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DEC
12
3 YEARS

AFI Snubs Kidman, Scorsese, Williams, Coppola for Spoilers 'The Town' and 'The Fighter'

Ben Affleck
Claire Folger/Warner Brothers

Like Cary Grant dumping ice water on Rita Hayworth's head in Only Angels Have Wings, the American Film Institute Awards' top 10 of 2010 put a chill on some warming-up Oscar hopefuls. AFI ignored Sofia Coppola's Somewhere (much and stylishly promoted of late), Nicole Kidman's Rabbit Hole (on the rise now that Nicole's on the promo case), Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island (just named New Yorker critic Richard Brody's best film of 2010) and Michelle Williams' Blue Valentine (which just triumphantly got its NC-17 rating reversed).

Instead, AFI rounded up some usual suspects: The Social Network, Black Swan, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone and 127 Hours. It also  boosted Toy Story 3's wild dream of busting free of the animation ghetto for the best picture Oscar, confirmed True Grit as worth the nailbiting wait, helped legitimize The Fighter's contender status (strengthening the impression that Boston Critics Awards weren't just being parochial to honor Christian Bale as best supporting actor this week) and gave heat to Ben Affleck's deeply beantown-rooted Boston heist drama The Town, whose Oscar hopes had been languishing -- especially in Boston, which picked The Figher instead.

By honoring both The Town and The Fighter, AFI hints that blogger Roger Friedman's Single-Bean Theory may be erroneous. Friedman says Oscar loves one Boston movie (Good Will Hunting, The Departed, which he calls "The Dep-ah-ted," Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone), but that two Boston movies may be too much of a good thing. So he bet on The Fighter and against The Town.

AFI also fixed a potentially embarrassing problem: Tom Hooper's The King's Speech may win an Oscar, but in past years would've been ineligible for an AFI because its production or creative elements aren't American (even though our most influential recent American history teacher was Hooper in HBO's John Adams). Waiting for Superman is an Oscar frontrunner on everyone's lips, but AFI has always ignored docs -- which is getting increasingly awkward as documentaries loom ever larger in film-fest prestige. So now both The King's Speech and Waiting for Superman get the new AFI Special Award, which might be called the AFI Award We'll Look a Lot More Relevant if We Start Including Already. Excellent choices, though influential blogger David Poland tweets, "Why would anyone take AFI's Top Ten seriously when it's just a 13 person vote?"

The AFI jury:

Tom Pollock

Jeanine Basinger

Donn Cambern

Diablo Cody

Lee Daniels

Gane Gaines

Bob Gazzale

Akira Mizuta Lippit

Leonard Maltin

Elvis Mitchell

Claudia Puig

Lisa Schwarzbaum

Michael Wood

I'd say this jury deserves to be taken more seriously than certain 9-person votes of the Supreme Court.