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‘Soul,’ ‘The Mandalorian,’ and ‘Hamilton’ Named American Film Institute’s Best of 2020


The American Film Institute has named its 2020 award winners for the 10 best movies and TV shows of the year. AFI’s juries have determined advance the art of the moving image, enhance the cultural heritage of America’s art form, inspire audiences and artists, and make a mark on American society.

The Walt Disney Company had multiple projects earn the prestigious award. Pixar’s newest original film Soul, Lucasfilm/Disney+’s The Mandalorian both took honors. AFI also gave a special award to Hamilton, which is available on Disney+. 20th Century Studios’ Nomadland was also honored.

Read: ‘Soul,’ ‘The Mandalorian,’ and ‘Palm Springs’ Win Critics Choice Super Awards

This year’s juries were chaired by AFI board of directors member Jeanine Basinger (chair emerita and founder of the film studies department at Wesleyan University) and AFI board of trustees vice chair Richard Frank (former Disney TV chair, Walt Disney Studios president, and president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences). Other jury members included Debbie Allen, Cynthia Erivo, Rian Johnson, David Mandel, Marlee Matlin, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Wes Studi and Lulu Wang; authors and scholars representing prestigious universities with recognized motion picture arts and TV programs; film historians Mark Harris, Molly Haskell and Leonard Maltin; the AFI Board of Trustees; and film and TV critics from media outlets like the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, TV Guide and The Washington Post.

Soul is currently streaming on Disney+, and is looking to make a major splash this award season. The Pete Docter directed film is currently “certified fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes with a 95% critic score. The film features the voice talents of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Rachel House, Phylicia Rashad, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Angela Bassett, and Daveed Diggs.

The Mandalorian has been a massive hit for Disney+, the Disney+ live-action Star Wars series recently wrapped its second season, with a third season set to film this April, and multiple spin-offs in the works, it has proven that theatrical storytelling in a galaxy far, far, away can work in a series format. The series stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Bill Burr, Katee Sackhoff, Sasha Banks, Ming-Na Wen, Temura Morrison, and Rosario Dawson.

Nomadland from Searchlight Pictures will kick off Disney’s 2021 theatrical release schedule. The film, which is receiving enormous awards buzz, follows a woman who embarks on a journey through the American West after losing everything during the recession. Directed by Chloe Zhao, the film stars Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Charlene Swankie, and Linda May.

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