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This year we’ve watched tons of films on 4K Blu-ray. We’ve watched great movies with bad transfers, bad movies with great transfers, and those precious few great movies that also have great audio and video quality. If you’re picking up a new TV, like our favorite LG OLED or Sony X900E, or adding a 4K Blu-ray player like the Sony UBP-X800 or Oppo UDP-203 and want to show off what 4K can look like, these are our favorites this year. There is still another month left in 2017, so if one of those releases is amazing (I’m looking at you, Dunkirk) we will update this list to include it.
Blade Runner is the disc to go to if you want to see why 4K releases of older films can look great. With a 4K scan and restoration, and lots of the original also shot on 65mm, there is incredible detail throughout the film. The use of HDR is well done, black levels are superb, and the improved Atmos soundtrack is phenomenal. Given that the sequel will be out on 4K soon, and with a true 4K master, this might be the best pair of films to watch on 4K Blu-ray.
The only flaw with GotG 2 on 4K Blu-ray is that it is only a 2K transfer. However with the exceptional use of HDR and WCG, along with a great soundtrack, it will show off what your home theater is capable of. The last few scenes are incredibly great when watched on an OLED, with brilliant fireworks against a black sky.
Kong: Skull Island
Surprising us with how good the film was, Kong is a very enjoyable trip and one that looks and sounds great. They aim for a certain look with Kong and pull it off great, with rich colors and textures on Skull Island. Sometimes you can notice the flaws with the CGI because it is only a 2K digital intermediate, but overall it is a wonderful disc to watch and very enjoyable.
Planet Earth II looks so good on 4K Blu-ray that Microsoft sent out a copy to everyone that got the XBox One X for review to show off how good 4K looks. It is often a very bright image, where LCDs can shine, with rich blue oceans, green jungles, and red crabs. The soundtrack isn’t as amazing as the other titles on the list, but the image one that everyone comes back to in order to show off what their TV can do.
We didn’t get to review this one, but we bought it after watching it in theaters. Perhaps the best X-Men movie made, it also has a true 4K transfer and looks flat out fantastic. It includes a B&W version of the film, the Noir Cut, as well.
Honorable Mention: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Billy Lynn is a bad film, there’s no way around it. Given that Ang Lee directed it, and the book was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012, the film is just a disappointment. As the only 4K HDR film released that runs at 60Hz instead of 24Hz, it is a technical marvel to watch. You might find the motion disconcerting if you’re used to 24Hz, but imagining what a good film would look like shot this way, or how sports could look in HDR, makes it worth viewing at least once.