AFI Best of the Year list includes a big surprise

Reported by: James Eppler
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Updated: 12/10/2012 5:13 pm

On Twitter: @JamesEppler

Maybe the Mayans were right - the world may indeed be ending. Or maybe it should after the American Film Institute named its ten best movies of 2012, which included Christopher Nolan's botched ending to his "Dark Knight" series.

The film, which was written and directed by a Brit and starring numerous UK actors, beat out a much better British production, "Skyfall," otherwise known as one of the best Bond movies ever, and directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes. If you want to recognize a box office hit, why not even go with "The Avengers" instead?

The rest of the AFI's list was fairly expected, and I'm tickled to see the charming and wonderfully sweeping "Moonrise Kingdom" made the cut.

As for the rest, almost half of them have not yet opened in Lubbock. I've indicated those with a (*).

Here's a look at the list:

"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Dark Knight Rises"
(*) "Django Unchained"
(*) "Les Miserables"
"Life of Pi"
"Moonrise Kingdom"
(*) "Silver Linings Playbook"
(*) "Zero Dark Thirty"

I also note the absence of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," which opens nationwide Friday. There's also no love for "The Master" and "Flight," both of which have been mentioned as awards contenders.  

The question is, how closely could this list resemble the Oscar nominations for Best Picture. The rules state the Academy can now nominate anywhere between five and ten. So, merciful Heaven, does that mean "Dark Knight Rises" could get the nomination that "The Dark Knight" missed out on?

Maybe. But I doubt it. My guess is Oscar voters will opt for "The Hobbit" or  maybe even "Skyfall" instead. "Rises," unlike its predecessor, does not deserve to be named among the best movies of the year. People who like the movie and defend it should even be able to admit that much. But the snubbing of "The Dark Knight" caused such an outcry that the Oscars decided to start nominating more movies to give movies like that a better shot. So maybe voters will try to make up for it by honoring the final installment in the series. Please. No.

From what I gather, the real heat for the Best Picture race lies in these five movies: "Zero Dark Thirty," "Les Miserables," "Lincoln," "Argo," and "Life of Pi." I suspect these are the movies that will also find their directors nominated.

But who knows? Bane and Batman may be honored with an Oscar nomination. If that happens, the Academy's punishment must be severe.

The AFI list doesn't have a history of lining up exactly with the Oscar nominees, although it has a fairly decent record. As reported on The Awards Daily, here's a look at previous AFI lists and how they measure up with Best Picture nominees:

In 2011, 7/10 went on to win Best Picture.

The Help*
The Descendants*
Midnight in Paris*
J Edgar
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
War Horse*
Tree of Life*

In 2010, 9/10 went on to be nominated:

Black Swan*
The Fighter*
The Kids Are All Right*
127 Hours*
The Social Network*
The Town
Toy Story 3*
True Grit*
Winter’s Bone*

In 2009, five went on to be nominated in a ten Best Picture year.

The Hangover
The Hurt Locker+
The Messenger
A Serious Man*
A Single Man
Up in the Air*

In 2008, 3 of 5 potential:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*
The Dark Knight
Frozen River
Gran Torino
Iron Man
Wendy and Lucy
The Wrestler

2007 4/5:
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
Knocked Up
Michael Clayton*
No Country for Old Men+
The Savages
There Will Be Blood*

2006 3/5
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The Devil Wears Prada
Half Nelson
Happy Feet
Inside Man
Letters from Iwo Jima*
Little Miss Sunshine*
United 93

AFI Top 10 Films of 2005 (5/5)
Brokeback Mountain*
The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Good Night, and Good Luck*
A History of Violence
King Kong
The Squid and the Whale

AFI Top 10 Films of 2004 3/5
The Aviator*
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Friday Night Lights
The Incredibles
Maria Full of Grace
Million Dollar Baby+
Spider-Man 2

AFI Top 10 Films of 2003 (4/5)
American Splendor
Finding Nemo
The Human Stain
In America
The Last Samurai
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King+
Lost in Translation*
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World*
Mystic River*

AFI Top 10 Films of 2002 (4/5)
About a Boy
About Schmidt
Antwone Fisher
Gangs of New York*
The Hours*
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers*
The Quiet American

AFI Top 10 Films of 2001 (4/5)
A Beautiful Mind+
Black Hawk Down
In the Bedroom*
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring*
The Man Who Wasn’t There
Monster’s Ball
Moulin Rouge*
Mulholland Drive

AFI Top 10 Films of 2000 (3/5)
Almost Famous
Before Night Falls
Best in Show
Erin Brockovich*
High Fidelity
Requiem for a Dream
Wonder Boys
You Can Count on Me

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