2015 National Film Registry

by Pictoris | created - 10 Jan 2016 | updated - 23 Apr 2018 | Public

Like every year since 1989, the Library of Congress added 25 titles to the National Film Registry (NFR) whose aim is to conserve and preserve cinematographic works considered important from a cultural, historical or aesthetic point of view.

The following list contains the 25 new titles added in the NFR in December 2015. For each title, there is an extract of the justification published on the official website of the Library of Congress.

In your opinion, which of these titles most deserves to be preserved for the future generations?

Discuss here and live poll here!

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1. Being There (1979)

PG | 130 min | Comedy, Drama

84 Metascore

A simpleminded, sheltered gardener becomes an unlikely trusted advisor to a powerful businessman and an insider in Washington politics.

Director: Hal Ashby | Stars: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden

Votes: 62,320 | Gross: $30.18M

"(...) Jerzy Kosinski, assisted by award-winning screenwriter Robert C. Jones, adapted his 1971 novel for the screenplay which Hal Ashby directed with an understatement to match the subtlety and precision of Sellers’ Academy Award-nominated performance. (...) Film critic Robert Ebert said he admired the film for "having the guts to take this totally weird conceit and push it to its ultimate comic conclusion." That conclusion is a philosophically complex film that has remained fresh and relevant."

2. Black and Tan (1929)

Not Rated | 19 min | Drama, Short, Music

Duke Ellington in a jazz musical short with a tragic plotline.

Director: Dudley Murphy | Stars: Duke Ellington, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Fredi Washington, Hall Johnson Choir

Votes: 362

"One of the first short musical films to showcase African-American jazz musicians (...). The film reflects the cultural, social and artistic explosion of the 1920s that became known as the Harlem Renaissance."

3. Drácula (1931)

Unrated | 104 min | Fantasy, Horror

Centuries-old vampire Dracula preys upon the innocent Eva and her friends.

Directors: George Melford, Enrique Tovar Ávalos | Stars: Carlos Villarías, Lupita Tovar, Barry Norton, Pablo Álvarez Rubio

Votes: 3,807

"When talkies arrived, American studios began shooting foreign-language versions for international and non-English-speaking domestic markets, generally at the same time they filmed the English versions. In one of the most famous examples of this practice, a second crew—including a different director and stars—shot at night on the same sets used during the day for the English version of the Bram Stoker classic starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Tod Browning. In recent years, the Spanish version of the film, which is 20 minutes longer, has been lauded as superior in many ways to the English one, some theorizing that the Spanish-language crew had the advantage of watching the English dailies and improving on camera angles and making more effective use of lighting (...)."

4. Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906)

Not Rated | 7 min | Short, Comedy, Fantasy

The fiend faces the spectacular mind-bending consequences of his free-wheeling rarebit binge.

Directors: Wallace McCutcheon, Edwin S. Porter | Star: Jack Brawn

Votes: 1,601

"(...) this short fantasy comedy by film pioneer Edwin S. Porter employed groundbreaking trick photography, including some of the earliest uses of double exposure in American cinema (...). To create the dream effects, he used a spinning camera and moveable set pieces, along with multiple exposures. Stop-motion and matte paintings added to the film’s whimsical appeal."

5. Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (1975)

Not Rated | 59 min | Documentary, Biography

A documentary film about the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

Directors: Thom Andersen, Fay Andersen, Morgan Fisher | Stars: Dean Stockwell, Eadweard Muybridge

Votes: 229

"(...) this documentary delves into the work of the man whose pioneering studies and concept of persistence of vision led to the development of motion pictures. The film looks at Eadweard Muybridge’s personal and professional struggles, and examines the philosophical implications of his sequential photographs (...). In the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum described the production as "One of the best essay films ever made on a cinematic subject."

6. Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (1894)

1 min | Documentary, Short

A man (Thomas Edison's assistant) takes a pinch of snuff and sneezes. This is one of the earliest Thomas Edison films and was the first motion picture to be copyrighted in the United States.

Director: William K.L. Dickson | Star: Fred Ott

Votes: 1,720

"One of the earliest film recordings and the oldest surviving copyrighted motion picture (...)".

7. A Fool There Was (1915)

Not Rated | 67 min | Drama

A married diplomat falls hopelessly under the spell of a predatory woman.

Director: Frank Powell | Stars: Runa Hodges, Mabel Frenyear, Edward José, May Allison

Votes: 745

"The phenomenal success of "A Fool There Was"—based on a Rudyard Kipling poem and a subsequent play—set off a publicity campaign unparalleled at the time centering on its star, an unknown actress bearing the exotic name of Theda Bara. Bara was promoted as "the woman with the most beautifully wicked face in the world" and became filmdom’s quintessential "vamp," enticing male pillars of society to relinquish family, career, respectable society, and even life itself, while yearning to remain under her entrancing spell (...)".

8. Ghostbusters (1984)

PG | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Fantasy

71 Metascore

Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.

Director: Ivan Reitman | Stars: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis

Votes: 337,820 | Gross: $238.63M

"One of the most popular, quotable films from the past three decades and a touchstone of cultural reference, "Ghostbusters" can also easily be seen as a loving homage to those earlier wacky horror comedies from Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope and others. (...) The infectious insanity of "Ghostbusters" makes it a favorite film of the ‘80s."

9. Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)

Passed | 101 min | Comedy, War

Woodrow is discharged from the military for hay fever, but fabricates receiving a heroic honorable discharge before returning home.

Director: Preston Sturges | Stars: Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, Raymond Walburn, William Demarest

Votes: 4,027

"Writer-director Preston Sturges probably was the only filmmaker in Hollywood in the 1940s who could satirize the worship of war heroes and mothers during wartime. (...) The great French critic André Bazin called this film "a work that restores to American film a sense of social satire that I find equaled only ... in Chaplin’s films"."

10. Humoresque (1920)

60 min | Drama

Young Leon Kanter dreams of being a great violinist. His parents scrape up the money for a violin and for lessons, and Leon rewards them by becoming a great player. But as an adult, Leon ... See full summary »

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Gaston Glass, Vera Gordon, Alma Rubens, Dore Davidson

Votes: 125

"(...) Humoresque presented to mainstream American audiences a sympathetic portrayal of immigrant Jewish life through its vivid details of street life and rituals (...). Having solidly established its setting and characters through its many poignant and atmospheric touches, the film "touches the deep places of the heart," as one Variety reviewer wrote, and makes its audience believe that prayers are answered and that love can restore health."

11. Imitation of Life (1959)

Not Rated | 125 min | Drama

An aspiring actress befriends a black widow, but trouble arises when the latter is rejected by her daughter, who tries to pass for white.

Director: Douglas Sirk | Stars: Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner

Votes: 13,945 | Gross: $13.99M

"Film melodrama comes in many variations, but director Douglas Sirk’s style of domestic melodrama is marked by stylized interiors and use of mirrors, where the role of photography is crucial, with exquisite use of primary colors and camera angles to convey emotion and mood (...)."

12. The Inner World of Aphasia (1968)

23 min | Documentary, Short, Drama

The emotional world of two aphasics, illustrating how professionals work with patients who cannot communicate verbally.

Director: Edward R. Feil

Votes: 32

"This empathic and often poetic medical-training film features a powerful performance by co-director Naomi Feil as a nurse who learns to cope with aphasia, the inability to speak as a result of a brain injury. Feil, a social worker whose career has focused on communicating with language-impaired patients, produced this film and dozens more with her husband Edward Feil. (...) More than 47 years later, the film is still being screened by media artists and independent filmmakers who appreciate its innovative artistic qualities. "

13. John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)

7 min | Animation, Short

In this George Pal Puppetoon (production number U5-6), John Henry (voice of Rex Ingram), legendary figure of American folklore, goes to work for the C.& O. Railroad, which, shortly ... See full summary »

Director: George Pal | Star: Rex Ingram

Votes: 217

"Stop-motion animation pioneer George Pal created this short film after the NAACP and Ebony magazine criticized his offensively stereotyped Jasper series of cartoons. The magazine later praised "John Henry" as the first Hollywood film to feature African-American folklore in a positive light and to treat its characters with "dignity, imagination, poetry, and love."."

14. L.A. Confidential (1997)

R | 138 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

90 Metascore

As corruption grows in 1950s Los Angeles, three policemen -- one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy -- investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.

Director: Curtis Hanson | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger

Votes: 508,319 | Gross: $64.62M

"This well-crafted and suspenseful story, directed by Curtis Hanson, teams a trio of incompatible cops who ultimately bring down a corrupt police department and political machine. (...) The cast is rounded out by Danny DeVito as the film's occasional narrator and reporter for "Hush-Hush" magazine, Kim Basinger as a Veronica Lake look-alike call girl, and James Cromwell as the duplicitous chief of police. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti infuses this homage with a Technicolor richness seldom seen in noirs of the 40s and 50s."

15. The Mark of Zorro (1920)

Passed | 107 min | Adventure, Romance, Western

A seemingly idiotic fop is really the courageous vigilante Zorro, who seeks to protect the oppressed.

Director: Fred Niblo | Stars: Douglas Fairbanks, Marguerite De La Motte, Robert McKim, Noah Beery

Votes: 2,052

"Aware that post-World War I audiences had grown weary of the romantic comedies that had made him a star, [Douglas] Fairbanks adapted his persona to create a daring hero and established himself as an icon of American culture. The film, directed by Fred Niblo, also stars Marguerite De La Motte and Noah Beery. The Museum of Modern Art Department of Film has preserved the film."

16. The Old Mill (1937)

Approved | 9 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

A variety of animals find a shelter in the old mill during a fierce storm.

Director: Wilfred Jackson | Stars: Marie Arbuckle, Jean MacMurray, Louise Myers, Clarence Nash

Votes: 3,288

"This cartoon, produced by the Walt Disney Company as one of its Silly Symphony entries, depicts a community of animals (...) battling a severe thunderstorm that nearly destroys their home in an abandoned windmill. Directed by Wilfred Jackson, the film acted as a testing ground for audience interest in longer form animation as well as for advanced technologies, including the first use of the multiplane camera, which added three-dimensional depth. (...)"

17. Our Daily Bread (1934)

Not Rated | 80 min | Drama, Romance

A group of down-on-their-luck workers combine their abilities to make a Gallafentian-style commune... and bread!

Director: King Vidor | Stars: Karen Morley, Tom Keene, John Qualen, Barbara Pepper

Votes: 1,307

"Criticized for its purportedly socialist ideas and also for its seemingly fascistic traits, "Our Daily Bread" remains a document that embodied political contradictions that marked widely divergent contemporary assessments of the New Deal itself. In its widely acclaimed climactic ditch-digging sequence, the film presents images celebrated muscular working-class manhood that also marked public art of the period, which addressed anxieties about the masculinity during times of economic crisis."

18. Portrait of Jason (1967)

Not Rated | 105 min | Documentary, Biography

87 Metascore

Black gay prostitute Jason Holliday is rigorously interviewed on his story and character, revealing nuanced truths about life and art.

Director: Shirley Clarke | Stars: Jason Holliday, Shirley Clarke, Carl Lee

Votes: 820

"In one of the first LGBT films widely accepted by general audiences, Shirley Clarke explored the blurred lines between fact and fiction, allowing her subject, Jason Holliday (né Aaron Payne), a gay hustler and nightclub entertainer, to talk about his life with candor, pathos and humor in one 12-hour shoot. (...) Bosley Crowther of "The New York Times" described it as a "curious and fascinating example of cinéma vérité, all the ramifications of which cannot be immediately known." Legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman called it "the most extraordinary film I've seen in my life." (...)"

19. Seconds (1966)

R | 106 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

71 Metascore

An unhappy middle-aged banker agrees to a procedure that will fake his death and give him a completely new look and identity - one that comes with its own price.

Director: John Frankenheimer | Stars: Rock Hudson, Frank Campanella, John Randolph, Frances Reid

Votes: 15,038

"(...) Director John Frankenheimer crafts a memorably creepy sense of foreboding in "Seconds," aided immensely by the black-and-white cinematography, disorienting camera angles and lenses of cameraman James Wong Howe, as well as Jerry Goldsmith’s eerie score. (...)"

20. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Drama

80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 2,192,061 | Gross: $28.34M

"From a modest start as a critical success, but something of a commercial bust upon initial release, "The Shawshank Redemption" now often rates as the top film in IMDb polling. (...) Critics have struggled at times to explain the immense public affection for "Shawshank," but perhaps it’s due to the poignant Thomas Newman score and most importantly the moving character portrayals and deep friendship between inmates Robbins and Morgan Freeman, highlighting the abiding resilience of the human spirit."

21. Sink or Swim (1990)

Not Rated | 48 min | Documentary

Through a series of twenty six short stories, a girl describes the childhood events that shaped her ideas about fatherhood, family relations, work and play. As the stories unfold, a dual ... See full summary »

Director: Su Friedrich | Star: Jessica Meyerson

Votes: 316

"In this autobiographical tale told in voice-over by a teenage girl (Jessica Lynn), Su Friedrich relates a series of 26 short vignettes that reveal a subtext of a father preoccupied by his career and of a daughter emotionally scarred by his behavior. Black-and-white film clips of ordinary daily activities illustrate Friedrich’s poetically powerful text to create a complex and intense film. (...)"

22. The Story of Menstruation (1946)

10 min | Animation, Short, Documentary

A basic explanation of the purpose and process of menstruation, told largely with diagrams (and completely avoiding the subject of sex).

Director: Jack Kinney | Star: Gloria Blondell

Votes: 392

"(...) this title was produced by the Walt Disney Company through its Educational and Industrial Film Division. Distributed free to schools and girls’ clubs with an accompanying pamphlet titled "Very Personally Yours," the film used friendly Disney-style characters and gentle narration to "encourage a healthy, normal attitude" toward menstruation. Although a few such educational filmstrips were available before World War II, this version was seen as more progressive than previous offerings and, according to advertisements in "The Educational Screen," it replaced superstitions with "scientific facts" and dispelled "embarrassment." Some contemporary scholars, however, take issue with the approach (...)."

23. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

71 Metascore

Filmmaker William Greaves auditioned acting students for a fictional drama, while simultaneously shooting the behind-the-scenes drama taking place.

Director: William Greaves | Stars: Patricia Ree Gilbert, Don Fellows, Jonathan Gordon, Bob Rosen

Votes: 1,354

"(...) The film is a unique 1960s’ time capsule, a telling look at the myriad tensions involved in film creation—a film on the making of a film—with three camera crews recording different parts of the process and personalities involved (director, actors, crew, bystanders). Though Greaves is undoubtedly the film’s visionary auteur—notable for an African-American filmmaker in the 1960s—it is truly a film made collectively by Greaves and his multi-racial crew, whose staging of an on-set rebellion becomes the film’s drama and its platform for sociopolitical critique and revolutionary philosophy (...)."

24. Top Gun (1986)

PG | 110 min | Action, Drama

50 Metascore

As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

Director: Tony Scott | Stars: Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer

Votes: 274,444 | Gross: $179.80M

"Though a wag might be tempted to call this Tony Scott film "The Testosterone Chronicles," the Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer production actually comprises a deft portrait of mid-1980s America, when politicians promised "Morning in America Again," and singers crooned "God Bless the U.S.A." (...)."

25. Winchester '73 (1950)

Not Rated | 92 min | Action, Drama, Western

The journey of a prized rifle from one ill-fated owner to another parallels a cowboy's search for a murderous fugitive.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally

Votes: 15,688

"(...) Film historian Scott Simmon calls "Winchester ‘73" "the La Ronde of Death, as opposed to the love that keeps the Schnitzler play in motion," and "the film where a gun is more of an object of worship than in any other American film." Ironically, in light of current debates about gun-carry rights, it’s fascinating that even in this most gun-obsessed of movies, nobody is allowed to carry a gun in town. (...)"



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