There's one true fact known to mankind on the holidays: Santa Claus has a very heavy load to traipse across the globe in a single night. It's a lot for one man to take on by himself. So maybe you should ask for the perfect gift that weighs only .0 lbs. A digital download of your favorite movie! Or, you can add a little heft to his bulging bag, and opt for the Blu-ray or DVD. Either way, Santa's dislocated spine will thank you.
Sure, a tablet only weighs around 1.5 pounds, maybe less. But a DVD or Blu-ray really is the perfect gift. They're fairly cheap, everyone likes watching their favorite movie, and 2012 has been a pretty great year for blockbusters that everyone, including your finicky aunt and your oh-so-cool, hipster brother, will want to watch again and again. Nearly 98% of the people on this planet liked Marvel's The Avengers, and it's available for a very low price. The Hunger Games? You can't go wrong there, especially if you have teenage girls in the house.
Shopping for loved ones, family members, and friends has never been easier. In fact, we're taking all the thought out of the equation with our extensive guide to the best Blu-rays, DVDs, and streaming media available this Holiday season. We've taken all the biggest releases, and narrowed down to whom they are best suited for. All you need to do is peruse our list, and you'll be on your way to one smiling face after another. And with all that free time you just saved yourself, maybe you'll be smiling too.
So, why don't you lighten Santa's load a bit, forget about getting mom that new washer and dryer, and treat her to Magic Mike instead. After a long day serving relatives burnt turkey whiskey nog, she's sure to appreciate the thought.
Here are this year's most wanted holiday releases:
For Dad: Nothing says Christmas morning like the fresh smell of cigar smoke, spent bullet casings, and gasoline. Dad's had a hard year, so why not treat him to the ultimate sequel, featuring every action star on the planet and packed with more explosions than your great aunt after Chinese Christmas dinner. Sylvester Stallone returns as mercenary Barney Ross, who must get the old gang back together for a revenge seeking mission. Trapped in hostile territory, only Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger can save them. It's a hootin', hollerin', beer-swillin' good time for late Christmas evening. Or, if you just want to get all the men in the other room, like back in the good old days. The The Expendables 2 Blu-ray comes strapped with plenty of extras, including deleted scenes, a gag reel, and an audio commentary from director Simon West. Also available on DVD, iTunes, and VUDU starting November 20th.
Magic Mike Blu-ray
For Mom: Give her the thrill of a lifetime when you give her Magic Mike! The action-packed male stripper comedy from acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh and creator/star Channing Tatum is now available in all its stripped-down glory. After twelve long months of starring at dad, trust us, mommy needs this! Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew Bomer, and Joe Manganiello all join Channing in ripping off each other's clothes, both on stage and behind closed doors. There is full-frontal nudity, some P-pump action, and plenty of jokes to go around. This will also go over huge with grandma and aunty, who might find it a little embarssing ,were it stashed under their own tree. But trust us, they'll get into it too, and they'll probably want to watch it all over again as soon as its over. It's the antithesis of The Expendables 2. Magic Mike is also available on DVD, iTunes, and Vudu right now. Sorry, ladies, no 3D available on this one.
Marvel's The Avengers Blu-ray
For Your Younger Brother: Marvel's The Avengers was one of the biggest movies of the year. It is also one of the biggest home video releases of the year. Now available in a 4-disc combo pack, you can watch the original movie in 3D, as it was meant to be seen. This set also comes with a gag reel, deleted scenes, and audio commentary from director Joss Whedon. With great action and all of your favorite Marvel characters in one place, this is the high-flying adventure you and your family will want to relive again and again. It also goes great wrapped up with a mask and cape, for a fully immersive screen interaction experience that any young boy will love. If your kids feel like using the disc as a Captain America shield, you can always opt for the standard Blu-ray. Or, if you're broke and have more than two boys, you can grab the DVD fairly cheap. Also available on iTunes and Vudu, Marvel's The Avengers is in stores now.
For Your Younger Sister: Young girls love their bows and arrows, but if The Hunger Games skews a little too old for your child, sister, granddaughter, or niece, Disney Pixar's Brave serves as a fine alternative, and provides plenty of thrills and scares for the entire family. Just because its centered around a young girl doesn't mean boys won't like it, either. There is a big, nasty demon bear at the heart of this adventure yarn, sure to please those most afraid of getting cooties from an animated feminine empowerment fairytale. The plot revolves around Merida, a young Scottish Princess who plans to ditch her rightful place at the throne for a career in archery. It brings the same Pixar quality that we've all come to know and trust. This set also includes a 3D version of the movie, an original short delving into the mythology behind Mor'Du, the Demon Bear, thirteen minutes of extended scenes, and plenty of behind-the-scenes featurettes for that budding filmmaker sitting on the couch, hoping to work in animation someday. Brave is also available in standard format Blu-ray and DVD, as well as on iTunes and on Vudu right now.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray
For Your Older Brother: Everyone loves a good bit of nostalgia, and everyone loves the 80s. Mix them together with a little time travel, and you have the comedy classic Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which is sure to please the goofy side of any cinema loving sci-fi nerd with a soft spot for Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Throw legendary comedian George Carlin into the mix, and you have one of the most excellent hi-def back catalogue releases seen this holiday season. The movie has stood the test of time, and if you saw it back in the day, and now have children, it will be a most excellent experience to share with them. You might also want to get primed for the upcoming return of The Wyld Stallyns in Bill & Ted 3. Sadly, there are no new special features included here. But we do get new cover art! And the story, about two spaced out valley dudes who must not fail their history exam, contains enough awesomeness to hold down ten lesser discs. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray is available now! Your older brother won't be disappointed.
Girls: The Complete First Season Blu-ray
For Your Older Sister: Why is your older sister so weird? Discover the methods behind her madness with this insightful and very funny HBO series, which delves into the lives of four young New York women and their adventures in post-collegiate floundering. Created by Lena Dunham and produced by comedy legend Judd Apatow, this set brings all ten episodes of the half-hour series home. Relive the trials and tribulations of Hannah as she is suddenly cut off financially by her parents and must make it through this cold, cruel world on her own. Included in the extras are five episode commentaries with Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow, a two-part gag reel, a look at the hilarious table reads, and plenty of behind-the-scenes footage. Girls: The Complete First Season DVD is also available, starting December 11th.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Complete Classic Series Collection 23-Disc Set DVD
For Your Nephew: Do little boys bug the humbug out of you? Do they make Christmas morning an unbearable experience of screeches and howls? Well, then, make them disappear for the rest of the day with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Complete Classic Series Collection 23-Disc Set DVD, a massive set that collects all 10 seasons of this classic cartoon series in one convenient box. It's a timeless action adventure tale that enthralls youngsters as much today as it did back when the Turtles first hit the scene in the mid-80s. Don, Leo, Ralph, and Mike are the Lost Boys of mutant martial arts endowed, pizza loving critters. They'll never grow, they'll never die, and they'll continue partying all night long. Now, kids of all ages can relive all 193 episodes in their original, uncensored glory. That's 4378 minutes of fun! That's 72 straight hours of ninja madness. That's nearly two days of non-stop action. Will your nephews be able to handle it? As an added bonus, this cool collector's set comes encased in the Turtles signature yellow ninja van. And each season comes with it's own radical bonus features. Be the coolest aunt or uncle in the family this yuletide season. Give those hellion Rugrats the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Complete Classic Series Collection! Available in stores now.
Secret of the Wings Blu-ray
For Your Niece: While your rambunctious nephews are in their room, throwing ninja stars at the TV, why not pony up a copy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment's Secret of the Wings for your nice, quiet, sweet, and lovely little niece. She's such an angel. Tinker Bell returns for her latest stand-alone adventure, away from that dreadful Peter Pan, and this time, she's found herself in a spot of real trouble. Always a curious little pixie, Tink decides to break the rules and cross the border into the winter woods, which almost costs our darling her precious wings. Oh, no! Will Tink survive? Find out in this all-new animated movie that unlocks the secret behind the Bell legacy, a legacy that will change Tinker's life forever. Secret of the Wings is available in both 3D and standard Blu-ray, as well as DVD. If you have a tech suave niece, the movie is also available on iTunes and on Vudu for downloading right now.
The Amazing Spider-Man Blu-ray
For Teen Boys: Puberty. Its rough on a young man. What better way to deal with this transformation than through the eyes of a mutating superhero with the strength and agility of a spider, prone to shooting webbing all over the walls? Yes, teen boys will definitely be able to empathize with Peter Parker's plight, which is given a dark, brooding, indie make over in director Marc Webb's reboot. Part hipster romance, part awesome adventure movie, The Amazing Spider-Man redefines what a comic book movie can be, and puts a slick new spin on the Spidey mythos. Even if the teen boy in your life is easily bored by the film's early When Spidey Met Gweny... platitudes, not to worry. A giant lizard shows up soon enough, wrecking havoc across New York City. A love story, an action thriller, and a bit of droll, dark comedy all rolled into one, this is the perfect gift for any blossoming high school bound nerd. The Amazing Spider-Man is available in 3D, standard Blu-ray, and DVD, in stores now. You can also purchase the film as a digital download from iTunes and Vudu.
The Hunger Games Blu-ray
For Teen Girls: The third highest grossing movie of 2012, girls of all ages have fallen in love with Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, the first in a four-part series that sets up this dystopian tournament pitting teenagers in a fight to the death. Here, we're introduced to Katniss, and her two potential love interests in Peeta and Gale, as she becomes the unwitting victor in the 74th Annual Hunger Games. For fans of the book series upon which it is based, the film is considered a near perfect adaptation, and it's a movie that teen girls have flocked to for multiple viewings. If they don't own it already, you can't go wrong with this action-packed romantic adventure. It's post-apocalyptic fun delivered in the best way possible. This release also contains plenty of behind-the-scenes material for a fully immerse experience. The Hunger Games is also available on DVD, iTunes, and Vudu.
The Dark Knight Rises: Limited Edition Bat Cowl Blu-ray
For College Bound Young Adults: The Dark Knight Rises was tainted by a tragedy beyond its control when it opened this past summer, and a lot of folks simply stayed away from the movie theater because of it. Now, as it gets released just in time for the holidays, is a prefect time to revisit Christopher Nolan's final chapter in his Batman trilogy. Brooding young men and Batfans alike will surely love to get this gift of comic book adventure and intrigue under their tree Christmas morning. The film not only continues the adventures of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, but it also brings iconic DC Comics characters Catwoman and Bane to the big screen. This special edition arrives with a limited edition broken bat cowl, and is also available on standard Blu-ray and DVD starting December 4th. You can also download the movie on iTunes and Vudu.
For Your Uncle: He's crass, he's crude, and he has a large appetite for beer and women. Is he Ted, the lovable, living Teddy Bear? Or is he your Uncle? Watching him sit on the couch after Christmas dinner, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between the two. Todd McFarlane's first foray into live action filmmaking proved to be a big hit with fans, and now, this tale of a grown man who must contend with a childhood wish coming true is finally coming home. Mark Wahlberg stars as a man whose relationship is in jeopardy due to his everlasting friendship with a foul-mouthed, alcoholic stuffed animal, and the hijinks that ensue are nothing short of heart stopping. It's a hilarious and fast paced buddy comedy that whips off zingers faster than a Gatlin gun. Available December 11th, you can also purchase Ted on DVD, or download it in HD from Vudu.
Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray
For Your Aunt: You know who still loves the show Friends? Your aunt. She hasn't stopped watching it since it first came on the air in 1994, and she thinks there is no better sitcom on the air, even today. Thing is, I guarantee she's missed at least three or four episodes in her lifetime. There are just certain shows that have slipped out of syndication for whatever reason, and catching them is quite rare. Well, give her the thrill of a lifetime when you give her this complete, unedited set that features 40 discs worth of content. That's 236 episodes in total. She'll never have another boring Saturday night as long as Ross, Rachel, Joey, Monica, Chandler, and Phoebe are there to keep her company. She'll also get a 60-page commemorative book that includes the original pitch pilot, all-new audio commentaries, gag reels from all 10 seasons, and a whole lot more. Seriously. You can't go wrong here. Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray is in stores now.
Trouble With the Curve DVD
For Grandpa: From one grumpy old man to another, there's no better way to remind Gramps he's getting old and going to die soon than with this heartwarming drama about a baseball scout turned curmudgeon who's slowly going blind in both eyes. Are you estranged from pops? Call him up, sit him down, and show him this fable about family, and the power of love. It's Clint Eastwood's first non-directorial acting role in nearly two decades. And it's also about sports. Amy Adams even provides a little eye candy (if Grandpa is still into that kind of thing). Director Robert Lorenz provides behind-the-scenes commentary in the extra features, and we get an up-close looking at Justin Timberlake's relationship with the rest of the cast (guessing Gramps won't care about that too much). Available December 18th, you can also get Trouble With the Curve on DVD, as well as download it from iTunes.
Hope Springs Blu-ray
For Grandma: There hasn't been a spark of fire between Granny and Gramps for a coon's age. Why not show the ol' lady Hope Springs, and teach her how to get her groove back. This hilarious and warm hearting comedy stars Meryl Streep and the very coldhearted Tommy Lee Jones as a couple barley making it through to the end of their lives. The passion is gone, and they're more interested in what's for dinner than what's going on behind closed doors. Enter marriage and sex therapist Steve Carell, who teaches these two oldies how to touch one another in the bucket, and suck it, yet again. It's better than a prescription of Viagra (Maybe throw a couple in with the disc? I don't know...). Old people love corny shit, and this is the corniest. Just be glad Tommy Lee isn't delivering it himself, the mean ol' bastard. Arriving December 4th, you can also get Hope Springs on DVD, or download it in HD from iTunes.
The Bourne Legacy Blu-ray
For Your Boss: Do you buy your boss a Christmas gift? Is that something that happens? Only if you get a bonus? Only if he's not a dick? Only if you need to kiss some ass skin? If you have to get the little lady something, The Bourne Legacy is pretty innocuous. This continuation of the franchise offers a good story, plenty of action, and a worthy replacement for Matt Damon in Jeremy Renner. The Treadstone operation is still chugging along, with Renner's Aaron Cross discovering that he may be part of some grand government operation that has stolen his identity. Sounds like what happens at work to me, so why wouldn't you gift this to your boss. Rachel Weisz is the woman in jeopardy, and franchise mainstay Tony Gilroy directs the thing. It's cheap, it's easy, and classier than a bottle of red wine. Though, you may want to give your boss the The Bourne Legacy DVD. You don't want her thinking your getting paid enough money to buy a Blu-ray. You still want that Christmas bonus! You want that raise! You know what? Forget it. Don't buy your boss a damn thing. They can suck it!
They Live Blu-ray
For Your Co-Workers: What better way to wake up your drifting co-workers than with their own personal copy of John Carpenter's seminal classic They Live, which is available on Blu-ray for the first time this holiday season. Obey! Revolving around a future economic crisis that could be ripped right from today's headlines, Roddy Piper plays an unemployed drifter who uncovers a conspiracy that is working to destroy humankind through mass consumerism. Yeah, if you want to make a statement at this year's Christmas party, be sure to stuff stockings with this cult favorite. It will definitely cause a commotion. If nothing else, it will remain eternally entertaining on some level, even if it hits a little too close to home in these harsh economic times we're currently ebbing through. The They Live Blu-ray is available now. Stock up while supplies last, and be the life of the party. And the end of the world.
Men in Black 3 Blu-ray
For the Sci-Fi Nerd: Even though the Total Recall Blu-ray is being released around the same time, that Colin Farrell remake was no fun. Men in Black 3, on the other hand, is a blast. It has sci-fi, action, comedy, time travel, and Josh Brolin doing a spot-on Tommy Lee Jones impersonation. The holidays are about fun and jolly times. Men in Black 3 embodies just that with a breezy story that finds Agent J traveling back to the 60s to save his partner Agent K from being murdered by a deadly one-armed alien. Available in 3D, as it was meant to be seen, this freewheeling stand-alone adventure is also available on standard Blu-ray and DVD starting November 30th. You can also download it on iTunes and Vudu
For the Horror Hound: Maybe it sounds strange to recommend a stop-motion animated film for the horror fan in your life, but all the really scary stuff is only available on VOD. Plus, it is the holiday season. ParaNorman is a holly, jolly good time that brings a lot of good-natured humor to the zombie genre. With plenty of supernatural scares mixed in with jokes about the living dead, this is one creepy, cool cartoon for the young at heart. It also serves as the perfect gateway drug to scary movies for the preschool set who've yet to be weaned on the Saw and Hostel franchises. From the makers of Coraline, this 3D thrill-ride, about a young misfit who can talk to the dead, is also available on standard Blu-ray and DVD, as well as iTunes and Vudu starting November 27th.
Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray
For Those who Love to Party: How do you keep the party going after all the beer and pot are gone? Easy, just plunk all eight episodes of Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season into your Blu-ray player and let the festivities roll on through the night! Every year, at least a few college kids are trapped in their dorm room, alone, lingering around for the holidays. If you know one of those kids, why not send them the further adventure of Kenny Powers to pass the time. This season, Kenny returns from Mexico to take on a new position with the Myrtle Beach Mermen. This extensive set comes packed with a blooper reel, plenty of deleted scenes, and commentary on all eight episodes. You can only wander around a deserted campus by yourself for so long. Why don't you give that college kid 311 minutes of pure joy this yuletide season. They'll surely love you for it. Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season is also available on DVD starting December 4th.
Beasts of the Southern Wild Blu-ray
For the Hipsters: Everyone has a dirt bag hipster in their life. Some dude wearing a pair of girls' skinny jeans, or some twit in neon sunglasses. Hipsters love to brag about the latest cool indie movie they know you haven't seen. So why not set them up with the best, cool indie movie you haven't seen, this year's critically acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild? Having them go on and on about it will be much more insightful and entertaining than watching the movie for yourself. The story follows a young girl who rides out a small apocalypse by herself. It's the kind of thing that gets certain douchey dingbats all wet in the 'stache. Beasts of the Southern Wild is also available on DVD starting December 4th, but what you might want to do is dub it down onto VHS. Or better yet, just give them an 8 track of the dialogue recorded directly off your five inch mono television set.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Blu-ray
For the Video Game Fanatic: Sure, you could give the crazed video game junky in your life the Resident Evil: Retribution Blu-ray for Christmas, but that franchise is 'game over'. Fans have been waiting a long time to see a live action Halo movie, and this original web series might be the closest we ever get to such a thing. Launched in conjunction with most recent version of the game, this 90-minute culmination of every episode takes fans back to the beginning of the human and Covenant war, and leads into the events of Halo 4. Set against the backdrop of a United Nations Space Command (UNSC) military academy, a group of highborn cadets are training to be the next generation of soldiers in the UNSC s ongoing war with insurrectionists in the outer colonial planets. Among these cadets, Thomas Lasky struggles with his doubts about this war and with the burden of expectations he may not be able to carry. As Lasky comes to terms with his potential as a military leader, the terrifying alien alliance known as the Covenant arrives and turns his world upside down. Inspired by the Master Chief, he must decide what it means to be a hero. Halo fans who experience Lasky s thrilling origin story in Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be rewarded with special insights into the story of Halo 4 and the Halo Infinity Multiplayer experience. Video game fans are loving it, and they'd surely love to get it from you! Also available on DVD starting December 4th.
For Your Best Friend and his Hot Girlfriend: If you're intrigued by polyamorous relationships, or have been eyeballing your best friends girl (or guy), why not drop this in their stocking and get the conversation started? It might be the perfect, naughty way for you to spend Christmas eve. Acclaimed director and all-around raconteur Oliver Stone directs this thrilling look at the marijuana drug trade, which finds two best friends losing their shared girlfriend to the Mexican cartel. Its got guns, its got plenty of sex, and its got John Travolta. Savages is available in both R and Unrated versions on the same disc. You can also get the film on DVD, or as a download from both iTunes and Vudu.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Blu-ray
For Your Middle-Aged Single Friend or Alex Jones Fanatic: It's the end of the world as we know it. So why not give that sad, pathetic excuse for a friend something to live for? Conspiracy nuts will love Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, just as much as the hopeless romantic in your life. True fact: Everyone secretly hopes the end of the world is actually going to happen. What better way to go out than with Keira Knightley on your arm, and Steve Carell at your side. The two actors star as a couple of wayward souls who team up for a cross-country road trip, hoping to right a few wrongs in their life before that meteorite hits the planet. Cheery thoughts for a cheery cup of hot coco on Christmas eve. Is that Santa coming down the chimney? Nope. Just another constant reminder that we're all going to bite the big piss biscuit in the sky someday. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is also available on DVD right now.
Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection Blu-ray
For Your One Black Friend: I'm just kidding. Even if you do have one black friend, don't give them this for Christmas. Black people are allergic to Eugene Levy. Truthfully, I'm not sure who this movie is right for. The ironic hipster? We already gave them a movie. Oh, I know...How about that one dude, who always thinks he's really funny, but he's not. Ever. You know the guy. He is constantly telling these slightly off-color jokes that are just so base and stupid, you can't even give them a fake laugh. And then they get offended. And then they call you stupid, because they don't think you understood the impact or weight of the wit coming out of their mouth. Yeah, that guy. Do you still talk to that guy? Are you still friends with him? Do you feel obligated to give him a gift? Well, here you go. But don't spend too much on this shitty disc. If you wait long enough, you can probably find the DVD in the discount bin a day or two before Christmas.
The Watch Blu-ray
For Your Nosey Neighbor: Look out the window. Is your neighbor watching you right now? I bet s/he is. Neighbors love their voyeurism. You, being a neighbor yourself, know exactly what I'm talking about. Why not share that mutual respect for your resident peeping tom with the whole cul-de-sac by spreading around The Watch this Christmas. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade star as four neighbors who start a neighborhood watch committee, only to unravel a mass conspiracy involving space aliens and a whole lot of other very weird hi-jinks. It's also the perfect little film for the sci-fi and comedy nerds on your list. The Watch is also available on DVD, and can be downloaded from both iTunes and Vudu.
Arthur Christmas Blu-ray
For the Whole Family: There aren't too many Christmas movies being released this year, but one the whole family is sure to enjoy is Arthur Christmas. This behind-the-scenes expose on Santa and his workshop explains how Santa delivers billions of presents to the whole world in just one night every single year. With an army of one million combat-style Field Elves and a vast, state-of-the-art control center under the ice of the North Pole, that is how he does it! This year, though, Santa's incredible operation has missed one child, so it's up to Santa's young son, Arthur, to save the day. With his retired Grandsanta, a rebellious young elf, an old sleigh and some untrained reindeer, Arthur sets out on a crazy mission to deliver the very last present of the night! Deck the halls with excitement, fun and wonder with this new Christmas classic, just don't let it be that one final present that doesn't get delivered. Other fun films the whole family can enjoy this year include Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups Blu-ray, Finding Nemo 3D Blu-ray, and Ice Age: Continental Drift Blu-ray.
There you have it. A gift perfect for everyone on your list. If you feel we forgot someone, go ahead and peruse our whole site. Maybe you'll discover something we missed. Have fun, and happy holidays from all of us here at Movieweb!