The nominees for the 87th Annual Academy Awards have been revealed (read the full list) - and, as it true for any year, the choices have ranged from very predictable to more than a little surprising. Meanwhile, cinephiles and film lovers have already taken to the 'Net to show support for movies, filmmakers, and/or actors who were (or were not) recognized by the Academy, in equal measure.
Boyhood is viewed by many as being the current favorite to take home the the Best Picture Oscar (it also won Best Drama at the 2015 Golden Globes), having now been nominated by the Academy for direction, supporting actor/actress, original screenplay, and editing. The movie was scripted and directed by Richard Linklater, who shot the film over the course of twelve years, as a way of telling the story of protagonist Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) and his journey towards young adulthood.
Both Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel received more Oscar nods than Boyhood, but all three films could end up walking away with more than one award on Oscar night. Birdman star Michael Keaton is a favorite to win Best Actor for his meta-role as Riggan Thomson, a former superhero movie actor who aspires to successfully put on his own off-Broadway play. Keaton's Birdman costars Edward Norton and Emma Stone also received Oscar nods for their supporting roles in the film, though neither is a front-runner.
Keaton aside, Birdman seems more likely to win for non-acting elements - like Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography, which creates the illusion that almost the entire movie was shot in a single take. It's certainly possible that this will be a year when the Academy splits the difference and gives Birdman co-writer/helmsman Alejandro González Iñárritu the Best Screenplay and/or Director Oscar, while Boyhood winds up as Best Picture. The Birdman screenplay won at the Golden Globes, after all...
Grand Budapest Hotel may take home awards in such areas as production and costume design, as co-writer/director Wes Anderson's film (a madcap adventure set in a fictional European country on the brink of WWII) has been most heavily praised for its visual aesthetic. However, the movie failed to land a single acting nomination, which is an indicator that its Best Director and/or Picture chances are pretty remote.
Fellow Best Picture nominee Whiplash, by comparison, is most likely to win for J.K. Simmons' supporting turn in the film; a role that's already won him a Golden Globe, for playing the tyrannical and perfectionist top instructor at a prestigious music conservatory. The movie itself remains something of a black horse candidate to win in other categories, though, as evidenced by writer/director Damien Chazelle getting overlooked for Best Director consideration.
The Best Picture nominees The Theory of Everything (a Stephen Hawking biopic), The Imitation Game (an Alan Turing biopic), and American Sniper (the Chris Kyle biopic) - notice a trend? - have all been most heavily-praised for their lead actor's performance, but for the time being Keaton has the most momentum to win. His larger body of work also give him an edge on Eddie Redmayne, who (besides Keaton) was the other actor who won at the 2015 Globes ceremony (for his work as Mr. Hawking). As indicated before, Boyhood and Birdman are also far ahead of their Best Picture competition, in terms of their chances of winning.
Meanwhile, Bennet Miller's Foxcatcher - the drama about real-life multi-millionaire John du Pont's destructive relationship with the Olympic wrestling Schultz brothers - missed out on a Best Pic nod, though Miller was nominated (for directing), along with two of the three main stars from the film (Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo). The trio may end up going empty-handed on Oscar night, though, seeing as none of them have thus far been getting the same attention that other awards contenders in the same categories have.
Co-writer/director Christopher Nolan's somewhat divisive space exploration tentpole, Interstellar, landed a handful of technical awards nods (like sound editing/mixing and score), but similar to Foxcatcher it might not win in any of the categories for which it has been nominated. The overall positive, yet mixed, reception for Nolan's latest big-budget offering is no doubt part of the reason why the film didn't land nominations in any of the "major" categories (as some had predicted it could this time last year).
There are, however, a number of movies that could end up walking away with at least one Oscar when all is said and done. That includes the DreamWorks' animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 (the Best Animated Feature front-runner) and the live-action blockbuster sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (for Best Visual Effects). Which brings us to...
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