Los Angeles, CA -
The American Film Institute has announced its annual ten official selections for AFI Awards, which recognize the year's most outstanding achievements in film.
This year's list is varied and includes the usual big budget blockbusters, an independent directorial debut which swept Sundance and a daring performance from Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant's powerful biographic portrait of Harvey Milk.
Penn's performance as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, has received widespread acclaim from critics and a number of award nominations.
Milk is currently in limited release at theatres nationwide.
Other feature films receiving an AFI nod are The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt, The Dark Night featuring a star-studded cast including Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and the late Heath Ledger, Frost/Nixon directed by Ron Howard, Frozen River which was the Grand Jury Winner at the Sundance Film Festival, Gran Torino starring Clint Eastwood, Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges, the animated feature Wall-E, Wendy and Lucy starring Michelle Williams, and The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei.
The annual honors also acknowledge what the institute regards as significant moments in the world of the moving image.
Juries made up of scholars, film artists, critics and institute trustees make the sections. Unlike other awards bodies, the institute does not rank films or pick one as the year's best.
The institute will honor the creators of the selected movies and TV shows at a Jan. 9 luncheon in Los Angeles.