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Marvel Fans Win: "Iron Man" Conquers the National Film Registry


Every year, the Library of Congress adds 25 movies to its National Film Registry. Cultural, historical, or aesthetic importance earns them a spot on the list. You can find anything from avant-garde provocations that last a few minutes to expensive hours-long Hollywood epics.

Anyone can vote online for the movies they feel are significant. The Library of Congress makes its final selection after conferring with the National Film Preservation Board and Library specialists. Before you accuse them of elitism, know that they included Iron Man and The Little Mermaid. Marvel fanboys and Disney heads rejoice!

We tracked down the availability of the 2022 selections so you can get up to date on what the really cool kids are watching. 

Mardi Gras Carnival (1898)

The oldest surviving film images of the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans are part of the American Mutoscope Company output. They were found and restored by the Eye Filmmuseum of the Netherlands. You can watch it on their YouTube channel.

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

French poet Edmond Rostand’s romantic play keeps getting reinvented as we speak. Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) just played the lead in a musical version. The 1950 film stars Puerto Rican star José Ferrer, who gave us the definitive film version. He was the first Hispanic to win an Academy Award.

*Stream at Prime Video, Fubo, Paramount+, Epic, Roku, Hoopla, Tube, Kanopy, Epix.

Charade (1963)

The ghosts of World War II haunt this romantic adventure directed by Stanley Donen. The movie has heavy Hitchcockian vibes, with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in the lead roles. Paris is the stage for cloak-and-dagger intrigue when a young widow gets a cache of fake passports from her dead husband. Soon, three goons begin to follow her with nefarious intentions. 

* Stream at Prime Video.

Scorpio Rising (1963)

Kenneth Anger's 28 minutes-long short is a cornerstone of the American underground, a landmark of gay cinema, a precursor to music videos, and an outright provocation. One of the nine short films that comprise his Magik Lantern Cycle. You can find ripped copies on YouTube, but if you want to see it in all its tawdry glory, you will have to import the region-free Blu-ray edited by the BFI.

Titicut Follies (1967)

Frederick Wiseman took his camera into Bridgewater, a Massachusetts Correctional Institution. That is a fancy way of saying a prison hospital for the criminally insane. The dire conditions in sight and the evident mistreatment of inmates stirred up a scandal. Authorities took the filmmakers to court and put the film out of circulation for decades. 

Stream at Kanopy.  

Betty Tells Her Story (1972)

Liane Brandon's documentary premiered at the height of the Women’s Rights Movement, exploring body issues and class in modern America. A Connecticut teacher unpacks a lifetime of hope and pain by telling an anecdote about her search for a perfect dress to wear to a ball, not once, but twice.

* Stream at Criterion Channel.

Super Fly (1972)

A seminal blaxploitation film directed by Gordon Parks Jr. Ron O’Neal is Priest, a high-flying drug dealer in Harlem, trying to hit a big score before retiring from a life of crime. Alas, The Man is not too keen on this development. Original music by Curtis Mayfield.

* Rent or buy at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

Carrie (1976)

Brian DePalma's film, based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel, is a blistering exploration of the horrors of teen girlhood. Sissy Spacek gives a heartbreaking performance as a young woman trapped between her religious fanatic mother and the cruelty. Little do they know that hidden telekinetic powers make Carrie a girl no one should cross.

* Stream at Hoopla, YouTube, Kanopy, and Pluto TV.

Union Maids (1976)

Three veterans of union organizing during the Great Depression share their memories and reflect on the state of the movement in the seventies. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

  • Stream at Kanopy.

Word is Out: Stories of Our Lives (1977)

Rob Epstein, Nancy Adair, and Andrew Brown, members of the San Francisco-based Mariposa Film Group, directed this landmark documentary. Twenty-six persons share their life experiences as gays and lesbians. The group crosses class, race, and gender barriers, making a moving oral history of queerness in 20th-century America.  

* Stream at Criterion Channel and Kanopy.

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez(1982)

Robert M. Young may be the director, but the movie has plenty of Latino talent in front and behind the camera to warrant Latino bona fides. Edward James Olmos is a Mexican American rancher running from a Lynch mob after accidentally killing a sheriff. 

  • Stream on Freevee.

Hairspray (1988)

John Waters tamed his most subversive impulses to craft a homage to early 60s teen romantic comedies. Ricky Lake is bubbly Tracy Turnblad, a zaftig charmer who infiltrates the Corny Collins Show with her dance moves. She challenges beauty standards and helps to desegregate the show. Queer icon Divine played Tracy’s mother, in her last role. The movie inspired a Broadway musical, which in turn, was adapted into film.

* Rent and purchase at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, and Redbox.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Back in the late 80s, Disney Studios was in dire straits. It stumbled on a second golden age of animation and a new lease on life with this musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story. A live-action version is set for release next year.

  • Stream at Disney+.

Tongues Untied (1989)

Marlon Riggs’ striking essay film meditates on queer blackness in America. Think of it as a cri du coeur against the double whammy of hate: racism and homophobia. 

  • Available on The Criterion Collection’s ‘The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs’.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Working on a script by Nora Ephron, director Rob Reiner distills 80 romantic mores in this comedy about a perfect couple tiptoeing around commitment for years. Episodes of their story intersect with vignettes of senior couples sharing their own stories of love. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

* Stream at Netflix, HBOMax.

House Party (1990)

Reginal Hudlin adapts teen comedy tropes to black culture, just as hip-hop is taking America by storm. Christopher Kid Reid and Christopher Play Martin go against all odds to give the best house party ever. The movie was a box office hit and went on to jumpstart a franchise. A remake comes in early 2023.

* Stream at HBOMax, Freevee

Iron Man (2008)

Eyebrows may rise at the inclusion of the blockbuster movie that jumpstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but its influence on contemporary film culture is undeniable. Back in 2088, the movie was from a sure thing. It was actor Jon Favreau’s second feature film as a director. Robert Downey Jr. was coming back from addiction recovery. In time, producer Kevin Feige became the most powerful man in Hollywood. 14 years later, the MCU still rules the commercial box office.

* Stream at Disney+.

Pariah (2011)

Dee Rees adapted and expanded her own short into her first feature film, a tender but unsparing look at a young girl coming to terms with her queerness and the rejection she gets from her own family. 

  • Available to rent at AppleTV

These seven films from the Class of 2025 are unavailable to stream or buy. With luck, inclusion on the list will make them easier to see.

Cab Calloway Home Movies (1948-1951)

Behind Every Good Man (1967)

Bush Mama (1979)

Mingus (1968) 

Manzanar (1971)

Attica (1974)

Itam Hakim, Hopiit (1984)

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