AFI Snubs Kidman, Scorsese, Williams, Coppola for Spoilers 'The Town' and 'The Fighter'
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:
Akira Mizuta Lippit
I'd say this jury deserves to be taken more seriously than certain 9-person votes of the Supreme Court.
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Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.