Tomorrow morning the AFI announces their top ten American films of the year. There are two big precursors right now that can give you a pretty good idea of how Best Picture might go and they’re all announcing at once. Tomorrow, the American Film Institute puts out its top ten nominees for best films of 2011.

Since 2012 has been a better year for American studio films, there should be similarities between this year’s selections. One of their strangest moments was in 2006, when they failed to name The Departed as one of their best films – it then went on to win Best Picture. But usually when the favorite to win is an American production, usually it will show up here first.

In their selection last year, the big budget comedy hit Bridesmaids got in, which means that there’s a good chance a big movie that isn’t a critics’ darling might be named, like Skyfall or This is 40, or The Avengers.  They named There Will Be Blood and the Hurt Locker, but not Inglourious Basterds. They named The Fighter and they named Munich.   They named The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Bridesmaids.

To that end, I fully expect these ten to be named tomorrow:

Zero Dark Thirty
Silver Linings Playbook
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Master
Life of Pi
This is Forty
Moonrise Kingdom
Alternates Les Miserables (but is it an American production?), Django Unchained (did they see it time?)

In 2011, 7/10 went on to win Best Picture.

The Help*
The Descendants*
Midnight in Paris*
J Edgar
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
War Horse*
Tree of Life*

In 2010, 9/10 went on to be nominated:

Black Swan*
The Fighter*
The Kids Are All Right*
127 Hours*
The Social Network*
The Town
Toy Story 3*
True Grit*
Winter’s Bone*

In 2009, five went on to be nominated in a ten Best Picture year.

The Hangover
The Hurt Locker+
The Messenger
A Serious Man*
A Single Man
Up in the Air*

In 2008, 3 of 5 potential:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*
The Dark Knight
Frozen River
Gran Torino
Iron Man
Wendy and Lucy
The Wrestler

2007 4/5:
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
Knocked Up
Michael Clayton*
No Country for Old Men+
The Savages
There Will Be Blood*

2006 3/5
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The Devil Wears Prada
Half Nelson
Happy Feet
Inside Man
Letters from Iwo Jima*
Little Miss Sunshine*
United 93

AFI Top 10 Films of 2005 (5/5)
Brokeback Mountain*
The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Good Night, and Good Luck*
A History of Violence
King Kong
The Squid and the Whale

AFI Top 10 Films of 2004 3/5
The Aviator*
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Friday Night Lights
The Incredibles
Maria Full of Grace
Million Dollar Baby+
Spider-Man 2

AFI Top 10 Films of 2003 (4/5)
American Splendor
Finding Nemo
The Human Stain
In America
The Last Samurai
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King+
Lost in Translation*
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World*
Mystic River*

AFI Top 10 Films of 2002 (4/5)
About a Boy
About Schmidt
Antwone Fisher
Gangs of New York*
The Hours*
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers*
The Quiet American

AFI Top 10 Films of 2001 (4/5)
A Beautiful Mind+
Black Hawk Down
In the Bedroom*
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring*
The Man Who Wasn’t There
Monster’s Ball
Moulin Rouge*
Mulholland Drive

AFI Top 10 Films of 2000 (3/5)
Almost Famous
Before Night Falls
Best in Show
Erin Brockovich*
High Fidelity
Requiem for a Dream
Wonder Boys
You Can Count on Me

Read more: American Film Institute’s Top 10 Films of the Year —

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  • rufussondheim

    Perks will make this list. If not, I will cry.

  • Josh

    Was just going to saw the same rufussondheim. I think Perks WILL be on the list.

    My predicted ten:

    Zero Dark Thirty
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Perks of Being a Wallflower
    The Master
    Django Unchained
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Life of Pi

  • Josh

    Scratch Flight from that and replace with Moonrise Kingdom 🙂

    NGNG is Arbitrage showing up

  • Chris138

    I have a really hard time picturing This Is 40 coming out of nowhere and making the list. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Skyfall or even The Dark Knight Rises probably have a greater chance at being listed here.

  • Samuel Coffey

    I wonder about This is 40…

    My picks,

    Zero Dark Thirty
    Les Misèrables
    Silver Linings Playbook

    Life of Pi
    The Sessions
    The Avengers
    Django Unchaines

    —-if Les Mis isn’t eligible, I’ll switch for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

  • PaulH

    Sasha, time out…

    “there’s a good chance a big movie that isn’t a critics’ darling might be named, like Skyfall or This is 40, or The Avengers.” . The number 92 will be on that page. (84% top critics). I’m not just talking out my butt when I say that Avengers, as well as TDKR (87) and Hunger Games (85) did resonate with critics on RT. That is the standard. Metacritic is too damn narrow.

  • Given the love for animated films, could WRECK IT RALPH or FRANKENWEENIE make it on here? And I still have hope for COMPLIANCE. It’s still the most memorable moviegoing experience I had this year.

  • Zach

    Eww, I forgot they recognized J. Edgar last year. They lost all credibility.

  • Linc4Jess

    AFI. There is a good chance that this is the list where “The Dark Knight Rises” will appear. Just thinking.

  • Chris138

    Zach, I forgot about the inclusion of J. Edgar on their list last year. What a terrible movie.

  • The Great Dane

    All this “Skyfall” talk. Is it even eligible? Aren’t all the James Bond films strictly British productions?

  • Al Robinson

    I’m guessing these are their 10 (assuming they’ve seen both The Hobbit and Django Unchained).

    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Django Unchained
    Life of Pi
    The Master
    Moonrise Kingdom
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Zero Dark Thirty

    If there is a curveball, I think it could be the inclusion of The Dark Knight Rises, and I would take out Flight.

  • Bball_Jake

    The Master
    Zero Dark Thirty
    The Dark Knight Rises
    The Hobbit
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Life of Pi
    Django Unchained
    This is 40

  • Mikhail

    Zero Dark Thirty
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    The Master
    Life of Pi
    The Dark Knight Rises
    Moonrise Kingdom

  • Rodrigo JP

    AFI :

    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    This is 40
    Life of Pi
    Moonrise Kingdom
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Zero Dark Thirty

  • Calvin

    There is no way for them to consider Les Misérables an american movie.

  • For once, I agree with PaulH. The Avengers looks like a likely pick, as do The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games. But I don’t think the Judd Apatow love is a constant – they’ve picked all of his most successful productions, and This Is 40 hasn’t yet had time to prove itself. Early reviews are mixed, too. In a year like this, I don’t see a space for it.

  • danemychal

    Rodrigo – Amour is not American. Pick a replacement. Here’s what I see getting in:

    Moonrise Kingdom
    The Master
    Zero Dark Thirty
    The Hobbit
    Magic Mike
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Life of Pi

  • AdamA

    If Babel and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly can make their list so can Les Miserables…none were “American” productions

  • Reichdome back with AVENGEANCE

    I was impressed with the Hurt Locker when i saw it but i was appalled and disgusted by the manner in which it undervalued its material to the public through the producers undermining it own box office potential it not about box office per above all about how many pple really are genuinely interested in it. Unlike Hurt locker, this film has even MORE potential than the Hurt locker to appeal to a much broader audience base so the question is why is it predicted to ONLY make a smidgen more than the hurt locker? Whatever happened to the integrity and credibility of the academy back in the day where critical acclaim AND public care and value and increased appeal due to word of mouth is what REALLY is SUPPOSED TO ALWAYS determine oscar success?
    Answer it gone down the sewerage pipe of neglect and forgotten memories.
    Oscar forget time and time and TIME again that a film that talked about at large in theatres before / after films by the public THEY are the films that also have had time, energy and effort to bring them to life as well as the public cares THEY are the ones that matter to OSCAR OR SHOULD BE! They did with Gone with the Wind, they did with Ben Hur, they did with Godfather.
    No, according to oscar we do not matter anymore. we are insignificant a non- eterty.
    What reall ticks me off is how films like the hurt locker for all their brilliance were very limited in their release when they deserved to be treated as a film that could have far larger appeal. The producers/ studio may have had some limitations on money, but now, with ZERO DARK THIRTY ESPECIALLY about a content that more relevant than ever in our time bout hunting osama bin laden, this is SOMETHING that MUST and the producers should expand worldwide in at LEAST every MAJOR CINEMA.
    I said it once and i say it again i lilke and became a HUGE fan of Kathryn Bigelow. She hot and sexy yes, but more importantly she bringing and playing a fundamentally important role as she broke the glass ceiling for her gender a celiing that should have been broken eons ago but something that oscar failed to acknowledge. She is fast becoming one of the most talented directors of our generation workng off limited budgets however it does not excuse despite bigelow’s achievement undermining a films appeal by the producers and given they the SAME team who won oscar for hurt locker which gave producers and their studios “$$$$$$$$$$$$$” there is no excuse except sadly to acknowledge that the producers may? be taking advantage of the politics of oscar to their advanbtage? this tactic is shameful and hence, regardless who the director is IF indeed ‘zero dark thirty’ does not expand anywhere near as much as it film content ought to be then clearly it shows the producers only care about oscar which is a great shame cos bigelow herself she a genuine, hard working director determined to break new ground.
    I WANT TO see zero dark thiry but i deeply concerned bout the way producers handle their intended oscar contender films. I struggled to hunt for location tyo see hurt locker a few years ago. So hence, if the producers do undermine the mass importance and appeal of the themes and material and content of their own movie limiting its realease why should we all support a film most of us may not? be able to see for oscar?
    No, this year, especially with the dark knight rises does not make the cut for best picture and director noms (which it damn well should and oscar knows it given these films were so much more than blockbuster fodder, they were groundbreaking at a cinematic level in both story, performances, execution and utilization of cinema’s greateast asset for a mianstream movie- imax. far more than just a comic book movie, these ‘prequels’ since batman begins were a rarity not seen in terms of quality and public satisfaction since the godfather as a franchise everything rose to a whole new standard as the dark knight himself rose and conquered since batman begins. Given the rarity for a film to start off as a box office hype and transcend this to so much more than a mere blockbuster given how few box office event films exceed their own mandate and reach a standard that every bit as good as legitimate oscar contenders, there no excuse to snub the dark knight rises this yr at LEAST for a nomination/
    But it is LINCOLN that i am backing and my own opinion with the fear i have of undervaluing a film of as great importance as ‘zero dark thiry’ and cos of this it does not deserve to win as thngs stand imo atm….
    We have to tap into oscars; playbook to see the numerous other reasons why zero dark thirty will not win much this yr.
    1. The ‘recent director oscar win curse’ – Kathryn Bigelow won big as her producers- the same mob are now doing this film of hers- but the patterns with oscar is there has to be at least a 7 yrs gap between directors and esp for their respective pictures to win oscar.
    2. The early horse out of the gate in this case ‘zero dark thirty’ is under more pressure than other contenders nipping at it heals to keep it nose in front. historically the slower and steadier- in this case lincoln emerges as the frontrunner and deserves to be the fast starters more often than not are the slow finishers in the race.
    3. This year acting recognition and honors will be front and centre with performances from lincoln- one valuable asset that deserved to be nemasse more for saving private ryan at the time but prob where that film unfairly was weakest. Not since ‘Schindlers list’ has spielberg done a film where oscar recognition is heavilty expected for his main actor and that will carry great weight this year. It hard to see this year how zero dark thirty will win with , minimal or much lower profile performances than jeremy renner in hurt locker this year. And given actors account for majority branch of academy members..need it say more?
    4. The ‘i owe you ‘ factor. Clint Eastwood, martin Scorceses in principle where a director and their respective picture have been nominated (see mystic river, aviator, and then snubbed and oscar knows it they will make a mense for their misdeed past. That why million dollar baby and departed one big when these two directors did their next project. Combine the fact with Spielbergs weight of influence on contemporary cinema just like scorcese and eastwood with the fact that most agree saving private ryan should have won best picture and the fact the spielbeerg was unfairly snubbed with ‘munich’ ‘catch me if you can’ for instance, and the fact it been well over 10 years since spielberg won for best pic and best director and he ought to be a shoe in this year.
    5. It not just zero dark thirty that a first and clearly pple need to calm down a bit the first interpretation of VERY recent events is not always the best nor the deserved oscar winner we need to be careful not to judge esp for a film based on events that passed a little over a year ago. It way topo recent and too soon despite its importance to give oscar for this and historically, recent events as recent as a yr or two ago do NOT get embraced by oscar. more often than not. Compared to Lincoln of which its presentation and style, setting is of greater familiarity based on themese and person’s more established and over a longer period of time and arguably as a trajectory more significant at a much broader level than a recent past event- (ie look at obama’s america today compared to how issues that lincoln portray were overcome to date) so this imnportant historical tribute to modern american history which in turn almost certain to remind pple in these times of importance of cooperation and equality to treat each other and govt responsiblity to allow societies to treat each other as equal and lincoln’s legacy much more so than bin laden’s or the theme of hunting for bin laden will resonate more deeply with a public and critics especially the fact that lincoln will open wide- it word of mouth will build far more momentum then zero dark thirty.
    6. The fact a lot of people are saying that zero dark thirty is NOT better than hurt locker will subsequently as historically it does such as it did with aviator hurt that films chances for a big win. But nobody is suggesting this with lincoln. which, one anyone’s reckoning is the next most historically important and siginificant film behind schindler’s list that spielberg undertaken. add to the fact this film is likely held in higher regard than saving private ryan which was snubbed and this should be spielebergs’ year
    7. most nominated film,= win in oscar’s playbook this does still matter. though the percentage has lessened abit overall in the last 20 + yrs of oscar at least 70% or as much as 80% of oscar winners are the most nominated film that year. Hard to see how zero dark thirty will get enough in acting or esp technical whereas i suspect lincoln will be the most nominated film. Interesting point if dark knight rises makes the cut big time…it could be a dark horse the one to causer an upset i would not be against this…or few films since lotr and godfather have had such a impact and influence on critics and other films being made or the calibre or consistency of a well made film as this has. Given the themes with dark knight rises it could be the wildcard that could hurt zero dark thirty’s chances further- because it themes at a contemporary level very much intertwine with that from zero dark thirty.
    i rest my case. it deserves to be spielbergs and lincoln’s yr oscar’s chance to make a menze for the saving private ryan best picture snub too!

  • Daveylow

    I won’t be surprised if Life of Pi is left off the list. Despite some fantastic reviews and a lot of love from those who have seen it, the movie isn’t being taken that seriously for awards. Is it because it’s being seen an adventure film about a young boy? Is Fox failing to market the film properly? I don’t know.

  • Bauggs

    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    The Dark Knight Rises
    Les Miserables
    Life of Pi
    The Master
    Moonrise Kingdom
    Silver Linings Playbook

    *If Les Miz isn’t eligible, I’ll sub in Django Unchained or The Avengers

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