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 two juries — which are a mix of critics, academics, and film professionals — always celebrate the best of American cinema and television. Given its Broadway provenance, “Hamilton” landed a Special Award from the American Film Institute juries, as internationally-flavored Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” did last year.
This year’s crop is diverse, with films from lauded veterans Spike Lee, David Fincher, and Pete Docter alongside relative newcomers to the awards conversation like Shaka King, Chloe Zhao, and Lee Isaac Chung.
Like last year, eight of the ten films were directed by men, with two women, Zhao (“Nomadland”) and Regina King (“One Night in Miami”), also on deck for the honor. On the TV side, newcomers “Bridgerton,” “The Good Lord Bird,” “Lovecraft Country,” “The Mandalorian,” “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Ted Lasso,” and “Unorthodox” outnumbered returning shows like “Better Call Saul” and “The Crown,” while “Veep” and “Watchmen” were omitted this time around.
Mighty Netflix outperformed its rivals on both Top Ten lists, scoring four nominations each on the film side (“Da 5 Bloods,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Mank,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7”) and the TV side (“Bridgerton,” “The Crown,” “The Queen’s Gambit,” and “Unorthodox”).
Pixar’s animated “Soul” made it onto the Top Ten list, along with rising indies “Minari” (A24) and Amazon Studios’ “One Night in Miami” and “Sound of Metal.” Among the Oscar hopefuls that were left out of the Film Top 10 are Florian Zeller’s “The Father,” Paul Greengrass’s “News of the World,” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.”
Check out the full list of honorees for both film and television below.
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
AFI Movies of the Year
“Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
“One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
“Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
Phoebe Dynevor and Daphne and Regé-Jean Page in “Bridgerton”
Liam Daniel / Netflix
AFI Television Programs of the Year
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Good Lord Bird” (Showtime)
“Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
“The Mandalorian” (Disney+)
“Mrs. America” (FX)
“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
Missing from film jury duty this year was long-time AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chair Tom Pollock (former Vice Chairman of MCA, Chairman of Universal Pictures), who passed away last year; he was replaced by film historian and Board member Jeanine Basinger (Chair Emerita and Founder of the Film Studies Department, Wesleyan University); returning to chair the TV jury was AFI Board Vice Chair Richard Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences). This year’s juries included actors Cynthia Erivo, Marlee Matlin, and Wes Studi, and writer-directors Amy Sherman-Palladino and Lulu Wang, alongside film scribes, academics, and film historians Mark Harris, Molly Haskell, and Leonard Maltin, as well as members of the AFI Board of Trustees, among others.
Usually the annual AFI Awards luncheon is a lovely untelevised gathering that brings the film and television industries together to celebrate the best of the year. Instead, on February 26, the AFI AWARDS tributes will culminate with a virtual benediction premiering on YouTube.com/AFI and AFI.com.
“For 20 years, AFI AWARDS has been a moment to gather artists in one room with a singular goal – to create community over competition,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “This year we cannot gather but will instead celebrate each honoree by creating exclusive content to be shared with a global audience through AFI Movie Club, shining a proper light on excellence.”
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