Every year, the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress adds 25 movies to its selection, honoring them for “their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage.” In the 2019 class, announced today, the films ranged widely, from idiosyncratic New England auteur-driven indies (Clerks, She’s Gotta Have It), family classics (Sleeping Beauty, Old Yeller), and stylized music-driven films (Purple Rain, Amadeus, Zoot Suit).
Carla Hayden, an official Librarian of Congress, stated the relevance of a National Film Registry honor succinctly.
The National Film Registry has become an important record of American history, culture and creativity. Unlike many other honors, the registry is not restricted to a time, place or genre. It encompasses 130 years of the full American cinematic experience – a virtual Olympiad of motion pictures. With the support of Congress, the studios and other archives, we are ensuring that the nation’s cinematic history will be around for generations to come.
Joining 2019’s Olympiad of motion pictures are seven movies directed by women, the most amount added to the registry since its inception in 1989 (which is both inspiring and depressing). Among these women-directed films is Boys Don’t Cry, directed in 1999 by Kimberly Peirce. She took the honor humbly and seriously.
Twenty years later, it still feels like a miracle that ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ got made. I fell in love with Brandon Teena and his desire to live and love as himself in a time and place where that was impossible. I felt a powerful conviction to bring Brandon to life on screen, so audiences would love him as I did and share my horror at his rape and murder. To our amazement, the world embraced Brandon. It is meaningful to me as a filmmaker, a genderqueer and as a person that the Library of Congress has recognized ‘Boys Don’t Cry.’ This moment is a culmination, unimaginable and wonderful.
Purple Rain co-star Apollonia Kotero spoke briefly on the importance of the film as an act of rebellion and representation: “As a young Latina actress, being cast in ‘Purple Rain’ was the opportunity of a lifetime. Roles for women that looked like me were scarce in the ’80s. Prince was never afraid of taking risks. He created a melting pot of cultures and racial interactions within his purple worlds. … Prince would be thrilled.”
Martin Scorsese‘s documentary The Last Waltz also made the list, which Scorsese, as a champion of film preservation, took with esteem: “I’m proud to serve on the National Film Preservation Board, which advises the Librarian of Congress on registry selections and preservation policy.” Additionally, Oliver Stone‘s Platoon, a very American film, made the list. And as for Kevin Smith‘s ultra low-budget Clerks being added… well, we’ll let the always eloquent director speak for himself.
I am overwhelmed! Thank you for acknowledging our little Jersey paean to working hard at not working at all. You took the only magic trick I’ve ever pulled off and legitimized it, placing Clerks into legendary company! SO glad I’ve always paid my taxes! (Thanks to all who voted!) https://t.co/rweaq2nGQd
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) December 11, 2019
Check out the full list of 25 films added to the National Film Registry below — and if you want to nominate some of your faves, here’s how to do so. For more “best of film” lists (’tis the season!) check out the top 10 of 2019 from our very own Tom Reimann, Matt Goldberg, and Vinnie Mancuso.
Films Selected for the 2019 National Film Registry (alphabetical order)
Becky Sharp (1935)
Before Stonewall (1984)
Body and Soul (1925)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903)
Employees Entrance (1933)
Fog of War (2003)
George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute (1937)
I Am Somebody (1970)
Last Waltz, The (1978)
My Name Is Oona (1969)
A New Leaf (1971)
Old Yeller (1957)
The Phenix City Story (1955)
Purple Rain (1984)
Real Women Have Curves (2002)
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Zoot Suit (1981)