Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Picks for the National Film Registry 2015

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 1913-2004, and included: The Dragon Painter (1919), Down Argentine Way (1940),  House of Wax (1953), Rio Bravo (1959), Rosemary's Baby (1968), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), The Big Lebowski (1998), and Saving Private Ryan (1998).   Also included were the usual selection of obscurer, but no-less-deserving picks such as Please Don't Bury Me Alive! (1976) considered to be the first Chicano feature film.  A link to the Hollywood Reporter article from last year can be found here.

The National Film Registry started in 1989, and there are currently 650 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 has been quoted 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 Power and the Glory (1933), Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), and The Gang's All Here (1943) [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 Grease (1978)?

Below are my picks for what should be on this year's list (I only do well-known 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 SIX years running!) is Blue Velvet.  Last year three of my picks made the list: Rosemary's Baby (1968), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), and The Big Lebowski (1998). 

My choices for this go-round, by year, are:

1920s-30s-40s (6 titles)
The Sheik (1921)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1934)
The Little Foxes (1941)
Lifeboat (1944)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

1950s (10 titles)
Father of the Bride (1950)
Harvey (1950)
The Red Badge of Courage (1951)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Limelight (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)
The Misfits (1961)
Lolita (1962)
The Birds (1963)
The Great Escape (1963)
Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
The Naked Kiss (1964)
A Patch of Blue (1965)
Seconds (1966)

1970s (10 titles)
Love Story (1970)
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
The Poseidon Adventure (1971)
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
The Front (1976)
Grease (1978)
The Jerk (1979)
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)
Apollo 13 (1995)
Titanic (1997)

2000s (2 titles)
Bad Santa (2003)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)