AFI Awards Name Year’s Ten Best American Films (AWARDS 2021)

The Top 10 Movie choices of 2021 by the American Film Institute reads like this year’s Oscar contender list.

The American Film Institute — known to some as the organization that once broadcast TV specials for the Top 100 Movie Lists at the turn of the century — announced their 22nd Annual AFI Awards, a Top 10 List for the year’s best movies.

The institute doesn’t name a single film as Best of the Year; it simply lists a Top 10 alphabetically. It also limits its choices to American-made or produced films.

The AFI list has arguably become the most accurate predictor of the Best Picture Oscar. Of their Top 10 choices, 6 to 7 per year usually go on to be nominees for the Academy’s top prize. In addition, the AFI Top 10 has always included the eventual winner.

In other words: just look below and you’ll see the next Best Picture Oscar winner somewhere in that list.

The only slight historical exception: 2019’s Parasite, which wasn’t an American film and therefore ineligible for the AFI list, but it was still given the Institute’s Special Award that year.

Similarly this year, writer / director Kenneth Branagh‘s Oscar contender Belfast is an Irish-based production that received the AFI’s Special Award citation in lieu of being ineligible for their Top 10. Questlove‘s documentary Summer of Soul also shared Special Award honors.

Notable omissions? Aaron Sorkin‘s Lucille Ball drama Being The Ricardos, Kristen Stewart‘s Princess Diana biopic Spencer, and the buzzed about (but yet to open) musical from director Joe Wright, Cyrano. It stars Peter Dinklage, whose dwarf stature replaces the long nose aspect of the eloquent but undesired title character. (Spencer and Cyrano, however, may have been ineligible for the same reasons that Belfast was.)

Notable inclusions: CODA, the crowd-pleasing indie drama on streamer AppleTV+ about a teenager whose parents are both deaf, and Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s directorial debut Tick, Tick…Boom!, the bio-musical about Rent playwright John Larson starring Andrew Garfield. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.

Here are the AFI choices for the 10 Best Movies of 2021 (listed in alphabetical order):

AFI Movies of the Year 2021

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

Special Award: Belfast
Special Award: Summer of Soul…(Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)


Click on links below for other major Critics Group Awards and Guild Nominees that have been announced so far for the 2021 / 22 season:

Writers Guild of America Nominees 2021
Producers Guild of America Nominees 2021
Screen Actors Guild Nominees 2021
Los Angeles Film Critics Assocation 2021
New York Film Critics Circle 2021
National Board of Review 2021

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