AFI’s Top Films and TV of 2021 Include ‘Dune,’ ‘Power of the Dog, and ‘Succession’

This year's juries went diverse with their picks from some of the industry's most singular creators, as Netflix, HBO Max, and Apple TV+ scored multiple nominations.
Power of the Dog
"The Power of the Dog"

The American Film Institute’s annual lists showcasing the top 10 movies and TV shows of the year always include multiple awards frontrunners, and this year is no exception. The jury — which is a mix of critics, academics, and film professionals — always celebrates the best of American cinema and television. The virtual jury awarded three Special Awards this year, to Kenneth Branagh’s festival hit “Belfast” (from the U.K.), Netflix’s global blockbuster “Squid Game” (from South Korea) and Searchlight documentary “Summer of Soul…(Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised).”

Last year, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Disney+ adaptation of Broadway smash “Hamilton” earned a special award; this year, rookie feature director Miranda’s “Tick, Tick, Boom” landed on the Top Ten Films list, along with movies from lauded veterans Adam McKay, Paul Thomas Anderson, Denis Villeneuve, Guillermo del Toro, Jane Campion, Joel Coen, and Steven Spielberg, as well as relative newcomers Sian Heder and Reinaldo Marcus Green.

Like last year, eight of the ten films were directed by men, with two women — Campion (“The Power of the Dog”) and Heder (“CODA”) — also on deck for the honor. On the TV side, newcomers “Hacks,” “Maid,” “Mare of Easttown,” “Reservation Dogs,” “Schmigadoon,” “The Underground Railroad,” “Wandavision,” and “The White Lotus” outnumbered returning shows “Ted Lasso” and “Succession,” while “The Mandalorian” didn’t make the cut this time around.

Netflix scored three nominations on the the film side (“Don’t Look Up,” “The Power of the Dog,” “Tick, Tick, Boom”), and one on the TV top ten (“Maid”) plus a special award (“Squidgame”), while Apple TV+ landed movie “CODA” plus series “Schmigadoon” and “Ted Lasso.” HBO Max scored three series (“Mare of Easttown,” “Succession,” and “White Lotus”).

Among the Oscar hopefuls left out were Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,” Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos,” Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci” and “The Last Duel,” and Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer.”

The honorees will gather to be celebrated at an intimate lunch at the Four Seasons on January 7, 2022, while AFI’s Movie Club will showcase official selections with new content on AFI.com.

This year’s jury included Lee Isaac Chung, Liz Hannah, Anjelica Huston, and Ed Zwick; historians Annette Insdorf, L.S. Kim, Akira Mizuta Lippit, Leonard Maltin, Ellen Seiter and Robert Thompson; the AFI Board of Trustees; film critics Shawn Edwards from the African American Film Critics Association and Claudia Puig from Los Angeles Film Critics Association; and film and television critics from outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, Rolling Stone, TV Guide and The Washington Post. The jury was chaired by AFI Board of Trustees member Jeanine Basinger (Chair Emerita and Founder of the Film Studies Department, Wesleyan University) and AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chair Richard Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences).

Check out the full list of honorees for both film and television below.

Amy Forsyth, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur
“Coda”Apple TV+


“Don’t Look Up”
“King Richard”
“Licorice Pizza”
“Nightmare Alley”
“The Power of the Dog”
“Tick Tick Boom”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“West Side Story”


“Mare of Easttown”
“Reservation Dogs”
“Ted Lasso”
“The Underground Railroad”
“The White Lotus”


“Squid Game”
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

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