The age of 4K Blu-ray is here, delivering the best video quality of any in-home format to date.
We have chosen the following discs from among the 300 or so available so far. These movies not only show off the capabilities of your brand-new television, they're also good. (Well, we liked them, at least.)
All of these titles include the 4K disc as well as the standard 1080p Blu-ray copy in the package. To watch the 4K version you'll need a 4K TV and a 4K Blu-ray player, such as the Sony UBP-X800. All of the 4K discs also include HDR (high dynamic range) information, and when watched on a compatible HDR TV they can look noticeably better than standard Blu-ray.
Editors' note: Originally published in June 2016, this list is regularly updated.
Another week, another Marvel movie. But "Black Panther" isn't a cookie-cutter, by-the-numbers CGI-fest. It has something to say, and it does so in a way that is both entertaining and visually arresting. Unlike the two-dimensional Wakanda of the latest Avengers movie, the world of Black Panther is fleshed out with both real characters and tangible-looking scenery. You thought Thor was good? You need to see this.
If there was ever a disc that could make you shake your head in amazement at how good 4K movies can look, "The Greatest Showman" is it. It offers spectacular image quality and finely judged HDR effects. The story may be a little hokey but it's forgivable as a way to space out the supremely catchy songs. Only Hugh Jackman's at-times bizarre make-up and slippery trans-Pacific accent distract somewhat from the spectacle. But what a spectacle it is. This UHD 4K Blu-ray is one of the best reasons to buy a 4K TV.
Put aside its slightly creaky story and dumb heroics and see the eighth movie in the series for what it is: a visually stunning popcorn movie. Like "Blade Runner 2049" before it, "Last Jedi" hinges on spectacular set pieces, including a throne room fight (which pops in HDR) and the final Battle of Crait. While "The Force Awakens" is the better film, "The Last Jedi" squeaks onto this list by default: It's the only Star Wars movie in 4K (so far).
Did "The Shape Of Water" deserve an Academy Award? That's for you to say, but this film is arguably better than anything director Guillermo Del Toro has made since "Pan's Labyrinth." It's a seductive and gentle film, quite unlike anything else the great man has worked on before. With its romantic overtones and Parisian feel it reads like a love letter to filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who incidentally accused Del Toro of ripping off a scene from "Delicatessen"). Like most fairy tales, "The Shape of Water" features moments of shocking violence -- and some real tenderness.
The 4K disc's image is clean and lacking in film grain or other artifacts. It's a fairly dark movie and the HDR effects aren't glaring, so the better your 4K TV is at producing black levels in particular the better. This film is one for fans of "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Amélie" alike.
Forget everything you know about sequels made 30 years after the original. "Blade Runner 2049" is the rare update that actually improves the first film. Beautifully shot, this piece of art is made to be shown on a 4K UHD TV. Of all the films in this list, if you're a sci-fi fan at all, this is the disc you absolutely must buy first. You'll need a beefy home theater or a good pair of headphones for this movie -- because you're going to want to play it loud.
Not as flashy visually as some of the other movies here. But despite its muted color palette, the images are clean and the film stands up to 4K resolution in a way that most movies can't. Throw in the unbearable suspense and a great soundtrack and you have an instant home theater classic. As far as visual storytelling is concerned, "Dunkirk" is the new benchmark.
A beautifully crafted movie in terms of visuals and story, "Wonder Woman" is the super-hero movie we had to have. Special effects are used subtly, at least until the end of the movie, while HDR gives scenes like Steve Trevor's interrogation with the Lasso of Truth a real boost. Yes, some of the scenes do suffer from film grain -- including, strangely, the opening CGI sequence -- but overall, this is one origin tale you need in your collection.
Big, loud and kind of dumb, "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" is nevertheless one of the most stunning-looking sci-fi films yet committed to disc. The creature design -- from the knowingly "Fifth Element"-like ambassadors of the opening scenes to the enigmatic Pearls -- is almost worth the purchase price in itself.
If there's one title that looms large over other 4K releases recently, it's the BBC's "Planet Earth II." Shot mostly in 4K and complete with HDR effects, the latest installment of this series features all of the stunning footage you'd expect from the award-winning team behind the original and "Life." And of course it's narrated by David Attenborough.
From the opening scene of a sloth swimming among mangroves to the later macro shots of ants eating tadpoles, the cinematography can be simply breathtaking at times. If you want to show off your TV's ability to deliver color and detail, this is the disc.
The poster child for what 4K movies are capable of, "The Revenant" is one of the most beautifully shot movies we've ever seen. The picture quality is flawless and both the expanded color palette and dynamic range pop. Put it on the biggest screen you can afford and turn the volume up!
When it comes to feminist revenge films masquerading as macho action flicks, they don't come bigger, louder or more fun than "Mad Max: Fury Road." There's no real story, or even that much dialogue: it's more akin to a two-hour rollercoaster ride with the promise of redemption at the end.
The HDR effects range from subtle to gaudy (especially when it comes to "flamethrower guitar guy") but as usual they improve what is already a superbly shot and directed action movie.
The neon-soaked visuals in "Blade Runner" are perfect for an HDR overhaul with the opening scenes as eye-popping as you could hope for. Some of the transitions can be a little jarring: from detailed flyovers of the Tyrell Corp. building, which show the benefits of 4K, to the grainy indoor shots. If you somehow don't own one of the many versions of this movie, this is the one to get in 4K.
While some of the discs here tend to monochromatic palettes (red for "The Martian" and gray for "The Revenant"), one of the most colorful 4K Blu-ray discs we've seen is "The Lego Movie." It's perfect for showing off the wide color gamut capabilities of your 4K HDR TV. It's also a fun film that can be enjoyed by the young and old alike.
Despite its moody tone, "Logan" is anything but dour when it comes to visuals. Images are sharp, and the special effects including HDR are as subtle and well handled as the storytelling. Impressive visuals aside, this film is an involving and moving send-off to one of our favorite superheroes.
While way too sweary and violent for your usual comic book movie audience, "Deadpool" is perhaps the best of the more adult adaptations so far. It ranks alongside other mature comic movies such as "Watchmen," "Blade" and "Hellboy," but has more black humor and pure glee than all three.
The HDR 4K version is even more eye-popping than what you might have seen in the cinema, but care has been taken so that it still looks "realistic" (which is a hard thing to say for a CGI superhero movie). The film's colorist hit the nail on the head when he said HDR is the best reason to buy 4K Blu-ray, and here he helps prove it.
"Star Trek": Come for the lens flare, stay for the lens flare in HDR. Even if you've seen this movie before, the high dynamic range version is worth a rewatch. The picture simply bursts from the screen. Though it was a toss-up between this and its follow-up "Into Darkness," also available in 4K HDR, "Star Trek" is arguably the better film.
'Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition'
While some of the HDR effects are a little dodgy -- does the white cloth of a protest banner really shine like a fluorescent tube? -- the fight scene this movie is named after (chapter 11 on the disc) really pops in HDR.
From the recent Bond files of "gritty spy thriller" comes "Jason Bourne." It balances jittery camera work, fine detail and natural-looking HDR effects with skill. This movie shows that HDR is moving beyond the "sticking spears at the camera" phase that 3D went through and is maturing as a cinematic tool.
Yes, it's a 20-year-old movie and yes, there's some grain, but Luc Besson's bonkers sci-fi epic pops in a way that it never has before. The modern HDR effects are subtle but well executed and colors burst and crackle inside every frame. If you only buy one remastered movie in 4K make it this one. Until "ET" and "Close Encounters" come out...
If you like your crime movies gritty and morally compromised, "Sicario" is one of the best in recent years. The advantage of the 4K version, reportedly, is that it was natively shot in the format and exhibits more of the detail than you could see before. Compared to many of the other titles here its HDR effects are relatively subtle, and that's not a bad thing in our book.
'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales'
Forget "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," this is the Disney movie you should get on 4K Blu-ray. While it may not be the best movie in the "Pirates" series, it's an enjoyable romp with some spectacular visuals. Come for the HDR lighting effects; stay for Javier Bardem's underwater hair.
If you ever wondered what a James Bond movie would look like if it was made by the Wachowskis, wonder no more. "Kingsman" is violent, cartoonish fun, and the 4K version boasts much better color and a pleasing three-dimensionality to objects that the standard HD version can't touch.
While some of the opening scenes are overly grainy by the time the film builds to the confrontation (chapter 14) the seamless blend of CGI, live action and understated HDR will win you over. Bonus points to the movie makers for Chappie's bling.
While Keanu Reeves playing a human with actual human emotions is a little far-fetched, "John Wick 2" is a visual treat. Like "Jason Bourne" and "Batman v. Superman," "John Wick" punctuates its grimy night scenes with HDR neon signs and taillights, lending the movie an energized noir atmosphere.