Posted in Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – National Film Registry

I love watching documentaries about movies.  Seriously, I could sit and watch film documentaries all damn day long and still want more.  And last night was no exception.   I watched a documentary on Netflix called These Amazing Shadows from 2011 and is about the National Film Registry.  Don’t know what the NFR is?  Well, let me educate you.


Back in 1986, millionaire and business mogul Ted Turner realized he had no idea what the hell to do with all his money, so he decided to buy all the rights to MGM’s movies.  That meant he could pretty much do what he wanted to them, so he got the bright (re: stupid) idea to start colorizing all the black and white movies.  That meant that classics like Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life were now IN COLOR instead of their iconic black and white.  Which looked totally weird.


Obviously people were completely pissed off about this, and rightly so.  What made Ted Turner think he could do this to these works of art?  QUOTE: “Well, they’re my movies now.  I can do what I want.”  END QUOTE.

Luckily Congress realized they were dealing with a madman, so in 1988 they established the National Film Preservation Act, which does the following:

Prohibits any person from knowingly distributing or exhibiting to the public a film that has been materially altered, or a black and white film that has been colorized and is included in the Registry, unless such films are labeled disclosing specified information.” (Wikipedia)



So starting in 1989, the NFR started choosing 25 movies a year for the registry, “films that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  As long as the film is ten years old or older, it’s eligible for the registry.  Then the National Film Preservation Board decides amongst all the nominated films and picks the 25 inductees of that year.  I’m sure it’s a long, grueling progress that has spawned many arguments and fights and hair-pulling, but ohmygod that sounds like a fun job.

Anyway, since its inaugural year in 1989, 600 films have been registered with the NFR.  I’ve seen 81 of them, roughly about 14% of them.  That’s not very many.  However, I’m positive that I know people who probably haven’t even seen 5% of those movies, so I’m looking pretty good.

Of course as soon as I figured all this out I quickly decided that I need to see ALL THE MOVIES.  Well, obviously I’d be stupid to think that would happen any time soon.  So let’s just focus on the movies that I HAVE seen.  And while we’re at it, let’s pick the AWESOME 13 OF THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY!

(In chronological order because I can’t narrow anything else down because my brain hurts from looking at 600 movies).

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)


Why It’s Important: It was Walt Disney’s very first full-length animated feature film.

Why It’s Awesome:  It’s over 75 years old and it still looks and sounds amazing.  Also, the Evil Queen.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)


Why It’s Important:  It turned Judy Garland into a star and became a cultural phenomenon.

Why It’s Awesome:  The music is timeless, the effects are amazing, and the end makes me cry every time.  Also, Ruby Slippers.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)


Why It’s Important:  It gave Technicolor the chance to show off like never before, and it depicts American life in the Midwest at the turn of the century.

Why It’s Awesome:  Judy Garland has never been better, the songs are fantastic, and the costumes are gorgeous.  Also, all those damn parties.

The Sound of Music (1965)

MPW-6725Why It’s Important:  It’s cinematography at its best, plus classic music and a political message.

Why It’s Awesome:  Because it takes place in Austria where kids sing in the mountains and put on puppet shows.  Also, the gazebo.

The Godfather (1972)


Why It’s Important:  Most critics agree it’s one of the greatest movies ever made.

Why It’s Awesome:  It’s about gangsters and families and weddings and horse heads and cannoli.  Also, SICILY.

The Exorcist (1973)


Why It’s Important:  At the time, it was one of the scariest movies anyone had ever seen.

Why It’s Awesome:  It’s still one of the scariest movies people have seen.  Also, that horrifying still-haunts-me-today backwards spider crawl.

Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980)


Why They’re Important:  They had the most significant impact on film than any other movie in history, and still impacting it today.

Why They’re Awesome:  Do I even have to say?  It’s freaking Star Wars.  Also, Yoda.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)


Why It’s Important:  It married two influential filmmakers (Lucas and Spielberg) to create a perfect action film and a cultural icon.

Why It’s Awesome:  John Williams’ score soars, Harrison Ford is HOT (literally and figuratively), and it’s super fun to watch.  Also, snakes.

Halloween (1978)


Why It’s Important:  It was one of the first “slasher films” ever made, spawning a whole decade of copycats.

Why It’s Awesome:  Michael Myers scares the poo out of me.  Also, DON’T ASSUME HE’S DEAD BECAUSE HE’S NOT.

Back to the Future (1985)


Why It’s Important:  It remains of the best and most original written movies ever, plus has a huge fan base that continues to this day.

Why It’s Awesome:  After 30+ years I still laugh at almost every line because Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Crispin Glover are SPOT-ON.  Also, 1.21 Gigawatts.

Silence of the Lambs (1991)


Why It’s Important:  It broke all sorts of rules when it came to women’s roles, not only in film but in the police force, and Anthony Hopkins delivers an amazing performance.

Why It’s Awesome:  You can’t help but like Hannibal Lector even though he’s a serial killer, and the climax of the film is unlike no other.  Also, fava beans.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)


Why It’s Important:  It was the first animated feature film to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.

Why It’s Awesome:  Belle is the Best Disney Princess Ever because she’s a book nerd who doesn’t like jocks, and Beast is kinda sexy.  Also, Enchanted Castle.

The Matrix (1999)


Why It’s Important:  It’s visual effects changed filmmaking forever.

Why It’s Awesome:  It’s mind-blowing to watch and philosophically challenging, and the fight scenes are amazeballs.  Also, Keanu Reeves.

Obviously I’m leaving out a bunch:  Gone With the Wind, West Side Story, Jaws, The Philadelphia Story to name a few, but I’d be writing forever if I included them all.  So go do yourself a favor and SEE THESE MOVIES, if not all 600 of them if you got the time.  It’s just as educational as going to a museum to see priceless works of art…that you can do in your pajamas on your couch.



I have way too much information floating around in my head, which is why I write things down. I find that books, movies, music, and television are much more interesting than my local news.

2 thoughts on “The Awesome 13 – National Film Registry

  1. Thanks for recognizing the National Film Registry and the documentary “These Amazing Shadows.” So glad you chose to share it with your readers. One thing you didn’t mention is that reguar folks are encouraged to submit nominations each year for up to 50 films that they would like to see added to the National Film Registry. Please send your nominations to me, For more information about the Registry and the National Film Preservation Board, go to Looking forward to a flood of nominations! Yours in film fandom, Donna Ross, National Film Registry, Library of Congress.

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