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2017 National Film Registry Picks

By Cecilia Cygnar

Each year, the Library of Congress honors films that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically” significant. This year’s pool of films is as varied as ever, including historical classics, modern blockbusters, and riveting documentaries.

  • Ace in the Hole

    2007

    Billy Wilder’s searing look at the press should be a better movie than it actually is. It’s still worth seeing, but if you want top-notch scathing Wilder, try The Apartment.

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  • Die Hard

    2007

    An action movie recognized by the Library of Congress? Well, Die Hard is not your average action movie. It’s a movie that started an entirely new genre of action flicks set in enclosed places where it’s one man against the world.

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  • Dumbo

    2011

    One of my sentimental childhood favorites, mostly for the strong mother-son relationship between poor Dumbo and his protective mom Mrs. Jumbo. Elephants do fly!

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  • Field of Dreams

    2004

    At the height of Kevin Costner’s fame (and my corresponding puppy love), this weepy favorite answers the question “If you build it, he will come.” Yes, he will.

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  • 4 Little Girls

    2000

    A touching documentary that is almost impossible to watch, because of its subject matter. Because of the mastery of Spike Lee, we do watch.

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  • Gentleman's Agreement

    2002

    A controversial classic film, in an era where the most debate in movies had to do with World War II or Communism.

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  • The Goonies

    2001

    Not necessarily what I would pick for the National Film Registry, but alas. It’s a comic action classic perfectly acceptable for kiddos of all ages.

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  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

    2008

    Made considerable waves when released because of its subject matter. Not the most action-packed film on the list (by a long shot) but a must for historical significance, as well as the breadth of the cast.

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  • La Bamba

    1998

    Aside from making a name of Lou Diamond Phillips, this was one of the first films to star and focus on Latinos and their culture. For that alone, it belongs on the list.

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  • Memento

    2001

    Christopher Nolan’s first major outing as a director, this is a film that has become a cult legend because of its non-linear storytelling. When anyone is looking for a film that is quirky and unusual, I recommend this one.

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  • Spartacus

    2001

    This film is breathtaking in its scope, but almost more notable for its controversy (blacklisted Dalton Trumbo wrote the screenplay and some think there are homosexual undertones between the Tony Curtis and Lawrence Olivier characters).

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  • Superman: The Movie

    2001

    The first and best (!) film version of the DC Comics character, the supporting cast here is almost as surprising as the late, great Christopher Reeve in blue tights. Marlon Brando, Glenn Ford, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, and Terence Stamp just to name a few.

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  • Thelonious Monk, Straight No Chaser

    2001

    Some say this is one of the best music documentaries ever made. I say it’s, at least, one of the best films I’ve seen about one musician and his passion for music.

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  • Titanic

    2005

    My heart will go on even though this film is now on the list. With 11 Oscars, it was bound to end up here eventually, which is both predictable and sad (just like this movie). Made stars of Leonardo and Kate. And lots and lots of money for Mr. Cameron.

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