AFI AWARDS 2022 – American Film Institute

AFI Awards

Honoring a year of excellence.


The honorees include 10 outstanding films and 10 outstanding TV programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of this year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. Additional honorees were selected in a category for “Special Awards,” designated for works of excellence that fall outside of the Institute’s criteria of American film and television.



plunges audiences into another world and soars beyond the edges of imagination. James Cameron’s endlessly inventive vision is fully realized with awe-inspiring images and a pulse-pounding narrative – both which stand firmly upon the foundation of family. Driven by a commitment to advance the art of storytelling, Cameron and his army of artists have created a landmark moment in the history of cinema.


is a cinematic supernova of kaleidoscopic brilliance – one ever so fitting the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Baz Luhrmann’s genius for conducting the electric power of music and emotion raise this film above the screams of adoring fans with equal parts plentitude and poetry. A star is born in Austin Butler, whose performance leaps from the screen to embody one of the 20th Century’s most charismatic icons.


is just that – and more. The Daniels’ epic vision leaves no genre behind as audiences are taken on an uncharted journey across parallel universes where rocks consider joy and regret, fingers become hot dogs and an everything bagel plays an essential, if nihilistic, roll. This head-spinning, high concept fantasia finds its human heart in the incomparable Michelle Yeoh, who masters all universes as one of the great artists of our day.


considers the horizon from a place in the past. Steven Spielberg proves his place in the pantheon by inviting us into his home – and his heart – exploring family, forgiveness and the soaring power of storytelling. From a panoramic script co-written with Tony Kushner to perfectly pitched performances from Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen and Judd Hirsch, this complicated family portrait is an undeniable valentine for all who love the movies – and a triumphant remembrance that “movies are dreams you never forget.”


affirms Jordan Peele’s place as a modern master. From the indelible images of Gordy the chimp to dark clouds on the horizon, this is a dreamscape that embraces the full spectrum of film history while defiantly defying genre. Living amidst big picture filmmaking at its most thematically ambitious, the imperative issues of race, global conservation and commercialization are hiding right before our eyes – until audiences are guided there by a stellar cast including Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun.


speaks truth to power. Based on The New York Times’ explosive exposé of Harvey Weinstein, director Maria Schrader’s dogged pursuit of the narrative beyond the headlines documents the personal lives and professional heroism of the reporters who broke the story – and the women who came forward to tell their stories. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan are the dynamic duo for the now generation – embodying the courage, intellect and persistence of an imperative pursuit, but also the many nuances of women’s strength in a system stacked against them.


demands the world leap to its feet in rapturous applause – as it invites the question: “maestra” or “monster”? Todd Field’s masterwork explores both answers with an emotional precision that speaks to some of the most challenging topics of our day and does so with a measured tenor that further deepens the drama. Standing tall amidst the maelstrom is Cate Blanchett, whose towering performance is one for the ages – a work of art so immersive that audiences will believe Lydia Tár lives.


soars into the history of American film – proving the undeniable power of storytelling to save the day. An adrenaline-fueled narrative and stunning aerial photography set the stage, but the film’s not-so-secret weapon is the greatest movie star of a generation – Tom Cruise. Director Joseph Kosinski delivers on the promise of the premise, pushing boundaries established by the fist-pumping original and amplifying action and emotion past the danger zone.


rules! All hail Gina Prince-Bythewood, who delivers a rousing epic as empowering as it is enlightening. And all bow to the warrior that is Viola Davis, whose performance is royal, resplendent and ranks among the year’s finest. Here she reigns over a story of the heroic Agojie, commanding audiences to look at history anew in a tale of prodigious bravery embodied by the fearless performances of Thuso Mbedu and Lashana Lynch.


amplifies a primal scream for all bound by silence. Adapting the novel by Miriam Toews, Sarah Polley’s moving tintype on abuse within a contemporary, isolated religious community ignites a conversation of universal relevance – delivered in hushed tones, but steely strength, by the ensemble of Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey and Frances McDormand. With the immediacy of a heart-pounding thriller, the film demands a path to liberation – “Does one do nothing? Stay and fight? Or leave?”



is a master class in the art of episodic comedy. Staffed with one of television’s most endearing ensembles, Quinta Brunson’s mock-doc models a perfect curriculum – not just for its underfunded Philadelphia public school, but also for how we embrace challenges with optimism, creativity and laughter to inspire a new generation.


fires up the year’s most deliciously nerve-racking dish. Pride and arrogance, class and grief are mixed masterfully in Christopher Storer’s series, building an immersive viewing experience from behind the line of a Chicago sandwich kitchen’s chaos. Jeremy Allen White’s emotionally manic performance leads this high-energy ensemble in a story of family at home and at work. One of the year’s best? Yes, chef!


rests its case with one of the art form’s greatest closing arguments – at once a bittersweet finale for its central antihero and an indictment of bad behavior run amuck. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s long-running series created a monument to the dark side of the American Dream, with bravura performances from Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn embodying the hubris, regret and corrupting friction between right and wrong.


takes the act on tour in a savage second season, finding laughs in the institutionalized injustice of the comedy landscape. Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky’s multi-layered comedy is a takedown as apt as it is entertaining, and Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder continue to bridge a generational divide with both barbs and belly laughs as audiences consider the harrowing challenge of being funny.


finds a home among television’s finest in this celebration of a man without a country. Ramy Youssef and Mohammed Amer’s semi-autobiographical story about a Palestinian “refugee free agent” catalyzes an imperative conversation about immigration in America. It does so driven by Amer’s star turn and his bond to family, sense of self and a nuanced hilarity that is all too rare in our land of opportunity.


ricochets across generations and around the world – bursting beyond the small screen with breathtaking cinematic grandeur. Adapting Min Jin Lee’s acclaimed novel, Soo Hugh’s sweeping series is an epic family journey that invites audiences to consider the deep, living connections between those past and present. Rooted in Korea, its global lens reminds us of the borderless commonality of sacrifices made, choices that change us and the eternal strive toward a better future.


earned itself a waffle party, surpassing quota in performance, pacing, direction and design. Dan Erickson’s hypnotically cinematic serial lives on multiple levels, creating an exquisite sense of vertigo between absurdist workplace satire and white-knuckle thriller. Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, Christopher Walken and a brilliant ensemble inhabit this dystopian world that looks to the future of the work-life balance with both humor and horror.


sings an anthem to never giving up on yourself. Bridget Everett is the tornado of talent that takes us to Kansas, and at a time in our world when the value of human reconnection is imperative, Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen’s intimate comedy glows with the optimistic light that you can go home again – be the person you see in the mirror – and find your voice, your place and your people.


summons the spirits of storytelling for an even more ingenious second year. Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi expand the emotional horizon for the Indigenous community that remains absent from the art form, and their radiant young stars beautifully embody the conflict of their characters’ birthright with increasingly hilarious schemes and heartfelt heartbreak. With curses broken and traditions upheld, this eye on America is a story for our time.


sets sail for Sicily – an island of abundant beauty that erupts with lust and luxury in this second year of Mike White’s brilliantly inverted whodunnit. With tension an unrelenting, driving force, Jennifer Coolidge leads an all-star cast on both sides of a class system – one ignorant to the pitfalls of privilege and the other desperate to find its future. No one emerges from The White Lotus with their illusions intact – ultimately, proving that the best things in life are free.



howls with empathy as it severs the traditional customs of friendship. Martin McDonagh’s parable of civil war and mutually assured destruction is brilliantly realized in each inspired word – each bloody act – and each burst of cannons across the sea. This anguished Irish fable is textured by the land itself and brought to life with both humor and horror by Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and an extraordinary cast.

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