We’ve seen many classic and contemporary films get upgraded to 4k since Ultra HD Blu-ray launched in 2016, and many of those titles were on previous wish lists such as Lawrence of Arabia, Pulp Fiction, Taxi Driver, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, just to name a few.
Previously on my wish list of 4k upgrades was David Fincher’s dark crime thriller Se7en which is being released very soon. In addition, three titles from James Cameron that would have been on this list were just announced for 4k upgrades (4k Blu-ray & Digital) including Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), and True Lies (1994), as well as the Dec. 5 release of Titanic (1997) on 4k Blu-ray and Digital 4k for the first time.
But there are many more films that I’m desperate to see on 4k Blu-ray (as long as the remaster and encoding is done right). Here’s a list of movies that, as of this article, are still not available on 4k Blu-ray. And, for once I tried to put them in order.
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.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
I can’t separate Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2. They are both just masterpieces in filmmaking, each having unique characteristics but yet forming one cohesive story. The work of cinematographer Robert Richardson (also known for Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) would look amazing in 4k/HDR as well as the sound (nominated for a BAFTA) which, may or may not be upgraded from previous uncompressed 5.1 soundtracks.
Gangs of New York (2002)
Gangs of New York (2002) is considered a masterpiece of filmmaking and acting with a total of 10 Academy Award nominations. (That’s no typo, ten, without one win!) Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting — a ruthless gang leader who runs the Five Points in New York City. Leonardo DiCaprio was cast as the young Amsterdam Vallon looking to avenge his father’s death. Gangs of New York has seen a few different Blu-ray releases, but so far is not available in 4k on either disc or digital.
North by Northwest (1959)
There have been over a dozen Alfred Hitchcock films remastered in 4k to date, so why has the classic spy thriller North by Northwest (1959) taken so long? The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and selected in 1995 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. It’s one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces that would only improve if restored in 4k and HDR.
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.
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.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is an unforgettable adventure from director Peter Weir that takes you back to the Napoleonic Wars and one British captain’s resolve to hunt a French war vessel. The film has great performances by Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, and Max Pirkis that are only enhanced by the spectacular imagery. ‘Master and Commander’ was shot by Russell Boyd who also worked with Weir on Gallipoli (1981) and The Last Wave (1977). This is one film that could look benefit from a 4k upgrade and even better with High Dynamic Range and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Stanley Kubrick’s intense thriller Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman already looks and sounds great on Blu-ray Disc (1080p/5.1), but a 4k restoration could deliver even more detail to the dramatic imagery from cinematographer Larry Smith and the music score by Jocelyn Pook. Many of Kubrick’s other films have been remastered in 4k (including a 3-Film Collection on 4k Blu-ray), so why not have his last film also on Ultra HD Blu-ray?
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 find a spot my 4k library. The 7x Oscar-winner is ranked No. 75 in AFI’s Greatest American Films list.
Minority Report (2002)
A groundbreaking movie from Steven Spielberg that inspired other films and writings not only in concept but in technology as well, Minority Report would look incredible in 4k resolution with HDR to boost the color of the sci-fi thriller that doesn’t seem that far from reality. It’s also a movie with a great soundtrack by John Williams and Oscar-nominated Sound Editing that could be a candidate for an Atmos upgrade over previous DTS-HD 5.1 mixes.
Children of Men (2006)
Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki). It’s one more film that I’d love to see in 4k/HDR. The movie was innovative in many ways including the use of single-shot scenes like the riveting moment when an explosive destroys a coffee shop right behind Clive Owen’s character Theo Faron. The soundtrack is a mix of different genres of music and is combined with impressive sound design that would be great upgraded to Atmos for a more immersive audio experience.
Robert Zemeckis’ Contact is long overdue for an upgrade. Previously released on Blu-ray in 2009, the movie features a stellar performance by Jodie Foster as scientist Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Ann Arroway who finds evidence of alien life. The film was shot in 35mm (65mm for composite shots) at 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The audio (nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound) would be great if upgraded from Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix.
Das Boot (1981)
Submarine films don’t get much better than Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot. The German film was nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Film, Best Sound, and Best Cinematography from the eye of Jost Vacano. Das Boot would no doubt be incredible in 4k with HDR, and an upgraded soundtrack from the previous 5.1 channel mix would be outstanding. There’s a Director’s Cut of Das Boot that was released in 1997, so hopefully any possible 4k upgrade would be the longer, 208-minute version.
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.
10 Movies We Need To Have In 4k Ultra HD [Publish Date: Sept. 21, 2019]
10 More Movies We Need To Have in 4k Ultra HD [Publish Date: Nov. 17, 2019]
10 More Movies That Need Upgrades To 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray [Pubish Date: Jun 21, 2021]
10 More Movies That Should Be Upgraded To 4k Blu-ray [Publish Date: July 2, 2022]