The American Film Institute’s annual list highlighting the top 10 movies of the year includes multiple awards frontrunners. These lists, along with recent critics group awards, this weekend’s International Documentary Association Awards show on Saturday, and Monday’s Golden Globe film and TV nominations, build forward momentum for these and other awards contenders. Moving into Oscar contention is all about movies becoming must-sees for Guild and Academy voters.
As they did last year with long-form documentary “OJ: Made in America,” the AFI jury — a hand-picked mix of academics, critics, and industry insiders — also gave a special award to Ken Burns’ documentary series “Vietnam.”
Gaining traction are a number of films nominated for multiple Critics’ Choice Awards, including Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.), Guillermo del Toro’s romantic fantasy “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight), Jordan Peele’s eye-opening horror thriller “Get Out” (Blumhouse/Universal), Luca Guadagnino’s elegiac gay love story “Call Me By Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics) and Sean Baker’s Orlando poverty row drama “The Florida Project” (A24).
Women did well this year, as both writer-director Greta Gerwig’s critically hailed coming-of-age drama “Lady Bird” (A24) and Patty Jenkins’ blockbuster “Wonder Woman” (DC/Warner Bros.) made the Top Ten; the DC superhero movie is entering the awards conversation for the first time this season.
Also gaining a needed push is writer-star Kumail Nanjiani’s true story “The Big Sick” (Amazon/Lionsgate) as well as Martin McDonagh’s incendiary character drama “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight), starring Oscar-contender Frances McDormand, and Steven Spielberg’s late-breaking Pentagon papers drama “The Post” (Fox), starring Oscar contenders Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.
Notable snubs include Paul Thomas Anderson’s artful romantic drama “Phantom Thread” (Annapurna/Focus Features”), Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi sequel “Blade Runner 2049″ (Alcon/Warner Bros.), and Denzel Washington vehicle “Roman Israel, Esq” (Sony).
This list of 10 could well be repeated by the Producers Guild of America (which announces January 5), which could add such jilted AFI suitors as Focus Features “Darkest Hour” (not AFI-eligible) and Netflix’s “Mudbound,” which have their supporters. But will any of these also-rans wind up on the final Oscar Best Picture list? In a year without that many consensus movies, it’s more likely that awards voters will pick fewer than 10, maybe nine, as they did last year.
Fox Searchlight, Warner Bros., and A24 are celebrating, with two films apiece on the AFI list. Among the streaming sites, Amazon scored with “The Big Sick,” while Netflix had to settle for television nods for “The Crown” and “Stranger Things 2.”
The winners get to attend one of the highlights of the awards calendar, the (January 5) luncheon at the Four Seasons that everybody actually enjoys. No speeches, no anxiety. Just hanging out over lunch and film clips. – Anne Thompson
AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR (in alphabetical order):
THE BIG SICK
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
THE FLORIDA PROJECT
THE SHAPE OF WATER
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
A number of popular awards players continued their run with an inclusion on the AFI Top 10 list: “Big Little Lies,” “The Crown,” “Feud: Bette & Joan,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Master of None,” “Stranger Things,” and “This Is Us” have all already cemented their status as awards season mainstays, and every eligible series made last year’s AFI list, too.
Each of these programs is expected to slot a number of nods when the Golden Globe nominations are released on Monday morning (December 11), but the two new entries got a much-needed boost. “Insecure” didn’t make the AFI cut in 2016, but it did land a Golden Globe nod for star Issa Rae. “The Good Place” has yet to be recognized by the Emmys or the Golden Globes. That may change come Monday.
Notably absent from the list are two critics’ favorites, “The Leftovers” and “Twin Peaks.” Both are currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on Metacritic’s round-up of Top 10 lists, and “The Leftovers” is currently the highest-rated series of the year overall. Both are challenging programs, and perhaps were simply too much for the AFI voters to handle.
Other snubs include three of last year’s AFI nominees: “The Americans,” “Better Call Saul,” and “Veep” were all eligible for the 2017 list, but none made the final cut. – Ben Travers
AFI TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR
BIG LITTLE LIES
FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN
GAME OF THRONES
THE GOOD PLACE
THE HANDMAID’S TALE
MASTER OF NONE
STRANGER THINGS 2
THIS IS US
AFI SPECIAL AWARD
THE VIETNAM WAR