AFI Awards Break Tradition by Saluting 11 Films; 10 TV Works Cited

Evidently 2014 films are good enough to make the AFI Awards salute 11 films, rather than the usual 10. The honors, announced Monday, gave the season’s first validation to “American Sniper,” “The Imitation Game,” “Interstellar” and “Into the Woods” in the list of the year’s notable film and TV works.

AFI also saluted “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Foxcatcher,” “Nightcrawler,” “Selma,” “Unbroken” and “Whiplash,” which have chalked up awards recognition by various voting groups in the last eight days.

Last year, seven of AFI’s 10 film picks ended up with an Oscar nomination for best picture.

In their 15th annual roster, AFI saluted six new TV works and four continuing series: “The Americans,” “Fargo,” “Game of Thrones,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Jane the Virgin,” “The Knick,” “Mad Men,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Silicon Valley” and “Transparent.”

The organization usually cites new series and longforms, as well as offering recognition of ongoing series that have done notable work during the past year (this year, “Americans,” “Thrones,” “Mad Men” and “Orange”).

Films that were eligible but not mentioned include “Gone Girl,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “A Most Violent Year,” “Still Alice” and “Wild.” Those films shouldn’t give up hope. Last year, Focus Features’ “Dallas Buyers Club” was not on AFI’s list, but ended getting six Academy Award noms, including best picture, and won three Oscars.

Among the Oscar hopefuls ineligible for AFI honors was and “The Theory of Everything,” since the key artistic contributors are British.

AFI downplays its role as a harbinger of Oscar attention. The organization has always stressed that their list honors a community of artists, and is not competitive. AFI does not rank choices, only listing them alphabetically.

The awards honor works that are “deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image” and 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/or make a mark on American society,” according to AFI.

“We celebrate these films and television programs as more than just milestones in a year of excellence.” said AFI prez-CEO Bob Gazzale in a statement. “They are a part of our American cultural heritage – collectively, a new chapter in the story of the art form and of our nation.”

The awards are made through a jury process – in which AFI trustees, scholars, film and television artists and critics determine the most outstanding achievements of the year, as well as provide a contextual rationale for each selection. This year’s juries – one for film and one for television – were chaired by producers and AFI board of trustees vice chairs Tom Pollock for the movies and Rich Frank for television. The juries included Anne Garefino, Vince Gilligan, Marshall Herskovitz, Patty Jenkins, Kasi Lemmons, Matthew Libatique; Phylicia Rashad, Leonard Maltin, and critics from The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, TIME, TV Guide, USA Today and more.

Recipients will be saluted at an invitation-only luncheon Jan. 9, the Friday before the Golden Globes.

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