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AFI Top 10: 2016

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The American Film Institute announced their Top 10 yesterday. Although they don’t, apparently, strictly do a 10 best list, but a list of 10 films “deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image”.

Take that as you will.

They often sync up with the Oscars reasonably well: in 2015 6 of the 8 Best Picture nominees made their list (omitting Brooklyn and The Revenant); in 2014, they also went 6 for 8, omitting The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Theory of Everything; in 2013 they went 7 of 9, omitting Dallas Buyers Club and Philomena.

So figure 6-7 of the films on this list will get Best Picture nominations. Let’s see if we can’t figure out which.

Their top 10:

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Manchester By the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Silence
  • Sully
  • Zootopia

La La Land, Manchester, and Moonlight are as locked as you can get. Let’s set those aside.

Arrival will probably get on. The only thing which might prove an issue is that it’s not really winning all that much so far. But it might fit that Hugo/Gravity/Fury Road slot and sweep the tech awards. So let’s err on including it.

Fences is a sure bet for actinf awards, but the response to the film as a whole has been a little muted. So I would say that could miss.

Hacksaw Ridge has been doing a lot better than I thought this awards cycle. I’d be surprised if it got on, mostly because of Gibson’s reputation, but it’s not out of the question.

Hell or High Water is kind of up in the air in my book. I have a hard time imagining it actually happening (since it doesn’t fit the Oscar bill at all), but the traction is certainly there. And the word of mouth was very good indeed.

Silence is a fairly safe bet. It’s Scorsese. It’s epic, it’s weighty, it’s prestigious…it’s almost certainly happening.

Sully is probably happening, but as with Hell or High Water (a superior film, to be fair), it’s hard for me to see happening. But they love Eastwood, and if American Sniper could pull off a nomination, this certainly can.

Zootopia would actively shock me. I won’t say it out-and-out won’t happen, but it would be the most surprising Picture nominee in a while. 

So let’s say these are the 6 most likely to make the Academy’s list:

Arrival, La La Land, Manchester By the Sea, Moonlight, Silence, Sully

And give Hell or High Water fighting odds. 


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