If you love film, then 2023 is the year you need to get into 4K movies. There's no better time to treat yourself to one (or all 20) of the best 4K Blu-rays.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format is so superior because you're getting a viewing experience as close to seeing the film at the cinema as possible. Or, as is the case with older movies, you'll get an even better experience thanks to brand new 4K restorations. There'll be no-one checking their Facebook feed or crunching on popcorn in the row in front either.
You need a UHD Blu-ray spinner to play the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays. Next generation consoles the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 can also play them, which is another reason to buy one if you've been looking for an excuse to upgrade your gaming set up.
Whether you’re buying for yourself or someone else, take a look at these 20 titles that will bring some silver screen sparkle to your home. There's no greater feeling for a film lover to see their favourite flicks in a whole new way, with added detail, rich and refined colour palettes and outstanding audio.
Best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies
1. The Shining
The 4K resoration of Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining debuted at 2019’s Cannes film festival, and now you can see it in all its terrifying glory at home.
Never seen the film? It's a Stephen King adaptation. Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance descends into psychological turmoil after taking up the winter caretaker position at the Overlook Hotel. It's a creepy place.
The original film was already rich in colour but the 4K makeover raises the stakes, bringing a vividness to the carpets, the surroundings, and especially those bloody elevators. Special features include a commentary from Steadicam inventor/operator Garret Brown and historian John Baxter, Vivian Kubrick’s documentary on the film and three featurettes.
2. The Wizard of Oz
80 years after its release, The Wizard of Oz was remastered in 4K to make the moment Dorothy lands in Oz look and feel as dynamic as if it were made today. And even though the disc is a few years old now, it still looks exceptional.
Somewhere over the rainbow, is the magical world of Oz. Judy
Garland’s Dorothy in need of the Wizard to return her home to Kansas. You know the drill.
The 4K edition's special features include a commentary from Oz historian John Fricke and Barbara Freed-Saltzman (daughter of producer Arthur Freed) plus a "Making of" featurette. There’s also a singalong feature, a video storybook read by Angela Lansbury and more.
3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s psychedelic novel is a cult classic that deserved its 2019 4K restoration. The film follows Thompson alter-ego Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his attorney Dr Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) as they attempt to chase a story only to be derailed by their continuous intake of psychoactive narcotics.
The 4K makeover brings a brilliantly rich quality to an already hallucinatory movie shot in widescreen Super 35. To go with a gorgeous restoration, the two-disc edition also includes the documentary For No Good Reason, about illustrator Ralph Steadman, a new Gilliam commentary moderated by Phil Stubbs, a featurette, behind-the-scenes and archival footage plus so much more.
4. Blade Runner 2049
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 is a science fiction sequel to the 1982 classic Blade Runner. It’s set thirty years after the original, and the story follows LAPD officer K (played by Ryan Gosling) who uncovers a long-buried secret that could plunge society into chaos. K embarks on an adventure to find retired Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who has been missing for decades to try and solve the mystery.
The legendary Roger Deakins was Blade Runner 2049's cinematographer and the 4K/HDR version is absolutely stunning. There’s a fantastic level of detail on faces and closer props, but it’s the immense cityscapes that look wonderful and incredibly realistic. We could just sit and watch those all day without even seeing characters and hearing dialogue.
5. The Dark Knight Trilogy
Granted this is a trilogy and not a movie, but we’ve included a few series in this list because we simply couldn’t choose just one movie and many come in wonderful 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray special edition boxes.
This spectacular Batman run from Christopher Nolan, which includes Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, is breath-taking in 4K Ultra HD – even just for the gritty cityscapes alone. If you’ve seen all three movies before you’re likely to notice the biggest upgrade in Batman Begins, the HDR grading brings a contrast boost and there’s a phenomenal level of detail whether you’re looking at buildings or faces.
6. Top Gun: Maverick
The best place to watch this movie is in the cinema, so it feels like you’re in the cockpit with the actors. The second best is this 4K version. With the right TV, you’ll be completely blown away by the picture and groundbreaking cinematography here but there’s also Dolby Atmos on offer as well – again, you’ll need the right home cinema tech to make the most of it – to make the most of the rumbling jet engines and weapons fire.
We don’t really need to tell you the story here, do we? It feels like everyone was talking about Top Gun: Maverick last year and for good reason, it’s the sequel to Top gun and there are plenty of familiar faces and nail-bitingly tense flying sequences.
7. Apocalypse Now: Final Cut
Francis Ford Coppola says this version of his wartime masterpiece is his favourite, and it’s clear why. The Final Cut, running at 3hr 23min, is a visceral, cinematic experience that still excites more than 40 years after its release.
Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard is on the hunt for a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a demigod in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The 4K restoration and new edit does this groundbreaking war film ultimate justice and should be in every cinephile’s movie library.
8. Pulp Fiction
Few films are as cult and quotable as Tarantino’s 1994 hit Pulp Fiction. We’ve seen reviewers describe the 4K Ultra HD as a boost over the original Blu-ray, which means it’s a must-see for big fans of Pulp Fiction. Sure not everything looks fantastic here given the movie is from the mid-90s, but you’ll see faces and expressions with more clarity than ever before. Which adds more authenticity and character to the story.
9. John Wick 1-3
The John Wick movies already look incredible, but they really pop in this 4K Ultra HD box set, especially night time scenes that are visually stunning with rain-soaked streets, colourful neon lights and fast-paced chase scenes. The enhanced HDR contrast works well for dark scenes too – of which there are many in this trilogy – allowing you to see even more of the action and fight sequences that might have been lost in previous iterations.
If you’ve never seen the John Wick movies before, now is a perfect time as the fourth has just hit cinema screens. It’s about a man called John Wick, an ex-assassin who wants to get out of the business, but various events prevent him from leaving his dark past behind him. Except lots of violence, excellent choreography and gorgeous (and at times OTT in the best way) sets.
10. Once Upon a Time In... Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s latest is a love letter to Old Hollywood. It follows the misadventures of two best friends, TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they navigate the changing cultural landscape of 1969’s Los Angeles. Fledgling screen star Sharon Tate is settling into married life but soon her life collides with Rick's and Cliff's thanks to the ominous actions of the Manson Family.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is everything you could want in a Tarantino movie, and includes a killer final act that will see you fist pumping the air. It looks gorgeous in 4K too.
That’s not it, though. Special features include over twenty additional minutes of footage that delves deeper into the world of Rick Dalton’s Hollywood, from production design to costume design, cars and more.
Another Christoper Nolan entry. But what can we say, the man knows how to make a great-looking movie. Tenet is a twisting, turning sci-fi action movie about a secret agent who’s sucked into a time travel mystery. Expect fantastic detail and depth from the 4K Ultra HD format here. It’s a visually arresting movie anyway, but watching in such high-definition really adds to the atmosphere. As well as how stunning Tenet looks, it also has a fantastic score thanks to composer Ludwig Göransson. It’s filled with thumping tracks and beautiful arrangements, tinged with sadness and dread.
Michael Man creates moody movies that have a dream-like quality to them at times and a fantastic color palette and Heat is well worth a watch in 4K Ultra HD, even if you've seen it many times before.
Fans have mostly praised this version, but there’s even more distinctive, cool and steely blue tones here that are contentious – although we love them. Added dtails are superb across the board, as always facial expressions feel more authentic and it’s interesting to see little touches, like clothing textures. There are also some great features on offer here, including a new commentary for the 4K Ultra HD version from Michael Mann.
If you’re yet to watch it, it’s a must-see in our books, an irresistible cat and mouse drama with plenty of thrills and phenomenal performances from Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer, among others.
13. The Lord of The Rings Trilogy
If we could pick only one movie series to watch in the sharpest and richest detail imaginable, it’d be Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. This box set features The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. In this boxed set you’ll also get the extended editions – but of course there are theatrical cuts too if you don’t have days and days to spare. It's a real treat to watch these 4K Ultra HD formats, you'll notice and hear things you never realised were there before – yes, even die-hard fans. Dark scenes are handled really well here as well, so anything that might have felt a bit too dark or blocky-looking in the past is now visible and clear, and colours look rich and bold.
14. Training Day
The 2001 movie Training Day features a truly stellar performance from Denzel Washington as narcotics officer Alonso Harris, alongside Ethan Hawke as Jake Hoyt. The latter is up for promotion and spends the day with Alonso to learn about the LA drug scene. But Alonso isn’t what he appears to be, and the movie takes the audience on a fast-paced, gritty, and tense journey full of twists and turns.
If you already own the regular DVD, the 4K upgrade is definitely worth considering. It breathes new life into the movie and reveals a level of fine detail that may have gone unnoticed before, such as facial features and building textures. However, some reviews have pointed out that the restoration leans towards the green and teal side of the colour palette, creating a very cool but divisive effect that some people may love.
15. True Romance
This 1992 movie, directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, is one of those classic movies everyone’s seen and loves to quote. All the more reason to watch it again, and invest in the 4K version. It’s about an Elvis-obsessed comic book story employee called Clarence Worley (played by Christian Slater) and Alabama Whitman (played by Patricia Arquette) who, all in the space of 24 hours, get married and go on the run.
There are some fantastic, limited edition steelbook versions of True Romance available packed with extras and artwork. We also like that the 4K Blu-Ray features several audio commentary options, including one with Tony Scott, another with Tarantino and a third with Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette.
The 1987 classic action movie Predator is always a joy to watch, following the story of a military rescue team deep in the South American jungle, led by Vietnam War veteran Major Alan ‘Dutch’ Schaefer (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Except things don’t go quite as planned when they’re hunted by a mysterious creature, the Predator. In this 4K version of Predator expect elevated detail and more vivid colours, however, some reviewers do notice a grainy quality.
17. Event Horizon
If you like your sci-fi movies with a hefty dose of cosmic horror, then watch Event Horizon’s chilling, bloody gore in Ultra HD. We’ve seen reviewers describe the original movie as a “challenge” to make the jump to 4K, with some effects looking a little comical. However, in other respects the details, especially the facial detail, are a real treat for fans to see for the first time.
For those who haven’t seen it before, Event Horizon follows the story of a rescue crew on a mission to investigate a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and then returned, bringing back something dark and horrifying with it.
DC’s comic superhero movie Shazam! was a runaway success. It told the story of a young boy (Asher Angel) imbued with the magical powers of an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) to become the adult hero Shazam! (Zachary Levi).
This standalone movie was a campy breath of fresh air in the somewhat dark DC Extended Universe and in 4K Ultra HD it’s even brighter. The disc comes with some serious special features including test footage, outtakes, deleted and extended scenes, featurettes, gag reels and even more. This is a good one to get, given the sequel of the film is also out now.
19. Captain Marvel
It really is refreshing to finally see a female-led Marvel movie – and it’s a great movie, too. It’s all about the origin of Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) who, when the movie begins, is called Vers and lives on the planet Kree. However, things aren’t as they seem and she soon uncovers the truth of her past. It’s full of twists, laugh-out-loud funny moments and great action scenes.
One thing we really enjoyed when we saw Captain Marvel on the big screen at the cinema was the bold color palette, and that packs even more of a punch in this 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray. The visual upgrade on the 4K format enhances the already fantastic special effects and, as you’d expect, details are rendered incredibly well here too, especially for characters’ faces and smaller touches, like clothing and texture.
20. Universal Soldier
This 90s sci-fi classic, directed by Roland Emmerich, pits Jean-Claude Van Damme’s super-soldier Luc Deveraux against Dolph Lundgren’s deranged Andrew Scott. Both are used by a secret US government program as killing machines. When their memories start to return, so does the deep-seated animosity between the two. Chaos ensues.
Picture quality is more rich and dynamic thanks to a new 4K restoration. This special edition also includes a commentary track from Emmerich, van Damme and Lundgren, two "Making of" featurettes, an alternate ending, behind-the-scenes footage, and the original trailer.
- Fancy a movie night but don't have a way to play Blu-rays? Check out our guide to the best movies on Netflix
This article has been updated with additional entries by Becca Caddy.