Heard on the Hill

Latest additions to National Film Registry a political smorgasbord

From ‘The Fog of War’ to ‘Before Stonewall,’ list provides vivid backdrop for contemporary issues

Errol Morris’ 2003 documentary “The Fog of War,” with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, was among Wednesday’s additions to the National Film Registry. (Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)

The 2019 additions to the National Film Registry, unveiled Wednesday by the Library of Congress, provide film buffs with a wide array of works with contemporary political relevance — spanning from 1903’s “Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island” to 2003’s “The Fog of War.”

“The National Film Registry has become an important record of American history, culture and creativity,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement announcing the list. Not everything is political, of course, and some of the movies are there simply because they found a way into the public’s imagination, like Kevin Smith’s 1994 slacker day-in-the-life comedy “Clerks,” or recorded a singular moment, like Martin Scorsese’s 1978 concert film “The Last Waltz,” which chronicled The Band’s final performance in San Francisco.  

But there are plenty of movies among the 25 that speak to the current moment in our politics and the issues. For background viewing, you could do worse than a thematic viewing party of the following: 

LGBTQ rights

  • Before Stonewall (1984)
  • Boys Don't Cry (1999)

Military conflict

  • The Fog of War (2003)
  • Platoon (1986)


  • Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903)


  • Body and Soul (1925)
  • George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute (1937)
  • I Am Somebody (1970)
  • Real Women Have Curves (2002)
  • She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
  • Zoot Suit (1981) 

The presidency

  • Gaslight (1944)

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