As the wide-awake nightmare that has been 2020 draws near its alleged end, the National Film Preservation Board is no doubt meeting virtually (“Please un-mute yourself, Mr. Scorsese.”) to discuss which 25 movies will round the NFR up to an even 800. As a law-abiding film buff, I submitted my 50 contenders back in March, which was approximately 10 years ago. My emphasis this year was on movies by women or people of color, or at least movies about women and people of color. That being said, I still left room for my perennial favorites, because mark my words: I will get “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” on this list.
And now, without further ado, my 50 for 2020:
Movies by Female Directors: Big (1988, Penny Marshall), Clueless (1995, Amy Heckerling), Frida (2002, Julie Taymor), The Hurt Locker (2009, Kathryn Bigelow), Lost in Translation (2003, Sofia Coppola), Sleepless in Seattle (1993, Nora Ephron)
Movies by Directors of Color: The Joy Luck Club (1993, Wayne Wang), The Sixth Sense (1999, M. Night Shyamalan), Stir Crazy (1980, Sidney Poitier), Training Day (2001, Antoine Fuqua)
Movie by a Member of the LGBTQ Community: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, John Cameron Mitchell)
Strong Female Leads: 9 to 5 (1980), An Affair to Remember (1957), Aliens (1986), Anna Christie (1930), Carrie (1976), Erin Brockovich (2000), The Miracle Worker (1962), A Star is Born (1937), Terms of Endearment (1983), Way Down East (1920), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
BIPOC Leads: Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Cabin in the Sky (1943), The Color Purple (1985), Fame (1980), Sounder (1972), Up in Smoke (1978)
Movies Dealing with Race/Racial Issues: The Defiant Ones (1958), Sayonara (1957)
Movies Dealing with LGBTQ Issues: The Boys in the Band (1970), Victor/Victoria (1982)
Disney Movies with a Female Lead: Alice in Wonderland (1951), The Little Mermaid (1989)
This List Needs More Meryl: The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Sophie’s Choice (1982)
I Have a Thing for Ellen Burstyn: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Movies I Like That Deserve a Chance: A Clockwork Orange (1971), Harvey (1950), It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), When Harry Met Sally (1989)
My Evelyn Beatrice Hall Movie: Grease (1978) (I disapprove of what it says, but I will defend to the death its right to be on this list.)
Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry for Picking Your Mom’s Least Favorite Movie: Love Story (1970) (Side note to Mom: If you’re still griping about this movie 50 years later, isn’t that enough of a legacy?)
Getting the Ball Rolling on 2010: The Social Network (2010)
The Grab Bag: Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Gladiator (2000), The Little Colonel (1935), The Sheik (1921)
And as Always, Because I Dare You, NFR. I Double-Dog Dare You: Song of the South (1946)
BONUS PREDICTION: If there is any historical footage of the 1918 flu pandemic, I’m predicting it will make the 2020 roster for obvious reasons.
Longtime readers may recall that ZERO of my 2019 submissions made the cut, so if I can get one of these movies on the NFR, I’ll be happy.