Two extravagant comedies, “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” tied for the most Oscar nominations Thursday morning with nine nods each, including best picture.
They were joined in best-picture nominations by “Boyhood,” “Whiplash,” “The Theory of Everything,” “The Imitation Game,” “American Sniper” and “Selma.” Nominations for the 87th annual Academy Awards were announced from Beverly Hills, where they were broadcast and streamed live.
World War II code-breaker thriller “The Imitation Game,” about unsung hero Alan Turing, trailed close behind with eight nominations. Clint Eastwood’s Navy SEAL drama “American Sniper” did especially well, landing six nods including best actor for Bradley Cooper.
Also with six nominations was Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age epic “Boyhood,” which remains the best-picture favorite. On Sunday, the 12-years-in-making drama won best drama at the Golden Globes.
But Wes Anderson’s old Europe caper “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which also won best comedy or musical at the Globes, has emerged as the most unexpected awards heavyweight. With $59.1 million at the North American box office (opening all the way back in March), it’s also the most money-making best-picture entry in an especially modestly sized batch of nominees. That, however, is likely to change soon after “American Sniper” expands nationwide this weekend.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” managed nine nominations without a single acting nod. Instead, it was repeatedly cited for Anderson’s meticulous craft in categories like directing, production design, makeup and screenplay.
The nominees for best actor are: Cooper, Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”), Benedict Cumberbatch (”The Imitation Game”), Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and Eddie Redmayne. David Oweloyo, who stars as Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma,” was left out.
Ava DuVernay’s civil rights drama, at one point considered a major contender, faded even after its late debut. The film, which has been nagged by criticism over its portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson, managed just two nominations. (The second was for best song.)
Marion Cotillard for the French-language “Two Days, One Night” was the surprise nominee for best actress. She was joined by Felicity Jones (”The Theory of Everything”), Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”), Rosamund Pike (”Gone Girl”) and Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”). That left Jennifer Aniston’s pained and grieving performance in “Cake” on the outside.
The eight best-picture nominees left out two wild cards that might have added a dose of darkness to the category: the creepy Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “Nightcrawler” and the tragic wrestling drama “Foxcatcher.” In the three previous years since the category was expanded (anywhere between five and 10 film may be nominated), there were nine movies contending for best picture.
“Foxcatcher” helmer Bennett Miller (previously nominated for “Capote”) did squeak into best director. Joining him and Anderson are Linklater (”Boyhood”), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Birdman”) and Morten Tyldum (”The Imitation Game”).
One of the most notable snubs came in the best animation category, usually a particularly staid category. Despite critical love and major box office, “The Lego Movie” failed to join nominees “Big Hero 6,” “The Boxtrolls,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Song of the Sea” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”
This year’s smaller sized but much-beloved favorites – “Boyhood,” “Birdman” – have been largely locked in as front runners throughout much of the ever-expanding industrial complex of Hollywood’s lengthy awards season. As studios have focused more and more on easily marketed blockbusters, Oscar season increasingly exists apart from the regular business of the movies, in its own highfalutin, red-carpeted realm.
Ratings, though, are on the rise. Last year’s Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, drew 43 million viewers, making it the most-watched entertainment telecast in a decade. “12 Years a Slave” took best picture. This year’s ceremony on Feb. 22 will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
The nominees for best foreign language film are: “Ida” (Poland), “Leviathan” (Russia), “Tangerines” (Estonia), “Timbuktu” (Mauritania) and “Wild Tales” (Argentina).
Best documentary nods went to “CitizenFour,” “Finding Vivian Maier,” “Last Days in Vietnam,” “The Salt of the Earth” and “Virunga.” The last gave Netflix its second Oscar nomination. (It last year released the nominated documentary “The Square.”)