new 4k digital master can be made. And, the best audio so far has been DTS-HD Master 5.1 on Blu-ray editions, so an upgrade to the soundtrack may go a long way in rejuvenating the film. There are rumors of an announcement soon from Warner Bros. so keep your ears glued.
Alfonso Cuarón’s 7x Oscar-winner Gravity starring Sandra Bullock is one of the best candidates for an upgrade to 4k, HDR and Dolby Atmos. What’s shocking is none of Cuarón’s other movies have been released to 4k Blu-ray with the exception of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), although his cinematic jewel Roma (2018) is available to stream in 4k, Dolby Vision, and Atmos on Netflix. In any case, Gravity has so much detail in visuals and audio that it has the potential to be rated at the top with other movies in its genre.
The Book of Eli (2010)
A moody, post-apocalyptic film with a memorable soundtrack, The Book of Eli takes you on a journey with a messenger who supposedly carries the last copy of the Holy Bible. The movie has a warm monochromatic palette throughout and sharp imagery that would be great to see in 4k. And, the soundtrack by Atticus Rossand Leopold Ross could be even more haunting in Dolby Atmos/7.1 channel audio. The Book of Eli stars Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, and Jennifer Beals.
Oliver Stone’s Platoon has the potential to look incredible on Ultra HD Blu-ray. The movie was restored and remastered in 4k for a Blu-ray SteelBook edition from Shout! in 2018, but so far we have not heard any announcements of a 4k Blu-ray release. While a hard film to watch and not for all audiences, the artistic merits of this 4x Oscar-winner are right up with other similar-genre war films such as Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and Saving Private Ryan, and suffice to say needs to be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Seven Samurai (1954)
Akira Kurosawa’s 3-hour, 27-minute epic masterpiece Seven Samurai is nearing 75 years since its premiere in 1954, and is still a masterpiece of filmmaking that will never be equaled. The movie was shot in black and white and in square (1.3:1) format, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be restored and remastered for Ultra HD Blu-ray. I can imagine an incredibly sharp 4k scan of the 35mm negatives and digital intermediate that makes use of HDR to bring out details in shadow and light areas that may have never been seen before. Take for example the POV shot above where you can barely make out the figures in the foreground. HDR can deliver a wider range of values (even in black and white) that could give this film a rebirth for modern home theater technology.
Dances With Wolves (1990)
Beautifully shot in 35mm with cinematography by Dean Semler (Apocalypto, Mad Max 2), Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves would be even more gorgeous in 4k with Dolby Vision or HDR10+. The Blu-ray disc editions already provide a great audio experience in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channels, but a visual upgrade on Ultra HD Blu-ray would surely be making its way to my 4k library. The 7x Oscar-winner is ranked No. 75 in AFI’s Greatest American Films list.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
It was hard to choose which Werner Herzog film to include in this list, but Aguirre, the Wrath of God certainly stands out as one of the director’s signature movies. The infamous Klaus Kinski stars as Lope de Aguirre, a Spanish conquistador who leads a group of soldiers down the Amazon River in search of gold. Herzog’s style of “raw” filmmaking lead to some incredible scenes that I’d love to see rescanned, restored, and remastered in 4k. I still have the first VHS recording of this movie (never got around to the Blu-ray from Shout! Factory), so a 4k Blu-ray edition would be like watching the film for the first time.
Zhang Yimou’s Hero is a visual masterpiece as well as an epic action drama. Imagine how sharp those skies full of arrows would look in 4k, or how colorful the costume design would look with HDR. In the US, Hero was Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (China). In addition, Christopher Doyle won an award for Best Cinematography from the Asian Film Critics Association Awards. Hero stars Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, and Chen Daoming.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a heartbreaking dramatic sci-fi about an artificial young boy named David who meets others like him in a sort of land of misfit toys. The visuals in this movie are striking from Janusz Kaminski, the cinematographer who also delivered incredible-looking films such as Saving Private Ryan and Minority Report. As far as audio, the existing two Blu-ray editions oddly enough feature 6.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio, but I’d love to hear what Atmos could bring to this movie especially during the more adventurous scenes when David is discovering a world outside his adopted family.
The New World (2008) (Extended Cut)
Terrence Malick’s Oscar-nominated drama about the English explorer Captain Smith and his relationship with Powhatan tribe member Pocahontas is at the heart of this film. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and stars Colin Farrell, Q’Orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, August Schellenberg, and Christian Bale. What’s interesting about this film is that most of it was shot without any artificial lighting due to budget constraints. I’d love to see how the 35mm negatives exposed to natural light look rescanned and remastered. There is also a 3-hour Extended Cut from 2008 that would be great to see in 4k.
Do you agree with these movies or would like to add some of your own? Please use the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.