Top 15 Criterion Blu-rays to Buy During the Barnes & Noble 50% Off Sale

Top 15 Criterion Blu-rays to buy at Barnes and Noble's sale

It's that time of year and Barnes and Noble is selling Criterion Collection titles at 50% off (shop here). The problem is, what do you buy? Well, hopefully I can help you with that as I believe there are certain titles from Criterion that are absolute must owns for any cinemaphile and taking into account you are considering buying Criterion Collection titles in the first place, I'm certainly talking to you.

So, with that said, let's dive in as I'll give you what I consider to be the top 15 must own Criterion Blu-ray titles as well as a few alternate considerations here and there.

15.) The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red LineWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? What else is there to expect other than an absolutely gorgeous film from Terrence Malick and that's exactly what you get from The Thin Red Line, but on top of the film you also get a wealth of special features, which I went over in my review right here.

ALTERNATIVES: Days of Heaven (naturally) or The Last Temptation of Christ

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

14.) The Gold Rush

The Gold RushWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? The Gold Rush is the most recent Charlie Chaplin film to be added to the Collection and you need simply peek at my alternates to see the other two. Gold Rush, however, is probably my favorite Chaplin. It's the one I laugh at the most and features some absolutely gorgeous black-and-white cinematography. The one thing about this release is the features don't quite match up to what is offered on the two alternates, the presentation of the 1942 sound version is something I don't even want to watch and the extras on the two films below are outstanding... as are the films themselves.

ALTERNATIVES: Modern Times and The Great Dictator

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

13.) Repulsion

RepulsionWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? This is Roman Polanski at his best as far as I'm concerned. This isn't to say it's his best film, but while so many will point to Rosemary's Baby as his best thriller, this psychological mind-bender starring Catherine Deneuve is absolutely worthy of comparison and better in my mind.

ALTERNATIVES: Alternatives are tough, because many of the ones I would mention are higher up on this list. I'll offer up The Naked Kiss and Shock Corridor though, since I wanted to mention them both at some point.

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

12.) Last Year at Marienbad

Last Year at MarienbadWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? In my 2009 Blu-ray review of Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad I referenced Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, but narratively it's not really an apt comparison. Of all the films on this list this is the most experimental and the one I would recommend casual viewers may want to save for last if you're buying blind. Otherwise, challenge yourself and you'll find this film twisting you like a pretzel to the point you only want more. Oh, and it's got one of the greatest covers in the collection.

ALTERNATIVES: La Jetee/Sans Soleil and Solaris

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

11.) 12 Angry Men

12 Angry MenWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? A great film by the great Sidney Lumet that shows the importance of having great actors working with a great script. This film is an example of everything coming together just right and its one you can play at any time and, without fail, find yourself falling in love with all over again.

ALTERNATIVES: Anatomy of a Murder

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

10.) The Battle of Algiers

The Battle of AlgiersWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? From the first moment I saw this I wanted to own it. In fact, I bought the DVD version before Criterion released the Blu-ray and I still haven't parted with the DVD edition, just in case I want to reference it and take a screen capture for an article in the future. I love this movie, it is absolute electricity and has a pulse that makes it feel 100% authentic as it tells the story of the Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. The set is loaded with two discs packed with features and an impressive 56-page booklet. I wrote more about the film here.

ALTERNATIVES: Army of Shadows, Gomorrah or Carlos

PRICE: $24.99 (regularly $49.99) [buy it here]

9.) Yojimbo

YojimboWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? Where to place an Akira Kurosawa film on a list of must buys in this kind of situation is tough. I have one more on this list ahead of Yojimbo, even though this may be my favorite of his films, but that is largely due to the fact this is a 50% off sale and that other title is more expensive. That said, you can't go wrong with Yojimbo or if you decide to go with the box set that also includes Sanjuro, a film that is often looked at as the lesser of the two, but is truly excellent in its own right, if only for its stunner of an ending. After all, if you've seen and loved Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars isn't it about time you owned and appreciated the film that inspired it?


PRICE: Yojimbo single - $19.99 (regularly $39.99) / Yojimbo and Sanjuro box set $34.99 (regularly $69.99) [buy it here]

  • Criterion10

    Great list... After picking up Repulsion and The Gold Rush yesterday, I own all the titles on this list (on Blu-Ray of course) except for The Seventh Seal, which I used to own but had to return to Borders a couple of years ago due to a defective disc

  • MWHollywood85

    The Third Man.
    If you're a fan of Orsen Welles or Film Noir you must have this. Just wish they had Carol Reed's "Odd Man Out" on Criterion.

    • Kevin Blumeyer

      Yeah, but good luck finding it at a reasonable price. You can't even find a used copy for under $90 on Amazon.

  • Kevin Blumeyer

    I picked up Being John Malkovich, Shallow Grave, Anatomy of a Murder, Diabolique, World on a Wire and Rushmore when they had the 50% off sale overlapping with the buy 2 get 1 free sale during the first night. I rule.

    • Jordan B.

      Did the same with Breathless, Charade, and Traffic. Now I just wish I'd had put in another order or two. Here's hoping that my BN store honors the "$8 off $40" member coupons with the sale prices.

  • maja

    Man do i wish Criterion didn't region lock their blu-rays!

  • Reza

    What about Le samourai? I believe that film is a masterpiece.

    • Kevin Blumeyer

      That one isn't on Blu yet. Great film though. I'm waiting to buy it because I know the minute I do they'll announce a Blu-ray upgrade.

  • Jordan B.

    Thank you for this! I was going to throw in a user question about this for Friday's podcast, but now it looks like I don't have to.

    I picked up Breathless (due partly to your suggestion in various reviews, articles, and podcasts), Traffic, and Charade a couple nights ago while the 50% sale and the B2G1 sale overlapped.

    Wish I would have ordered more during that overlap period, but I plan to get out to the store tonight to pick up a few. Right now I'm thinking Seven Samurai and Gold Rush for sure. Of the others I'm considering, there's also The Great Dictator, Broadcast News, The Double Life of Veronique, Belle de Jour, The Lady Vanishes, 8 1/2, and Stagecoach.

    Also, a quick correction, from what I've read, the sale lasts until July 30, not July 16.

  • Ian

    Curses, I didn't realize they had the one-day overlap between the two sales, or I'd have made my trip that day. Because yes, in addition to living in a city with no art house cinema, I also live in a city with no Barnes and Noble.

    The must-buys for me this time around are The Thin Red Line and Seven Samurai. Not sure what else I'll go for...I'm intrigued by Summer with Monika, and of course 8 1/2, Breathless, The Seventh Seal, 12 Angry Men, and Godzilla are all classics. What to do, what to do?

    • Jordan B.

      The overlap was online only and it was for only a few hours, something like 9 PM to 12 AM pacific time.

      IMO, you can't go wrong with 12 Angry Men. One of the best films of all time, and enjoyable every time I watch it.

    • Brad Brevet

      Wasn't a one day overlap, I think it was only a few hours and I believe it was an accident, so don't beat yourself up too much.

      • Jordan B.

        The overlap seems to lie in the fact that they allowed the B2G1 sale to go through 3AM ET (12 AM PT), and the 50% off sale started at 12 AM ET (9PM PT). So I don't even think it was an accident. According to the guys (and gals) on the forums, this has happened in the past, so if it has continually occurred, I find it hard to believe that they keep screwing up.

  • chewbaca69

    Stoked on already owning the top three :)

  • Owen

    I'm currently working my way through grad school so I don't have a ton of disposable income, but I think I can afford to pick up at least two of The Gold Rush, Breathless and The Killing.

  • AS

    My favorite Criterion titles (no particular order):

    The Third Man
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Killing
    Paths of Glory
    Harold and Maude
    The Game (coming soon)

  • Snicket

    I really need to get 8 1/2...

  • Chris138

    I picked up The Last Temptation of Christ, Certified Copy and A Night To Remember all on Blu-ray last night. I plan on going back for more in the next couple of weeks. It's my favorite sale ever.

    The Thin Red Line is the best looking Criterion title I've seen on Blu-ray. Wings of Desire is also well worth checking out.

  • Jordan B.

    Also, no mention of Three Colors Trilogy anywhere? At the $39.99 price, I don't know if it doesn't get much better. Although I guess I did get it at Amazon for $37.XX in my gold box a month or so ago.

    • Jordan B.

      I gotta stop with these stupid grammatical errors on here, makes me look like an idiot.

      Any chance of an edit feature on posts at some point, Brad?

    • JJ

      I second this. Three Colors is a special trilogy. All 3 movies are excellent (White being the lesser of the 3 in my opinion) and an easy-ish/enjoyable watch.

  • Dale

    Superbly selected list, Brad.

  • Kliffoth

    Nice list I gotta agree, though I felt a dumb after I picked up 12 titles just a week before knowing about any 50 % safe, though they had the (buy 2 Get 1). The salesman could have tipped me off..
    Picked up first the Brazil 3-disc, Vampyr, Summer interlude/with Monika, Sweet Smell of Sucess, Identification of a woman, Orpheus, Cul-de-Sac & Replusion, Harakiri, Secret Sunshine and the Maikioka sisters.

    Then today I couldnt resist on buying the Seven Samurai, Battle of Algerie, Night of the hunter, My own private Idaho, The Magician, WAges of Fear, the 39 steps and Knife in the water (ess)
    Not bad indeed ;)


  • Francois

    Picked up Being John Malkovich, Bottle Rocket, World on a Wire, Mystery Train & Videodrome. I also tried to order Paris, Texas, but it seems to be back ordered for another two weeks. I love your inclusion of some of the great suspenpse films, as Clouzot's Diabolique is one of my favourite films. I have the previous two criterion releases though so I wasn't sure if the upgrade was worth it despite the great artwork. Hopefully someday we will get L'enfer on criterion.

  • Ryan

    Having checked out this list, most of them are on amazon for about 23 or so right now, so I went with the ones that are signifigantly cheaper:
    Yojimbo-Sanjuro (15 cheaper than Amazon; 35)
    Samurai Trilogy (14 cheaper than Amazon; 35)
    Certified Copy, Shallow Grave, John Malkovich, Playtime, Gold Rush, Last Metro, 39 Steps, Realm of the Senses (about 9-11 cheaper than Amazon; 20 each)
    Eclipse: Up All Night/Robert Downey Sr (13 cheaper; 20)
    You can also risk DVD Vampyr (save 10+), but I keep hearing rumors a Blu is coming.

  • marion



  • futurestar

    you don't know your shit from shineola. your list proves plus your weak support like everyone coming here was a complete novice.