Criterion only has a handful of Best Picture winners in its collection (at least the modern DVD and Blu-ray iteration), most of them several decades old. The oldest is 1934's It Happened One Night and the most recent until now was 1991's The Silence of the Lambs. Both films won the "Big Five" Oscars: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay.
But in October they'll add the most recent winner to the roster: Bong Joon-ho's Parasite, which became the first foreign-language film to win the top award. It also won Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and the newly renamed Best International Feature. It was indeed the best film of 2019. (And in a way, its win feels like the last good thing to happen in 2020.) While the film was already released on Blu-ray and 4K UHD, Criterion's disc comes loaded with extras, including an audio commentary by Bong; the black-and-white version of the film; as well as interviews, lectures and press conferences from the director's amazing 2019. That disc will be released October 27.
None of the rest of the titles Criterion will release in October are nearly as big, but each represents a key piece of film history.
For fans of Jean-Luc Godard's revolutionary cinema, there's Pierrot Le Fou, his wild road movie. One of the most crucial movies of the French New Wave, the film covers the expedition of a married man and his lover as they embark on a satirical journey across France. Newly remastered, the disc includes several 2007 documentaries and interviews, plus some thoughts on the film from 1965. It will be available for purchase on October 6.
Claudine was a landmark independent Black film, focusing on the economic inequality many African-Americans faced while never being dreary. The radiant Diahann Carroll received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, going toe-to-toe with James Earl Jones as her romantic foil. The hit soundtrack featured songs by Curtis Mayfield and Gladys Knight. With a 4K remaster and uncompressed audio, the film will look and sound better than it ever has. Special features include a vintage commentary, plus a new conversation with Robert Townsend and Ashley Clark. The new disc will be out October 13.
1950's The Gunfighter was one of many subversive Westerns made as the genre was fading in popularity. Gregory Peck plays Jimmy Ringo, a legendary killer who's looking to live the quiet life, but can't help but get sucked back into the seedy underbelly of his frontier town. The newly remastered film features interviews with historians and the original filmmakers. Plus, the booklet includes an essay by critic K. Austin Collins, one of the best in the business. You can pick up your copy on October 20.
Last but not least is The Hit, which I had never heard of until now, despite hailing from a solid director and featuring a great cast. Stephen Frears (The Grifters) directs Terence Stamp as an ex-assassin enjoying retirement in Spain. At least until two hitmen arrive to take him out, played by Academy Award nominees John Hurt and Tim Roth. The score by Eric Clapton and Paco de Lucía should sound tremendous. While a little light on extras, this is one of the great things Criterion does: rescue films that aren't prominent in the public consciousness and give them loving restorations. The Hit will be ready on Friday, October 30.