The Internet is flooded with top 10 lists right now, as critics and fans and everyone in-between lines up everything they liked best this year. We'll have our own Top 10s coming toward the end of the month, and trying not to pay too much attention to too many others in the meantime, but the annual list from the American Film Institute deserves special attention-- because, hey, they're the AFI. Yes they've gone a little list-crazy in recent years ("100 Cheers"? Really?), but when they take stock of the year in film, there's a pretty decent chance they're picking the movies we'll remember best 100 years from now.
So with that in mind, here is the list of the 10 films the AFI considered the "movies of the year"-- in alphabetical order.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Dark Knight Rises
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
The biggest surprise in there is easily The Dark Knight Rises, which has gotten virtually no attention from critics so far despite being the #2 box office success of the year. The rest of the list is pretty much just the list of the heavyweights for awards consideration-- if you swap The Dark Knight Rises for The Master, that's the exact list that my critic's group the New York Film Critics Online settled on as the best of the year. You an say it's exhausting to see this kind of agreement, with terrific films like Anna Karenina and Cloud Atlas and The Sessions left out, but it's such a strong list that I have a hard time really getting upset about it.
Does this mean The Dark Knight Rises has a better shot at awards consideration than we figured? Eh, probably not-- the movie still exists in the shadow of The Dark Knight, and with movies like Argo and even Skyfall serving as populist hits that also work with critics, voters might not see the need to make room for a superhero. But also, you never know! If you're still on the Dark Knight Rises Oscar train, this might be the morsel of hope you've been needing to keep going.