Just before the end of the year, the Library of Congress named 25 more films to be inducted into the National Film Registry, as it does every year. These films, as the Library notes:
are not selected as the "best" American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring significance to American culture.
So they're all pretty important. Will that fact -- or the other salient one, that I haven't even seen most of these films -- stop me from ranking them? Not a bit. You can read the Library's reasons for including these films here. They don't even bother to rank them. Cowards.
The films, in order of importance as determined by me:
2. Airplane! (1980): Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit ranking movies.
3. Newark Athlete (1891): Because it was made by two guys who worked for Thomas Edison, and without him, there'd be no movies at all.
4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945): Because the lives of ordinary working-class people has been forgotten in recent cinema, and shouldn't be.
5. All the President's Men (1976): So quaint, the idea of reporters doing actual journalism.
6. Let There Be Light (1946): John Huston's doc about PTSD in WWII was banned by the army for being too honest, which means everyone needs to see it.
7. Cry of Jazz (1959): This short about intellectualism, racism, art, and cultural hegemony crams a lot of ideas into one little film.
8. The Bargain (1914): Because it's a Western from a time when people were still alive who knew the actual frontier.
9. It's a Gift (1934): It's W.C. Fields. 'Nuff said.
10. Saturday Night Fever (1977): Disco may be dead, but this flick lives on.
11. The Front Page (1931): Perhaps the first screwball comedy, a subgenre we've forgotten how to do well lately.
12. Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967): This student short and the basis for the feature THX 1138 reminds us of the time before George Lucas gave us Jar Jar Binks.
13. Preservation of the Sign Language (1913): Purely cinematic in that it is all about visuals, in how the deaf talk with their hands, and why this is culturally vital.
15. A Trip Down Market Street (1906): This documentary drive around San Francisco just prior to the big earthquake reminds us that film records specific places and times in a way that no other medium can.
16. The Exorcist (1973): Because horror films can be art, too.
17. Lonesome (1928): Like it or not, someone had to make the first rom-com, and this could be it.
18. Grey Gardens (1976): When documentaries got weird.
19. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937): It's the Great Depression, and people are sad and poor. Plus: See? Movies don't always have to have happy endings!
20. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971): When Westerns went arty.
21. Study of a River (1996): It's the documentary as landscape painting.
22. I Am Joaquin (1969): Hispanic pride rising.
23. Malcolm X (1992): Remember when Hollywood made crowd-pleasing movies about great historical figures? That was a fun time.
24. Our Lady of the Sphere (1969): It's art film as found art, with a bit of Terry Gilliam thrown in.
25. Tarantella (1940): Could be the first music video.