2009’s extraordinary crop of animated releases and James Cameron’s pioneering work on the box office smash Avatar are among the American Film Institute’s (AFI) annual AFI Moments Of Significance.

The institution unveiled its eight noteworthy events yesterday (December 28) deemed to have had an impact on the world of the moving image during the calendar year 2009.

To make the cut the selections may include “accomplishments of considerable merit; influences with either a positive or negative impression; trends, either new or re-emerging; anniversaries or memorials of special note; and/or movements in new technologies, education, preservation, government or other areas that impact the art film, television and digital media.”

The AFI Moments Of Significance for 2009 are:

Avatar – James Cameron’s Milepost In The Evolution Of The Art Form

  • The AFI said: “James Cameron’s pioneering effort to unleash the human imagination was fully realised in 2009 with the release of Avatar, a film that firmly established itself as a landmark in the way stories are told… Avatar enters AFI’s almanac as an achievement that will have profound effects on the future of the art form.

Twitter: The New Watercooler

  • The AFI said: “Twitter, the internet platform for messages of up to 140 characters, has become a powerful force in the worlds of film and television. It has long been proven that the most effective way to attract an audience is through ‘word of mouth’ and Twitter allows for these influential conversations to be immediate and international.

The Leno Experiment And The Loss Of Drama

  • Referring to NBC’s decision to commence broadcasts five nights a week on September 14 of The Jay Leno Show, the AFI said: “As a result, five hours traditionally reserved for episodic drama were dropped from the broadcast television landscape. The move had a harsh effect in job losses for the creative ensembles whose stories were told at that time, and also among national affiliate stations whose ratings for 11pm local news programmes dropped significantly.”

Reality TV And The Loss Of Boundaries

  • The AFI said: “Reality television crossed a line in 2009 as the cultural craving for celebrity moved in a dangerous new direction. Most significantly, the ‘characters’ now referred to as ‘Balloon Boy’ and ‘Octomom,’ in addition to a couple who allegedly infiltrated the White House to attend a state dinner, have marked the year as one in which the health and welfare of our citizens should be considered before the standards and practices of television.”

The End Of Analogue And Other Signs Of Sea Change

  • The AFI said: “On June 12, 2009, analogue television switched off, and the digital revolution saw a new day. This moment is mostly symbolic, but signaled further change across many former television traditions.”

2009 – A Year Of Extraordinary Animation

  • The AFI said: “Though animation has been a genre of great impact since the dawn of the moving image, 2009 marked a year that saw a dazzling explosion of noteworthy work from many of the nation’s finest artists, and in forms vast and varied – from classic hand-drawn stories like The Princess And The Frog; to stop-motion splendors like Coraline (pictured) and Fantastic Mr Fox; to computer-generated creations like 9,Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs and Monsters Vs Aliens.”

This Is It– Death Of Michael Jackson

  • The AFI said: “Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. One of the most influential entertainers in modern day, Jackson’s death was met with a worldwide expression of grief. In the months that followed his death, Jackson’s talents were celebrated on-line, with a renewed interest in the musical and video gifts he had given the world over five decades; on television, as millions tuned in for his memorial and funeral services; and, most notably, in theatres, with the film This Is It, a documentary crafted from the rehearsal footage for an upcoming concert tour. The film proved an unprecedented global eulogy for fans and friends of the King Of Pop.

Recession – The Movies Again Prove A Tonic For Economic Ails

  • The AFI said: “Just as Americans flocked to musicals and screwball comedies during the Great Depression of the 1930s, audiences in 2009 escaped their worries by going to the movies. Though total admissions do not compare, it is worthy to note that in the world’s darkest economic time since the Depression, American films grossed more money than any time in the history of the art form.