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Two beloved Christmas classics just joined the National Film Registry

Macaulay Culkin in <em>Home Alone</em> from 1990
AJ Pics/Alamy Stock Photo
Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone from 1990

Every year, the Librarian of Congress picks 25 movies to add to the National Film Registry. And every year, they range from headline-grabbing blockbusters to wonderfully obscure collections of interesting historical footage.

Musicals, silent films, sports documentaries, indie classics; all will be preserved for posterity.

This year's list includes two recent holiday classics. The Nightmare Before Christmas "has become both a Yuletide and Halloween tradition for adults, kids, hipsters and many Halloween fanatics," the Library of Congress said in a statement about the 1993 Tim Burton animated favorite. It also described another selection, the 1990 film Home Alone, as "embedded into American culture as a holiday classic."

The National Film Registry was started in 1988, to bring attention to film preservation efforts. The selections – now numbering 875 — are intended to represent American film heritage in its breadth and depth and will be preserved for posterity.

This year's best-known titles include Terminator 2: Judgement Day and the space exploration drama Apollo 13 that dramatizes an attempt to land on the moon in 1970.

"It's a very honest, heartfelt reflection of something that was very American, which was the space program in that time and what it meant to the country and to the world," said director Ron Howard in a statement.

The oldest film selected this year dates from 1921; one of the newest is 12 Years a Slave, which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2014.

"Slavery for me was a subject matter that hadn't been sort of given enough recognition within the narrative of cinema history," said director Steve McQueen in a statement. "I wanted to address it for that reason, but also because it was a subject which had s much to do with how we live now. It wasn't just something which was dated. It was something which is living and breathing, because you see the evidence of slavery today."

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Director and President Jacqueline Stewart also chairs the National Film Preservation Board. She said she was delighted to see several films this year that recognize a diversity of Asian American experiences.

"There's Cruisin' J-Town, a film about jazz musicians in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo community, specifically the band Hiroshima," she said. "There's also the
Bohulano Family Film collection, home movies from the 1950s-1970s shot by a family in Stockton, Calif.'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."

Here is this year's list of films selected for the 2023 National Film Registry, in chronological order:

 A Movie Trip Through Filmland (1921)
 Dinner at Eight (1933)
 Bohulano Family Film Collection (1950s-1970s)
 Helen Keller: In Her Story (1954)
 Lady and the Tramp (1955)
 Edge of the City (1957)
 We're Alive (1974)
 Cruisin' J-Town (1975)
 ¡Alambrista! (1977)
 Passing Through (1977)
 Fame (1980)
 Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
 The Lighted Field (1987)
 Matewan (1987)
 Home Alone (1990)
 Queen of Diamonds (1991)
 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
 The Wedding Banquet (1993)
 Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994)
 Apollo 13 (1995)
 Bamboozled (2000)
 Love & Basketball (2000)
 12 Years a Slave (2013)
 20 Feet from Stardom (2013)

Edited by Rose Friedman.

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Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.