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December 15, 2008

AFI likes 'Dark Knight,' 'The Shield'


They're not ranked, so it's impossible to know if "Iron Man," "WALL-E" and "The Dark Knight," several of the top grossing movies of the year, captured the hearts of the AFI any more -- or equal to -- smallish indie flicks like "Frozen River," "The Wrestler" and "Wendy and Lucy."

They're all tossed onto the American Film Institute's astute list of 10 outstanding films of 2008. If we had to dash off our top 10s right this minute, they might not look that much different from these, though we still have to get around to seeing a few of the Important Films and we've yet to do the requisite ciphering -- carry the one -- to arrive at our best and most favorite. (That might well be two separate lists.)

We'll cop to being a little giddy about the AFI results because the group -- made up of critics, academics, producers, writers -- gave props on the TV side to "The Shield" and "The Wire." Finally, finally, finally. Those series-ending seasons left an indelible mark on their fans' consciousness and need, deserve, demand to be rewarded. Thanks for showing your guts and good taste, AFI.

Here's the list of flicks: "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Frozen River," "Gran Torino," "Milk," "WALL-E," "Wendy and Lucy" and "The Wrestler."


It's a combo, as in years past, of cash cows with substance and serious, adult fare that we're going to continue to see in the major awards derby in the weeks ahead. Contenders that are high on other year-end lists but missing here? "Revolutionary Road," "Doubt," "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," "The Visitor," and "The Reader." "Slumdog Millionaire," which is becoming such an Oscar favorite that the inevitable backlash is already starting, wasn't eligible because it's a Brit production. Only Yanks in this race.

And the TV winners: "Breaking Bad," "In Treatment," "John Adams," "Life," "Lost," "Mad Men," "The Office," "Recount," "The Shield" and "The Wire."

There are a number of Emmy winners (like "John Adams" and "Mad Men") and recently named Golden Globe nominees ("The Office" and "In Treatment"). But the inclusion of "The Shield" and "The Wire" have now forever endeared the AFI to Gold Rush.

Dick Wolf fans out there -- you know who you are -- feel free to chime right on in, but we're gloating about this rare high-profile acknowledgement of a couple of the best crime dramas ever to air on TV.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

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  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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