A closer look at the best picture nominees at the 87th Academy Awards including reactions, reviews and in-depth features.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller
Synopsis: Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.
Screen Review: “Cooper’s bighearted performance anchors the film, though. As the years go by and Kyle feels further and further disengaged from civilian life, the actor hints at the man’s inner terror and impotence.” [Full Review]
Oscar nominations: 6
Categories: Best Film, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Adapted Screenplay
BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis
Synopsis: A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.
Screen Review: “If Michael Keaton is very much the moving, complex and troubled face of Birdman, there is no getting away from the sheer polish and precision that Alejandro González Iñárritu has brought to the film.” [Full Review]
Reaction: “I am very happy for the whole Birdman flock because it took a lot of courage to make this film out of conventions. These nominations reflect the recognition of our colleagues as well as the members of the Academy. I am proud, thankful and humbled.” Alejandro González Iñárritu,
Screen Features: INTERVIEW: Michael Keaton
Oscar nominations: 9
Categories: Best Film, Best Actor (Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Norton), Best Supporting Actress (Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Screenplay.
Director Richard Linklater
Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke
Synopsis: The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.
Screen Review: “Boyhood creates a fascinating temporal universe, which transcends the movie viewer’s normal relationship to a film.” [Full Review]
Reaction: “I feel truly graced by this honour, to know that all the energy, time and talent devoted by so many people was not unwarranted, that it meant something. The heart of this film beats with the heart of each and every person who gave so much of themselves; from our wonderful cast to ourhardworking and dedicated crew. It took a family to create a family and I could not be more proud of them. Richard Linklater had a vision for all of us and for this film. It has been an uparalleled pleasure to work beside him all these years.” Cathleen Sutherland
Oscar nominations: 6
Categories: Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Ethan Hawke), Best Supporting Actress (Arquette), Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan
Synopsis: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
Screen Review: “Ralph Fiennes is sheer fastidious perfection as the vain but rather generous Gustave M, and his on-screen relationship with Tony Revolori is delightfully sustained as the pair embark on a series of strange but rather wonderful adventures.” [Full Review]
Reaction: “My producers and I send our very deepest thanks to the Academy and its 8,000 members for a whole slew of Oscar nominations, especially for my long-time collaborators… We feel very deeply honoured and thrilled and, frankly, very, very pleased with ourselves all around.” Wes Anderson
Oscar nominations: 9
Categories: Best Film, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Original Screenplay.
THE IMITATION GAME
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley
Synopsis: During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.
Screen Review: “Unquestionably, The Imitation Game has a tasteful reserve that can sometimes make the story feel like it’s been encased in amber. As a result, it’s a movie that’s more cerebral than exhilarating” [Full Review]
Reaction: “Being a part of The Imitation Game and paying homage to the exquisite genius, Alan Turing, has been quite simply the experience of a lifetime. My immense gratitude goes to the Academy and my congratulations to the rest of the team on this film, who to me is second to none.” Morten Tyldum
Screen Features: The Making of The Imitation Game
Oscar nominations: 8
Categories: Best Film, Best Actor (Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Knightley), Best Director, Best Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast: David Oyelowo, Tim Roth
Synopsis: A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.
Screen Review: “Sequences depicting the Selma marches are fairly understated, when a more visceral approach might have given the film more emotional heft.” [Full Review]
Screen Features: INTERVIEW: David Oyelowo
Oscar nominations: 2
Categories: Best Film, Best Original Song
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones
Synopsis: A look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.
Screen Review: “The Theory Of Everything’s classiness can sometimes seem too rigid for its own good, aiming for a studied elegance that feels mannered in places.” [Full Review]
Reaction: “I’m so incredibly honoured to be recognised by the Academy, and even more thrilled to share this honour with the entire family of filmmakers, cast, and crew of “The Theory Of Everything.” Eddie Redmayne
Oscar nominations: 5
Categories: Best Film, Best Actor (Redmayne), Best Actress (Jones), Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons
Synopsis: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.
Screen Review: “Teller shows in Whiplash a rare ability to play a nuanced teenager who’s troubled, complicated, awkward and charming.” [Full Review]
Reaction: “To say I’m thrilled with the recognition Whiplash has received from the Academy would be an understatement. Seeing my small film about a jazz drummer listed among the work of film-makers I have admired for much of my life is humbling. And to be included among some of the finest screenwriters working today is a dream come true.” Damien Chazelle
Oscar nominations: 5
Categories: Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Simmons), Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Adapted Screenplay.