AP: ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Budapest Hotel,’ ‘Birdman’ deserve Oscar nods


Directors J.J. Abrams, left, and Alfonso Cuaron announce the nominations for 11 of 24 categories for the 87th Academy Awards from Beverly Hills on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 in Los Angeles.

Kirk Baird

Tied for nine nominations each, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” two art films by fiercely independent directors, lead the pack of this year’s surprising Academy Award nominees.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” a dark comedy about a Hollywood actor’s comeback attempt on Broadway, and Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a melancholy comedy of a famed hotel and its eccentric concierge that fall out of fashion by the 1930s, are two of the eight nominees for Best Picture.

LIST: Full listing of 87th annual Academy Award nominations

The others: “American Sniper,” the true story of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in U.S. history; “Boyhood,” the 12-year journey of a boy’s growth into manhood that was also filmed in real time over a 12-year period; “The Imitation Game,” a biographical drama of English mathematician Alan Turing’s attempts to crack the German’s enigma code during World War II; “Selma,” the behind-the-scenes drama of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1965 civil rights march that led to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s historic Voting Rights Act; “The Theory of Everything,” the true story of famed physicist Stephen Hawking and his loving and occasionally turbulent relationship with his wife; and “Whiplash,” the exploration of an unhealthy teacher-student relationship between a vicious jazz instructor and his star drummer pupil.

With the ability to nominate as many as 10 films in this category, the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose to only nominate eight — as is their habit — thereby snubbing at least two other movies worthy for consideration.

The dark comedy “Nightcrawler,” about a creepy go-getter who finds his calling as a freelance TV photojournalist who trawls a.m. Los Angeles for blood and carnage to film, is the biggest omission in this category — especially considering its director Dan Gilroy was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. But it didn’t bode well for the film’s shot at the big prize that neither of its stars, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, were nominated in their categories, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Another noticeable Best Film nominee snub is the icy thriller “Gone Girl,” director David Fincher’s superb adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel of a marriage gone horribly wrong.

Fincher didn’t pick up a director’s nomination, and likewise, Flynn, who wrote the blockbuster’s script, wasn’t nominated for an Adapted Screenplay Oscar. “Gone Girl” co-star Rosamund Pike, however, did receive a much-deserved Best Actress nomination as the cold, manipulative and emotionally damaged wife.

The Best Director category’s biggest surprise was the inclusion of Bennett Miller for “Foxcatcher,” the chilling true story of multimillionaire John du Pont, who befriends two Olympic Wrestling Champion brothers, recruits them to join his Team Foxcatcher and train for the 1988 Seoul games, and how everything goes horribly wrong. Not that Miller doesn’t deserve the nomination, but there hasn’t been much buzz for him or “Foxcatcher,” for that matter, which also wasn’t nominated for Best Picture.

Miller wasn’t one of the five nominees by the Directors Guild of America, though Clint Eastwood was for “American Sniper.” Essentially, the Academy swapped Eastwood for Miller, and otherwise agreed with the DGA’s other Best Director choices: Anderson, Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman”), Linklater, and Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”).

Frankly, the unforgettable and remarkable last 20 or so minutes of “Whiplash” alone were worth nominating virtual newcomer Damien Chazelle.

Steve Carell as John du Pont and Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle are the two surprise nominations in the field of Best Actor nominees, though they essentially took the spots of Gyllenhaal as the dangerous creep and David Oyelowo (MLK in “Selma”) as the American hero. It’s a highly competitive year, but Gyllenhaal most definitely deserved a nomination.

Many considered Jennifer Aniston’s buzzy role in “Cake” as a sharp-witted and angry woman grappling with chronic pain and tragedy as a probable nominee. Instead, her spot went to Marion Cotillard as a desperate factory worker in “Two Days, One Night.” Not that it matters: Julianne Moore’s wrenching portrait of a brilliant woman diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s is one of the two locks at this year’s Oscars.

The other is character actor J.K. Simmons as the drill sergeant-like jazz instructor in “Whiplash,” a tornado of a performance that’s impossible to turn away from. Robert Duvall’s nomination as the elderly title character in “The Judge” was somewhat unexpected given the film’s lack of success with critics and audiences. But Duvall, even at 84, remains one of our finest actors.

In the Best Animated Feature Film category, the omission of the highly original “The Lego Movie,” the biggest animated film at the domestic and foreign box office and which has a 96 percent approval rating on Rottentomatoes.com, is a significant omission — especially with the nomination of under-performing sequel “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; however, the latter does have a 92 percent approval rating at Rottentomatoes.

The only other surprise is in the Best Documentary Feature category, with neither “Life Itself,” the moving story of Roger Ebert, and Jodorowsky’s “Dune,” a riveting if somewhat manic account of the greatest film that never was, nominated. If nothing else, “Life Itself” seemed a lock given Ebert’s connection to Hollywood as one-half of the best-known and most-influential film critic duo in history.

But it just goes to show that even in its 87th year, Oscar still has the ability to shock and amaze.

The Academy Awards begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and can be seen locally on WTVG-TV, Channel 13.

Kirk Baird is a staff writer for The Blade. Contact him at [email protected] or 419-724-6734.

Full list of 87th annual Academy Award nominations:

1.Best picture: “American Sniper”; “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “Boyhood”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “The Imitation Game”; “Selma”; “The Theory of Everything”; “Whiplash.”

2. Actor: Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”; Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”; Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”; Michael Keaton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything.”

3. Actress: Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”; Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”; Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”; Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”; Reese Witherspoon, “Wild.”

4. Supporting actor: Robert Duvall, “The Judge”; Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”; Edward Norton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”; J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash.”

5. Supporting actress: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”; Laura Dern, “Wild”; Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”; Emma Stone, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods.”

6. Directing: Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”; Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”; Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game.”

7. Foreign language film: “Ida”; “Leviathan”; “Tangerines”; “Timbuktu”; “Wild Tales.”

8. Adapted screenplay: Jason Hall, “American Sniper”; Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”; Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”; Anthony McCarten, “The Theory of Everything”; Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash.”

9. Original screenplay: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Armando Bo, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”; E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, “Foxcatcher”; Wes Anderson (screenplay) and story by Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler.”

10. Animated feature film: “Big Hero 6″; “The Boxtrolls”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2″; “Song of the Sea”; “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”

11. Production design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “The Imitation Game”; “Interstellar”; “Into the Woods”; “Mr. Turner.”

12. Cinematography: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Ida”; “Mr. Turner”; “Unbroken.”

13. Sound mixing: “American Sniper”; “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “Interstellar”; “Unbroken”; “Whiplash.”

14. Sound editing: “American Sniper”; “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”; “Interstellar”; “Unbroken.”

15. Original score: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “The Imitation Game”; “Interstellar”; “Mr. Turner”; “The Theory of Everything.”

16. Original song: “Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”; “Glory” from “Selma”; “Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”; “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me””; “Lost Stars” from “Begin Again.”

17. Costume design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Inherent Vice”; “Into the Woods”; “Maleficent”; “Mr. Turner.”

18. Documentary feature: “CitizenFour”; “Finding Vivian Maier”; “Last Days in Vietnam”; “The Salt of the Earth”; “Virunga.”

19. Documentary (short subject): “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1″; “Joanna”; “Our Curse”; “The Reaper (La Parka)”; “White Earth.”

20. Film editing: “American Sniper”; “Boyhood”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “The Imitation Game”; “Whiplash.”

21. Makeup and hairstyling: “Foxcatcher”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

22. Animated short film: “The Bigger Picture”; “The Dam Keeper”; “Feast”; “Me and My Moulton”; “A Single Life.”

23. Live action short film: “Aya”; “Boogaloo and Graham”; “Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)”; “Parvaneh”; “The Phone Call.”

24. Visual effects: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”; “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Interstellar”; “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”