Making sense of the AFI top 10

This year’s just-released Top 10 list from the American Film InstituteBefore the Devil Knows You’re Dead, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild, Juno, Knocked Up, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, The Savages, and There Will Be Blood — was its typical mix of established Oscar contenders and a few curve balls. What was missing? The biggest snubs were American Gangster and Charlie Wilson’s War, though Universal Studios was represented with the welcome inclusion of Knocked Up. Sweeney Todd didn’t make the cut, either. Also missing was Atonement, since, being a British production, it wasn’t eligible for the AFI list. (Diving Bell, meanwhile, is considered a U.S./France coproduction.) Films like No Country, Michael Clayton, and Juno certainly cemented their movies-to-watch status, landing yet another honor after making the Golden Globe, Broadcast Critics, and National Board of Review shortlists. But don’t count out any movie that the AFI didn’t recognize — last year their top 10 list left out The Departed.

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