Blu-ray is a gift from the heavens for film lovers the world over, particularly those who have a consistent or growing appreciation for physical media. The technology -- in the right hands -- has allowed for contemporary films to look as good in your living room as they did in theaters (sometimes even better if your local movie theater keeps their bulbs dim), and for classics to be completely rejuvenated. And while Americans are lucky enough to host the world's foremost distributor of quality blu-rays (Criterion, whose Chungking Express disc is like watching the film's freshly struck master print in 1994), the format is barely removed from its infancy, and it's likely that only a fraction of your favorite flicks are available.
But fear not! Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and the UK have once again come to America's rescue!* Thanks to a different (and simpler) region-coding scheme than that which governs DVDs, Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan all share America's status as a Region-A territory, while a number of the finest UK distributors have been kind enough to issue most of their blu-rays as region-free releases (although it seems like Masters of Cinema is shirking away from this practice).
As a result, a number of good or essential films with which American distributors have not yet had the chance to grace us have nevertheless found a home in my blu-ray collection. Their packaging is largely indistinguishable from my American blu-rays, and my PS3 doesn't discriminate.
So if you're looking for a way to spice up your collection in glorious 1080p, here are some of my favorite Region-A friendly blu-rays that you can't find at your local Best Buy, or wherever the hell else you can find physical media these days.
Tokyo Sonata (Masters of Cinema)
City Girl (Masters of Cinema)
Sparrow (Universe Laser)
Cairo Time (Mongrel Media)
City of God (Alliance)
Good Will Hunting (Alliance)
Double Life of Veronique (Artificial Eye)
Cache (Artificial Eye)
Y Tu Mama Tambien (Icon Home Entertainment)
Sunrise (Masters of Cinema)
Rules of Attraction (Icon Home Entertainment)
Ip Man 1 & 2 pack (Universe Laser)
Mad Detective (Masters of Cinema)
Paranoid Park (Tartan)
Thirst (CJ Entertainment)
Almost Famous (BMG / Arista)
City of Life and Death (MPEG Video Malaysia)
YesAsia.com is probably my favorite boutique importer for this sort of thing (fair prices and they ship promptly and reliably), but amazon.uk is your best bet when it comes to importing the Tartan, Masters of Cinema, and Artificial Eye titles. AsianBlurayGuide.com has all the info you need about the Asian discs, and I'd be remiss to forget the obvious but always helpful Blu-ray.com
*film blogger has no understanding of history beyond film.