How to Watch All 800 Films on the National Film Registry (2020 update)

The 2020 additions to the National Film Registry have been announced! They are: 

  • The Battle of the Century (1927)
  • The Blues Brothers (1980)
  • Bread (1918)
  • Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
  • Cabin in the Sky (1943)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • The Devil Never Sleeps (1994)
  • Freedom Riders (2010)
  • Grease (1978)
  • The Ground (1993-2001)
  • The Hurt Locker (2008)
  • Illusions (1982)
  • The Joy Luck Club (1993)
  • Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
  • Lilies of the Field (1963)
  • Losing Ground (1982)
  • The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)
  • Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege (2006)
  • Outrage (1950)
  • Shrek (2001)
  • Suspense (1913)
  • Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)
  • Wattstax (1973)
  • With Car and Camera Around the World (1929)

You may notice that three of these films (“Grease”, “Shrek”, and “The Dark Knight”) are films that I nominated earlier this year. For more information about these 25 films, and why they’re significant, please see this press release from the National Film Registry. If you’d like to watch these 25 films, you’re in luck, as I’ve compiled information about how to watch each film below.

Thirteen of them are easily available to watch through common video-on-demand (VOD) services. Those 13 films are:

Likewise, the film “Kid Auto Races at Venice” is available to view for free on Wikipedia.

Two films (“Outrage” and “Suspense”) are available on YouTube. I should note that sometimes films are uploaded to YouTube illegally and then later taken down. I make no claims as to whether these are legal copies, and if they get taken down, I will endeavor to find out if they are available through other means (for example, whether they are available on DVD/Blu-ray on sites like Amazon).

Speaking of DVDs, it looks like two of the films are only available for purchase on DVD/Blu-ray. The film “The Battle of the Century” is available on the collection “Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations” on both Amazon and eBay. The film “The Devil Never Sleeps” is available through the special online retailer “Women Make Movies”. (Note that the default purchase option on that site is for universities, which is really expensive, but you can change your purchase option to “Home Video”, which is only $20 at current time of writing.) If you’re not keen on purchasing either of these films outright, I would recommend checking to see whether your local library has them. If not, they may be able to obtain them through an interlibrary loan service offered by most libraries (ask your librarian for more information.)

Four of the films are only available on specialty streaming services like The Criterion Channel or Fandor. Those 4 films are:

Most years, it’s not uncommon for some hard-to-find films to be added to the Registry that aren’t available to stream or purchase on DVD/Blu-ray. As far as I could tell after doing some online searches, there are three such films this year:

For information on how to view the other 775 films on the National Film Registry, please see the NFR Directory spreadsheet that I’ve compiled