(500) Days of Summer — For my money, the best film of 2009 was this decidedly un-romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel as mismatched lovers who learn the hard way that they weren't meant to be together. Bitingly funny and creatively shot and edited, the movie is a masterpiece. The Blu-ray comes loaded with a digital copy, audition tapes, cast interviews and a bizarre and funny bit with the stars pretending they are Sid and Nancy.
Jennifer's Body — Unfairly ignored and bashed by the general movie-going public, this exploitation thriller from Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody stars Megan Fox as Jennifer, a high school temptress who is killed and comes back as a boy-killing succubus, and Amanda Seyfried as her loyal-to-a-fault friend who very slowly begins to suspect Jennifer may be a hell-spawned murderer. Snappy dialogue and flashy direction make the movie a guilty pleasure. The Blu-ray has a digital copy, deleted scenes, a perverted montage of Fox looking slutty and an interview with Cody. A slimmed-down DVD is also available.
Big Love: The Complete Third Season — A rival with The Tudors and Dexter as the best drama on premium-channel TV (and I'd give the nod to Big Love), this tale of polygamous Mormon fundamentalists somehow keeps improving. Bill Paxton stars as the big box store-owning patriarch who juggles his three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin) and his wingnut extended family. The DVD is spare on extras, save for a compilation of mini-episodes that let you peek more deeply into the lives of the characters.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs — One of the better kiddie flicks to come down the pike last year features the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan and Mr. T in a wacky tale about an inventor who subjects a town to rain storms of food. The Blu-ray is packed: including a digital copy that transfers to PS3s and PSPs, the DVD version of the movie, deleted scenes, commentary and a sing-a-long version.
Glee: Season 1, Volume 1: Road to Sectionals — The surprise of the current TV season is this sensational high school musical dramedy, featuring elaborate song and dance numbers that are at the same time ludicrous and technically dazzling. Matthew Morrison, the always-hilarious Jane Lynch and exciting newcomers Jessalyn Gilsig and Lea Michele bolster the cast. Released surprisingly quickly, the DVD is a great way to catch up on the story so far before the season continues in April. Loaded with extras, the DVD set includes audition videos, cast video diaries, a "Somebody to Love" music video and a look inside the choreography process.
10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Edition — This is probably not the film Heath Ledger would like to be remembered by, but the dippy Shakespeare-by-way-of-high school rom-com is still a fascinating look back to the era when Ledger was a fresh-faced up-and-comer and Julia Stiles' career still had promise. Now out on Blu-ray as well as DVD, the movie includes a digital copy, audio commentary and screen tests from the stars.
Phil Villarreal's humorous money-saving book is available on Amazon.