The American Film Institute (AFI) said yes to Nope and nope to The Whale and Babylon today as they named their top ten movies of 2022. Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror tale was perhaps the biggest surprise of the bunch.
The AFI list, in the previous decade, typically gives us seven of the eventual Best Picture contenders at the Oscars. In other words, they’re worth paying attention to. Coupled with Wednesday’s National Board of Review selections, there’s much to discuss. First, here’s the full AFI Ten:
Avatar: The Way of Water
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Top Gun: Maverick
The Woman King
It’s key to remember that only U.S. made pictures are eligible. That means titles like All Quiet on the Western Front, Decision to Leave, RRR, and The Banshees of Inisherin were not in the mix. However, Banshees received a Special Award similar to what eventual Academy hopefuls like Roma and Parasite nabbed.
I went 7 for 10 on my predictions. I correctly named Avatar, Elvis, Everything Everywhere…, The Fabelmans, Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King, and Women Talking. I didn’t name Nope, She Said, and Tár. Instead I picked Babylon, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. For She Said and Tár especially, these were important nods considering they missed NBR (as did Nope).
Let’s start with the films that made the AFI and NBR lists. I’m counting Banshees with its AFI Special Award shout-out and there’s six more: Avatar: The Way of Water, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King, and Women Talking. This is a list you want to be on when it comes to an Oscar BP nom.
In the previous five years, ten pictures that made AFI and NBR were ignored by the Academy. They are 2017’s The Florida Project, Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place, First Reformed, and Eighth Grade (all from 2018), Knives Out and Richard Jewell from 2019, Da 5 Bloods and Soul in 2020, and last year’s The Tragedy of Macbeth.
If history is our guide, at least one of the seven from 2022 will miss out. Looking at the list, The Woman King is probably most vulnerable. That said, I’ve yet it to include it in my Oscar ten and the stock is rising.
In the past five years, only five pics have missed AFI and NBR (including Special Awards) and received a BP nod from the Academy. They are Darkest Hour from 2017, Bohemian Rhapsody and Vice in 2018, The Father in 2020, and last year’s Drive My Car.
What about the movies that didn’t make AFI or NBR in 2022? That list includes Babylon, The Whale, Triangle of Sadness, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, All Quiet o the Western Front, and Decision to Leave. The last two weren’t eligible for AFI. Nevertheless this isn’t a list you want to be on though the outlook isn’t completely dire.
If history guides us again, 2 of the aforementioned 2022 titles could still get love from Oscar. Perhaps Monday’s Golden Globes nods will save some of them. There’s no doubt that Babylon and The Whale are looking shakier for Academy inclusion after this week. They need some attention from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
I’ll have my Golden Globe nominations recap up Monday and if you missed my predictions on them, you can find them here:
Updated Oscar predictions will be on the blog Tuesday!