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A pre-teen boy claps both hands to his face as he yells into the bathroom mirror
One of the iconic scenes from "Home Alone." Image courtesy Courtesy of Fox/Disney/Macaulay Culkin.

Home Alone? Check Out The 2023 National Film Registry!

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Brett Zongker, chief of media relations, contributed to this report

Twenty-five influential films from the past 102 years have been selected for the 2023 National Film Registry, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today, inluding blockbusters such as “Fame,” “Home Alone” and “Apollo 13,” the popular romance “Love & Basketball” and influential feature films and documentaries such as “12 Years a Slave,” “Matewan,” “Alambrista!” and “Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision.”

“Films are an integral piece of America’s cultural heritage, reflecting stories of our nation for more than 125 years,” Hayden said. “We’re grateful to the film community for collaborating with the Library in our goal to preserve the heritage of cinema.”

Spike Lee, whose “Bamboozled” became the fifth film he’s directed to be inducted into the registry, was thrilled at the news, as was Hollywood veteran Ron Howard, whose “Apollo 13” marked his directorial debut on the registry.

“An absolute highlight,” Howard said of his experience shooting the film, which drew on the real-life story of the aborted Apollo 13 mission to the moon. “It’s a very honest, heartfelt reflection of something that was quite American, which was the space program at that time and what it meant to the country and the world.”

Lee’s “Bamboozled,” a biting satire about the racial dynamics of blackface in pop culture, was not loved by critics or the box office when it came out in 2000, but has since gained an appreciation for its willingness to confront the issue in cinema history.

“It’s my fourth decade of filmmaking and I don’t remember saying to myself, ‘Don’t do this because the audience might not like it,’ ” he said. “….That didn’t matter to me because I was showing the truth as I see it.”

Jacqueline Stewart, chair of the Library’s National Film Preservation Board, said this year’s selections show the nation’s cultural diversity and storytelling range, finding deep humanity across a range of genres.

A particular theme this year was Asian Americans and their experiences. “Maya Lin,” the documentary about the young Asian American architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial, won the 1995 Academy Award for best documentary feature for director Freida Lee Mock, herself of Asian American heritage.

“Maya, her work and the film – it has a national resonance and is an important part of who we are as Americans,” Mock said in an interview.

Several men in suits and hats of the early 201th century stand across a set of railroad tracks.
A scene from “Matewan,” John Sayles’ 1987 film about a coal workers strike in West Virginia. Image courtesy of Anarchist and Criterion.

Other Asian-themed films include “Cruisin’ J-Town,” a 1975 documentary about jazz musicians in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo community, and the Bohulano Family Film collection, home movies from the 1950s-1970s shot by a family in the Filipino community of Stockton, California.

Finally, there’s Ang Lee’s 1993 film, “The Wedding Banquet,” a comedy about a Taiwanese immigrant in New York City who sets up a marriage to a Chinese woman to conceal his gay relationship from his visiting family. The film was a surprise international hit, propelling Lee on to an Academy Award-winning career, directing films such as “Sense and Sensibility,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Brokeback Mountain.”

“I didn’t make the movie to be influential, but it was,” Lee said in an interview. “I see since the movie, whether it’s cross-culture or gay issues, some major breakthroughs, certainly in Taiwan and the Chinese community because the movie was well-liked. It just eased into people’s lives quite naturally.”

Twenty-five films are selected each year for their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance and must be at least 10 years old. The selections bring the number of films in the registry to 875. Some of these films are among the 2 million moving image collection items held in the Library. Others are preserved by the copyright holders or other film archives.

The public submitted 6,875 titles for consideration this year. Several titles selected this year drew significant support, including “Home Alone” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” (Submit a nomination for the 2024 registry here.)

Three Latino men in work clothes look off camera
A scene from 1977’s “Alambrista!” Photo: “Alambrista!” (1977). Image courtesy of Criterion.

This year’s selections date back to a 1921 Kodak educational film titled “A Movie Trip Through Filmland” about how film stock is produced. The most recent films are 2013’s Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave” and the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom.”

McQueen, the British director of “12 Years a Slave,” said he was attracted to the story of the film’s real-life protagonist, Solomon Northup, because he saw him as “an American hero.”

“Slavery for me was a subject matter that hadn’t been sort of given enough recognition within the narrative of cinema history,” he said. “I wanted to address it for that reason, but also because it was a subject which had so much to do with how we live now.”

Other Hollywood releases this year include Disney’s 1955 beloved animation “Lady and the Tramp”  and the Halloween and holiday favorite “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Plus, there’s “Love & Basketball,” which has grown new audiences over the years as a classic love story.

Released in 2000, the film was an intensely personal project for director Gina Prince-Bythewood. She grew up in Pacific Grove, California, and was a high-school basketball and track star. She ran track while in college at UCLA.

“A great deal of this film was autobiographical,” she said. “Monica’s (the film’s heroine) character, growing up as an athlete, all the feelings she felt, feeling ‘othered’ and different as if something’s wrong with her because she loves sports. All those were things that I had to deal with growing up, being a female athlete and with my parents.”

Turner Classic Movies will host a television special Thursday, Dec. 14, starting at 8 p.m. EST, to screen some of this year’s selections.

The Library will show two of the films in December: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m. and “Home Alone” on Dec. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Free timed-entry passes are available at loc.gov/visit.

Films Selected for the 2023 National Film Registry

  • A Movie Trip Through Filmland (1921)
  • Dinner at Eight (1933)
  • Bohulano Family Film Collection (1950s-1970s)
  • Helen Keller: In Her Story (1954)
  • Lady and the Tramp (1955)
  • Edge of the City (1957)
  • We’re Alive (1974)
  • Cruisin’ J-Town (1975)
  • ¡Alambrista! (1977)
  • Passing Through (1977)
  • Fame (1980)
  • Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
  • The Lighted Field (1987)
  • Matewan (1987)
  • Home Alone (1990)
  • Queen of Diamonds (1991)
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  • The Wedding Banquet (1993)
  • Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994)
  • Apollo 13 (1995)
  • Bamboozled (2000)
  • Love & Basketball (2000)
  • 12 Years a Slave (2013)
  • 20 Feet from Stardom (2013)

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