Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Picks for the National Film Registry 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

As is tradition, it's time for me to reveal my votes for this year's National Film Registry, due to be announced in about a month's time by the Library of Congress. We'll see how many of mine they pick! 

Last year's list spanned the years 1897-1999, and included: Uncle Tom's Cabin (1914), Sons of the Desert (1933), 3:10 to Yuma (1957), A League of Their Own (1992), and The Matrix (1999).   Also included were the usual selection of obscurer, but no-less-deserving picks such as the Technicolor industrial film The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair (1939).  A link to the Hollywood Reporter article from last year can be found here; I was mixed on the selections last year (although a few "biggies" undeniably got their due, like Breakfast at Tiffany's and Dirty Harry).

The National Film Registry started in 1989, and there are currently 600 films on the list.  Although there does seem to be less of a push for great films these days over those of "cultural" importance (Librarian of Congress James M. Billington was quoted last year to say: "These films are not selected as the best American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture"), there is still at least an unconscious push for inclusion of those considered works of art.  If the selections were based entirely on cultural "endurance" over that of a quality assessment, why would such narrative films that made the list last year as The Wishing Ring (1914), Born Yesterday (1950), and Anatomy of a Murder (1959) [films hardly part of the contemporary zeitgeist] make it in over such perennial shut-outs as The Seven Year Itch (1955), The Birds (1963), and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)?

Below are my picks for what should be on this year's list (I only do the narrative feature films: I'll let the Library of Congress decide on the obscure works).  To me, the film that most needs to be added above all (my choice now FOUR years running!) is Blue Velvet.  Last year just one of my picks made the list: A Christmas Story (1983). 

My choices for this go-round, by year:

1920s-30s (2 titles)
The Sheik (1921)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

1940s (5 titles)
The Little Foxes (1941)
Lifeboat (1944)
To Have and Have Not (1944)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

1950s (10 titles)
Harvey (1950)
The Red Badge Of Courage (1951)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Limelight (1952)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Stalag 17 (1953)
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
The Killing (1956)
The King and I (1956)
Auntie Mame (1958)

1960s (10 titles)
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
101 Dalmatians (1961)
Lolita (1962)
The Birds (1963)
The Great Escape (1963)
Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
The Naked Kiss (1964)
Seconds (1966)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

1970s (10 titles)
Love Story (1970)
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974)
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
The Front (1976)
Grease (1978)
Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

1980s (10 titles)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
Arthur (1981)
The World According to Garp (1982)
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Aliens (1986)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Wall Street (1987)
Die Hard (1988)

1990s (2 titles)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Titanic (1997)

2000s (1 title)
Bad Santa (2003)