'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' among AFI's best films of 2015

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[December 17, 2015]   By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" racked up its first award on Wednesday when the American Film Institute named it as one of the 10 best films of the year.

"The Force Awakens," opening in theaters across the world this week, was included in a list alongside awards front-runners such as Wall Street misdeeds comedy "The Big Short" and lesbian romance drama "Carol."

The American Film Institute's top films of the year are selected by critics, scholars, TV and film artists and AFI trustees, and come on the heels of this year's Golden Globe and Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) nominations.

While "Star Wars" did not receive any Globe or SAG nominations, likely due to the fact that voters would not have seen the film, which has been shrouded in secrecy, its AFI nomination makes it a potential contender for February's Oscars ceremony.

Awards voters often shun action-packed and special effects-laden big studio fare in favor of more dramatic and grounded stories. But this year, "Star Wars" was named on AFI's list alongside blockbuster action film "Mad Max: Fury Road" and space adventure "The Martian."

Other films on the list included psychological thriller "Room," Roman Catholic Church newspaper probe "Spotlight," Cold War drama "Bridge of Spies" and Pixar's animated extravaganza "Inside Out" and rap biopic "Straight Outta Compton."

The AFI also selects the year's top 10 best television programs.

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AMC's "Breaking Bad" spin-off "Better Call Saul," Fox's hip-hop family saga "Empire," Netflix comedy "Master of None," USA Network's cyber hacker drama "Mr. Robot" and Lifetime's "Unreal," a fictional take on the behind-the-scenes antics of reality show "The Bachelor," were the new shows making the list.

They were named alongside ABC comedy "Black-ish," HBO's medieval fantasy "Game of Thrones," Showtime's spy thriller "Homeland," FX's second season of "Fargo" and Cold War spy series "The Americans."

Advertising drama "Mad Men," which concluded its seven-season run this year, will receive the AFI Special Award.

Composer John Williams, known for his "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones" and "Jaws" soundtracks, will receive a lifetime achievement award. All the films and TV shows will be celebrated at a luncheon on Jan. 8 in Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Jonathan Oatis)

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