The American Film Institute has announced its list of top ten American films of 2011. They are, in alphabetical order: Paul Feig's Bridesmaids, with Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph; Alexander Payne's The Descendants, with George Clooney; David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara; Tate Taylor's The Help, with Emma Stone and Viola Davis; and Martin Scorsese's Hugo, with Asa Butterfield and Ben Kingsley.
Also: Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, and Naomi Watts; Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, with Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard; Bennett Miller's Moneyball, with Brad Pitt; Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, with Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain; and Steven Spielberg's War Horse, with Jeremy Irvine and Emily Watson.
As per the AFI, those movies were chosen because they are “works which best advance the art of the moving image; enhance the rich cultural heritage of America's art form; inspire audiences and artists alike; and/or make a mark on American society.” Considering most of the reviews and audience response, it's unclear where, say, Eastwood's J. Edgar fits in. Or several of the other selections as well. And note that the AFI jury (see partial list below) has all but ignored movies not distributed by the major studios. It's in fact surprising that Malick's The Tree of Life managed to sneak in; its slot had probably been reserved for Rango or Rio or Fast Five or The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 or The Hangover Part II.
Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, I should add, is mostly a Spanish production. But if Michel Hazanavicius' French-made The Artist can be nominated for the US-focused Spirit Awards, why can't Midnight in Paris be selected as one of the AFI's best American films? (Admittedly, the Paris-set Allen movie does have “significant creative and/or production elements from the United States,” as stipulated by the AFI's eligibility rules.)
Speaking of The Artist, which stars Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, it was named an AFI Special Award recipient along with the Harry Potter series. The last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, is the biggest blockbuster of 2011. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Ralph Fiennes star.
The 2011 AFI film jury responsible for the above selections included the likes of AFI Chair Tom Pollock, author Jeanine Basinger, actress Whoopi Goldberg, Entertainment Weekly's Mark Harris, film reviewer Leonard Maltin, Brokeback Mountain co-screenwriter/producer Diana Ossana, USA Today's film critic Claudia Puig, and Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers.
In the television category, the AFI's Top Ten American TV shows were Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Homeland, Justified, Louie, Modern Family and Parks and Recreation.
Bridesmaids photo: Universal Pictures