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Cinema Classics for Your Holiday Downtime

A still from John Waters' Hairspray.

The holiday season is in full swing, and in between family gatherings, last-minute shopping, cooking, or simply enjoying some hours away from work, many of us may have extra time on our hands. And there’s no better way to spend that free time than with a movie. But what to watch? The Library of Congress (LC) has a wealth of recommendations.

On December 14, LC announced the films being added to the National Film Registry this year. The registry selects 25 films annually that showcase the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.

“Films have become absolutely central to American culture by helping tell our national story for more than 125 years. We are proud to add 25 more films by a group of vibrant and diverse filmmakers to the National Film Registry as we preserve our cinematic heritage,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. “We’re grateful to the entire film community for collaborating with the Library of Congress to ensure these films are preserved for the future.”

The diverse films selected for inclusion in the registry this year span 124 years of cinema history, from Mardi Gras Carnival, an 1898 short film depicting the Krewe of Rex rolling through the streets of New Orleans (the oldest surviving film of the Mardi Gras parade), to Pariah (2011), a key film in modern queer cinema by Dee Rees.

Other notable selections include Kenneth Anger’s landmark experimental short Scorpio Rising (1963); Stanley Donen’s Charade (1963) with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn; the documentary Titicut Follies (1967), filmed inside a state psychiatric hospital in Massachusetts; the blaxploitation classic, Super Fly (1972); Brian De Palma’s horror great, Carrie (1976), John Water’s Hairspray (1988); the teen hip-hop musical, House Party (1990), and Iron Man (2008), which launched Marvel Studios as a defining force in the film industry.

Here’s the full list of films inducted into the National Film Registry this year, in chronological order. Happy viewing.

Mardi Gras Carnival (1898)
Cab Calloway Home Movies (1948-1951)
Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
Charade (1963)
Scorpio Rising (1963)
Behind Every Good Man (1967)
Titicut Follies (1967)
Mingus (1968)
Manzanar (1971)
Betty Tells Her Story (1972)
Super Fly (1972)
Attica (1974)
Carrie (1976)
Union Maids (1976)
Word is Out: Stories of Our Lives (1977)
Bush Mama (1979)
The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)
Itam Hakim, Hopiit (1984)
Hairspray (1988)
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Tongues Untied (1989)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
House Party (1990)
Iron Man (2008)
Pariah (2011)

Your local library is the first place to check for the availability of films on this list. We found quite a few of the later releases and some of the classics at our library in both DVD format and via the library's connected video streaming service. And LC also has selections from the National Film Registry available online.

Do you know a film that should be included? Nominations for next year's additions to the National Film Registry will be accepted through August 15, 2023.

Photo: A still from John Waters' Hairspray.

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