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AFI Top Ten plus "Roma" but "Where is Crazy Rich Asians"?

The American Film Institute has announced their top 10 of the year... well top 11 since they did a bit of cheating this year. Well, more than a bit of cheating. Though their raison d'etre is to honor American films (see: their name), they included The Favourite, which is clearly a UK/Ireland production with a Greek director (even if some of the money is American). They also felt the need to give Mexico's Roma a special award. Can you blame them? Otherwise those two movies would have gone without awards this season. [Editor's note: Sarcasm!]

Their top ten is as follows...


  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • Eighth Grade
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • The Favourite (UK)
  • First Reformed
  • Green Book
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • A Quiet Place
  • A Star is Born


  • Roma (Mexico)

It reads almost like an Oscar prediction list so it's terribly disappointing! Listen I love Roma and The Favourite but AFI should stay in its self-proclaimed lane. All awards bodies should embrace what makes them them otherwise they just look like they're desperate to be "predictive". The only Best Picture hopefuls they left out were probably-won't-happens like First Man, Crazy Rich Asians, Vice... and the only film they included that seems like a true longshot is Eighth Grade. Eighth Grade is a wonder but Oscar is resistant to funny movies and films about teenagers and it happens to be both of those things. 

While we're ranting. Where, pray tell, is Crazy Rich Asians? AFI's official statement always goes something like so:

AFI AWARDS honorees are selected based on works that advance the art of the moving image, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America's art form, inspire audiences and artists alike and make a mark on American society.

Since cultural significance is given equal weight to artistry in all their self-descriptions, shouldn't Crazy Rich Asians inarguably be among the top ten?

The Film Institute also honors television each year and for that top ten they went like so...


  • The Americans
  • The Assassination of Gianni Versace
  • Atlanta
  • Barry
  • Better Call Saul
  • The Kominsky Method
  • The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
  • Pose
  • Succession
  • This is Us 

I miss the days when the AFI was a little rowdier, don't you? Remember when they honored Emmy-shunned awesomeness like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Here's who they enlist for their juries:

This year's juries — one for film and one for television — were chaired by AFIBoard of Trustees Vice Chairs Tom Pollock (former Vice Chairman of MCA, Chairman of Universal Pictures) for film and Richard Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) for television. The juries featured acclaimed artists such as David Benioff, Joan Chen, Courtney B. Vance and Alfre Woodard; renowned authors and scholars representing prestigious universities with recognized motion picture arts and television programs; film historian Leonard Maltin; the AFI Board of Trustees; and film and television critics from media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, NPR, Rolling Stone, TV Guide, Vanity Fair, Variety and The Washington Post.

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Reader Comments (28)

I don't know, Nathaniel. I don't know whether it's you being correctly outraged, or me being all like "that's OK because, as much as it is culturally significant for Asian Americans, CRA isn't actually a GOOD movie! It's not bad, but it's pretty much treading the same path as many rom-coms of the past, and therefore IMO doesn't deserve to be ont he "best of 2018" lists and awards."

Then again, I feel very similar about BLACK PANTHER. Hell, that wasn't even the best SUPERHERO movie of the year (hello, INFINITY WAR).

(PS if you want a traditional rom-com set in a culture foreign to white America(/Australia) that is REALLY great, try and track down ALI'S WEDDING from last year. Fantastic! (I believe Americans can watch it on Netflix?))

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

A Quiet Place being this close to a Best Picture nomination feels... odd. Not only is it a horror movie that came out in the spring (not named Get Out or Hereditary), it’s the opposite of a movie that improves upon reflection. Just goes to show a lot of this year’s Oscar hopefuls weren’t what people expected.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercvv

To be fair to the AFI on the television side, they did nominate Pose, which is a pretty fun/edgy pick that I don't see getting Emmy love. And, a lot of the shows that are awards winners today (Maisel, The Americans, Atlanta) probably wouldn't have seem like awards contenders in the days of Buffy. I think the TV academy has, for the most part, just caught up and have done a better job of nominating a wider array of contenders.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Mary Poppins Returns!!

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Travis C -- well, we'll disagree on what constitutes a "good" movie. But I think CRA more than qualifies. Mostly i'm thinking of it from the cultural aspect, a fresh rom-com that caught fire (in a time frame when people dont go to rom-coms anymore... that was also of representational importance. I mean being one of the top 15 hits of the year AND NOT BEING A FRANCHISE OR SUPERHERO OR ANIMATED FILM? that's pretty remarkable.

December 4, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

You're still in the glasshouse according to the upper right side of this blog. Put some stones down.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHippo

Still no awards for Glenn? When does her long coronation begin?

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFaye

Black Panther unquestionably deserves its placement. Maybe because some of you aren't Americans but there isn't a more pop cultural phenomenon in the U.S. this year than that.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMya

I agree with you! Shame they didn't take this opportunity to embrace Crazy Rich Asians. I'm also trying to take the positives of a lineup with that much variety (a horror, a musical, a teen indie comedy, etc). Even though it seems those showed up more so for their Oscar strength as well.

Rooting for Roma as well but this odd need to go out of its way to recognize it definitely is a turn off (especially when so few foreign films get that recognition!!). And it does make me wonder how far Roma can go in the Oscar race after I keep doubting its winning potential (not nod potential, that's solid).

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlex D

Hippo -- ah, but i have never *not* called out my own organization about this same problem. I am an equal opportunity complainer about organizations that try to predict Oscars rather than just selecting their "best"

December 4, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Joe -- see i fully expect POSE to get a lot of Emmy nominations

December 4, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Faye -- AFI doesn't recognize performances ;)

December 4, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I dunno... two fairly out-of-left field picks in "Eighth Grade" and "A Quiet Place". I know you (Nathaniel) have been tooting the "First Reformed" horn for a while, but it still isn't quite at the level of "obvious pick". Seems like an eclectic enough list to me. They've done the "Roma" thing before for "Slumdog Millionaire". I'll agree that "The Favourite" seems odd. I'll also agree that "Crazy Rich Asians" missing is disappointing.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGuestguestguest

I don't fault AFI for including The Favourite. The lines are just too blurry these days to say with any certitude that a film belongs to one nation or another.

I do have a problem with the Roma shout-out. There are wonderful foreign language movies every year. There are wonderful foreign language movies that gather enough steam to earn Best Picture nominees every 5-10 years. Somehow this film though manages to gather enough steam early on and so it gets a special shout-out from this body? It feels unfair to other well-regarded foreign films that crossed over to mainstream acclaim like Amour, City of God, Talk to Her, Crouching Tiger,...

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

The AMERICAN Film Institute should be utterly ashamed of itself for excluding "First Man," one of the year's most dazzling filmmaking achievements whichever way you slice it. Embarrassing. The omission of that as well as "Widows" to a lesser extent shows how in thrall they are to consensus critical/box office successes.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

nathaniel, we can fight about this at lunch, but crazy rich asians is a pretty terrible movie. women are reduced to screaming idiots at the concept of shopping, and the single gay guy is a finger-snapping stereotype. obviously great to see all those asian actors driving a movie, but its "cultural representation" in terms of women and gays left me appalled.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEricB

Oh man, I didn't even think about them including CRAZY RICH ASIANS and they really, really should have. But hey at least that movie is actually in the conversation. It was my pipe dream that it would be when I first saw it this summer and it's actually happening!

They should probably be more ashamed to not nominate FIRST MAN. What a dumb exclusion.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Just watched CRA and thought it was a copy of every story since the beginning of motion pictures. Not terrible but pretty lame. IMO

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

I'm stuck on the typo and now imagining Bette Davis calling Saul about how to distribute crystal meth efficiently and protect herself legally.

I still like awards season, but must admit that the luster is beginning to fade as consensus builds and various organizations march into lockstep formation to the Oscars. There is always a surprise here and there to be sure, but what I go by now are top 10 lists by critics I follow, respect, and have strong agree/disagree moments with. The lists, and the accompanying material around them, are now far more fascinating due to their idiosyncratic nature. These days, I would rather see David Ehrlich's videos than nomination announcements.

Exceptions exist of course: I will be cheering hard or cursing the heavens depending on how Regina King is treated this awards season.

December 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterstarlit

Evan -- but what is blurry about THE FAVOURITE? Greek director, British/Australian/Irish/Greek department heads, screenwriters,editors, costume designers, etc... financing from three countries (UK, Ireland, US), and entirely British cast but for one actor (Emma Stone). Seems to me if you only contribute some money and one actor, you shouldn't get to claim a movie ;)

All I know is that if this were in a foreign film category with rules similar to the Oscar but with America as a submitting country it would be rejected for not being sufficiently American enough to qualify as the American submission.

December 5, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The Favourite is nominated in the International Film category for the Indie Spirits.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

More than CRA, I'm shocked by the omission o First Man n to a lesser extent, Vice...

These two r as Americana as u get n their directors r well luv by the industry.

I agreed w Nat, it feel more like AFI is bending their criteria n trying to match up w Oscars. American film or otherwise, be damn!

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Jonathan speaks for me. Omitting First Man and Widows is disgraceful.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

CRA is this years My Big Fat Greek Wedding!

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I am loving this competitive, unpredictable season. It's like 2017 on steroids. Any of these frontrunners will break lots of Academy molds:

BlackkKlansman - Good film but certainly not the best of Lee's illustrious career. Is this the SLJoint that really finally gets broad awards love?
Black Panther - Super hero, February release.
A Star is Born - First-time director, 4-time remake.
Green Book - Directed by a Farrelly.
Roma - Foreign-language, Netflix.
The Favourite - Too female, too gay?
Mary Poppins Returns - An extremely-Disney sequel 50+ years in the making.

I'm really surprised Vice didn't turn up here. I kept thinking this is the movie that might start to find a coalition but it will need a lot more love - Globes noms for screenplay and director would help.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I'm heartened by the inclusion of Eighth Grade and First Reformed in all these mainstream awards. Could it mean they have a legitimate path outside original screenplay and actor for Hawke? I hope so.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

Nathaniel - I understand. One can look at that list and say "nope - not American enough." On the other hand, then what country is it from? I suspect you'd be hard-pressed to say anything other than a British-Irish co-production. And if it can be a co-production, isn't it really a multinational co-production?

As we say with the Foreign Language category all the time, these country distinctions are going to become more and more unmanageable.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I really don't understand the big deal about "Black Panther" it's another well produced Marvel movie- "Captain America Winter Soldier" is actually better.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

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