‘Home Alone,’ ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and More Join the National Film Registry

Twenty-five films were chosen based on their “cultural, historic or aesthetic” importance

Home Alone
Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister in Home Alone (1990) Fox / Disney / Macaulay Culkin

As Santa makes his list and checks it twice, the Library of Congress is updating its own annual records: Twenty-five new films have been added to the National Film Registry, including two Christmas classics, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Home Alone (1990).

Since they debuted three decades ago, both films have amassed dedicated fan bases. In a statement, the Library of Congress writes that Home Alone has become “embedded into American culture as a holiday classic.” Meanwhile, The Nightmare Before Christmas has endured as a “Yuletide and Halloween tradition for adults, kids, hipsters and Halloween fanatics.”

Catherine O’Hara, the Ontario-born actress who appeared in both movies, was excited to hear they were selected. “Lucky me, born in Canada,” says O’Hara to the Washington Post’s Thomas Floyd. “I’m glad they’re including me.”

She adds, “I hope the members of Congress can enjoy the films. It’ll help inform their legislative process, I’m sure.”

Love & Basketball
A still from the romantic sports drama Love & Basketball (2000) Warner Bros. / New Line / 40 Acres and a Mule and Criterion

Beyond holiday movies, the other additions to the registry are blockbusters, animated features, Oscar winners, cult favorites and more. Well-known titles include Apollo 13 (1995), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Love & Basketball (2000) and Lady and the Tramp (1955).

“Films are an integral piece of America’s cultural heritage, reflecting stories of our nation for more than 125 years,” says Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in the statement. “We are proud to add 25 diverse films to the National Film Registry as we preserve our history through film.”

Founded in 1988, the National Film Registry is dedicated to preserving the United States’ film heritage. Every year, 25 films are selected for their “cultural, historic or aesthetic” importance. To be considered, films must be at least ten years old. The list now has a total of 875 titles.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his iconic role in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). STUDIOCANAL © 1991

This year, the chosen titles come from a list of 6,875 submissions from the public. Several films, such as Terminator 2 and Home Alone, “drew significant support,” per the library. The oldest title is A Movie Trip Through Filmland (1921), while the newest is Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave (2013).

Jacqueline Stewart, director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, says in the library’s statement that films reflect a “breadth of experiences in American culture, in American history.” 

“I'm delighted to see several films this year that recognize a diversity of Asian American experiences,” she adds. “There’s Cruisin’ J-Town, a film about jazz musicians in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo community, specifically the band Hiroshima. There’s also the Bohulano Family Film collection, home movies from the 1950s-1970s shot by a family in Stockton, California’s Filipino community. Also added is the documentary, Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision, about one of our most important contemporary artists who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.”

The Nightmare Before Christmas
A still from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Walt Disney Company

In honor of the new additions, Turner Classic Movies is hosting a television special with a selection of films from the registry on December 14. The Library of Congress is also holding holiday screenings of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Home Alone later this month.

“I’ve been nominated for an Academy Award once in my career, but this acknowledgment is more important than that,” says Chris Columbus, the director of Home Alone, to the Washington Post. “This means the film will live forever. I’m heavily into film preservation, and to have a film on the list that I’ve directed is so incredibly meaningful. It’s the biggest honor that I’ve ever had in my life.”

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