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AFI’s Top Ten list is the first to cite “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Star Wars Force Awakens desert
There’s no shortage of Top Ten lists out there in the world, I know. That being said, every so often one is of special interest. A few hours ago, the American Film Institute (or AFI) released their Top Ten list for 2015 and they’re officially the first to have Star Wars: The Force Awakens cited. Considering that they had already mentioned that the AFI Top Ten for 2015 would be delayed a few days to make sure it could be seen, this isn’t wholly shocking, but still…it is kind of cool. I’ll discuss the potential awards prospects for the movie later on this week, but for now, I do want to talk a bit about if/how AFI matters.

It wasn’t just Star Wars: The Force Awakens being honored, as the other nine films feted by AFI were The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Carol, Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Room, Spotlight, and Straight Outta Compton. By and large, that’s a very Oscar friendly lineup, though this group can be hit or miss with just how much correlation their ten has with the Academy Awards’ Best Picture lineup. For example, this was what they did last year, when they had 11 cited films: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Nightcrawler, Selma, Unbroken, and Whiplash. Just over 50%, which is good, but not great. Going one year back, their Top Ten was 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Fruitvale Station, Gravity, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Wolf of Wall Street. That’s 80%, which was much stronger of a correlation. The same 80% was seen if you go another year back, when they listed Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty. It was 70% the year before that, with Bridesmaids, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Hugo, J. Edgar, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse as the ten. As you can see, they do tend to go for big blockbusters here and there, so that helped Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but they don’t just list them to list them, which speaks to quality. Essentially, this is good place to be cited, but not particularly an essential one.

In terms of what this does for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, specifically, I’d say that being one of the genre blockbusters feted here (along with Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian) is a help as voters make last minute decisions, but I don’t think we’re suddenly looking at this sequel as a threat to win Best Picture at the Oscars. I don’t even think it’ll get an Academy Award nomination in that category, but I’m going to wait a few days before I really get serious about determining if it has a chance. Right now, it’s riding a wave of strong buzz and is in a position to be beloved by the masses. Anything else…maybe that’s just a bonus? We shall see…

Here now are the Top Ten lists from the American Film Institute, both for Film and for Television as well:

AFI Movies of the Year
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton

AFI TV Programs of the Year
The Americans
Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
Master of None
Mr. Robot

AFI Special Award
Mad Men

Stay tuned to see if other groups cite Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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