By Keith Staskiewicz
December 28, 2010 at 06:27 PM EST
Image Credit: Lucasfilm
Academy Awards: Bob D'Amico

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Not bad for a gang of scruffy-looking nerf herders. The Empire Strikes Back — perhaps the greatest sequel of all time, unless Michael Corleone decides to take it out for some late-night boating — has been inducted into the National Film Registry along with the 24 other films chosen by the Library of Congress. George Lucas fared particularly well this year: Both Empire and his student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB will join American Graffiti and the first Star Wars as part of the collection of culturally significant films marked for preservation.

Beyond Empire, this year’s list is a strong one, spanning over a century and including classics from a whole slew of genres, including comedy (Airplane!, It’s a Gift), horror (The Exorcist), documentary (Grey Gardens), biopic (Malcolm X, All the President’s Men), and Western (McCabe and Mrs. Miller.) It’s also nice to see Empire and Airplane! receive the honor not long after Irvin Kershner and Leslie Nielsen’s respective deaths. Check out the full list below:

Airplane! (1980)

All the President’s Men (1976)

The Bargain (1914)

Cry of Jazz (1959)

Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Exorcist (1973)

The Front Page (1931)

Grey Gardens (1976)

I Am Joaquin (1969)

It’s a Gift (1934)

Let There Be Light (1946)

Lonesome (1928)

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)

Malcolm X (1992)

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

Newark Athlete (1891)

Our Lady of the Sphere (1969)

The Pink Panther (1964)

Preservation of the Sign Language (1913)

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Study of a River (1996)

Tarantella (1940)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

A Trip Down Market Street (1906)

Of course the real question is whether Return of the Jedi will ever make it into the vault—I like to imagine the Registry as the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (which, incidentally, was selected in 1999). It seems glaring to have the first two films in the OT and not the third, but all those Ewoks sure make a compelling, if jabberingly incoherent, case against letting the final chapter into the clubhouse. I’m pretty sure that when the time comes to evaluate The Phantom Menace and Jar Jar, the Library will be barring its doors and triple-locking them, but I can see the desire to have the full trilogy on the shelves for preservation. Otherwise, whatever future generation that discovers the Registry after the cultural apocalypse might be convinced that the story ends with Han frozen in carbonite and Luke’s daddy issues entirely unresolved. What do you think, PopWatchers? Thinking you are, that Jedi be selected it should?

More ‘Empire Strikes Back’:

EW’s ‘Star Wars’ Central

25 best/worst ‘Star Wars’ moments

15 Sequels That Topped the Originals

Owen Gleiberman: ‘Star Wars’ revisited

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