The 1943 musical Cabin In The Sky, The Blues Brothers, A Clockwork Orange, Grease and The Dark Knight are just four of the films that are part of this year’s class of inductees onto the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. Other classic titles being added include the drug addiction drama The Man With The Golden Arm (1955) which starred Frank Sinatra, Melvin Van Peebles’ 1971 Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, which is generally considered one of the first and most influential blaxploitation films and the 1993 drama The Joy Luck Club, which looks at the culture clash between Chinese immigrant women and their more Americanized daughters.
Musicals and stories centering on people of color are the two dominating themes of this year’s list. While once a staple of Hollywood output during Tinseltown’s Golden Age, Grease and The Blues Brothers represent two more recent contributions to the musical genre that still are popular with audiences today.
Lilies Of The Field (1963) was an early, breakout role for Sidney Poitier, who would become the first African American man to win an Academy Award the following year. Kathleen Collins’ Losing Ground (1982) is one of the first feature films to be directed by a Black woman. Julie Dash’s student film Illusions (1982) confronted racism within Hollywood.
Sitting in the intersection of this year’s honored musicals and films about people of color are the all Black ensemble Cabin In The Sky – which starred Lena Horne and Eddie Anderson, the 1973 concert film Wattstax and Wim Wenders 1999 documentary Buena Vista Social Club.
This year’s selections include records of nine films directed by women and seven directed by filmmakers of color.
In a press statement, the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden praised this year’s list’s diversity –
The National Film Registry is an important record of American history, culture and creativity, captured through one of the great American artforms, our cinematic experience. With the inclusion of diverse filmmakers, we are not trying to set records but rather to set the record straight by spotlighting the astonishing contributions women and people of color have made to American cinema, despite facing often-overwhelming hurdles.
The Library of Congress names 25 films annually to the National Film Registry as per the dictates of the National Film preservation Act. The purpose is to build a collection of film that is considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. Films added to the Registry are preserved in accordance with the terms of the National Film Preservation Act. Copies of each film named to the Registry will be stored at the Library of Congress’ cold-storage vaults at the Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center near Culpeper, Virginia.
Previous films named to the Registry range from Star Wars to the 8mm color motion picture footage shot by Abraham Zapruder of the assassination of President John F Kennedy. All nominated films must be at least ten years old.
This year’s inductees brings the total number of films on the registry to 800.
Films Selected for the 2020 National Film Registry (chronological order)
1. Suspense (1913)
2. Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
3. Bread (1918)
4. The Battle of the Century(1927)
5. With Cara and Camera Around the World (1929)
6. Cabin in the Sky (1943)
7. Outrage (1950)
8. The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)
9. Lilies of the Field (1963)
10. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
11. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)
12. Wattstax (1973)
13. Grease (1978)
14. The Blues Brothers (1980)
15. Losing Ground (1982)
16. Illusions (1982)
17. The Joy Luck Club (1993)
18. The Devil Never Sleeps (1994)
19. Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
20. The Ground (1993-2001)
21. Shrek (2001)
22. Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege (2006)
23. The Hurt Locker (2008)
24. The Dark Knight (2008)
25. Freedom Riders (2010)