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‘Avatar’, ‘Top Gun’, ‘Elvis’, ‘Fabelmans’ And More Make Cut; Streamers Shut Out

One of the more prestigious stops on the Oscar-season circuit is always the annual AFI Awards Luncheon, and on Friday the American Film Institute revealed its list of Top 10 Movies and TV Programs for 2022 (see this post for TV list). Major studios dominated the movie list for a change, including some box office blockbusters. Streamers were AWOL for the first time since their emergence.

Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Nope, She Said, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King, and Women Talking are the chosen 10, in addition to an AFI Special Award for The Banshees of Inisherin, which fell outside of AFI’s mostly American financed eligibility criteria but is felt to be worthy of inclusion one way or another.


No real surprises on those that got in, although Jordan Peele’s summer horror film Nope hasn’t been at the top of pundits’ list of contenders. Universal had a banner day, with that film, She Said, The Fabelmans and its Focus Features entry Tár nabbing 40% of the 10 slots. No other studio or distributor got more than one, but the list is really notable for its wholesale rejection of streamers including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Apple, the latter whose CODA made AFI’s list last year and went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

The AFI list is important in that it also tends to mirror the eventual list of (now) 10 Best Picture Oscar nominees. Last year for instance, eight of the 10 went on to Best Picture Oscar nominations as did the AFI Special Award recipient Belfast. That means overall that AFI and Oscars agreed on nine out 10, with only the Japanese film Drive My Car nominated at the Academy Awards but not mentioned by AFI (it was ineligible but not given the “special award” distinction). AFI had two non-Best Picture Oscar nominees, tick, tick…BOOM! and The Tragedy of Macbeth on its Top 10 in 2021.

Among those waging Oscar campaigns that were left out completely today were Babylon, The Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Emancipation, Thirteen Lives, Till and Bones and All. Also left out of the list and any special award mention (since they were likely ineligible otherwise) were Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light, Cannes Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness and Indian sensation RRR. I would expect one or two of the above mentioned exclusions to make Oscar’s list, but we’ll see.

“AFI Awards shines a light upon excellence in storytelling and the collaborators who bring these stories to the screen,” AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said. “This year, more than ever, celebrating the community of artists that realize these dreams is particularly meaningful – as they have lifted our spirits through the most challenging of times and proven the power of this great art form.”

Honorees will gather January 13, 2023, for recognition at the annual AFI Awards private luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, always a favorite event since everyone in the room is already a winner and none of them make speeches.

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