Mark Wahlberg's boxing saga "The Fighter," the lesbian-family story "The Kids are All Right," James Franco's "127 Hours" and the crime thriller "Winter's Bone" also made the top 10 list.
AFI does not rank films or pick a top movie as the year's best. The filmmakers behind the top 10 films will be honored at a luncheon Jan. 14.
The British monarchy tale "The King's Speech" was not eligible because the AFI awards honor largely American-backed films. However, the AFI did present a special award to "The King's Speech," an Academy Awards favorite.
Another special award went to "Waiting for 'Superman.'" The education documentary was also not eligible to make the AFI's top 10 because the institute honors only narrative films.
This is the first time the honors included special awards, which allow the group to acknowledge "outstanding work outside the traditional AFI criteria," said Bob Gazzale, AFI president.
The AFI also picked its top 10 TV programs of 2010: "The Big C," "Boardwalk Empire," "Breaking Bad," "Glee," "Mad Men," "Modern Family," "The Pacific," "Temple Grandin," "30 Rock" and "The Walking Dead."
The top 10 lists were chosen by two 13-member panels, one each for movies and television.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.