With that in mind, AFI honors on the big screen went to Coraline, The Hangover, The Hurt Locker, The Messenger, Precious, A Serious Man, A Single Man, Sugar, Up and Up in the Air.
Conspicuously absent from the list was Titanic director James Cameron's long-awaited Avatar – the most expensive movie ever made, though its studio denies the $500-million price tag that's been attached to it.
Meanwhile, the AFI's announcement on Sunday coincided with that of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., which named The Hurt Locker its best picture of the year.
On the small screen, the AFI singled out The Big Bang Theory, Big Love, Friday Night Lights, Glee, the Emmy-winning best dramatic series Mad Men, as well as Modern Family, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Nurse Jackie, Party Down and True Blood.
A 13-person jury that included scholars, film artists, critics and AFI trustees made the selections. The Institute will honor the creative ensembles at a Jan. 15 invitation-only luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles.