Awards season is over.Gaga grabbed four Grammys. The Social Network garnered the grandest Globes. And during the Academy Awards, the season’s grand finale, the British cast of The King’s Speech bested the geeky stateside front- runners to take home the 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture—as well as three more. While these awards shows aired during primetime and their nominees grabbed headlines for weeks, the recipients of another equally prestigious award were announced on December 28th to little fanfare.
In Washington D. C., the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, announced that 25 films were added during 2010 to the National Film Registry. The honor is bestowed on American films at least 10 years old and aesthetically, culturally or historically significant to the United States. They range from major productions by Hollywood studios to independent films, from documentaries and newsreels to animation and advertisements. This year’s roster represents over 100 years of filmmaking: from Thomas Edison’s 1891 Newark Athlete, to 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, to 1996’s Study of a River. Winners were selected from over 2100 nominees submitted by the National Film Preservation Board and the general public.
The Registry was established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988. The Act is renewed periodically by Congress in increments of four to seven years. The Librarian of Congress and the Film Preservation Board select up to 25 films each year. Prints of all Registry films are kept in cold-storage vaults at the Packard campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center near Culpeper, Virginia.
There are now 550 films in the Registry and Kimbel Library owns 227 of them. A keyword catalog search for “National Film Registry” will bring up a list of titles. Check out the display on the shelving unit adjacent to the leisure reading area on the library’s first floor. Then, check out one of the National Film Registry titles displayed there, including the following:
- All the President’s Men. During the Nixon administration in the 1970’s, two reporters uncover White House involvement in the Watergate break-in.
- Blade Runner. The film takes place in 2019 in Los Angeles. Replicants, genetically engineered human beings of superior strength and intelligence who provide labor for the planet colonies, revolt. Rick Deckard is a blade runner, a police officer who hunts down and terminates them.
- Easy Rider. Two motorcyclists ride in search of the "real" America.
- Edison: The Invention of the Movies. Four discs hold tens of commercial motion pictures filmed at the Edison Laboratory between 1888 and 1893.
- Freaks. A group of freaks take revenge on a trapeze artist and her boyfriend after years of abuse.
- Hoop Dreams. Follows the lives of two inner-city kids with aspirations to play professional basketball.
- Image of an Assassination. Abraham Zapruder’s film of President Kennedy’s assassination, as well as an interview with the filmmaker.
- The Muppet Movie. Kermit and Fozzie travel to Hollywood to hit it big as stars.
- Sex, Lies and Videotape. A long lost college friend drifts back into the lives of a self-involved philanderer, his angelic wife, and her saucy sister.
- Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music. Features the entire performances of such music greats as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Crosby, Stills & Nash at the 1969 festival.