American Film Institute (AFI) Preview & Predictions

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Frances O'Connor in Steven Spielberg's "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence"

The American Film Institute will be unveiling their top ten films of 2011 tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited.  This particular group doesn’t have a huge impact on the race like it should but they do often present some eclectic choices.  Last  year they named every Best Picture nominee except for Oscar Best Picture Winner “The King’s Speech.”  Go figure.

In 2002, the group started citing the best performances of the year along with their top ten lists which was very enjoyable but the group has not done since.  2002, one hell of a year for acting in general had the likes of Russell Crowe, Halle Berry, and Denzel Washington, all of which were nominated by the AFI.  Also cited was the incredible works by Billy Bob Thornton in The Coen Brothers classic, “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” Brian Cox in the controversial “L.I.E.,” and Frances O’Connor who was the heart and soul of Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.”   The group has shied away from that type of awards recognition and is simply sticking with the normal set of ten.  This year we should have a different range of films from the group.

It’s easy to believe that Spielberg’s “War Horse,” Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist,” and Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” are likely mentions on the roster.  Tate Taylor’s great female ensemble “The Help” should have no problem getting in as well but the film does have its detractors.  The group has chosen very small independent features before like 2008’s “Wendy and Lucy,” so films like “Take Shelter,” “Shame,” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene” could surprise and make an appearance.  I’m sure also in talks is Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive,” a film that has been popping up during the pre-season mentions that some of these scholars will be sure to recognize.

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Can "Drive" make the cut?

Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” could easily benefit from a citation and based on the unique split the film generated between those who absolutely love or loathe it, it’ll be interesting if the former comes to fruition.  We can also be prepared to see one or two animated film mentions.  “Rango” has had its lovers from Day 1 and some are still beating on the doors hoping for more than just an Animated Feature nomination.  Spielberg’s other release, “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” is a possibility given its strong critical praise this early on in the game.  I’d be ecstatic to see “Arthur Christmas,” a film that surprised me wonderfully but one can dream.

Films that could benefit more than others?  Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” could use this boost after missing with the National Board of Review.  George Clooney’s political drama “The Ides of March” received decent enough reviews but if the film show’s up here then it still has a fighting chance of sneaking for Best Picture.  Woody Allen’s early release “Midnight in Paris” could and should show up by the critics’ group.  Did they get to screen David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” in time?  We’ll find out.

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Is Scorsese a shoo-in?

Here’s is the Predicted Ten.  Make sure to include your Predictions in the comment section or on the FORUM.

  1. The Artist
  2. The Descendants
  3. War Horse
  4. Hugo
  5. The Tree of Life
  6. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  7. Shame
  8. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  9. The Help
  10. Midnight in Paris
  1. Drive
  2. Moneyball
  3. The Ides of March
  4. We Need to Talk About Kevin
  5. Martha Marcy May Marlene

What do you think?

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Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


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