Turn the lights down, grab some snacks, and tune into your screen of choice—the National Film Registry's 2021 recommendations and selections have been announced!
25 films have been selected each year—for the past 33 years—to be preserved in the Library of Congress, showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage. 2021's selected films include award-winners, big-budget blockbusters, silent films, independent shorts, animated films, cult classics, documentaries, book-to-screen adaptations, and many more, spanning a period from 1902 to 2008.
You can browse and check out the majority of this year's selected films from our catalog, available in DVD and Blu-ray formats, while others can be found in the public domain or viewable via video-sharing websites like YouTube and Vimeo.
The total number of films in the registry is now 825!
2021 National Film Registry Film Additions (in alphabetical order):
Chicana (1979, Internet Archive)
Historical documentary short that traces the history of Mexican indigenous women through artwork, photography, documentary footage, narration, and testimony.
Cooley High (1975, DVD)
Coming-of-age dramedy set in Chicago centering on the lives and misadventures of Black high schoolers. The film was an influence on future Black directors like John Singleton and Spike Lee, as well as being the basis for the classic sitcom What's Happening!!.
Evergreen (1965, YouTube)
Student film from The Doors' keyboardist and songwriter, Ray Manzarek.
Flowers and Trees (1932, YouTube)
A significant animated feat, as this cartoon was the first three-strip Technicolor film shown in movie theaters. After its success, Walt Disney went on to make only full-color animated shorts and films, including Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (which was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1989)
The Flying Ace (1926, DVD)
A romantic drama starring an all-Black cast, including Kathryn Boyd playing a character inspired by Bessie Colman, the first African American woman pilot.
Hellbound Train (1930, DVD)
Silent, evangelical film painstakingly reassembled from more than 100 reels of 16mm film at the Library of Congress by filmmaker S. Torriano Berry.
Jubilo (1919, Internet Archive)
Another silent film, this time starring vaudeville performer, cowboy, humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator, and Cherokee citizen Will Rogers.
The Long Goodbye (1973, DVD)
Neo-noir satire turned cult classic, Robert Altman's take on Raymond Chandler’s down but not out private dick Phillip Marlowe (Elliot Gould) is a highlight of 1970s filmmaking.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001, DVD and Blu-ray)
The first film in Peter Jackson's trilogy adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy tome. Filmed on location in the lush nature of New Zealand and featuring grand special fx, this is a film that truly needs to be experienced on the big screen in a theater.
The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971, DVD)
Documentary about the life (and untimely death at the hands of the police) of Fred Hampton, the then 21-year old leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, DVD and Blu-ray)
Master of Horror Wes Craven's low-budget slasher flick that birthed a fright film icon, Freddy Krueger.
Pink Flamingos (1972, DVD)
The cult classic film that truly put John Waters on the top of the cinematic trash heap, made Divine a star, and practically invented the idea of the midnite movie.
Requiem-29 (1970, YouTube)
UCLA's Ethno-Communications Program's collective student film of the East Los Angeles Chicano Moratorium Against the War in Vietnam, on August 29, 1970, including the brutal police response, and later funeral and inquest into the death of journalist Ruben Salazar.
Return of the Jedi (1983, DVD and Blu-ray)
The final chapter in the original Star Wars trilogy space opera sees Han Solo rescued from his carbonite slumber at Jabba the Hutt's palace, the Rebels fly off to destroy the second Death Star, Luke battles Darth Vader again... and lots of Ewoks.
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979, DVD)
The title says it all: legendary comedian Richard Pryor delivers a live and uncensored comedy set that will not only make you laugh, but also think.
Ringling Brothers Parade Film (1902, YouTube)
Recording of a circus parade in Indianapolis, IN, restored by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.
Selena (1997, DVD)
Biopic of the tragically slain pop star, played by Jennifer Lopez in her first starring role.
Sounder (1972, DVD)
Depression-era coming-of-age drama about a family of Black southern sharecroppers struggling with economic and personal hardships. Adapted from the 1970 novel of the same name by William H. Armstrong.
Stop Making Sense (1984, DVD)
Visually and aurally entertaining and innovative concert film from New York new wave art punk pioneers, Talking Heads.
Strangers on a Train (1951, DVD)
Classic thriller from the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, concerning two killers who make a devious plan to swap murders, giving each other the perfect alibi.
WALL•E (2008, DVD and Blu-ray)
Pixar Animation's uniquely original take on a love story, but between two robots who are trying to save the Earth. 2009 Academy Award-winner for Outstanding Animated Feature.
The Watermelon Woman (1996, DVD)
A young, Black, lesbian filmmaker explores the erasure of Black women from film history as she works on a documentary about the life of Fae Richards.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, DVD)
Psychological horror film featuring two sisters, Baby Jane (Bette Davis) and her disabled sister Blanche (Joan Crawford), as they quite literally drive each other crazy. 1963 Academy Award-winner for Best Costume Design.
Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987, Vimeo)
Documentary examining the 1982 murder of automotive engineer Vincent Chin by two white autoworkers in Detroit. The film raises issues concerning our justice system, civil rights, and the role of the media in our society.
The Wobblies (1979, YouTube)
Documentary about the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) as they organized and demanded better wages, healthcare, overtime pay, and safer working conditions.
The National Film Preservation Board allows you to nominate films (up to 50 titles per year!), so feel free to nominate your favorite films or ones you think are woefully underrated and deserve some attention. If you need some ideas or a refresher, check out this list of films currently not in the Registry.
How many of these selected films have you seen? Which films in this list have you always wanted to watch but never got around to viewing? Which films do you think should be included in next year's selections? Let us know in the comments!