The Oscars is, undoubtedly one of the biggest nights of the year. Not only does it celebrate achievements in the world of film, the ceremony also causes a buzz amongst other circles; fashionistas, journalists and – in this climate of social media – us too. It is truly one of the glitziest, most prestigious festivities within our culture. And if this year is anything like last year’s show, it will be unforgettable. Newbie host for 2015, Neil Patrick Harris (of How I Met Your Mother fame), certainly does have a lot to live up to, after Ellen DeGeneres’s thoroughly entertaining turn last year, in which she dressed up as a fairy, took a record-breaking selfie with the stars and fed them all pizza. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves in all the excitement. The big question, of course, is “Who are the nominees this year?” Thankfully, today it was the task of Chris Pine, JJ Abrams and last year’s Best Director recipient, Alfonso Cuarón, to announce the selected hopefuls. As part of The Indiependent‘s coverage of the 2015 Awards Season, I’m here to give you the low-down on the biggest categories of the night, surprises and all…
And the nominees are: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash
The lowdown: British biopics The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything (About the lives of Alan Turing and Stephen Hawking, respectively) hold their dominance in this year’s Awards season with numerous nominations, including this one. Mega-hits Birdman, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel are also, quite rightly up for the biggest award. Critically acclaimed films, Whiplash and Selma (The Martin Luther King biopic) are also competing, while Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper remains the surprise candidate – beating the likes of Gone Girl and Foxcatcher to the post. If The Golden Globes are anything to go by, Boyhood will be the film to beat – though Birdman and The Theory of Everything are also strong contenders.
How it differs to the BAFTAs: Whereas the BAFTAs have 5 nominations for Best Film – all of whom share these contenders – The Academy has selected 8 this year. This is still unusual given the Oscars’ recent tradition of having 9 Best Pictures competing.
And the nominees are: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
The low-down: Richard Linklater is arguably the biggest contender for this category, having already won a Golden Globe for his incredible 12 year effort in exhibiting the lives of an aging family in Boyhood. Close behind him though is Birdman director, Alejandro Iñárritu, who has received wide acclaim for his dark comedy about an actor trying to outgrow the shadow of his most infamous role. Distinctive auteur, Wes Anderson is also nominated for his quirky comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Surprisingly, Morten Tyldum has been recognised for his arguably sub-par direction of The Imitation Game and Bennett Miller for his work on Foxcatcher. Miller’s nomination is perhaps the most unanticipated, given that wrestler Mark Schultz -whose autobiography forms the basis of the story – has publicly criticised Miller for his portrayal of the relationships within the film. Gone Girl director David Fincher and Nightcrawler’s Dan Gilroy are among those snubbed.
How it differs to the BAFTAs: Though they are in agreement about Linklater, Iñárritu and Anderson, BAFTA decided to give plaudits to The Theory of Everything‘s James Marsh and Whiplash director, Damien Chazelle instead of Tydlum and Miller.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
And the nominees are: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
The low-down: One of the most difficult categories to judge, the nominees for Leading Actor demonstrate an immense array of male acting talent. As is the trend this season, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton are all up for this award; Cumberbatch for his portrayal of forgotten war hero Alan Turing, Redmayne for his astonishing impersonation of physicist Stephen Hawking and Keaton for his ironic performance as Riggan Thompson – an actor best known for playing the superhero, Birdman. Steve Carell has also been nominated for his career-changing role as introverted coach, John Du Pont in Foxcatcher. Surprisingly, Bradley Cooper is also up for his portrayal of soldier Chris Kyle in American Sniper – making him the latest actor to be Oscar-nominated three years in a row. Among the snubbed and down-hearted in this category are Gone Girl‘s Ben Affleck and Timothy Spall for his otherwise heralded performance in Mr Turner. The Winner is most likely to be a close call between Keaton and Redmayne – who both won Golden Globes for their interpretations.
How it differs to the BAFTAS: Interestingly, BAFTA determined Carell as a Supporting actor rather than the lead and instead nominated Jake Gyllenhaal for his performance as charming psychopath, Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler and Ralph Fiennes for his turn as Monsieur Gustave H in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
And the nominees are: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
The low-down: This year’s nominations are, typically, very male-centric – leaving the Actress awards as some of the only points of recognition for female contributions to film. Among the leading ladies nominated are British actresses Felicity Jones and Rosamund Pike, for their respective performances as Jane Wilde-Hawking in The Theory of Everything and Amy Elliott-Dunne in Gone Girl. Also contending are previous winners/nominees, Reese Witherspoon, Marion Cotillard and Julianne Moore. Witherspoon is up for her portrayal as urban-born hiker Cheryl Strayed in Wild , while Moore is put forward for her turn as Dr. Alice Howland in Still Alice. Cotillard is the more surprising contender, for her role as struggling mother, Sandra Bya in french-language film, Two Days, One Night. Though much hype surrounds Pike and Jones, they haven’t yet won anything. While Moore may have won the Globe, the successor for this gong is still anyone’s guess.
How it differs to the BAFTAS: In Cotillard’s place, BAFTA nominated Amy Adams – a previous Oscar-darling – for her performance as Margaret Keane in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
And the nominees are: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) and JK Simmons (Whiplash)
The low-down: If the Globes are anything to go by, JK Simmons is the one to watch in this category for his impassioned performance as sadistic jazz tutor, Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash. Also in with a chance are Ethan Hawke for his role as the Father, Mason Sr. in Boyhood, Edward Norton for his portrayal of method-actor, Mike Shiner in Birdman and Mark Ruffalo for his turn as doomed wrestler, Dave Schultz in Foxcatcher. Veteran actor, Robert Duvall is also nominated for his portrayal of Judge Joseph Palmer in The Judge.
How it differs to the BAFTAs: BAFTA determined that Carell was in a supporting role, and therefore put him in that category, in place of where the Academy have put Duvall.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
And the nominees are: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman) and Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
The low-down: Going with this year’s trend in nominees, The Academy have nominated Patricia Arquette for her role as the mother, Olivia in Boyhood, Keira Knightley for her portrayal as crossword enthusiast Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game and Emma Stone for her perfomance as Sam Thompson in Birdman. Also contending are Laura Dern, for her performance as Bobbi Grey in Wild and Oscar-darling Meryl Streep for her musical turn as The Wicked Witch in Into The Woods. Streep’s nomination only increases her reputation as the most nominated actress of all time, but Arquette is more likely to win given her success at the Globes.
How it differs to the BAFTAS: Instead of Streep and Dern, BAFTA favoured Imelda Staunton’s turn as a lesbian activist in British film, Pride and Rene Russo’s performance as Nina Romina in Nightcrawler.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
And the nominees are: Birdman (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo), Boyhood (Richard Linklater), Foxcatcher ( E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness) and Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
The low-down: The biggest contenders for this category are the screenplays of Birdman and Boyhood, respectively. Iñárritu’s tale of an actor trying to replenish his failing career has wowed audiences, while Linklater’s insight into growing up is inspired. Also nominated is Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel – which recants the fun and quirky caper of a Hotel concierge trying to clear his name. Dan Gilroy’s neo-noir crime thriller, Nightcrawler has also been recognised, as well as Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye’s interpretation of the grim life-story of Du Pont and the Schultz brothers in Foxcatcher.
How it differs to the BAFTAS: BAFTA favoured Damien Chazelle’s screenplay for Whiplash – which they deemed original, rather than adapted, over Foxcatcher – which actually is in some part based on the book by Mark Schultz…. confusing huh?
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
And the nominees are: American Sniper (Jason Hall), The Imitation Game (Graham Moore), Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson), The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten) and Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
The low-down: Biopic writers, Graham Moore and Anthony McCarten fight it out for their interpretations of the lives of two respective British icons in The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything. While, Damien Chazelle’s self-inspired musical drama, Whiplash is also nominated. Jason Hall’s adaptation of Chris Kyle’s memoirs of his tour in Iraq in American Sniper is also a contender. The most surprising competitor being Paul Thomas Anderson for his screenplay of underrated 70’s crime-comedy drama, Inherent Vice. Most notably snubbed from the category is Gillian Flynn for her adaptation of her own novel, Gone Girl.
How it differs to the BAFTAS: BAFTA omitted from nominating Inherent Vice, instead showing favour to the quaint British animation, Paddington and Gillian Flynn’s thriller, Gone Girl.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
And the nominees are: Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya.
The low-down: Nope, that’s not a typo. The Lego Movie, despite being one of the highest grossing films of the year has been snubbed by The Academy – invoking the biggest gasps of surprise and outrage amongst social media. Instead, the Academy have nominated Disney’s adaptation of Marvel creation, Big Hero 6, Dreamworks’ Golden Globe-winning viking sequel, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and The Boxtrolls. Also surprisingly nominated, is Cartoon Saloon’s Song of The Sea – based on the ancient myth of the selkie – and Studio Ghibli’s latest anime film, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya. With the omission of The Lego Movie, the winner for this category is unprecedented, and will prove an underwhelming surprise on the night.
How it differs to the BAFTAS: BAFTA only selects 3 films for Best Animation, but even then, they still thought The Lego Movie was awesome enough to be included.
The full list of nominations can be found at The Oscar website, here.
The 87th Academy Awards will be broadcast in the UK on Sunday 22nd February on Sky Movies‘ Oscar channel.
Words by Annie | @cumberbamf