LOS ANGELES Osama bin Laden thriller "Zero Dark Thirty," Iran hostage drama "Argo," indie comedy "Silver Linings Playbook," and mythological indie film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" made the year's top 10 films on Monday as picked by the American Film Institute (AFI).
The AFI list, released at the start of a key week in Hollywood's busy awards season, also honored Ang Lee's shipwreck story "Life of Pi," Steven Spielberg's presidential drama "Lincoln," Wes Anderson's quirky romance "Moonrise Kingdom," musical "Les Miserables," Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight Rises," and Quentin Tarantino's slave revenge western "Django Unchained."
AFI's top film picks, selected by critics, scholars, TV and film artists and AFI trustees, come ahead of the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations on Wednesday and Thursday. All three sets of picks are likely to be leading indicators for the Oscars in February.
Notable AFI absences included cult drama "The Master" and the upcoming "The Hobbit." But the AFI, founded in 1967 to nurture the art of film, does not pick an overall winner.
"AFI Awards celebrates America's storytellers as collaborators," said AFI President Bob Gazzale in a statement.
"We are honored to bring together artists as a community, without competition, to acknowledge the gifts they have given the world in 2012," he said.
"Zero Dark Thirty," the yet-to-be-released film about the hunt for bin Laden, has emerged as a front-runner for Oscar glory after picking up accolades last week from both the New York-based National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle.
But on Sunday, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association shunned the political thriller in favor of French drama "Amour" for best film.
The AFI also picked its top 10 television shows, with "Mad Men" making a record fifth appearance on the list. The advertising drama was joined by "Breaking Bad," zombie horror "The Walking Dead," "American Horror Story," "Homeland," "Girls," comedy "Modern Family," epic fantasy "Game of Thrones," political TV movie "Game Change, and comedian Louis C.K.'s show "Louie."
The films and TV shows and their makers will be celebrated at a luncheon in Los Angeles on January 11.
Oscar nominations are to be announced on January 10, with the Oscar ceremony set for February 24 in Hollywood.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant and Philip Barbara)