This year’s annual American Film Institute luncheon celebrating the top 10 movies and TV shows of the year brought together Oscar frontrunners “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Fences,” and “Arrival,” among others competing at the Golden Globes this Sunday. But the most noteworthy element of the afternoon is what doesn’t happen. No anticipation, no speeches, no anxiety. The winners actually enjoy hanging out over lunch and film clips at the Four Seasons, applauding their own.
At the meal’s end, “Fences” director and star Denzel Washington gave the invocation and got a standing ovation. He praised his amazing cast (Stephen Henderson and Mykelti Williamson were on hand) as “people who don’t get the recognition and don’t necessarily get invited to lunches like this,” he said.
On the documentary side, the AFI jury — a hand-picked mix of academics, critics, and industry insiders — also gave a special award to Ezra Edelman’s seven-hour epic “O.J.: Made in America” (ESPN), which is racking up awards; Edelman hung out at the “La La Land” table with Damien Chazelle, Emma Stone, and Ryan Gosling, sharing the love in the same Four Seasons ballroom with FX Emmy-winner “People v. O.J. Simpson,” which is also competing at the Globes.
Oscar-winners Clint Eastwood (“Sully”) and Martin Scorsese (“Silence”) were on hand, along with Andrew Garfield, the star of “Silence,” and Mel Gibson’s box-office hit “Hacksaw Ridge,” which is gaining momentum, as is CBS Films’ “Hell or High Water,” starring Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris provided the star wattage at A24’s “Moonlight” table. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hosted John Lithgow and Claire Foy, who play Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown,” along with writer Peter Morgan.
This list of 10, with the exception of “Zootopia,” could well be repeated by the Producers Guild of America next week, which also could add such jilted AFI suitors as “Hidden Figures” (Fox), “The Jungle Book” (Disney), “Lion” (Weinstein Co.), or “Loving” (Focus Features), which all have their supporters.
AFI Top Ten Motion Pictures
“Hacksaw Ridge” (Lionsgate)
“Hell or High Water” (CBS Films/Lionsgate)
“La La Land” (Lionsgate)
“Manchester by the Sea” (Amazon/Roadside Attractions)
“Sully” (Warner Bros.)
AFI Top Ten Television Programs
“Better Call Saul”
“Game of Thrones”
“The Night Of”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
“This Is Us”