Each year the National Film Preservation Board picks 25 films for preservation in its National Film Registry in the Library Of Congress. The films that are selected are described as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films”. The films must also have been released at least 10 years prior to consideration. The goal of the National Film Registry is to “ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s film heritage”. The first films were selected in 1989 and include incredible films, such as Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars: A New Hope. The list has grown to 675 films, which include: feature length, short films, independent films and more. The home video known as the Zapruder Film, which captured the assassination of John F. Kennedy, is also included on the list. The oldest film on the list is the 1891 film Newark Athlete, which was added in 2010. The youngest film on the list is the 2004 film 13 Lakes, selected in 2014. The National Film Registry includes Hollywood classics, cult films and films not appreciated in their time.
Despite having several excellent and incredible films already on the National Film Registry, there are several iconic, classical and cult hits that have not made the list yet. Perhaps someday some of these films will be included but as of 2016, they have to make the cut. Many of these films could be described as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. Here is a look at 20 Awesome Movies Not In The National Film Registry.
19 The Princess Bride: September 25, 1987
The Princess Bride revolves around a poor farmhand, Westley, who must save his true love, Princess Buttercup, with the help of his friends he meets along the way. Rob Reiner directed the film, with a screenplay written by William Goldman. The Princess Bride featured an outstanding cast, which included Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal and Andre The Giant. Upon its release, the film was not a box office hit. However, the film received critical acclaim and was praised for its cast, directing and comedy. Critics Siskel and Ebert, gave the film positive reviews. Since its release the film has gained a strong cult following and is considered one of the best films of the 80s. The Princess Bride holds a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It's listed on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions list. Even though it’s regarded as one of the funniest romantic adventures, it has not been added to the National Film Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress.
18 Donnie Darko: October 26, 2001
Donnie Darko is a cult classic film that revolves around teenager Donnie Darko. He begins to have unexplained visions of a possible doomsday and discovers he has time travelling abilities. Richard Kelly directed Donnie Darko, and it stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film did poorly at the box office and received mixed reviews. However, opinion on the film changed later and it has since become a cult favorite. Rotten Tomatoes gave the theatrical version of the film an 85% rating. However, the director’s cut holds a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Donnie Darko ranked at number two on Empire magazine’s 50 Greatest Independent Films of All Time. Despite its popularity and influence, the film has not been selected for the National Film Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress.
17 Texas Chainsaw Massacre: October 1, 1974
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows a group of teenage friends that become hunted by a family of Cannibals lead by the disturbed Leatherface. Tobe Hooper directed this horror classic and it starred Marilyn Burns, Gunner Hansen and Paul A. Partain. It’s considered to be one of the first and most influential slasher films. The film helped popularize the sadistic killer and Leatherface would clear the way for Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. It’s widely regarded as one of the best horror films of the 70s. It did well at the box office and received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Later, more critics would praise the film and it would become one of the most influential horror films. It holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Time Magazine included it on its 2007 Top 25 Horror Films list. However, despite its standing as a classic horror film, it has not been included on the National Film Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress.
16 Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: June 22, 1988
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a live action/animated film that revolves around Roger Rabbit, who has been accused of murder and must clear his name with the help of a human and Private Detective, Eddie Valiant. Robert Zemeckis directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and it stars Bob Hoskins, Charles Fleischer, Kathleen Turner and Christopher Lloyd. The film was a huge critical and commercial success. It was a major success at the box office and was universally praised for its writing, directing and innovation in using both live action and animation. It won three Academy Awards for Film Editing, Visual Effects and Sound Editing. It also won an Oscar for Special Achievement. It has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and many critics considered it one of the best films of 1988. It was nominated for AFI’s 10 Top 10, AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies Quotes and AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs. Although it was hugely popular, influential and innovative, the film has yet to be included in the National Film Registry for perseveration.
15 Nightmare on Elm Street: November 9, 1984
Nightmare on Elm Street follows a group of teenagers that are being haunted by the sadistic killer Freddy Kruger, in their dreams and in real life. Wes Craven directed the film, and it stars Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and Johnny Depp. It did very well at the box office, but was disliked by some critics. Later, opinion of the film changed and critics began to recognize its contribution to the horror genre. It’s now praised for its approach to horror films and its directing. It holds a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Freddy Krueger ranks as the number 40 villain on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list. Nightmare on Elm Street was also nominated for AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list. The New York Times included it on their 'The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made' list. Despite being one of the most influential horror films, it has not be chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry.
14 True Grit: June 11, 1969
True Grit is one of the greatest Western films ever made. Henry Hathaway directed the film, and it stars Kim Darby, Glen Campbell and the iconic John Wayne. The plot revolves around Mattie Ross, as she seeks revenge on the man that killed her father. The film was a major critical and commercial success. The film holds a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and received positive reviews from critics. John Wayne won the Oscar for Best Actor at the Academy Awards that year. However, John Wayne and members of the cast and crew all had doubts about the success of the film. They assumed it would bomb and were all shocked with the film's success. There were issues on set and the film was plagued with fights between cast members. Regardless, they were able to come together and produce an epic film. Despite its longstanding eligibility and influence, the film has not been included on the National Film Registry.
13 Magnolia: December 17, 1999
Magnolia follows the lives of several different characters searching for forgiveness, happiness and a purpose to life. Paul Thomas Anderson directed the film, which received positive reviews from critics. It didn’t do very well at the box office, but has been praised for its writing and incredible ensemble cast. The film starred Tom Cruise, Jeremy Blackman, Melinda Dillon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Baker Hall, Ricky Jay, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and John C. Reilly. Tom Cruise was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards that year for his performance in the film. Critic Roger Ebert, added Magnolia to his November 2008 “Great Movies” List, and Empire Magazine included it on its '500 Greatest Movies of All Time' list. It holds an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite an overwhelming critical acclaim, Magnolia is not on the National Film Registry, but it might not be long before it finds its way on the list.
12 American History X: October 30, 1998
American History X revolved around former neo-Nazi member Derek Vinyard, who is sent to prison for voluntary manslaughter. After leaving prison, Derek changes his ways and wants nothing to do with the neo-Nazi movement, only to discover that his younger brother has fallen in with the same crowd. Tony Kaye directed the film, and it starred Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Avery Brooks, Fairuza Balk and Stacy Keach. American History X received mostly positive reviews from critics and many praised Edward Norton for his stellar performance. Edward Norton was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards that year. It was a success at the box office and was one of the most talked about films of 1998. Empire Magazine included it on their '500 Greatest Movies of All Time' list. American History X holds an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers list. Despite its popularity and critical acclaim, American History X has not been chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry.
11 Poltergeist: June 4, 1982
Poltergeist revolves around a family that must battle a mysterious force that has kidnapped their youngest daughter. Poltergeist is considered to be one of the scariest horror movies ever made. When released, it was a major critical and commercial success. It was the 8th highest grossing film at the box office in 1982, and was considered one of the best films that year. Tobe Hooper directed the film, which was written by Steven Spielberg. It stars Heather O’Rourke, Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams. Critics praised the film for its writing and directing. It was nominated for several Academy Awards at the Oscars that year. It has an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Times included it on its 'The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made' list. Poltergeist is on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list and AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list. Although it’s considered to be one of the greatest horror films and a cult classic, it has not been added to the National Film Registry.
10 Fight Club: October 15, 1999
Fight Club revolves around an unnamed protagonist who becomes disillusioned with his life and consumerism. He soon befriends the unique soap salesman Tyler Durden, and together they start a fight club. David Fincher directed the cult classic, which stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. The film received mixed reviews when it was first released, but has since grown in popularity. It's now regarded as one of the best movies of the 90s, and has been praised for its writing, acting and surprise twist ending. Fight Club was nominated for Sound Editing at the Academy Awards that year. It holds a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies 10th Anniversary edition. Empire Magazine ranked it number ten on their '500 Greatest Movies' list. Fight Club is considered one of the most influential and innovative films in the 90s. Despite being considered a classic film, it’s not ranked on the National Film Registry.
9 Aliens: July 18, 1986
Aliens is the sequel to the critically acclaimed sci-fi classic Alien. Ridley Scott directed the first film and the National Film Registry selected it for preservation in 2002. The sequel is highly regarded and is considered one of the best sequels made. James Cameron directed Aliens, and it stars a returning Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley. The sequel sees Ripley battling a group of aliens once again, but this time comes face to face with the mother alien. The sequel was a critical and commercial success. It did very well at the box office and lived up to expectations. Aliens was nominated for several Academy Awards and won for Visual Effects and Sound Effects Editing. Sigourney Weaver was nominated for an Academy Award as well. Aliens holds a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Empire Magazine named it the greatest sequel of all time. Although it’s a highly regarded film, it has not been added to the National Film Registry for preservation.
8 Die Hard: July 15, 1988
Die Hard follows a New York police officer, John McClane, who attends his wife’s work Christmas party in LA, when the entire building is taken over by terrorists. John is the only defense against the criminals. John McTiernan directed the epic action film and it starred Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia and Alan Rickman. Die Hard is credited with turning Willis into an action star. It was followed by four sequels all starring Bruce Willis. The film did very well at the box office and was praised by critics. It’s regarded as one of the best action movies and one of the best films of 1985. It holds a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for several Academy Awards, and ranked number 1 on Empire and Forbes' 'All Time Great Christmas Movies' list. It’s widely regarded as a classic action movie, yet has not been added to the National Film Registry.
7 The Birds: March 28, 1963
The Birds revolves around the people of Bodega Bay, California, as they deal with a series of unexplained, vicious and unexpected bird attacks. Legendary filmmaker and iconic director Alfred Hitchcock, directed the epic horror movie. It starred Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy and Veronica Cartwright. The Birds was critically acclaimed and praised for its writing, directing and acting. It was nominated for Special Effects at the Academy Awards that year. It holds a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and ranked number 7 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list. It was also nominated for AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list. Hitchcock is regarded as one of the greatest directors and several of his films are included on the National Film Registry, such as Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho. Despite being considered one of the scariest films ever made, The Birds has yet to find a spot on the National Film Registry.
6 Carrie: November 3, 1976
Carrie revolves around Carrie White, who was a shy and awkward teenage girl that was bullied at school by her classmates. Things weren’t any better for her at home, as she was constantly feeling the wrath of her abusive mother. Eventually, Carrie discovers that she has telekinesis and when pushed too far she unleashes vengeance on everyone. Brian de Palma directed the film, which starred Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and John Travolta. The film was the first adaptation of a Stephen King Novel, which was also his first to be published. Carrie received positive reviews and holds a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Both Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek received nominations at the Academy Awards that year. It was considered to be one of the best films of 1976. It’s ranked number 46 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list, and was nominated for 100 Years…100 Movies. Despite it’s standing as a one of the scariest movies, it has yet to find a spot on the National Film Registry.
5 Thelma & Louise: May 24, 1991
Thelma & Louise follows two best friends on a road trip that end up on the run from the FBI after committing a murder in self-defense. Thelma & Louise is considered a classic and one of the most influential films. It holds an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Upon its initial release the film was met with positive reviews from critics and was universally praised for its writing, acting and directing. It did very well at the box office and is regarded as one of the best films of 1991. Ridley Scott directed the film and it starred Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel and Brad Pitt. It was nominated for several Academy Awards and won for Best Original Screenplay. It ranks number 76 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list. Despite receiving overwhelming positive reception, the film has yet to be added to the National Film Registry. There is a very good chance that Thelma & Louise might be added in the next few years.
4 Casino: November 22, 1995
Casino revolved around Sam “Ace” Rothstein who runs the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas for the mob. Sam must deal with the gaming commission, his out of control wife, Ginger, and the loose cannon Nicky Santoro. Iconic filmmaker and director Martin Scorsese directed Casino, which started Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci. The film was based on the nonfiction book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, written by Nicholas Pileggi. Pileggi also co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. Casino was a success at the box office and was critically acclaimed by most critics. Some dislike the intense violence in the film but was still praised for its writing, directing and cast. Sharon Stone was universally praised for her performance, and was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. It has an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Casino was nominated for AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list and AFI’s 10 Top 10. Casino is regarded as a classic gangster film but has not been added to the National Film Registry for preservation.
3 The Breakfast Club: February 15, 1985
The Breakfast Club is one of the most beloved films of all time. However, some might be surprised to know that The Breakfast Club is not on the National Film Registry. The Breakfast Club follows five teenagers from different cliques who end up stuck in detention together on a Saturday. Soon the teenagers reveal a bit about themselves to each other and grow closer. Legendary filmmaker John Hughes, directed the film, which starred an outstanding cast: Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy and Paul Gleason. It did very well at the box office and is considered one of the best films of 1980s. It received critical acclaim and is often referenced in pop culture. It is listed on several Greatest Movies of All Time lists. It’s been nominated for both, AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers and AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies lists. Despite its critical acclaim and influence, The Breakfast Club is not on the National Film Registry.
2 The Shining: May 23, 1980
The Shining revolves around writer Jack Torrance and his family, who move into the Overlook Hotel as the custodians for the winter. The family is completely isolated and soon strange occurrences begin to happen. To make things more difficult, Jack is a recovering alcoholic and his son, Danny, seems to have psychic abilities. Eventually, Jack descends into madness and attempts to murder his wife and son. Iconic director Stanley Kubrick, directed the film and it starred Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, Danny Lloyd and Scatman Crothers. Initially the film received mixed to negative reviews. At the time, many criticized the slow pace of the film, which was uncommon at the time in the horror genre. However, over time the film has gained positive reviews and opinions from critics have changed. It’s now considered to be one of the scariest movies ever made. Many feel it's one of the best films ever made and is one of the most influential. It ranks 29th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list, and was nominated for AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list. Despite the change in opinion and reviews, the film has yet to be add to the National Film Registry. It’s highly possible the film will be added in the next few years.
1 Titanic: December 19, 1997
Titanic is widely regarded to be one of the greatest films ever made and is one of the highest grossing films of all time. Titanic revolves around Jack and Rose, who meet and fall in love on the doomed voyage of the RMS Titanic. The film is based on the real life sinking of the RMS Titanic, on April 15, 1912. James Cameron directed the epic film, and it stars Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kathy Bates, Billy Zane and Bill Paxton. Titanic was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won 11 of those awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. It has an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Titanic is listed on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list, AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions list, AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list, AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list and AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Songs list. Despite being proclaimed one of the best films made, it has not made it onto the National Film Registry. However, Titanic could be considered for preservation in the next few years.
Sources: moviepilot.com, rottentomatoes.com, imdb.com, loc.gov
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