As we enter into the final weeks of 2016, with just a few more major film releases left to go, the biggest awards contenders and frontrunners are beginning to emerge and make themselves clear. Whether it be Damien Chazelle’s critically-acclaimed musical love letter to ’30s and ’40s musicals in La La Land, Barry Jenkins’ moving and intimate Moonlight, or Kenneth Lonergan’s emotional Manchester by the Sea. What was already an exceptional year for awards films and indie contenders, has just become increasingly more competitive in these final months of the year, leading into the major awards shows of next year.
Despite a number of films still weeks away from their theatrical releases as well, including Martin Scorsese’s Silence, 20th Century Women, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, more and more critics are getting to see the films early and releasing their top 10s of the year. After the release of the National Board of Review, Critics Choice, and Los Angeles Film Critics Associations‘ lists and nominations too, yet another major group has announced their best of the year.
Today, the American Film Institue (AFI) has revealed their top 10 of the year, which includes some of the biggest awards contenders that have emerged over the past few months and some small surprises here and there also, including a last minute addition of Martin Scorsese’s latest. Find the full list below, in no specific order:
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Hell or High Water
- La La Land
- Manchester by the Sea
Right now, the presumed Best Picture frontrunner at the Academy Awards is La La Land, and the film’s inclusion on this list doesn’t do much to dispel or slow the film’s momentum either. With a limited release in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, before expanding wider on December 16th, it’s become one of the top movies to see this year, garnering the same amount of hype within the industry, at least, as films like Rogue One or Silence. For those out there who make it their business to pay attention to the awards circuit every year, it’s one of the top guarantees to be included on ballots in practically every category.
Most of the other picks on the list stay in line with the other critic choices so far, with films like Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Hacksaw Ridge, and Hell or High Water all earning consistent awards consideration for themselves. The inclusion of Zootopia is one of the biggest surprises of the list by far, since Disney’s latest animated film, Moana, seems more obvious of an awards contender than the earlier March release, but it also shows the power of what word of mouth can do for a film if it is maintained throughout the entire year.
In addition, as more and more critics see it and reactions are released, it seems almost certain like Scorsese’s Silence is going to be this year’s last minute wild card, coming out just in time for awards consideration and earning enough acclaim already to make it a serious contender in the coming months. That’s not necessarily surprising for a film made by Scorsese, but it definitely brings at least a certain degree of unpredictability in an awards race that’s been consistently dominated by a select group of films so far.