This may be my most controversial post yet— but don't worry, I'll find something else to agitate you in the future. It's in my DNA.

This one involves personal taste—always guaranteed to garner a wide variety of opinions. Today, I'll give you mine.

The topic is video content for your home theater. Assume for a minute you have amassed all the equipment and calibration needed to make your viewing place as good as it can be (within budget). Now, what to watch? For this purpose, I'm breaking the world of discs into three categories: Movies, concert videos and documentaries. What follows is my top 10 in each of these categories. I have intentionally left out the obvious classics (Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, etc.) to make room for some less obvious gems you may have missed. I have also searched "memories," one at a time, of my collection of over 4,000 discs—so I may have missed a couple that, indeed, should have been included. I'm sure you'll let me know.


You can like movies for several reasons. Story line, favorite actors, the look of the images (4K/HDR) or theme of the content. You can be partial to action flicks, drama, comedy, science fiction, horror or love stories. Here are ten that I have seen multiple times for those assorted reasons.

Stand by Me. Gripping story...Steven King adaption...early River Phoenix.

Moulin Rouge. Great music...effective use of oversaturated colors...Nicole Kidman.

Dirty Dancing. Equal parts drama, romance and music...first dance, first love for "Baby."

Dirty Dancing (Lionsgate)
Dirty Dancing (Lionsgate)

The Mule. Possibly last Clint Eastwood...great story...good 4K/HDR.

The Rose. Super music score...Oscar nominated performance by Bette Midler.

Sicario. Great action Benicio Del Toro...4K/HDR

Pulp Fiction. Seven Academy award nominations...John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel Jackson...god bless Quentin Tarantino.

The Great Gatsby. DiCaprio... great visuals... good soundtrack.

TheGreatGatsby-(Warner Brothers)
The Great Gatsby (Warner Brothers)

A Knight's Tale. Heath Ledger's best...good visuals and story...excellent soundtrack.

The Red Violin. The film covers three centuries, several cultures. A bit complex but absolutely captivating.

Concert Videos

I tell my clients they should invest in a home theater even if they never watch a movie. The reason is concert videos!

Havana Moon - The Rolling Stones. Mick and company perform to 1.2 million fans in Cuba. Most recent (and best) Stones concert. Watch for Sasha!

A Black and White Night - Roy Orbison and Friends. Best cast of musicians ever assembled...nice B&W art-deco theme.

Road Tested - Bonnie Raitt. Video C+...Audio B+...performance straight A's from all!

Outside: From the Redwoods - Kenny Loggins. Great setting...special guest Michael McDonald...super performance.

Live in Amsterdam - Tina Turner. Great tunes...most calories expended on stage for any concert. Ever. Really.

Nashville Sounds - The Beach Boys. Classic Beach Boys sung by other greats...and a back story.

Live At Shea Stadium: The Concert - Billy Joel. William Martin Joel at his best with a little help from his friends.

Elton 60: Live at Madison Square Garden - Elton John. 60 years old and 60th performance at MSG...33 hits and you will sing along to every one of them.

Music for Monserrat - All-Star Cast. Benefit for volcano victims on the island...includes Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Paul McCartney, Sting, Jimmy Buffett, Mark Knopfler, Elton John...'nuff said.

Shine a Light - The Rolling Stones. Produced and narrated by Martin Scorsese...lots of behind-the-scenes stuff.


Lastly, an ignored category. Some of the most attention-garnering material I've ever watched has come from this category.

Rocky Mountain Express - Steven Low. Reference 4K film...amazing chronicle of the building of the Canadian transcontinental railroad...captivating story...magnificent visuals.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown - The Funk Brothers. Greatest Motown story ever told. I've watched it at least 5 times! If you graduated high school in this millennium, skip it.

The Art of Flight - Travis Rice. Behind the scenes of extreme snowboarding...used to be our industry's HD reference disc, until this next one came along.

Planet Earth II/Blue Planet II - BBC. Best 4K I have seen, and a very interesting documentary. Anything from the BBC is high quality 4K.

Super Speedway - Paul Newman. If you are a car guy/gal, this is a must...Mario Andretti narrates...Indy Car fun.

Super Speedway (IMAX)

Twenty Feet from Stardom. Very interesting story of success...and frustration...among gifted backup singers. Lou Adler, Patti Austin and Sheryl Crow chime in.

The Last Waltz - The Band, Martin Scorsese. Chronicles some of the greatest artists up to the 80's...B- video, A+ music...Scorsese's touch makes this one special.

Winged Migration - Jacques Perrin. Sounds dull. Guaranteed it's not. Awesome story...superior cinematography...Oscar nominated. You'll show it to friends.

Harmonies from Heaven - The Everly Brothers, George Scott. Harmonies from heaven...hosted by many artists who were influenced by Don and Phil...lots of archive footage.

The Wrecking Crew - Denny Tadesco. Another studio band history...about the most accomplished group of rock musicians you've never heard of.

Yes, tastes may vary. Undoubtedly yours will. So take your best shot at my lists, but I'd also like to hear what's on your list of memorable discs. Maybe we will all be inspired to seek out some gems we might have passed up.

Comments (8) Post a Comment
Jeffrey Van der Koon Posted Jul 10, 2019 4:52 AM PST
Though not the best production quality (indi film on a severe budget), Jerome Bixby's The Man from Earth is a great character driven film. The plot pulls you in quickly and holds you into the last 5 minutes. Those of you who are fellow science fiction fans will recognize a number of the actors. The film is easy to find for viewing.

Prepare the pop corn, find the Milk Duds, kick back, enjoy and be prepared to discuss the twists and turns with your friends!!
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jul 10, 2019 7:04 AM PST
I'll add one of my favorites to the list of documentaries: Sound City, about the rise and fall of one of the most storied recording studios in rock history, and a very special Neve mixing board that ended up -- well, go watch the movie. Directed by Dave Grohl.

Sound City official trailer
Terry Paullin Posted Jul 10, 2019 8:37 AM PST
Thanks Jeffrey and Rob. It's great to have new suggestions! I'm off to Amazon for both of these. Sabin gets tricky with a link to a trailer ....... show off!!
keith leyendecker Posted Jul 10, 2019 8:55 AM PST
Great list! I have already made additions to my Netflix DVD que. Great to have some discussion on great content. Thanks,
L Stewart Posted Jul 10, 2019 11:45 AM PST
Wow. I just had to add a bunch more discs to my collection. And I thought had most everything of significant value. It never ends. But thanks for the lists!

Next time, by way of comedy, may I suggest "Captain Ron," with Martin Short and Kurt Russell. A true guilty pleasure!!!
Stunko Posted Jul 16, 2019 12:29 AM PST
Wow, so 3 x 10 = 30 titles here, right? Of these, I would probably enjoy watching at least 5 or 6, maybe even 7 titles. Not bad, really.
Mike A Posted Jul 23, 2019 12:13 PM PST
I totally agree with your statement. "Yes, tastes may vary. Undoubtedly yours will." And mine do. My selection would look much different. I agree on a couple from each category. Though some have me scratching my head and some selections I would make would make you scratch yours, but that is the beauty of having your own theater. But.... A Knights Tale?
Terry Paullin Posted Jul 24, 2019 1:14 PM PST
Thank you Mike for your post. I'm glad you cited my admonition of "Tastes will/may vary" Indeed, I never thought, if asked, any of the readership's top 30 would be 100% congruent with my list.

As to "A Knight's Tale", for the record, Amazon gives the Blu-Ray copy a 4.7 out of 5, Ebert & Ropper gave it two thumbs up and I think my cat even liked it - but his tastes are always suspect. Your post, however, did cause me to watch it again last night. Yes, it's a sappy love story wrapped in a late 70's soundtrack and the imagery is very pleasing to look at. So after a closer review, I double down on it's place on MY top ten.

I would truly like to know a few of YOUR best recommendations.

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