6 months ago
The National Film Registry just announced this year’s additions to its prestigious list. The 25 films were selected “because of their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance.” In order to qualify, the movies had to be at least 10 years old. Take a look at 10 of the films that made the class of 2016.
1. The Birds (1963)
One bird appears. Then a few more. Yet more even. Then, finally, they’re damned near everywhere, and you know what they want to do to you. In truth, probably just peck at the bread you’re throwing on the ground nearby. But in the eyes of classic director Alfred Hitchcock, they want to peck you to death.
2. The Breakfast Club (1985)
John Hughes, who gifted the world with coming-of-age staples such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Home Alone, injected school detention with gobs of comedy and ugly-cry emotion in The Breakfast Club. Hughes, who wrote and directed the film, also put together one of the greatest ensemble casts of the ’80s, featuring soon-to-be-superstars Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, and Ally Sheedy. A truly unmissable movie.
3. The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
It’s one of the earliest, best, and most controversial rock docs. Covering Los Angeles’ hardcore punk scene circa 1980, Decline is a must-watch for those interested in the origins of one of America’s angriest and most frenetic musical genres. Get to know its standard-bearers, which included bands like Black Flag, The Germs, and X.
4. East of Eden (1955)
Basically, this is John Steinbeck’s retelling of the Bible’s Cain and Abel allegory. The film would mark actor James Dean’s first major role—and he’d end up receiving a posthumous Oscar nomination for his performance.
5. The Lion King (1994)
Caaaan you feeeeel the loooove tonight? Yes, Sir Elton. Yes, we can.
6. The Princess Bride (1987)
The Princess Bride is a straight-up captain’s log of memorable film quotes. Our favorite one? It’s a tie between Mandy Patinkin’s “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” and Wallace Shawn’s “Inconceivable!” And don’t forget all the great ones performed by former WWF superstar Andre the Giant. This movie just can’t miss.
7. Rushmore (1998)
Directed by Wes Anderson (and written by Anderson and Owen Wilson), Rushmore was Anderson’s first collaboration with actor (and comic genius) Bill Murray. It also has one of the most brilliantly nuggety indie film soundtracks in the history of the medium.
8. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Per the National Film Registry:
“Screenwriter Callie Khouri began her script for Thelma & Louise with a single-sentence premise: ‘Two women go on a crime spree.’ What emerged, from her word processor and eventually from the screen, became a feminist manifesto and a cultural flashpoint that eventually landed the film’s stars, in character, onto the cover of Time magazine.”
All feminist manifestos aside, the movie also features an early (and particularly strong) performance by future superstar and onscreen hunk Brad Pitt. In short, this film has something for everybody.
9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)
Although you might know the 1954 remake better—starring the one-two punch of Kirk Douglas and James Mason (see below)—the 1916 original was a silent movie and the first of its kind shot underwater. “The real star of the film is its special effects,” notes the National Film Registry. “Although they may seem primitive by today’s standards, 100 years ago they dazzled contemporary audiences.” Fat chance there would’ve been Jaws or Poseidon Adventure without Leagues. (Watch the original here.)
10. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Long before Michael Jordan made the much maligned (but also much beloved) cartoons-meet-humans Space Jam, there was the groundbreaking Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Roger Ebert described the film at the time as “not only great entertainment but a breakthrough in craftsmanship.” Catch strong performances from Kathleen Turner and Back to the Future‘s Christopher Lloyd. And realize that this wasn’t some second-rate affair: It was executive-produced by none other than silver screen heavyweight Steven Spielberg.
Check out the National Film Registry website for the complete list.
—Will Levith for RealClearLife