11:30 PM EST, January 10, 2014
An SRO crowd formed a spontaneous love-in for the great film and TV offerings of 2013 at Friday's AFI Awards luncheon, but the biggest reactions were reserved for clips of "Game of Thrones" (the Red Wedding) and "Breaking Bad" (the series finale).
The room was jam-packed with nearly 300 people as AFI assembled reps from the 10 films and 10 TV shows that had been chosen by committees last month, and AFI prexy-CEO Bob Gazzale told Variety that "the most fascinating thing this year was the avalanche of eagerness to get in the room."
Is the quality of the work, the competitive campaign season, or AFI's reputation for fun events? Probably all three. In the high-energy room, Alexander Payne swapped compliments with Alfonso Cuaron, Matt Weiner chatted with Billy Ray, Steve McQueen hoarsely accepted congrats, and guests mingled with the writers, producers, actors and directors (helmers of all 10 films were there).
Also in attendance were movers and shakers like Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Charles Collier, Megan Ellison, Jim Gianopulos, Steve Gilula, Sue Kroll, Donna Langley, Bryan Lourd, Michael Lynton, Leslie Moonves (his first time at the event), Amy Pascal, Ted Sarandos, Anne Sweeney, Kevin Tsujihara and Nancy Utley.
The two-hour event is always a favorite because there are no acceptance speeches, no pressure and no suspense: just brief clips and words of praise from AFI -- and a lot of power-schmoozing.
Among the TV and film creatives were Joel Coen, Ryan Coogler, Vince Gilligan, Paul Greengrass, John Lee Hancock, Spike Jonze, Shonda Rhimes, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Talent: Sandra Bullock, Lizzy Caplan, Bradley Cooper, Brian Cranston, Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tony Goldwyn, Jon Hamm, Tom Hanks, Julianna Margulies, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Sheen, Octavia Spencer and Robin Wright.
Shirley MacLaine, AFI's Life Achievement honoree, concluded the afternoon with a brief salute to the creative chaos and order of filmmaking, and the power of the medium.
This was the 14th year for the event.