‘American Fiction’ Makes AFI’s Top Ten List of 2023 Films

(L-R) Writer/Director/Producer Cord Jefferson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jeffrey Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Erika Alexander and Adam Brody attend the Los Angeles Premiere of MGM’s "American Fiction" at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stewart Cook/Getty Images for MGM)

The American Film Institute has named its top ten movies of 2023, with American Fiction making the prestigious list.

The satire from writer-director Cord Jefferson stars Jeffrey Wright as struggling author Thelonious “Monk” Ellison. After years of writing books no one reads, Monk’s agent tells him editors “want a Black book” that feeds into tropes. A frustrated Monk jokingly pens a stereotypical Black novel titled “My Pafology” under the pseudonym Stagg R. Leigh. The book instantly becomes a bestseller, causing Monk to question the publishing industry.

The film’s cast also includes Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Issa Rae, Adam Brody, Keith David, Leslie Uggams, and Myra Lucretia Taylor.

The movie marks former journalist Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut and is based on the 2001 novel Erasure by Percival Everett.

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Also making the AFI Top Ten list are Barbie, Oppenheimer, The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, May December, Past Lives, Poor Things and the animated Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, from directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson.

“As our nation and our world continue to navigate difficult times, AFI is honored to shine a proper light upon these works of art that lift us up and, ultimately, lead us to empathy,” Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO, said in a statement.

All ten films are expected to be serious contenders this awards season. The honorees will be recognized at the AFI Awards luncheon in Beverly Hills on Jan. 12, 2024.

Among buzzworthy Black films missing from the list are The Color Purple, Origin, A Thousand and One, and Rustin.