Earlier today we heard the AFI Lists for film and television. I immediately wondered what purpose they served. There are so many lists these days that are like spotlights on "CONSENSUS!" that the very act of publishing them feels redundant. With so many talking heads commenting on the Oscar race each year, both full time specialists and average reporters who become part time "experts" by virtue of, um, grist for the content mill, consensus is no longer an interesting thing to "find" or "capture" because it is so very inescapable. AFI's list looks EXACTLY like an Oscar pundits chart, whereas in year's past they seemed to be about 70% Oscary 10% populist and 20% random. In fact, it looks the Gurus of Gold made it!
The AFI Top Ten (Motion Pictures)
12 YEARS A SLAVE
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
SAVING MR. BANKS
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
In fact it's identitical to the current Gurus of Gold top ten chart but for one switcheroo: the pundit chart includes Lee Daniels' The Butler instead of Fruitvale Station. Interestingly enough, both Best Picture hopefuls come from the Weinstein Company who are our usual Oscar champs but seem to be struggling with traction this year. In fairness, The Butler was never expected to place during "critic's week" but if it doesn't perform well at SAG and the Globes in a couple of days, it's Oscar dreams will die.
This can only mean two things:
- The AFI committee this year is secretly composed of only BFCA members and they're aiming to exactly predict the Best Picture race.
- It's a weak year for British pictures in terms of American traction. Since the AFI only looks at American pictures, strong British Oscar contenders sometimes automatically make the AFI list more interesting because they have to look elsewhere to fill the top ten. The only exclusion that might not be worrying awards strategists today is the exclusion of Philomena (also from Weinstein Co!) which is directed by, written by and stars Brits... and therefore ineligible.
The American Film Institute also releases a television list for some reason despite the name of their organization. That went like so...
The AFI Top Ten - Television
GAME OF THRONES
THE GOOD WIFE
HOUSE OF CARDS
MASTERS OF SEX
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
And I think it's a (slightly) more interesting list in that it looks a little more like the AFI lists of yore in that it's partially awardsy but also kind of guilty pleasure buzz-sensitive. Or maybe it's just more interesting because people can actually enjoy these shows instead of the movie list which is (sigh) heavily titled towards movies that have just opened or haven't opened... just like the critics awards. It's still fairly Emmy correlative but there's no Homeland or Modern Family so that's something. I haven't had time to write about it but I am head over heels in love with / in lust for / in awe of Masters of Sex, which is the single best show on television at the moment. It's so assured, so fresh, so perfectly cast... and weirdly gets better every single week. I really can't get over it. I look forward to each new episode like I haven't looked forward to any tv show's new episode in years.