Org salutes 'America,' 'Raymond,' 'Translation'

A correction was made to this article on Dec. 16, 2003.

The American Film Institute joined the year-end kudos count Sunday with an eclectic group of top picks that included the animated box office hit “Finding Nemo” and fantasy epic “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Org also weighed in on television with selections that included CBS’ long-running “Everybody Loves Raymond” and ESPN’s football “Playmakers,” which has not as yet secured a second season on the cabler.

Five AFI film selections — “In America,” “The Last Samurai,” “Lost in Translation,” “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” and “Mystic River” — were picked earlier this month by the National Board of Review. “Rings” didn’t make that org’s top 10 list but was tapped for an ensemble acting award.

The other AFI film selections were “American Splendor,” “The Human Stain” and “Monster.”

Among the pics left out in the cold by the AFI was Miramax’s Christmas Day title “Cold Mountain,” Universal’s “Seabiscuit” and Focus Features’ “21 Grams,” all NBR honorees.

For its selections, AFI relies on two 13-member panels (one for film, the other for TV), made up of artists, critics, scholars and org trustees from around the country. Each member arrived during the weekend with a top-10 list and then debated the merits of their selections before agreeing to the final lists. Other kudos, such as the Oscars and Emmys, rely on a straight ballot vote.

“The lists are a reflection of our process, which is distinctive from other groups,” AFI director and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg said. “I would doubt that anyone had more than five or six (picks) on the final lists.”

On the TV side, selections included two skeins in their third year — ABC’s “Alias” and Fox’s “24″ — and one sophomore, HBO’s “The Wire.” Four rookies also made the cut: Fox’s “Arrested Development,” CBS’ “Joan of Arcadia,” FX’s “Nip/Tuck” and “Playmakers.”

“Raymond,” HBO’s “Angels in America” and “Soldier’s Girl” — a feature developed by Showtime and screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January — rounded out the list.

The AFI panel called “Playmakers,” a behind-the-scenes look at a professional football team, “courageous programming for an evolving sports network.” Other jury rationales for each selection, along with the AFI Moments of Significance, will be announced today.

This is the fourth time the AFI has selected the top films of the year, and the third time it has assembled a TV list. Honorees will be feted during a luncheon Jan. 22 in Los Angeles. Here are the lists of honorees in alphabetical order:

Movies

“American Splendor,”New Line Cinema
“Finding Nemo,”Disney/Pixar
“The Human Stain,”Miramax
“In America,”Fox Searchlight
“The Last Samurai,”Warner Bros.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,”New Line Cinema
“Lost in Translation,”Focus Features
“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” Twentieth Century Fox
“Monster,”Newmarket Films
“Mystic River,”Warner Bros./Village Roadshow

Television

“Alias,”ABC
“Angels in America,”HBO
“Arrested Development,”Fox
“Everybody Loves Raymond,”CBS
“Joan of Arcadia,”CBS
“Nip/Tuck,”FX
“Playmakers,”ESPN
“Soldier’s Girl,”Showtime
“24,”Fox
“The Wire,”HBO

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