Pete Hammond

The American Film Institute jumped into the movie awards season today with the release of their annualThe-logo-for-this-years-AFI-Awards_event_main Movies of the Year list. 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle , Captain Phillips, Fruitvale Station, Gravity, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks and The Wolf Of Wall Street are the 10 films that made the cut. And based on the recent track record AFI has had for correlation between its list and the ultimate Oscar choices for Best Picture, these films should start popping the champagne corks. Last year, AFI matched 8 of 9 Oscar nominees with Amour being the only one it did not have (foreign films are not eligible for AFI’s list). In 2011, there were the same number of matches — though eventual Oscar winner for Best Picture The Artist was a separate “honorable mention” since it also was not eligible due to its French origins. In fact, I would go on to say the AFI list is fast becoming one of the most reliable precursors in predicting the way the Academy will eventually go.

Related: AFI’s Top 10 TV Programs: ‘Homeland’ & ‘Modern Family’ Out

slaveThis year’s list seems to reflect the frontrunners for the most part indicating consensus in a very competitive year. The list is also extremely good news for the major studios, which appear to be very strong in this year’s race with two entries from Sony, two from Paramount, two from Warner Bros and one from Disney. Fox is repped through their Searchlight division by 12 Years A Slave. CBS Films also made the cut for the first time with Inside Llewyn Davis.  The Weinstein Company, usually a larger force , is repped only by their small very indie summer release Fruitvale Station, which so far has been doing very well in the initial awards races.  The Weinsteins’ higher-profile eligible films such as August: Osage County and Lee Daniels’ The Butler are missing from the lineup along with Mandela: Long Walk To Freedominsideellewyn1 and Philomena (which were not eligible —  neither was Weinstein’s Best Pic champ The King’s Speech in 2010, though it got a special mention). Other notable contenders that were eligible that were AWOL at AFI:  All Is Lost, Dallas Buyers Club, Rush , Lone Survivor, Prisoners, Blue Jasmine and Mud to name a few whose Best Picture prospects may have just taken a hit. Well that is if you take these important precursors seriously and it seems by the strong correlation that at least when it comes to AFI the Academy definitely does.

Unlike other groups, AFI does not divide its list which also includes one for the top TV programs of the year into winners and losers but rather as an “almanac documenting works of excellence that mark a moment in time”. AFI also is the only organization honoring the entire creative ensemble of the films which qualify as those that “best advance  the art of the moving image, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form, inspire audiences and artists alike, and /or make a mark on American society”.

The awards-giving season is now in full swing with weekend results from numerous critics groups including L.A. and Boston and the New York Online Critics with disparate choices that indicate this is a wide open race and anybody’s ballgame as we move into the bigger arenas of the SAG and Golden Globe nominations later this week. Here’s the official AFI  list for film:

AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR
12 YEARS A SLAVE
AMERICAN HUSTLE
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
FRUITVALE STATION
GRAVITY
HER
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
NEBRASKA
SAVING MR. BANKS
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

“AFI AWARDS is a moment for the most accomplished storytellers 0f 2013 to pause and be appreciated – not as competitors, but as a community,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “Acknowledging their collective contributions to America’s rich cultural legacy is both AFI’s national mandate – and our honor.”

Marking the 14th chapter in the American Film Institute’s ongoing chronicle, AFI AWARDS selections are made through AFI’s unique jury process in which AFI members, scholars, film and television artists, critics and AFI Trustees determine the most outstanding achievements of the year, as well as provide a contextual rationale for each selection.

This year’s juries – one for film and one for television – were chaired by producers and AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chairs Tom Pollock (former Vice Chairman of MCA, Chairman of Universal Pictures) for the movies and Rich Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) for television, and includes award-winning artists such as Jon Avnet, Anne V. Coates, Roman Coppola, D.C. Fontana, Nancy Meyers and Noah Wyle; film historian Leonard Maltin; scholars from prestigious universities with recognized motion picture arts programs (Princeton, Syracuse, USC, Wesleyan); AFI Board of Trustees; and critics from leading media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone Magazine,Time Magazine, TV Guide, USA Today and more.

AFI will honor the creative ensembles for each of the selections at an invitation-only luncheon on Friday, January 10, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.

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