One of the fascinating things about our genre of choice is that it began with books, and then spread throughout every other medium. We, as the world’s most prominent scifi radio station, tend to focus on visual media because the rest of the entertainment world does, and so we note with great interest when films in our genre achieve exalted status.
Every year, the National Film Registry announces twenty-five films worthy of preservation and commemoration. This year, the National Film Registry chose as movies that were culturally, historically and/or aesthetically significant: seven movies directed by People of Color and nine films directed by women.
“The National Film Registry is an important record of American history, culture and creativity, captured through one of the great American art forms, our cinematic experience,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. “With the inclusion of diverse filmmakers, we are not trying to set records but rather to set the record straight by spotlighting the astonishing contributions women and people of color have made to American cinema despite facing often-overwhelming hurdles.”
The twenty-five films judged worthy to be preserved for future generations include silent movies, musicals, superhero films, war pictures, documentaries, comedies, and dramas. The stars whom are great-grandchildren on Martian colonies will have access to include Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Jeremy Renner, Sidney Poitier, Frank Sinatra, Dan Ackroyd, Malcolm McDowell, and Jim Belushi.
- Suspense (1913) directed by Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley. starring Lois Weber and Valentine Paul.
- Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) directed by Henry Lehrman, starring Charlie Chaplin in the debut of his Little Tramp character.
- Bread (1918) written and directed by Ida May Park.
- The Battle of the Century (1927) directed by Clyde Bruckman, starring Laurel & Hardy, and featuring a truly epic pie fight.
- With Car and Camera Around the World (1929), directed by and starring Aloha Wanderwell, a documentary by and about the first woman to travel around the world by automobile.
- Cabin in the Sky (1943) directed by Vicente Minelli and Busby Berkeley, starring an all African-American cast.
- Outrage (1950) directed by Ida Lupino, starring Mala Powers and Tod Andrews.
- The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) directed by Otto Preminger, starring Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak (Bell, Book, and Candle)
- Lilies of the Field(1963) directed by Ralph Nelson, starring Sidney Poitier and Lilia Skala.
- A Clockwork Orange (1971) directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Malcolm McDowell.
- Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), written, directed by, and starring Melvin Van Peebles.
- Wattstax (1973) directed by Mel Stewart, a music documentary.
- Grease (1978) directed by Randal Kleiser, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
- The Blues Brothers (1980) directed by John Landis, starring Jim Belushi and Dan Ackroyd as two musicians on “a mission from God.”
- Illusions (1982) written and directed by Julie Dash, starring Lonette McKee.
- Losing Ground (1982) written and directed by Kathleen Collins, starring Seret Scott and Bill Gunn.
- The Joy Luck Club (1993) directed by Wayne Wang and starring France Nuyen (Elaan of Troyius in Star Trek:TOS), Tamlyn Tomita (Babylon 5, Eureka, Heroes, Teen Wolf, Star Trek: Picard), Rosalind Chao (Keiko in ST: DS9 & ST: TNG), and Ming-Na Wen (Agents of SHIELD, Mulan, The Mandalorian).
- The Ground (1993-2001) directed by Robert Beavers. Avant-garde.
- The Devil Never Sleeps (1994) written and directed by Lourdes Portillo, starring Ofelia Almeida and Jesus de la Torre.
- Buena Vista Social Club (1999) directed by Wim Wenders, documentary about Cuban musicians.
- Shrek (2001) directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson. starring the voices of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy.
- Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege (2006) directed by Joan Lander and Puhipau, a documentary about a Hawaiian volcano.
- The Hurt Locker (2008), directed by Kathryn Bigelow, starring the MCU’s Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner.
- The Dark Knight (2008) directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale as Batman.
- Freedom Riders (2010), written and directed by Stanley Nelson, a documentary about segregation.
The Hollywood Reporter explained “Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the librarian each year names 25 motion pictures at least 10 years old to the Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The librarian confers with members of the National Film Preservation Board and others before making the selections. Also considered this year were more than 5,500 titles nominated by the public.” Thus far 800 movies have been listed on the National Film Registry. People Magazine pointed out “The National Film Registry’s list for 2020 includes a record number of female directors.” It appears that there were more female directors in the early days of Hollywood than there are now.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced this year’s films on Monday, 12/15/2020 CE. She said, “The National Film Registry is an important record of American history, culture and creativity, captured through one of the great American art forms, our cinematic experience… With the inclusion of diverse filmmakers, we are not trying to set records but rather to set the record straight by spotlighting the astonishing contributions women and people of color have made to American cinema, despite facing often-overwhelming hurdles.”
How many of these movies have you seen? Do you agree or disagree that they are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”? Which movies would you nominate in their stead? Nominations for 2021 will be accepted here, if you wish to do so. Share your opinions with us in the Comments section below.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.