The Film Registry inducts 25 movies each year, selecting them for their “cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to preserve the nation’s film heritage.” The public also has the opportunity to weigh in with nomination suggestions throughout the year, and among the newly-inducted films that saw significant support are Iron Man, The Little Mermaid, Carrie, When Harry Met Sally, and Betty Tells Her Story.
The inclusion of Iron Man — which launched the world-conquering Marvel Cinematic Universe —was celebrated by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who said in a statement, “Iron Man was the very first film Marvel Studios independently produced. It was the first film that we had all of the creative control and oversight on and it was really make or break for the studio… The notion that here we are, almost 15 years after the release of Iron Man, and to have it join the Film Registry tells us it has stood the test of time and that it is still meaningful to audiences around the world.”
Billy Crystal also chimed in for the induction of When Harry Met Sally, the 1989 rom-com classic written by Nora Ephron, directed by Rob Reiner, and also starring Meg Ryan. “The movie is beautiful and simple and appropriate and every shot is just right,” he said. “The timing, which is in the hands of Rob, who is, for this movie, a modern-day Billy Wilder… and it’s New York, it’s the fall, it’s the music.”
Other notable films on this year’s list include Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which launched a new era of animated musicals for the stalwart studio; John Waters’ 1988 movie musical Hairspray; Reginald Hudlin’s 1990 hip-hop comedy classic with Kid ’N Play, House Party; Gordon Parks Jr.’s seminal Blaxploitation flick Super Fly (with its equally famous score by Curtis Mayfield); and Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie.
Sissy Spacek, who starred in Carrie, recalled, “Brian De Palma was just such a wonder to work with,” Spacek said in a recent interview, crediting the film’s director. “He would tell us exactly what he needed and then he’d say, ‘Within those parameters, you can do anything you want.’ That was just so wonderful.”
Also included on the registry this year is The Ballad of Georgia Cortez, Robert M. Young’s 1982 film that’s considered a landmark entry in the Chicano film movement of the 1980s (it stars a young Edward James Olmos). Several films by LGBTQ+ filmmakers were also included, such as Marlon Riggs’ 1989 video essay, Tongues Untied, and Nikolai Ursin’s Behind Every Good Man, a 1967 student short film exploring Black gender fluidity.
The most recent film in this year’s Film Registry class is Dee Rees’ 2011 feature debut Pariah, while the oldest is an 1898 film of the “Mardis Gras Carnival” parade in New Orleans that was recently discovered in a museum in the Netherlands. Several documentaries were also included, such as Cinda Firestone’s look at the 1971 Attica prison uprising, Attica; the 1976 Oscar-nominated portrait of three female Union workers in the 1930s, Union Maids; and Liane Brandon’s 1972 Betty Tells Her Story, which is considered the first independent documentary of the women’s movement.
To celebrate this year’s Film Registry inductees, Turner Classic Movies will screen a selection of films starting Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. ET. The movies will be accompanied by commentary from Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, as well as film historian Jacqueline Stewart, who also chairs the National Film Preservation Board.