'The Big Lebowski' and 24 other movies the government thinks are national treasures
You guys, it happened: The government wrote a listicle, and I couldn’t be prouder. Well technically The National Film Registry, which is part of the Library of Congress, released their annual list of 25 notable films. Every year, they name 25 films that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” important to see. The only rule is a movie must be at least 10 years old.
It’s a numbered list (25) of something pertaining to pop culture and entertainment (movies)—sounds like a listicle to me! Here are the top 25 movies the government gives two enthusiastic thumbs up to.
Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1913)
This film, originally shot in the Bronx in 1913, is believed to be the earliest (remaining) movie starring black actors—including vaudevillian Bert Williams. Most other footage has been lost through the years. Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day was abandoned mid-project, but recently, reels of raw footage were found in film vaults at the MoMA.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Big Lebowski is a textbook example of a cult classic: so-so performance in theaters, but wildly popular in the years after. The cast speaks for itself: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore.
Down Argentine Way (1940)
This film cemented Betty Grable as Technicolor pin-up girl, and introduced Carmen Miranda to American audiences.
The Dragon Painter (1919)
Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa broke through the scene as the first Asian star. He produced over 20 full-length movies in about four years, including The Dragon Painter, which he starred in along with his wife.
Felicia Bragg is an African-American and Hispanic high-school student living in Los Angeles in 1965, and this 13-minute short film is the story of a typical day in her life. Produced by the Anti-Defamation League, the documentary short spotlights the struggles of living in a segregated community and in a world of racial injustice. (You can watch the film on archives.org)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
If you’ve seen one movie out of the 25, chances are it’s this one. *twists and shouts*
The Gang’s All Here (1943)
Carmen Miranda makes another appearance on the list, this time for her musical number “The Lady in the Tutti Fruitti Hat.” The picture is self-explanatory.
House of Wax (1953)
No, not the 2005 Paris Hilton House of Wax. The Vincent Price version that introduced the world to the wonders of 3D film effects.
Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000)
Into the Arms of Strangers tells the story of a rescue operation to help young victims of Nazi terror, and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Little Big Man (1970)
Dustin Hoffman got the serious Benjamin Button treatment in Little Big Man playing a 121-year-old reflecting back on his life in the wild west.
Luxo Jr. (1986)
The Pixar short that started it all. Remember these lamps? They were an indicator that whatever movie you’re about to see, it’s going to be a treat.
Moon Breath Beat (1980)
This quick five-minute short was created by artist Lisze Bechtold when she was a student at California Institute of the Arts. It’s full of color, creepiness and unforgettable imagery. Here, just watch it.
Please Don’t Bury Me Alive! (1976)
This movie is the passion project of Efrain Gutiérrez, who not only wrote, directed and starred in the film, but distributed and promoted it as well. The indie film, which centers on barrio life in South Texas, is credited with sparking a cinematic movement in Mexico.
The Power and the Glory (1933)
The Power and the Glory is based on a novel of the same name. It tells the story of one man’s journey from poverty to wealth to suicide using flashbacks.
Rio Bravo (1959)
This Western takes place in a jail, rather than the typical Western landscapes, and stars John Wayne and Dean Martin.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Mia Farrow’ breakout role and a staple of the horror genre, Roman Polanski’s film about a woman impregnated with the devil, is still considered one of the scariest ever made.
Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
What happens when an Englishman loses his servant to an American in a game of poker? If you’re curious, you should totally watch this movie.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Stephen Spielberg’s take on World War II centers around Omaha Beach, and offers an unflinching look at life in war.
Lois Weber’s silent film follows a day in the miserable life of a shopgirl, who just wants the beautiful pair of shoes in a window she passes every day.
State Fair (1933)
If you’ve ever experienced the small-town feel of a big state fair, you’ll appreciate this one.
13 Lakes (2004)
Director James Benning made this breathtaking film at 13 lakes across America in matching single 10-minute takes.
Grace Cunard wrote and directed Unmasked, a film she also stars in as a jewel thief.
V-E +1 (1945)
According to the National Registry, director Samuel Fuller “was serving in the 1st U.S. Infantry Division when, armed with a 16mm Bell & Howell camera, he documented the aftermath of the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp in Falkenau, Czechoslovakia.” It is a brutally real and important document of the tragedy of the Holocaust.
The Way of Peace (1947)
This 18-minute film was sponsored by the American Lutheran Church, and it’s told with puppets. This subject material is also not for the faint of heart, touching on topics like crucifixion and lynching.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Gene Wilder’s Wonka is the perfect blend of playfully quirky and darkly realistic. This movie? A classic, and probably one we can all check off our to-see list. Although it never hurts to watch it again.
It looks like I need to get to work, because I’ve seen an embarrassingly low number of these. Movie night, anyone?