National Film Registry

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    These films are not selected as the 'best' American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.

    The National Film Registry is a department of the United States Library of Congress designed to index American-made films that are "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant". In other words, the films that end up on the Registry are the ones that deserve to live forever according to the US government. This is among the highest honors an American movie can receive, much higher than even the Academy Awards (and, believe it or not, less politically meddled with).

    Twenty-five movies are selected each year (usually in December) to be listed on the Registry. To qualify, an entry must be at least ten years old. Members of the public are allowed to suggest up to 50 titles per year for inclusion. The official list is here; the entries have been copied to this page. Anyone interested in suggesting some worthy titles can do so here; nominations do not carry over from year to year, but the Library of Congress does keep a list of famous films that didn't make the list in previous years.

    As of the 2019 selection, the oldest film on the Registry is The Newark Athlete (1891). Of the 775 films on the list that year, 62 were directed or co-directed by women; a list can be found on the LOC's website.

    As of the 2020 selection, only one film has been added to the registry in its first year of eligibility: Freedom Riders (2010). It is also the newest film on the Registry as of 2020.

    A note about terminology: Films are "on" The National Film Registry list, not "in" the Registry. This is not a physical collection of movies.

    Films in the Registry

    Added in 1989 or the 1990s


    The first twenty-five entries.


    The year which brought the total to 100.

    Added in the 2000s

    Added in the 2010s

    Added in the 2020s